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The iPhone: Designed with You in Mind

The iPhone: Designed with You in Mind

The iPhone: Designed with You in Mind


Should the iPhone have a keyboard or not?  This question that once caused a great deal of strife amongst the creative team at Apple back when they were working on the very first iPhone. (Spoiler alert: they developed the touchscreen instead.) Soon enough, those disagreements wouldn’t matter, as the iPhone would go on to become the most popular product of all time. Now, with the advent of the latest iPhone, the iPhone 11, a world without iPhones, seems very long ago.

The Rise of the iPhone

Initially, the Apple touchscreen was being developed for a desktop Macintosh, not the Apple iPhone. But Apple founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, wanted that touchscreen for the iPhone. At the time, the interactive screen was nowhere near ready for a device so compact. Developing Apple’s first phone would need to take priority over other projects if it was to come to fruition.

Apple bit the bullet and put to task thousands of its workers, investing a great deal of money and spending the majority of company time developing the iPhone. That meant that Jobs said no to a lot of other opportunities to free up the Apple creative team to focus on the iPhone, rather than spreading themselves too thin.

“We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

- Steve Jobs

On January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the first Apple iPhone to an astounded, and at times confused, audience in San Francisco, CA. There was nothing quite like the iPhone.

The original iPhone

The iPhone raised the bar in the mobile device industry. It soon became the inspiration for the designs of all other tech companies.

The iPhone didn’t just affect the cellular world--it upped the bar for cameras, video playing devices, portable music, and even computers. Gone were the days when you needed a separate device for each action. Goodbye CDs. Goodbye clunky home video camera. Goodbye T9. From then on, tech companies that did not adapt to the new standards began to fall by the wayside.

Observation Equals Success

Apple understood that consumers wanted simplicity in their devices. They wanted the ease of use, and that is how the Apple iPhone won the hearts of consumers. A phone intuitive enough that your Grandmother could use it, yet advanced enough that your entire music collection could be downloaded and carried with you everywhere, this was something that had not been done before.

Simplicity was not only considered for the iPhone’s operational layout but also related apps used on the iPhone, the aesthetics of the phone, it's packaging, everything right down to the charging cord.

Considering the user’s experience was also an essential step in iPhone development and still is to this day. You may think that taking into consideration the product’s use from the customer’s point of view is a no brainer, but not so. It can be tempting for businesses to ask, “What cool new product can we market?” rather than, “What do people need?” But the iPhone, it was and still is created based on what customers want.

Apple Products

Perhaps the Apple iPhone has become successful because Apple listened to and observed consumers. By taking note of what would benefit individuals in their day to day life, innovation was spawned.

Seeing the Individual

Marketing for the iPhone has always emphasized the individuality of the user, which is another key to its success. The iPhone is not really about the iPhone; the iPhone is supposed to be about you. You are getting what you want, helping you to communicate and express and capture experiences. It’s a multitool that can be customized to fit your life.

An example of this is the film and photo editing capacity of the iPhone 11. It can be customized from a selection of over 30,000 photos and video apps available via the App Store. If you are a professional, you no longer need to upload images to an advanced editing program on your desktop computer. The iPhone can be all of that.

Or take the iPhone X, which launched the use of Face ID. This software ensures that only your  facial structure can open the phone.

Back in 2010, Apple released a new product with the iPhone 4, FaceTime. You are likely familiar with FaceTime because your mom and dad always want to “do phone calls” with you on it. FaceTime is personal, sentimental. And it is, once again, an example of the Apple iPhone becoming a way to enhance your own experience of connection.

Money on Top

By 2012, Apple reached a milestone as the most profitable public-traded company in the history of the industry. Even now, years later, its stocks continue to rise. Fortune lists Apple as 2nd only to Saudi oil company Aramco in terms of profits, 11th globally in terms of revenue. Apple has the iPhone to thank for that.

If you want to get your hands on an iPhone, it’s going to set you back a few hundred dollars to buy it outright. Back in the day, that very first iPhone ran between $499-$599, with 8GB being the highest offering of storage. Now the Apple store lists the iPhone 11, starting at $979, spanning up to $1999 for an iPhone 11 Pro Max 512GB. That 512GB is enough memory to download cute cat videos from Reddit for three years straight and still be able to FaceTime your parents on the weekend.

Apple Trade In Program

The Apple trade-in program can knock a few hundred dollars off the price of your next iPhone, though (plus it’s good to recycle). This discount is why you’ve likely seen the iPhone 11 advertised as “starting at $599 with trade-in”. You can bring in the iPhone that you are so totally over and exchange it for the next best thing. Your service provider may also offer you a free iPhone if you sign a contract, though you can expect that free iPhone to be an older model.

Will the iPhone always be on top? Not necessarily. Will it always be an icon of societal change and innovation? Yes. Yes, it definitely will be. And in a world where the Apple iPhone has touched nearly all consumer technologies, I doubt we’ll be forgetting it anytime soon.

1. Burrows, P. “The Seed of Apple’s Innovation.” Business Week, December 12, 2004.
2. Thomke, Stefan H., and Barbara Feinberg. "Design Thinking and Innovation at Apple." Harvard Business School Case, 609-066, January 2009. (Revised May 2012.)