The Apple iPhone. It’s not just the best-selling smartphone ever created, but it’s also the most influential one! Since Steve Jobs introduced us to the iPhone in 2007 at the Macworld conference, Apple has sold close to 1.5 billion iPhones worldwide, fueling businesses for app developers and accessory makers globally! From there, Apple kept on improving the iPhone with the premium build quality, optimized OS updates, integrated ecosystem, and many more to make it Apple’s biggest success.
But with all this success one question always arises. Originally Apple was a PC manufacturer, then how on earth did smartphones become their best-selling product? Well, it turns out the iPhone was not just an ordinary phone, but rather the start of something new!
At the Macworld conference in 2007, Jobs said “ Well, today we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. The third is a breakthrough internet communications device”. He added, “These are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone. Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”
Back then, the market was dominated by Blackberry, Nokia, and HTC. They only produced multimedia and button phones with which you couldn’t do much other than text or call. Internet browsing was possible but on a small screen with a not-so-great interface, you can get an idea of how bad the experience was. That all changed with the iPhone. It had a huge 3.5-inch screen with 320 by 480-pixel resolution, internet connectivity, and a 2-megapixel rear camera. It could store all your music, photos, and videos in its slim body. But it was the touchscreen that was truly revolutionary! Before the iPhone, touchscreen phones still existed but you had to use a stylus to operate them. However, with the iPhone, you could do that with just your fingers!
Not only did the iPhone have good features, but its OS was also simple and needed less digging to find what you’re looking for. It was always Jobs who believed in the minimalist perception, which was implemented in the iPhone. Rest was just optimizing your creation to the perfection of Apple. They started using a solid aluminum body instead of a plastic body, which gave the iPhone its premium identity and durability. From the very beginning, Apple was using their own in-house built chips, which gave them greater control over how the phone should perform. This gave them the ability to achieve better hardware and software optimization. Apple’s meteoric success proved to other big tech companies that the best products come when you make both the hardware and the software. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have all done the same in recent years, building huge hardware businesses on top of their software.
Apple also considers how the iPhone is going to work with other Apple devices and accessories, hence creating a magical ecosystem where everything just works! Need a file to share? Use AirDrop. Need to video chat? Facetime is here. All of these features are already built-in, which means no additional download or installation. Not only features, but their accessories would also work on multiple Apple devices flawlessly without ever needing to reconnect.
Apple also reimagined its total supply chain and business strategy, so that iPhone sales can go up and end up on a consumer’s hand. Tim Cook believes that when it comes to technology such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, they depreciate very very quickly and loses 1 to 2 percent of its value each week. He was also quoted saying, “ inventory is fundamentally evil”. To run their supply chain operation smoothly, Tim Cook always tried to reduce inventory from the very beginning to cut down on warehouse costs and make suppliers compete between themselves.
Apple was also the first company to start a trade-in policy in the US, which allowed customers to trade in an older iPhone back to Apple and use the proceeds to get a new iPhone a lot cheaper. They do this so that their customers could spend that extra cash on other devices or accessories.
Next, let’s talk about their services. Apple Music, Fitness, Fitness+, you could use all of them from your iPhone. Back in 2003, when the music industry was at war against piracy, Apple launched the iTunes music store and instantly gained attention from musicians and fans all across the world. It also allowed customers to buy original music at an affordable price. Later in 2015, they launched Apple Music to boost up overall iPhone sales.
The iPhone also drove the smartphone accessory industry to its peak. Be it as simple as a screen protector or a case for high-end headphones, all of them have been thriving because of the iPhone. In 2019, the worldwide smartphone accessories market gained a total revenue of 511 billion US dollars.
So, now you can see what kind of effort Apple had to put behind the iPhone for it to become as successful as it is now. For many, iPhone is the key to entering the Apple ecosystem and explore their other product lines. In 2020, Apple was able to generate approximately 1.37 billion dollars of revenue from the iPhone alone! Even though Apple has diversified its product lineup with the Apple Watch, AirPods, and other services, the iPhone is still responsible for 50 percent of Apple’s total revenue.