A lot can happen in 25 years, especially in the fast-paced world of tech. We’ve had so many tech innovations since 1998, when a couple of the biggest news stories of that year were AOL buying Netscape and the introduction of the iMac. Initially, I thought it might be difficult to choose my top tech innovation of the last 25 years but the tech that came to mind pretty quickly and continued to grab my attention was the introduction of the iPhone.
The iPhone was unveiled in 2007, but it wasn’t even the first smartphone – that honor belongs to IBM’s Simon Personal Communicator in 1994.
What made the iPhone so impactful was that it brought the idea of the smartphone into the mainstream and, as Steve Jobs described when introducing the phone, it combined the iPod with a phone and an “internet communicator.” Forget the small screens relegated to the top of phones and forget the buttons and stylus for typing – the entire phone was now the screen and it put the internet in our hands. iPhones became the gold standard for mobile phones pretty quickly and have continued to be top sellers, with more than 2 billion sold globally since launch.
It’s hard to imagine where we would be today without iPhones, whether people see that as a good thing or a bad thing. We can be connected to the world at all times now with no need to get on a computer for a more comprehensive experience. That means that work and personal lives can often crossover, making us available wherever we are or when we’re on the go. That gives all of us more flexibility, but it also means that no one is really offline and soon “airplane mode” may be a quaint memory.
The iPhone App Store launch in 2008 really moved the needle in how we can live our lives on our phones. Today, you can do anything on your smartphone – talk to your doctor, catch up with your friends on social, order your lunch, or pay your bills. The list goes on and on, and none of that was possible before the iPhone.
The way we make and consume entertainment has also changed. The cameras that are now embedded in the iPhone and other smartphones are so good that people are using them to make videos and movies, while many of us are also using our phones to watch them.
On the flip side, attention spans are decreasing and the ability to actually be present in the moment without half listening or being distracted by your phone is challenging for many. The “always on” mentality was made possible because of iPhones. People have their smartphones at their side for most of the day, spending more time on social and being exposed to harsh judgments or feeling the need for social status. This is causing anxiety and unrealistic expectations for perfection, especially among younger people who have not known life without the iPhone.
I love all of the benefits that the iPhone has made possible but I also think more of us need to remember to put down our phones, live our lives in the real world and be present for those we care about. BRB, I’m heading to the beach to watch the sunset!