Come Friday, Apple will start selling the iPhone 7, but all anyone wants to talk about is the next one. Even before Phil Schiller showed off the new iPhone’s cameras and jet black body, rumors about the so-called 10th anniversary phone had already blunted much of the excitement about this year’s model.
If even half of what’s been reported comes true, the 2017 iPhone is going to be bigger than the last three models put together: OLED, edge-to-edge screen, wireless charging, and in-display Touch ID, just to tick off the highlights. But the iPhone 7 isn’t just a way for Apple to squeeze a couple hundred million more sales out of the iPhone 6 before the company unveils the next truly big thing. It might seem like a relatively minor refresh on the surface, but there’s no reason to panic about Apple’s ability to innovate.
Quite the contrary. From the technology inside it to the potential it presents, the iPhone 7 is simply part of a new phase for Apple, one that looks to be far more ambitious than the iPod, the iPhone, or even the Macintosh. And no matter how great the next iPhone looks, chances are we’ll be using it a whole lot less.
The launch of the iPhone was one of the most masterfully-crafted pivots in tech history. Before then, Apple was widely viewed as a niche computer company that got lucky with the iPod. Even after the iPhone was unveiled, few people saw it coming, despite a massive teaser on Apple.com in the days leading up to the event: The first 30 years were just the beginning. Welcome to 2007.
Plus, it with the launch of the iPhone that Apple dropped the word Computer from its official company name, solidifying its fate as a consumer electronics company and resetting its core business by pushing the Mac to the background. You need only look at the languishing lineup today to see how little Macs matter to Apple’s new mission.
While everyone was debating whether the iPhone was too expensive or too limited, Apple was preparing for a world ruled by pocket-sized devices able to handle many of the everyday tasks we turn to computers for. Apple took everything it had learned over three decades of Mac development and applied it to a new form of technology that fit much better into our lives. The iPhone didn’t just displace the Mac—it gave Apple the ability to expand its vision and move beyond the PC phase. And less than 10 years after the second phase began, Apple is already laying the foundation for the next one.
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