The iPhone celebrates its eighth anniversary this weekend, measuring from the day in which Steve Jobs first unveiled it before a Macworld Expo audience – and Apple is celebrating the occasion by finally catching up on unprecedented demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Tech products invariably have a lifespan – the iPod was introduced in 2001 and was a hot commodity by 2004 but faded to irrelevance once the iPhone came along – but if sales of the latest Apple smartphone are any indication, the iPhone is around for the long haul.
Jobs chose to abandon the click wheel interface and Pixo operating system of the iPod in favor of an entirely new touchscreen OS filtered down from MacOS X, giving the iPhone an interface already known to Mac users and straightforward enough to be easily learned by newcomers to Apple while being powerful enough to qualify as a handheld computer in a manner the classic iPod never did. Apple’s challenge since that time has been how to move the iPhone forward and motivate consumers to upgrade while remaining true to the straightforwardness of the original model eight years ago.
The answer has most recently come in the form of the iPhone 6, a device which is ordinately larger to accommodate the size fetish of Apple’s competitors while continuing to deliver the kind of tightly integrated platform which app developers favor over competitors like Android. Each new iPhone has seen initial demand strong enough to make inventory hard to find for the first few weeks, and a few iPhones over the years have had component shortages which have caused prolonged delays.
But the iPhone 6 is the first model to deliver three months of shortages right out of the gate, none of which were caused by any known component or manufacturing issues. The product is, simply put, a home run. But now that Apple has finally caught up to demand, it faces the challenge of ensuring that demand remains high. And in the long run, it must be careful that next generation products like the Apple Watch and its competitors don’t eventually make the iPhone as irrelevant as the iPod.