Apple iPhone Anniversary: The Smartphone That Transformed A $73 Billion Company into $3 Trillion Tech Behemoth In Just 15 Years

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Today, January 9, 2022, marks 15 years since Steve Jobs, former Apple CEO, took the stage at San Francisco’s Macworld Expo and presented the iPhone to the world. Little did anyone present in the hall know that the device was here to redefine the smartphone industry, forever.

Although the original iPhone was tiny with a 3.5-inch LCD screen, a simple Home button and thick bezels, a Samsung processor, and a 2-megapixel camera, it was still a remarkable device and made heads turned.

Smartphones of that era relied heavily on limited display areas, keyboards, and styluses for screen interaction. But the iPhone was different because it had fewer physical buttons. Instead, the iPhone relied on a multitouch display that was intimate and interactive.

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Steve Jobs described the iPhone as three revolutionary products in one: an iPod, a phone, and a breakthrough internet communication device. Jobs famously stated that Apple was going to “reinvent the phone“, and anyone today can vouch for his sixth sense that made him capable of peeping into the future.

Apple has been the leader in mobile phone design since 2007, dictating features and capabilities for smartphones, and being a trendsetter by inspiring other manufacturers. Apple’s innovative features like TouchID, FaceID, and sleek designs have helped keep it competitive. There have also been many improvements in technology over time. This article impressively highlights the 15 significant changes Apple made since the introduction of its original iPhone in 2007.

Apple’s unique chip designs and deep integration of software and hardware have been unmatched by any other smartphone manufacturer. This is why iPhones are still the preferred smartphone for billions of people around the world.

In January 2021, Apple stated that more than 1,000,000,000 iPhones were active worldwide. This is an incredible number and Apple has become the first company to exceed a $3 trillion valuation.

The phenomenal success of iPhone can be well understood from a look at Apple’s revenue book. The pre-iPhone and post-iPhone comparison in Apple’s financials paints a stunning picture that explains the role of iPhone in the unparalleled success of Apple in the last 15 years.

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Apple’s revenue growth, during the fiscal year iPhone came into the existence, was driven by Mac computers. In 2007, nearly 60% of Apple’s annual revenue was from coming from the sales of Mac devices.

After the debut of the first iPhone, Apple struggled for some time to fix the initial issues identified by the consumers. Market pundits and competitors were quick to aim at Steve Jobs – the visionary CEO of Apple then – and mocked the concept of a complete multi-touch screen smartphone. Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, laughed at the iPhone for having a price tag of $500 which offered no keyboard.

However, it didn’t take long for Steve Jobs to silence his critics. Within just 2 years of launch, iPhone became the top-selling product out of Apple’s factory. In 2009, Apple reported that the revenue generated from iPhone was almost equal to the revenue from Mac devices. A whopping $13 billion was garnered from the sales of iPhone as compared with $13.8 billion from Mac in fiscal 2009.

The writing was on the wall; Apple accelerated all efforts to make iPhone more appealing and impressive for users. With the launch of iPhone 4 in 2010, it became clear that Apple struck the gold. The long queue of people waiting outside Apple Stores for days was testimony to the fact that Steve Jobs read something that none of his competitors were able to. The Cupertino giant reported a record revenue of $25.1 billion from iPhone in 2010, making it the most popular product of Apple which accounted for nearly one-third of the company’s yearly revenue within just 3 years of its existence.

iPhone continued to dominate the market undisputedly, and in 2012 it achieved another milestone when it accounted for 50% of Apple’s annual revenue for the very first time. Out of $156.50 billion revenue, $78.69 billion came from iPhone alone.

In 2014, Apple decided to revamp the look of iPhone with the launch of iPhone 6. The new design, however, attracted a few hardware issues, especially the one which was dubbed “Bendgate“. Once again, competitors were all out with their attacks on iPhone and mocked the device for being tagged with exorbitant price despite several hardware issues. However, their effort to eat into the increasing market share of Apple didn’t bear much of fruits as Apple achieved another milestone by reporting a record $100 billion revenue from the sales of iPhone in that year. It was also the first time ever when any company garnered a whopping $100 billion from the sales of its smartphones.

The following years saw the increasing dominance of iPhone in the market despite the increasing ASP (Average Selling Price) of iPhone. With the launch of iPhone 6S – the most successful iPhone version to date – Apple set a new record when its revenue from iPhone increased by a whopping 50% YoY within a year. Apple generated a whopping $155.04 billion in revenue from the sales of iPhone devices in that fiscal year.

Despite being criticized for making iPhone costlier for consumers with each passing year, Apple’s revenue from iPhone continues to go upwards. Apple will add another feather to its crown as revenue from the sales of iPhone is expected to cross $200 billion in the ongoing fiscal 2022. No other company in the world has achieved this milestone, and Apple continues to dominate the market by accounting for 75% of the global smartphone handset market operating profit and leaving just 25% for the rest all players, including the giants like Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo on the table.

Apple valuation chart

All the performance figures of Apple tell a tale of how iPhone played a vital role in turning Apple into a $3 trillion behemoth from just $73 billion company at the time of first iPhone launch.

Apple is able to inspire us every year with new iterations of a 15-year old product. The next-in-line iPhone 14 is rumoured to offer many promising updates, including the first-ever notch-less design. This will allow Apple to adopt a hole-punch screen that will offer more screen space.

The device is also expected to hold A16 Bionic processor under the hood to deliver faster performance. In addition to that 5G improvements, and new safety features such as car crash detection and satellite support for reporting emergency situations when cellular service is not available.

But Apple is started looking beyond iPhone; Apple is also exploring alternatives to the iPhone, and preparing for the day that the smartphone may become obsolete. In 2022, the first AR/VR headset could be revealed. It will be heavy, bulky, and expensive but it will focus on VR experiences. We can expect Apple to continue improving on the headset experience until a head-worn wearable is indispensable.

Although we don’t know the future iPhone, we do know that it will be a great iPhone for Apple’s 30th anniversary.

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