A person holding an iPhone at arm's length, taking a photo of a cityscape.

It is with us wherever we go and serves as our personal assistant. Ten years after its debut, many of us can honestly say that we could never go back to a pre-iPhone society. Photo from StockSnap.io.

On January 9, 2007, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled a next-generation smartphone with the ability to play music, receive calls and browse the internet. Dubbed the iPhone, the touch-screen device promised to be at the forefront of a revolution in mobile technology.

Ten years later, there have been nine generations of iPhone models, an average of about one per year. More than 1 billion have been sold, making up somewhere between 20% and 40% of the global smartphone market.

Here are 10 ways the iPhone has made its mark on our digital world.

  1. The iPhone was likely Steve Jobs’ greatest legacy.

When Steve Jobs died in 2011, the tech world mourned the loss of a visionary who was one of the early pioneers of personal computing. Thanks to him, we had the Macintosh operating system, iPod and iPad. Yet it would be the iPhone that would forever define the technology pioneer.

  1. Apps became a big industry.

The App Store opened in 2008, providing a new field for businesses and organizations of all kinds to launch products and services, while putting the world at the fingertips of users. Today, there are more than 2 million Apple apps, with the Android Market offering a similar number.

  1. Touchscreen has become the byword of new technology.

While touchscreen technology dates from the 1960s, the iPhone would play a pivotal role in the move away from styluses and keypads to touch, which in turn would facilitate the continued evolution of mobile devices and open the door to a biometric future.

  1. The iPhone brought new life to the smartphone industry.

In the mid-2000s, the mobile device industry languished, as technology had come about as far as it could while being limited to a traditional phone with a keypad. The iPhone would quickly render the BlackBerry and other devices obsolete and encouraged entrepreneurs to think of new concepts incorporating telephone abilities, yet transcending traditional limits. Amazon, Google and Microsoft have all been beneficiaries.

  1. There are new ways to pay your bills.

Mobile banking, mobile bill pay and even mobile checkouts at stores have become a reality, thanks to the sophistication and security of Apple’s constantly-improving devices and its many competitors. Who knows if cashiering will even be a job in most stores a decade from now?

  1. The world is more connected than ever.

The Arab Spring and Japan earthquake of 2011, the last two presidential election cycles in the U.S., and recent terrorist attacks are just some of the news stories that the world has followed through their iPhones. While breaking news wasn’t invented with the smartphone, having sophisticated internet-enabled mobile devices has permitted the average person to record video or post updates and instantly share what’s going on with the world. The iPhone has transcended political, economic and societal barriers, ensuring the impact reaches the developing world, too.

Three iPhones with screens displaying major world landmarks, including the pyramids, a Southwest canyon and undersea treasures.

With more than 2 million apps, iPhone users have no shortage of ways to perform daily tasks or explore the world. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

  1. There are new privacy and security concerns.

The danger of losing your phone with all your personal information, or being tracked while you walk your neighborhood has frightened privacy experts, but has also led to upgrades in security and encryption. This in turn has led to debates over the proper level of security and its impact on law enforcement, a controversy recently on display when the FBI tried to get Apple Inc. to unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook. While the government found hackers to unlock the phone for them, it is likely only the beginning salvo of a long debate over technology security.

  1. Silicon Valley has remained the world’s tech hub.

Thanks to Apple’s constantly-evolving mobile technology, the Cupertino-based company has stimulated the Northern California economy and encouraged other high-tech firms to locate and remain there. The company’s expansion is even discussed when examining local real estate prices. Thanks to the iPhone and subsequent Apple innovations, California has remained at the forefront of the world’s cutting-edge industries.

  1. The iPhone has led to new health and safety concerns.

From debates over distracted driving to concerns that too much smartphone use can cause brain cancer, the iPhone has been at the forefront of a growing debate over the impact of our wired world on our health, personal relationships, social lives and safety. Mihaylo ISDS professors such as Amr Soror and Ofir Turel are studying the addictive tendencies of today’s gadgets and how users can maximize the positive while avoiding over dependency.

  1. The iPhone has revealed the potential of entrepreneurship.

Think you have an idea that could improve the way we communicate, travel, interact with others or get information? The legacy of the iPhone and other Apple products is that no idea is too far-fetched. Develop your concept, network with others and don’t give up. Perhaps you will be the next visionary who will transform our world.

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