When Apple first announced the iPhone in 2008, it’s unveil shocked the world for a multitude of reasons. It was an iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator all rolled into one, single device. Today, most recognize the impact that the iPhone had on the worlds of computers and smartphones, with the small device completely changing the landscape not just for smartphones, but also for desktop and laptop computers for years to come. What many overlook, however, was the iPhone’s impact on the portable music player space. Prior to the iPhone, the only user friendly way to listen to music on the go was to use MP3 players, and of these portable music players, Apple’s iPod line was the undisputed king. The iPod was key to bringing Apple back from the dark ages that were the early 90s, and the company put everything on the line for what was, at the time, a largely unproven product, in the hopes that it would successfully help to bring Apple back into the minds of the general public. And bring Apple back it did. From the introduction of the first iPod in 2001, Apple had captured the market with their well designed, user friendly, and high performance MP3 player, selling hundred of millions of them throughout their nearly 20 year lifespan. Even now, the iPod is easily one of the most famous and most impactful products of the past 20 years, and its easy to see how the how the iPod paved the way for the iPhone, the device that would make Apple the trillion dollar company it is today. But Apple knew that the iPod wasn’t going to last forever, it was clear that mobile phones were getting more and more capable, and soon enough they would be able to fit fully fledged portable music players inside them, a possibility likely to decimate the sales and cultural prevalence of the iPod. This in part ultimately led to the development of the iPhone, which would incorporate its very own music player, effectively rendering the iPod useless for iPhone owners. Simply put, Apple knew it was better to cannibalize the sales of their own product in the pursuit of making a new, more user friendly and powerful product, then to have the iPod destroyed by their enemies. And they were right. The iPhone sold over 6 million units, and changed the course of technology forever, in large part because of the fact that, instead of having to buy a phone and an iPod, users could just buy an iPhone which included a fully fledged iPod, a fact that decimated the sales of the iPod, but ultimately contributed to the success that was the iPhone. That brings us to today, err, last week, where Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a plethora of new products, most importantly a new Apple Watch, with a story that very much so echoes the one just covered. The new Apple Watch features a new “Kids Mode” that will allow parents to set up an Apple Watch for their kids and allow them to use it as a phone, without the kids themselves needing an iPhone of their own. For years, if parents wanted to remain in contact with their kids using iMessage or FaceTime on Apple Devices, they would need to shell out extra money to both buy them a new iPhone and add them to their cellular plan. But not anymore. Now all they have to do is buy a much cheaper Apple Watch with a much more affordable data plan to achieve the same effect as before, albeit for a much lower price. This will, without a doubt, take a meaningful chunk out of iPhone sales from parents buying phones for their kids. But at the same time, it has the effect of both furthering the already great user experience Apple provides, while also pushing Apple Watch sales, a device that completely dominates its market, whereas the iPhone year after year falls behind in sales to cheaper competitors. Apple, and more accurately, Tim Cook is effectively playing the role of the police enforcing Moore’s Law, pushing users to the future of tech, while simultaneously ensuring his companies success and relevance in the future by pushing products that will play increasingly important roles in Apple’s product lineup.
For the past few decades the spread and democratization of technology kickstarted by the introduction of the first personal computers in the 1980s has gradually become more and more of a defining force in our lives, with many of our lives being intrinsically infused with, and, in turn, defined by, the technology we use for our work, entertainment, and well being everyday. As these technologies have become more and more important in our lives, our lives have in turn responded to these technologies diligently, as our lifestyles grow in new directions led by the their relationships with the technology we have become so dependent on. One field that has become completely redefined by the growing relationship between technology and our lives is that of the workplace, with many of the jobs held by Americans today being defined by the modern technologies that are put to use within them. Even outside of workplace culture, we can see how technology has slipped itself into everything, even in the most random places. This is like a good thing though because the more people that can use technology equates to a higher demand for technological advancement I guess.