What was the iPhone Impact?

Have you ever stopped to think about how much your life has changed since the invention of the iPhone? If you are like most of us, you simply take for granted all that you can do from that one device.

Ten years ago, the idea of combining an iPod, a telephone, and an internet access device was pretty revolutionary. I am sure the developers knew they were launching something pretty unique, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted how much of a change would result from the introduction of the iPhone.

Even Steve Jobs, as he debuted the product, was excited but still fairly limited in his vision of what he thought iPhone impact would be.

Photography – Now an Everyman Activity

Fast forward 10 years and we see a huge impact, often in very unexpected ways. Amateur photography, for example. A decade ago, digital cameras were expensive and cumbersome. Most people did not take pictures on a regular basis.

We took pictures on special occasions, when we traveled and as new parents, particularly images of our first born child.

Then came the iPhone and suddenly there was a camera in everyone’s pocket. How big a change was this? In the year 2000, there were about 89 billion photos taken, worldwide. This year we expect that number to be about 1.2 Trillion. For more on the rapid growth of images check out this fun look back by BuzzFeed.

And more than just taking pictures and recording moments in time, new apps allow users to edit images right on their phone. Suddenly, we are all artists and iPhone photography exhibits have become a thing. App development became a profit opportunity for tech-savvy marketers who could look ahead and anticipate what people might want to do with their photos.

And social media platforms expanded to take advantage of all this new content. Today, photography is a daily activity for many of us, sharing images of the mundane and the spectacular.

In every technological advancement, there are winners and losers. While individual users are the big winners, there are losers. The first loser to come to mind is Kodak. Once they owned the “memory” space. But their reliance on the printed image blinded them to the possibilities. Did you know they actually owned an online photo gallery site  which they eventually sold to Shutterfly? While they were focused on print, Facebook purchased Instagram expanding the idea of the daily photo taken from your phone.

Also feeling the iPhone impact were slide trays and slide carousels. Once a staple of every business, they are a thing of the past as we project images directly from our computers to the screen. And the democratization of photography has demanded that photographers adjust their business models as well. A decade ago many earned the vast majority of their income, not from the photos but the reprints. From wedding albums to wallet size images of babies and graduates for proud grandmothers, the profit was in the printing. Today as photos are emailed and shared on social media sites, they have had to adjust by charging higher sitting fees, including a CD of the images and professional retouching services as part of their package.


Decline of Chewing Gum

Of all the changes in how we work and interact, sales of chewing gum was one of the most unexpected. Chewing gum? Yup. You see before the iPhone we would stand in line at the check out counter and grab a magazine, a candy bar, or a pack of gum. Today, we keep occupied staring at the little screen on our phone.

Some stores are fighting back, creating checkout lines which wind through aisles filled with impulse items and more attractive in-store displays. Like photography, it is a case of evolve or die.

What’s Next?

Only time will tell what products and services will rise and fall with the advancement of technology.  But if there is one lesson to be learned from our experiences in the decade since the introduction of the iPhone, it is that things will change. There are few secure revenue models and every business must keep one eye on the innovation landscape and be ready to pivot when the market shifts.

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