Feeds

Behold: Today marks Year Five of the iPhone Era

Fire. The Wheel. Steam engines. Just trinkets

Reducing security risks from open source software

Apple has been credited with the first smartphone, with creating the mobile application business and pioneering touch interfacing. None of these things are true: but actually the launch of the iPhone, five years ago, was a much bigger revolution than that.

Apple's wasn't the first smartphone by a long chalk, and people (your correspondent included) had been selling mobile applications for many years, many of them based around touch interfaces - but we did that with the considered leave of the all-powerful network operators. Network operators called the shots and decided, sometimes quite arbitrarily, who would succeed and who would fail, and it's that impregnable edifice which Apple successfully challenged, conquered and dismantled.

These days the network operators are more-humble beasts, still powerful but fearful too, forced to innovate their business models and sign deals with companies they'd have considered sworn enemies in times past, if they'd considered them at all. That might have happened anyway - the technology was coming without Apple - but it would have happened a lot more slowly, and without the blinding white glare of Apple cool the network operators might have fought harder to hang on to their turf.

Before the iPhone was launched your correspondent predicted it would fail - believing that Apple's arrogance combined with operator intractability would cripple the launch. But operators (O2 specifically, in the UK) proved more craven than could have been imagined, while Apple showed a little humility by accepting a handset subsidy in exchange for MMS support amongst other things. But the damage was still done, the customers for content weren't with O2 any more - they were (and are) with Apple, and with Apple they remain.

Other manufacturers have gained from this rebalanced relationship too: no longer do they go begging to the operators in the hope of getting their handsets placed well or bundled with a popular contract. No longer must they submit to the pretence that the network operator actually had something to do with making the handset (remember the "O2 XDA"?). Now the makers let operators bid for the privilege of being a customer.

Apple may have tipped the balance a little too far in its own favour. The Fruit Factory's insistence on control over every promotional word has landed some operators in trouble (specifically when the word is "4G", though it was Apple who ended up paying the fine on that one) but given the overwhelming power the operators used to wield that's a small correction.

Marking the half-decade anniversary there's a lot being written about how the iPhone changed users' perception of what a phone is, and how computing could become pervasive, not to mention how well it might do over the next five years, but without Apple we'd still be using handsets and services dictated to us by the network operators, a shift for which we should all be grateful - even those of us who've never used an iPhone. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad
Apple's fondleslab is the tablet dermatitis sufferers won't want to take
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.