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The iPhone Turns 10: What Next?

Anticipation is high for the iPhone 8

January 9, 2017 | Mobile

Ten years ago, Steve Jobs took to the stage and introduced Apple's first iPhone, a device that was a catalyst for the rapid uptake of smartphones worldwide. Ten years—and 14 models—later, the iPhone in essence has become a commodity device. Can the iPhone 8 change the game?

Snapshot 2007: How Consumers Viewed the iPhone When It Launched (% of respondents)

The very first device featured a 3.5 inch screen and a 2-megapixel camera. Back then, US internet users were interested in buying it to make phone calls, play music and send text messages, according to data from Harris. Cost, and not really needing a new device, were reasons they didn't want to buy one.

A lot has changed since then. Every year, the devices not only got bigger and slimmer, but also smarter. In 2010, the manufacturing giant introduced its video chat feature, FaceTime, and a year later announced Siri, a virtual assistant. In 2014, Apple Pay, Apple's mobile payments service, was launched, and a year after, Touch ID was introduced.

It's not just the devices that changed, the smartphone market has as well—it's a lot more competitive. In 2007, all eyes were on Apple's iPhone because there wasn't a device like it in the market. Today, there are countless devices out there that not only look similar to the iPhone, but have similar capabilities.

Nonetheless, all eyes are on Apple once again. This year, most likely in the fall, Apple will announce its latest model, the iPhone 8. Apple's iPhone 7 sales have been sluggish and the company is reportedly cutting production by roughly 10% in the first quarter of 2017. The iPhone 8 reportedly will feature all-glass casing, no home button and wireless charging capability—new for Apple, but something Samsung has already done.

"The days of consumers being wowed by the look and feel of a new iPhone are over," said Cathy Boyle, principal analyst at eMarketer. "I expect the wow factor of the iPhone 8 to be all about the things we can do with the device that we've never done before. I don't expect to see dramatic improvements in the iPhone's exterior design."

Image recognition and voice interaction are likely to improve dramatically, Boyle said, and both of those features have implications for how people interact with their smartphone, and the platforms they engage with.

A better, smarter Siri could make Apple the go-to source for information and shopping. And with image recognition, the iPhone camera may become a computer in itself, interpreting the world for users by overlaying data on what's viewed through the lens.

This year will not only be a milestone for Apple, but also for smartphones. In 2017, 2.35 billion people, more than half of the world's mobile phone users, will regularly use a smartphone, according to eMarketer. And by 2020, smartphones will account for more than 60.0% of mobile phone users worldwide.

—Rimma Kats

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