IPhone Turns 10: How It Became A Cultural Icon

The iPhone 7 was introduced and the biggest stir was about what it didn’t have. It featured a second telephoto lens on the back, but it lacked a 3.5-millimeter audio jack—a piece of equipment that had been standard not only on phones but on other electronic equipment for more than half a century. The move was controversial, and it didn't help that Apple’s wireless AirPods were delayed for two months, finally reaching a limited number of consumers just before Christmas.

Criticism of Apple’s decision came from all quarters, from environmentalists lamenting the "mountain of electronic waste" from all those discarded wired earbuds to young female mass transit riders who claimed that the sight of headphone cords were an effective barrier against guys approaching them on trains and buses. A group of wired earbud fans, 300,000 strong, signed a petition urging Apple to restore the headphone jack. A prank video on You Tube encouraged a few unsuspecting users to search for hidden headphone jack on their new iPhones. With a cordless power drill.

Why did Apple abandon this popular feature? "The reason to move on really comes down to one word: courage," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of worldwide marketing, said at the iPhone 7 launch. "The courage to move on and do something new that betters all of us."

Despite Schiller’s best efforts to channel Jobs with his launch-day hyperbole, iPhone 7 sales through the fall were disappointing, and there’s a chance that the 7 could be the first iPhone that doesn’t outsell its predecessor.

Not that the phone didn't perform well. "Now that we've finished testing the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, we can confirm that they're the best models Apple has ever produced, though not by much" Consumer Reports wrote. One feature we found particularly appealing: This was the first water-resistant iPhone, reducing an owner's anxiety around sinks, bathtubs, and wading pools. 

Does this mean the iPhone wave has peaked? Not necessarily. Many industry analysts suggest that consumers are simply waiting for the hotly anticipated 10th anniversary iPhone 8 with rumored features including an edge-to-edge display (with no frame visible around it) and wireless charging. Cowen and Co. analyst Tim Arcuri told investors that this pent-up demand “creates a veritable powder keg for upgrades with an innovative new phone in '17.” 

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