Thursday, 30 Nov 2023

TechScape: The

TechScape: The ?smartphone era? transformed the world ? what will define the next decade?

TechScape: The

The annual cadence of Apple's money-printing press conferences is a big date on the tech journalism calendar. It might not be exciting any more (as we discussed last year), with a steady stream of leaks removing the chance of big surprises and an increasingly incremental approach to product design ensuring that each year's release is mostly the same as the previous year's. But it's still a big moment for readers, reporters and the industry.

For me, it's also a personal milestone. I joined the Guardian when the iPhone 5S was announced, and I've covered technology here for ten years since then.

The iPhones have changed over that time, obviously. From the slender iPhone 5S, which introduced Touch ID to the line-up, through the death, rebirth and death again of "small" phones, to the introduction of the iPhone X and the £1,000 smartphone, all the way to the present, with the iPhone 15 Pro's titanium body, hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and built-in espresso machine.

But so too has much else. The job of a technology reporter is meaningfully different from when I started, just as the sector I cover is.

There's already an app for that

Ten years ago was the dying days of the app boom. In 2009, Apple had launched the iPhone 3G with the tagline, "there's an app for that", seizing on the App Store - launched just a few months earlier - as the unique selling point for the platform as a whole. But the real app boom took a few more years to arrive, as smartphone penetration took mobile app development from a fun hobby to a system for printing your own lottery tickets.

With millions of iPhones sold, and a mobile web experience that was still sub-par, it was perfectly possible to slap together a 79p app, sell it to a couple of million people, and make enough money to retire. That didn't happen that often, perhaps, but it was frequent enough to shape people's perception of the business.

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