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iPhone birthday: How Apple forever changed the smart phone game

Happy iPhone birthday! The iPhone first launched in June of 2007. And what a trip it's been.

By Matthew Shaer / June 30, 2011

The Apple iPhone turns four today. And how far the iPhone has come.

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My, how quickly time flies. Back in June of 2007, Apple began selling a rectangular, flat-screened smart phone called the iPhone, which featured a bunch of apps, an aluminum frame, and a breathtaking $500 price tag. Four years later, the iPhone is one of the most popular handsets in the world – Android logs more activations, but Apple makes more money – and a cultural touchstone. Happy birthday, iPhone! And cue the celebratory blog posts.

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Reflecting back on the release of the original iPhone, Rue Lie of Slashgear points out that most smart phones at the time were not particularly smart – instead, they "were difficult to use and afflicted with tiny screens and way too many buttons and keys. The iPhone introduced a huge touchscreen with only one button and a very intuitive interface." But more than its essentially intuitiveness, the iPhone was the first smart phones to be more than a phone.

Instead, it was a status symbol, plain and simple – a device that came preloaded with a whole lot of cultural cache. All of which Apple carefully planned, from the big-budget release spectacles to the hefty price tag, which was expensive, but not too expensive. In the meantime, Apple played the online rumor mill like a pro, fanning some rumors, and keeping interest high in the iPhone line.

As we noted earlier this month – when details of the forthcoming iPhone 5 began to emerge, the iPhone has not, does not, and will not exist in a bubble, as a device to be calmly viewed on its own merits. Instead, it is a thermometer, a barometer, and a crystal ball of things to come.

Of course, Jared Newman of Time magazine writes today, the "iPhone is still a baby when compared to desktop operating systems like Windows and Mac OS, but the iOS software has already made its way to the iPad and Apple TV, and the iPhone itself shows no signs of slowing down. Four years on, the iPhone has proven to be Apple's future."

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