Smartphones are now so ubiquitous that it’s strange to think it’s just eight years since the first one made its appearance.
But it is. The world’s first ‘real’ smartphone, the Apple iPhone, went on sale on this day all the way back in 2007. There had been phones that did things smartphones do – the Nokia Communicator, for example, which could send emails and browse the web; and a line of PDAs, (personal digital assistants, a sort of electronic Filofax) released by Palm and the like. But none had the desirability, usability and sheer impact of Apple’s iPhone.
The iPhone, said Steve Jobs, was “a revolutionary and magical product” that was “literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone”.
In a phenomenon that has become commonplace at Apple launches, people queued for days to get their hands on one of the devices. British consumers, however, had to wait until 9 November before it was launched here. Nevertheless, hardy British customers camped out in the late autumn rain.
The iPhone cost just $150m to develop, but sales have been phenomenal. Five million of the original iPhones were sold before the iPhone 3G was launched a year and a half later.
And the success has continued. In the first quarter of 2015, Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones. With an estimated profit margin of 60%, that’s quite something. It’s Apple’s most successful product by a long way, with total sales of over 726 million. With total global smartphone sales of some four billion from 2007 to 2014, that gives Apple a 17% market share.
On the day the iPhone was launched, one Apple share would have cost you $17.43. Today, you’re looking at over $127.