NEW YORK — In my review of the first iPhone 10 years ago, I called it a "glitzy wunderkind" and a "prodigy." The thing about prodigies, no matter how gifted, is they often flame out. For all the hype that surrounded Apple's prized new device, there was no guarantee in 2007 that it, too, wouldn't burn out before it really took off.
The opposite happened, of course. Not only have more than 1 billion iPhones been sold, but, fueled by its enormous success, Apple became the biggest disrupter in tech for a time, and the most valuable company on the planet.
But what does a look back at that original iPhone and its successors suggest about what tech might look like 10 years from now, or, for that matter, which companies will be in front of the pack?
The iPhone famously put the Internet in our pockets — despite limits, the browser was the closest thing to the real-deal Internet that I'd seen on such a device. I expect we'll all still carry these super-intelligent computers in our pockets well into the future.
But I also believe that many, if not most, of the sensor-driven products we'll come to rely on will be so small, that they'll be hidden inside walls, ceilings, furniture, maybe even our own bodies. It plays into the still evolving Internet of Things trend, and what technology watchers sometimes refer to as ambient computing.
Sounds far-fetched? Consider where we were a decade ago when the original iPhone surfaced. It's hard to fathom now, but the idea that a smartphone would remove a physical dialing pad and Qwerty-style keyboard was remarkable.
Steve Jobs was making what was at the time an extraordinarily chancy wager. Nowadays, of course, smartphones with physical keyboards are the exception rather than the rule.
That Jobs' bet paid off big time should serve as a lesson to the current and future leaders of tech. While those leaders shouldn't make rash or reckless decisions, those who do prevail will likely have to take bold risks and alter the status quo.
We all experienced a bit of a learning curve adapting to the virtual keyboards that took the place of physical keys on that first iPhone, but most of us adapted soon enough. Before long, we marveled at how that these virtual keyboards morphed into something different depending on what we were doing on the phone. For example, the keyboard for browsing the Web differed from the one that showed inside the Mail app. It makes all the sense in the world now but it was novel in 2007.