Happy 4th Birthday, iPhone

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Here’s a reminder of how quickly the tech industry moves: Apple’s iPhone turns four years old today.

On June 29, 2007, Apple launched the first-generation iPhone. Despite its $500 price tag and measly 4 GB of storage, Apple fanatics diligently camped out at Apple Stores around the country, hoping to be the first to own one of these aluminum-clad smartphones. (Two months later, these same fans would be dismayed to see a $100 price cut and expansion to 8 GB for the basic model. Apple offered $100 gift cards as consolation.)

(LIST: Best Inventions of 2007)

The iPhone sparked a revolution in the cell phone industry. Flat, touch-screen slabs are now the standard for smartphones. And the iPhone App Store, which launched in 2008, transformed smartphone software from an extra feature to the main focus of any mobile platform. These days, a smartphone with no apps has no chance to survive.

Indeed, the old guard of smartphones has struggled in the iPhone era. Research in Motion hasn’t been able to create a state-of-the-art smartphone in its BlackBerry line, and the company seems to be in a free-fall. Microsoft had to throw out its Windows Mobile operating system and start afresh with Windows Phone 7. Ditto for Palm, which created WebOS in response to the iPhone but failed to get any traction with its Pre smartphones, and has since been acquired by HP. All of this stems from the iPhone and the subsequent rise of Android, with both platforms now dominating the market.

For that matter, it’s hard to believe that Apple and Google were pals when the original iPhone launched. Google search was, and still is, the iPhone’s default search engine, and YouTube is built directly into the phone. With Android, Google’s relationship with Apple soured, and now the companies are considered to be rivals.

Despite all these changes, the iPhone is still a baby when compared to desktop operating systems like Windows and Mac OS, but the iOS software has already made its way to the iPad and Apple TV, and the iPhone itself shows no signs of slowing down.

Four years on, the iPhone has proven to be Apple’s future.

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