Fourth in a series.To commemorate iPhone's fifth-anniversary, we present several stories looking at its debut and colorful history -- so far. This one is different from the others, as it's a work of fiction, looking at a possible, alternative timeline.
Apple, the trendsetter of design and function has made good on their WWDC 2012 promise. Today marks their release of what they dub the very first smart phone, the iPhone. But the big question: Are they a little too late to the game now? The new phone marks a 180-degree turn from the past statements of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, who asserted Apple is, or was, a computer, media and services company first.
Many suspected Apple was on a path to a mobile phone years ago with the release of the mobile iTunes platform, which was first made popular on the Motorola brand of phones. But all the signs pointed to nigh.
Apple now enters into a very rough sea of contenders. Following twin 2009 acquisitions -- Microsoft of Research in Motion and Nokia of Palm -- Apple faces daunting competition. But the electronics powerhouse seems to have a strong grasp of the basics of the mobile market already down as shown with their iTab tablet Mac OS X device. The new iPhone uses a slimmed-down version of the same operating system -- mobile OS X Unix platform "mOSX" used on the tablet, for now simply called iOS.
Apple already has very strong knowledge of media and application sales for any of its new platforms. The Apple iTab was the first to see this integration into the updated iLife Store, which name changed from iTunes Store in 2007. The operation gave Apple more control over major first- and third-party software titles, largely from the success of the Universal Carbon Apps SDK. Apple's was the first secure Internet software applications store supporting OS X and Windows platforms and any already existing Personal Computer Phones.
Apple's success delivered a serious blow to Sun's Java, which was a very strong mobile application platform. Apple quietly developed its true Trojan horse into the mobile space. Microsoft and Nokia have yet to achieve the same level of user support from media or application sales that Apple started with iLife Store on early iPod media player devices.
It will be interesting to see what Microsoft's Blackbear platform and Nokia's SymbianNext devices will do. Both already have the iLife Store as very strong store fronts on them. Microsoft still has their Xune platform, yet all but acknowledged defeat when it stopped support for the music / media only platform after the BlackBerry acquisition. Apple still has the ability to pull serious sway in the market with this new product. Some analysts see it as the first true user-centric lifestyle phone.
Touting this as his final triumph, Jobs stepped down as CEO but remains on board as Chairman for the company he came back to save in 1996. He claimed that iPhone will be his finest work -- a truly integrated connected Internet communication device with form and function and design people expect from Apple.
Jobs will head up a group to develop the first open-education platform with online tracking and classes, partnering with Kahn Academy. But that's another story. The new "smart phone", as Apple has branded it, will be Jobs' lasting mark on the company he created. From the look of the strong, ever-growing market share of the iLife Store platform and that of Apple computer products, iPhone has a strong ecosystem to support it.
Editor: We discussed with Patrick a kind of "It's a Wonderful Life" story asking what would happen had there been no iPhone. This sure isn't it. He chose instead an alternate universe story where iPhone released 5 years later and Apple's charismatic cofounder lives today. Maybe somewhere it's reality.