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The Apple iPhone 14 launch is just around the corner and we are looking back at the glorious years of how the iPhone came to be what it is today. And we are going to take a look at a very interesting smartphone — the second-generation iPhone 3G. We all know how historic the original 2007 iPhone was but it was the iPhone 3G in 2008 which was going to be the real test of the company. Why? Because in the first year, the company created an iconic smartphone which encapsulated three products, an iPod, a mobile phone and an internet communicator, within one device. But what now? What happens after you have hit the height of innovation? Do you follow the other mobile companies and work on a separate design or do you stick with the same model and give up on the chance of adding something as revolutionary as the previous device? The choice was difficult for Apple CEO Steve Jobs at that time, but the answer he came up with was nothing short of genius.
Even as the original iPhone was innovative, it was not perfect. It was an entirely new product-category in itself and Jobs knew there was a big scope for improvement. Jobs had a big decision to make and his answer to the problem was 3G. In 2008, it massively changed the mobile internet scene. It offered 2-3 times the speed compared to EDGE and it was merciful on the battery life. And Apple decided to make 3G the heart of the second generation iPhone. So much so that they skipped the number two and named the product iPhone 3G.
But you would be mistaken to think that is all iPhone 3G innovated. We are just scratching the surface of this iceberg. Even as the device kept its original design with a 3.5-inch screen, same buttons and ports, there were some important improvements in its body. First, the second-gen smartphone favored a plastic body instead of aluminum, which reduced the cost of manufacturing, improved the network (plastic is radio transparent) and made it thinner.
The second change was improving the 3.5mm headphone jack so that any earphone and headphone could work with the device instead of just Apple’s headphones. Quite a contrast to the iPhone 7 in 2016 which finally took away the headphone jack.
But we are talking about innovation here. The iPhone 3G took leverage of the faster internet capabilities and even brought GPS. This changed the way apps like Google Maps worked and made them far more functional.
But probably the most historic feature that the iPhone 3G received (technically it was launched a day before the launch of the device), was the App Store. The original iPhone was launched without any third-party apps. But iPhone 3G changed the game with Apple’s own third-party application platform which would go on to become the single biggest rival of Google’s Android-based Play Store.
The iPhone 3G also improved its pricing. Compared to the original iPhone’s price of $399 for the 8GB variant, the iPhone 3G was priced only $199 for the 8GB model. And a cumulative effect of all this? The iPhone 3G became incredibly popular and beat sales metrics of its predecessor with ease.
After selling one million devices in just the first weekend, Steve Jobs said in the company’s press release, “It took 74 days to sell the first one million original iPhones, so the new iPhone 3G is clearly off to a great start around the world”. And a great start it indeed was.
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