Ten years after the iPhone, Apple is still looking for something to top it

Recode’s Ina Fried reflects on the iPhone’s first decade and why Apple has its work cut out to repeat the success.
As Apple celebrates 10 years since the introduction of the iPhone, investors and consumers alike are impatiently waiting for Apple’s next big hit. But it turns out topping the iPhone is no easy task. After all, Apple has sold a billion of the suckers and, in the process, redefined mobile computing and became the world’s most valuable company.

The 2007 debut of the iPhone showed Apple at its best — entering a new category and completely changing the rules of the game. Apple did so with the iPod in 2001 and again a few years later with the iTunes Music Store. But, as revolutionary as those products were, Apple wasn’t alone in seeing those opportunities — it just had a far better answer than anyone else.
When the iPod debuted, there were other MP3 players on the market, even others with a hard drive — they were just big and clunky. Similarly, others tried to sell music before and after iTunes, but Apple’s simplicity won the day. Even with the iPhone, plenty of people saw the collision of the phone, internet and iPod coming, but Apple was alone in its vision of how that combination should work.For its next act, though, it is highly likely the company will have to go further afield.
Whether it’s a car or something in digital health or augmented reality, it is clear that Apple will have to acquire at least as many outside skills as those it already has. The good news for Apple, or anyone else looking to change the world, is that you don’t have to get everything right the first time as long as you nail the key parts.The original iPhone shown 10 years ago today had no support for third-party apps, a slow 2G cell connection and cost $500. As he has done continuously in the past few years, CEO Tim Cook promised Apple has great things in store, but offered nothing in the way of specifics. “iPhone set the standard for mobile computing in its first decade and we are just getting started. The best is yet to come,” he said.

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Ina Fried

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  • innovation
  • technology
  • techmedia
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Ina Fried
Technology Journalist