The Year of the iPhone, Again

Today is D-Day: Steve Jobs will announce the Second Coming of the iPhone, just 20 days before its first anniversary. Think about it. It has been less than a year, and the iPhone is in the minds of everyone, getting almost-sickening front page treatment in every newspaper, magazine, and blog all around the world. Even if it's not the best selling phone or the one with the most features, the impact has been so big that it has permeated popular culture and language itself. Here's one of many examples.

This is the unmistakable iPhone outline on top of the word "Mobiles," found in the "Quiet Zone" carriage in the Chiltern Line, while I was travelling down to London from the English countryside. Not a generic standard mobile phone with a keyboard, which is what we have been using for the last two decades, but the iPhone.

It may seem like a capricious selection by the designer, but I've seen the same use everywhere: a newspaper chart showing some generic data about the mobile phone market, a sign in a shop, advertising from companies completely unrelated to Apple... it's everywhere, like a virus, popping in printed and TV material, and also affecting the look of other generic products—like the original iMac or the iPod did—not only other mobiles.

The fact is that—whether you like it or not—the iPhone has become The Mobile Phone. Not just The Smartphone, but The Mobile Phone, a benchmark that serves to measure every other terminal out there. Anything new with a big screen from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, or LG are now iPhone-killer wannabes. The theoretical market leader, Research In Motion, is now seen by analysts and the public as "struggling" to catch up with the iPhone, even while its executives try to minimise the impact of Cupertino's iconic gadget.

One random example: I was buying a new SIM card last week, and I overheard a client talking to a shop clerk who was showing to her one of the latest LG touch smartphones. Her comment was something like:

"...but the touch screen doesn't work well. It just doesn't. It's not like the iPhone. It's not... smooth, you know?"

The shop guy looked at her and nodded "I know, it's not very good, but unfortunately we have no more iPhones, you'll have to wait."

It may be anecdotal evidence, but it is true. Of all the touch mobile phones I have tried, the only one that feels right, smooth and perfect, has been the iPhone. And every other person I've asked is saying the same thing, friends, colleagues, family, people who I know were Apple haters, and people who I know were complete gadget newbies. All of them swear by their iPhones, even while they recognise what it lacks, and want more from it.

We will see if His Steveness gives them what they want today, live at Gizmodo.

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