Decade in Review: What the smartphone has wrought

Apple's iconic iPhone 4
Apple’s iconic iPhone 4 launched on June 24, 2010


When the first Apple iPhone hit the market in 2007, not everyone was convinced it would supplant the flip-phone… But with the iPhone 4 in 2010, featuring a high-resolution display, sleek design and front-facing camera, our collective fate was sealed.

Today some 5 billion smartphones are in use around the world, according to Canalys Research. The total number of internet subscriptions has soared to 7.2 billion globally from 1.3 billion in 2010, the vast majority of them mobile subscriptions, International Telecommunications Union data shows. The explosion in connectivity has been especially dramatic in the developing world, where there are now more mobile connections than people.

Apple Inc, once a niche computer company, is now one of the world’s most valuable companies thanks to the iPhone… The 2010 edition of the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica, all 32 volumes and 129 pounds of it, turned out to be the last. But untold barroom arguments or dining room debates can now be settled on the spot: Wikipedia is consulted more than 240 million times daily.

Among the major casualties of the smartphone era is the conventional phone call itself: ubiquitous messaging apps have helped make video calls, GIFs, emojis and audio messaging preferred modes of communication.

MacDailyNews Take: Since 2007, we’ve hardly used our iPhones for voice calls. We’re far more likely to text. We use FaceTime more often than voice calls, in fact! iPhone might just be the most poorly-named device Apple (or anyone) has ever made! It’s a pocketable Mac. The last thing it is is a “phone” and the “phone” is its communication mode of last resort for most iPhone users!


  1. “It’s a pocketable Mac.” I guess it depends on how you use your Mac, user since 1988, heavy graphics and web animation.

    For me, the list of things the touch interface can’t do is far longer than the list that it can do.

    And the iOS 13 looks like a giant icon salad, difficult to use on smaller phones like the 7. I don’t want one physically bigger than a 7.

  2. Can you imagine what an astronomically-huge failure the iPhone would have been had it been introduced and marketed as a “pocketable Mac”? As a “phone” it was a miracle. As a “pocketable Mac” it would have been seen as the Newton pt 2. Thank God the Apple mavens were smarter than that.

    1. I’m the one who suggested to Steve it be called iPhone. He wanted to harken back to his MacMan days before he was convinced to call it iMac. Some wag thought mashing Steve’s original name for iMac with Newton could make “Newman” but that was voted down. PhoneMan was an option but someone pointed out it was sexist. As per usual, I saved the day. I’m special like that. Donald was only telling me this the other day.

  3. It essentially changed how people communicate in a very short time frame.
    This was the first example of a touchscreen that got the interface right. Truly transformative.

  4. The rise of social media will be the downfall of the US. Too much negativity, falsehoods, and downright dangerous fanatics on twitter. You know who I’m talking about, correct?

    1. It’s pretty interesting that Facebook founders tossed around the phrase “social validation feedback loop” as a (magnetic–my word) function of their site. Ultimately, I think it’s a function for all social media to one degree, or another.

      Is it any wonder then, that social media has largely displaced the “public square” and is a destination of hyper/hypo social interactions? Unfortunately, the leader of the free-world gets fed and creates a feeding zone that is consistent with the “social validation feedback loop.”

  5. Certainly the iPhone is a pocket Mac. Users such as myself use the phone feature the least amount of time.

    That said, the iPhone changed the world and naming aside, it is arguably the most important tech innovation of all time…

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.