Five years of iPhone
iPhone 4: iOS 4.0
In the middle of 2010, Jobs unveiled iPhone 4 as an entirely new hardware design, using a much faster processor Apple branded A4, along with twice the memory, a gyroscope, an industry leading ultra high DPI Retina Display, a very high quality mobile camera with flash and a front facing video conferencing camera. Apple's iPhone suddenly jumped from trailing most high end smartphones in features to besting them across the board.
In addition to just launching new hardware, Apple's newly named iOS 4.0 took full advantage of the new hardware, adding easy to use FaceTime features, full support for the new high DPI display, and adding new multitasking features for quickly switching between apps and support for running specific background services without killing battery life. The new release supported previous iPhones dating back to the second generation.
iPhone 4 stoked enormous demand after its release. As an engineering effort, it was impressive just from the standpoint of being launched months after the brand new iPad, which itself was a major engineering development and a massive operational undertaking. The new iOS 4 incorporated a variety of features that had been introduced earlier on the iPad.
While iPad was outselling every Tablet PC sold in the previous decade within its first few months on sale, iPhone 4 was erasing the trajectory of Verizon's Android surge.
iPhone 4 competitors: 2010 - 2011
Verizon's 2010 Droid campaign got off to a dramatic start, but quickly lost momentum as iPhone 4 began hitting the market. That promoted Verizon to rethink its Android-centric strategy within the same year. Verizon first signed up to carry the iPad, and within a few more months, expanded its relationship with Apple to include iPhone 4.
CES and MWC 2011 launched a variety of multicore smartphones capable of new 4G LTE services. However, Apple didn't simply match theses "beginning of the year" announcements as it had in the previous two years. Instead, the company focused on the new iPad 2, which carried a multicore A5 chip. Google also focused on the iPad, devoting its Android 3.0 Honeycomb release to enable a viable iPad competitor among its licensees.
While trying to find buyers for WP7, Microsoft also focused on tablets, promising a variety of new Windows 7 devices just as it had prior to the iPad a year ago, in its Slate PC partnership with HP. That plan had quickly collapsed; HP subsequently responded to the iPad by buying Palm, ostensibly to deliver a new series of webOS powered smartphones but also to deliver a new tablet competitor.
RIM also focused on tablets with its PlayBook, while delaying enhancements for its BlackBerry smartphones until multicore chips were available to let its smartphones run the same OS as its new tablet.
With so many iPad competitors jostling for a piece of the market Apple had defined a year earlier, there was little focus on competitors' response to iPhone 4. Rather than gaining tangible new features, Android licensees began focusing on big displays, NFC "tap to buy" features and 4G connectivity, despite limited availability of 4G networks and the nascent technology's power hungry ability to discharge the mobile device's battery even while plugged in to a car charger.
HP's webOS, RIM and WP7 all focused just on finding users, but all three lost significant marketshare while Apple continued selling iPad 2 and iPhone 4 as quickly as it could make them.
On page 5 of 5: iPhone 4S: iOS 5.0 and competitors 2011 - 2012