The First Five Years of the iPhone Obsession

Taking stock of the iPhone’s impact on business and culture on the anniversary of its debut
IPhones sold: 217 million and counting Photograph by Caleb Charland for Bloomberg Businessweek

On June 29, 2007, the first iPhone went on sale. The Apple device benefited from breathless advance buzz but also had its skeptics: It cost $600 and had no physical keyboard, limited e-mail options, and no copy-and-paste. In hindsight, it was clearly dumb to bet against Steve Jobs & Co. Apple has since sold more than 217 million iPhones worldwide and sparked a commercial, cultural, and—most surprising—behavioral revolution. According to a study of medical workers at the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., 76 percent say they’ve experienced “phantom vibration,” that insistent buzz from an imagined text or phone call. Scientists speculate it’s the result of random nerves firing, biochemical noise that our brains easily tuned out until they were reconditioned by the iPhone.

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