The 2007 introduction of the iPhone brought a corona-like reawakening to the wireless industry, an industry that had long fallen asleep in a bed of poppys. Reviewers desperately tried to make the boring breathtaking as OEMs dolled out truckloads of phones that in many respects remind me of Henry Ford's famous words regarding his Model T, "You can have any color, as long as it's black."
The major carriers, in concert with manufacturers, had hitherto made up all the rules. They decided the kind of operating systems we would use, spending enormous amounts of money only to produce awkward and silly web environments, challenging sub-menus and odd and often useless tools and applications.
Then along came the iPhone, and overnight everyone's world view changed. No longer subjugated by the intellectually challenged firewall of Corporate Wireless and the painful drip, drop, drip release of technology, the iPhone showed up to the party like Bob Dylan at a Bay City Rollers concert. The iPhone can do what?!
Apple built a revolutionary phone that disrupted the entire industry. Palm couldn't do it, even though they invented touch screen technology over 20 years ago. And the major carriers were too busy trying to find still more ways to nickel and dime us that they never saw it coming.
Apple's iPhone is as instructive as it is revolutionary. It shows that truly imaginative thinking comes not from inside the box, but outside. It showed that when companies become comfortable in their markets, dramatic leaps in innovation are rare.
During the second half of 2008 we are going to see the introduction of exceptional phones from various companies, and all because of Apple. Instead of talking about which phone has a 1.3MP camera or some such foolishness, we will be discussing rugged, spacious Qwerty keyboards, haptic technology and touchscreens with brilliant colors and wonderful resolution.
All of this is because of Apple.
One hears a lot of talk about potential "iPhone Killers". The only iPhone killer I see is an industry that did nothing to move in a direction where such a discussion would ever take place.
So while Palm continues building phones on an operating system that debuted the same year as air conditioning and while Motorola CEOs fold and flee like bad poker players, Apple remains strident, imaginative and captivating.
So kudos to the smart kids in the garage who bucked the system and built a product that the industry secretly wishes never existed.