A lot happened with the world’s most revolutionary mobile device in 2009. Here is my attempt to sum it all up.
A timeline of the most notable iPhone events of the year:
January 14: Following a year of unprecedented success for iPhone and Apple, CEO Steve Jobs announces he will take a six-month leave of absence from Apple to focus on his health. Much speculation ensues over Jobs’ health and how his absence will affect the future of the company.
January 15: A plane crashes on the Hudson River. The first photo of the incident is captured not by the mainstream media, but by a citizen with an iPhone who posts the picture on Twitter.
February 16: Six months after the launch of the iPhone App Store, Microsoft announces a new strategy that includes launching a Windows Marketplace for Windows Mobile phones. Once the dominant player in the PC and mobile spaces, Microsoft is now lagging behind Apple in the race for smartphone marketshare.
- February 27: iPhone reaches 1 million sales in the UK.
- March 1: A report by web metrics firm Net Applications reveals that Apple dominates mobile search, with a “commanding lead” over other mobile devices.
April 10: Apple celebrates 1 billion downloads in the iPhone App Store.
- April 20: AT&T doubles the downlink capacity of its 3G network in the US, in response to complaints of sluggish speeds on the network. The iPhone’s heavy data diet is to blame.
- April 23: Bolstered by a wildly successful iPhone, Apple reports a 15 percent profit surge despite a weak economy.
May 7: Nine Inch Nails has its app rejected from the App Store because of obscenities in a podcast linked to in the app. The incident marks the beginning of a series of high-profile App Store rejections by Apple.
June 8: Girls from the adult site iPorn crash Apple’s WWDC conference, determined to convince Apple execs to end the moratorium on adult iPhone apps in the App Store.
June 19: Apple starts selling the iPhone 3GS, the fastest, most powerful iPhone to date.
- June 29: Steve Jobs returns to work at Apple two years after the launch of the first iPhone.
July 3: The University of Florida announces it will require its pharmacy students to purchase iPhones or iPod Touches for use in the curriculum. The new policy highlights iPhone’s growing ubiquity in the United States.
July 22: Foxconn worker Sun Danyong in China commits suicide after a secret iPhone prototype goes missing. One blogger said the story illustrates “how Apple’s secretive ways send extreme pressure all the way down the company’s international supply chain.”
August 18: iPhone becomes the most popular camera on Flickr. Apple’s device has surpassed the Canon Digital Rebel XTI on the photo sharing site, which is home to a range of iPhone photos (some quite stunning).
- September 9: Apple releases the iPhone 3.1 update, which adds a Genius-like recommendation system for iPhone apps.
September 25: AT&T finally enables the much-awaited multimedia messaging service (MMS) for iPhone, a feature available on even the most rudimentary phones which lets users send photos and/or videos via text message.
October 3: Augmented reality iPhone apps begin trickling into the App Store after the feature, which allows applications to impose a virtual data layer over a camera view of the real world, was enabled in iPhone 3.1. The technology promises to unveil a plethora of new possibilities for iPhone apps.
- October 19: Apple reports soaring iPhone sales, 7.4 million in the previous quarter.
October 23: Nokia sues Apple, claiming the iPhone maker has infringed on no fewer than 10 Nokia patents “relating to GSM, UMTS and WLAN technologies.”
- November 4: Apple announces 100,000 apps, 2 billion downloads in the App Store.
November 6: Verizon launches the Droid phone, which is powered by Google’s Android mobile operating system. The phone enjoys strong sales. Droid, along with other Android phones (some yet to arrive), contributes to the “Android Army” phenomenon that promises to steal marketshare from iPhone.
November 8: The first ever iPhone worm begins to spread across iPhones. Although not malicious, the virus “rickrolls” iPhones that have undergone a Jailbreak by plastering a photo of 80s pop singer Rick Astley on iPhone wallpapers. The virus raises questions about the security of Jailbreak, an unauthorized hack that enables a slew of custom iPhone modifications.
November 12: Facebook iPhone app developer Joe Hewitt quits the iPhone project, citing his concerns over an overly-stringent App Store approval process.
- December 1: A reference to the next-gen iPhone is spotted in usage logs by an iPhone app developer, suggesting that a new iPhone prototype is already in use by the folks at Apple.
- December 11: Following Nokia’s suit against Apple in October, Apple files a countersuit against Nokia, alleging the company infringed on 13 of its iPhone patents.
December 12: Google sources say the search giant is working on a mobile phone of its own, dubbed the Nexus One, which will run on the Android operating system and be sold online. Time will tell whether the official Google phone will emerge as a strong competitor to the iPhone.
December 14: To promote an anti-AT&T action dubbed “Operation Chokehold,” Newsweek blogger Dan Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs) circulates a memo encouraging US iPhone owners to simultaneously run data-heavy apps for one hour in order to cripple AT&T’s network and draw attention to much-needed infrastructure improvements. AT&T responds, calling the move “irresponsible.”
December 18: No doubt influenced by the success of the iPhone App Store, Ford announces it will launch an automotive app store for its vehicles.
It has been a busy year for Apple’s iPhone team, and for the mobile sphere in general. While iPhone held the spotlight in 2008, Android emerged in ’09 as a serious competitor. Nevertheless, the iPhone App Store remains firmly in the lead.
In two and a half years, the iPhone has changed how we organize our lives, how we communicate, and literally — with augmented reality — how we view the world. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
What do you think?
Which were the most memorable iPhone moments of 2009? Have I left any out? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.