iPhone turns 10: Tech leaders on the phone that changed everything

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This week marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Do you remember your first one? 

Dean Hager, CEO of Jamf, an Apple device management company, remembers the first iPhone he ever saw. “I was in Sweden on a business trip and one of my employees pulled it out of his pocket and said ‘Check this out.’ The iPhone background was a drink and when the individual tipped the iPhone to his mouth, the drink drained. I thought to myself, ‘What can I do with this?’ Little did I know, this device would change my life,” he said.

Hager continued, “I can’t live without the iPhone. It connects me to every device and makes me more productive. The iPhone ignited the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement. BYOD became a ‘thing’ because users demanded their iPhones at work. IT teams were forced to adopt. The iPhone is the epicenter of my Apple ecosystem and every aspect of my digital relationship with the world.”

For months, there’s been a swirl of speculation and rumors about what the next iPhone will look like, how much it will cost, and what secrets it may hold. But amidst these headlines, which are typical with every new Apple product launch, this year’s milestone has sparked a flurry of articles and opinions about how the iPhone has changed the world – and where it may be heading.

For instance, the Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims looks ahead 10 more years to the 20th anniversary of the iPhone. He imagines that by then, the concept of a phone will be turned on its head. “Sure, Apple may still sell a glossy rectangle. (At that point, iPhones may also be thin and foldable, or roll up into scrolls like ancient papyri.) But the suite of apps and services that is today centered around the physical iPhone will have migrated to other, more convenient and equally capable devices – a ‘body area network’ of computers, batteries and sensors residing on our wrists, in our ears, on our faces and who knows where else. We’ll find ourselves leaving the iPhone behind more and more often,” Mims predicts.

In Quartz, Jean-Louis Gassée reflects on the almost unimaginable numbers that define the iPhone’s success over the last 10 years. He writes, “During the most recent Christmas quarter, Apple sold slightly fewer than 80 million iPhones – about 900,000 a day. Obligingly, a day has 86,400 seconds, so we round up to 90,000 to get a production yield of ten iPhones per second.”

With success of this scale, it’s no wonder people are looking back at all the ways the iPhone has changed their lives, their business, and their thinking when it comes to mobile technology and innovation. In fact, the first four tech writers who were hand-selected by Steve Jobs to review the iPhone took a moment to sit down and discuss what they thought then, and what they think now.

We asked members of our community to share their own iPhone reflections and memories.

Scott Sullivan, CFO and CIO at Pitt Ohio, said that a request from his CEO led to an epiphany about innovating through the U.S. financial crisis. “As a CFO and CIO during the recession, I was trying to pull the throttle back. Then in my boss’s office, it came to me as clear as day. He’s the CEO and wanted to know why we don’t have customer-facing iPhone apps. I realized my focus was all wrong. The recession shouldn’t stop you from moving forward or innovating. You still need to create new capabilities for the enterprise. That’s what keeps you fresh,” said Sullivan.

Chris Huff, VP of mobile and consumer app development for The Weather Channel, went into his first iPhone experience with low expectations and came out a devoted Apple fan. “I was already on a contract when the iPhone released, so I got an iPod Touch. I had used touch screens years before, but the responsiveness of the capacitive touch was amazing. The quality of the UI and seeing a full web page for the first time on mobile after years of feature phone web versions was incredible,” he said,

“What was life changing for me, however, was turning on wifi,” Huff continued. “I was prepared to figure out how to get network software installed, guess the security protocols needed, select a few more options and have to repeat this process 3-4 times before it joined my network. Instead, I clicked the network, typed in my password and it just worked! I became a serious Apple fan at that point.”

As the world waits patiently to see what’s in store for the iPhone’s 10th-anniversary launch, we want to hear from you. How has the iPhone changed your life? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us at @4enterprisers.

Carla Rudder is a community manager and program manager for The Enterprisers Project. She enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.