In 2007, I was a technical support manager for Cingular Wireless, soon-to-be AT&T. I’d been with the company six years at that point and had been there for the transition from pagers to one-way-text capable phones to monophonic ringtones to basic internet access. I watched as Blackberry held on to the smartphone market against all comers, such as Palm and Microsoft. It was an amazing time of technological advancement and competition.
A new phone was announced by Apple as an exclusive for our company. It was a touch-screen smartphone without a stylus, which was unusual. Apple made outrageous claims about the usability of the phone and the variety of applications that would be available. The keyboard was impossibly responsive and the software was very well integrated. I literally turned to a peer and said, “There’s no way the phone is going to work as well as they say it will.” Of course, I was completely wrong. The phone released to unheard-of fanfare and completely revolutionized the mobile industry.
I didn’t buy one until late 2008, when the new 3G version was released. My loyalty to Nokia had finally been shattered. When I left the country a year later for my ten month journey abroad, I included my disconnected iPhone among the electronics in my pack. I took it primarily for the iPod music functionality, but as time went on I came to rely on it as a backup camera and an access point when I found a place with wi-fi. It never totally replaced my netbook or dedicated camera, but it became a steady companion.
When I came home and hooked it back up to a cellular network, it was indispensable. It ended up being the last iPhone I’ve carried; by the time I was ready for a new device, the Android market had heated up and I preferred the customization the new platform allowed. Although sometimes it feels like the rate of technological improvement has slowed, it’s just less obvious. My phone now has a fingerprint scanner, a sensor that rivals stand-alone digital cameras, incredible screen resolution, and more.
Today my smartphone is a connection to the world at large; it’s my map, notepad, encyclopedia, newspaper, music player, and more. I don’t go down any back road in Oklahoma without it. Though I don’t carry an Apple device anymore, my handheld computer (still worn on my hip in a holster; old habits die hard) is a direct descendant of that day a decade ago when Steve Jobs held up a little glass rectangle and said it would change the world.
I didn’t believe him at the time. I definitely do today. Having the entire internet in my pocket at all times has opened up the world and allowed me to expand my horizons in many ways. I wouldn’t travel the way I do now without it. Thank you, Apple!