The iPhone turns 10: here are 10 industries it reshaped

The smartphone has altered industries ranging from transportation to education to media

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
June 29, 2017
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/49c4

On June 29, 2007, the first iPhone was released, and the world would never be the same.

It's hard to overstate how influential that little device has been. I remember when I got my first iPhone and thinking that I would never use apps. Cut to today, and my phone is filled with so many apps I've started having to delete them because they're taking up too much memory.

The iPhone has changed everything from the way we work to how we get around to how we take care of ourselves.

Here are some the industries that have been forever changed by giving everyone a computer in their pocket:

  • Transportation

The most obvious change from the iPhone was how we get around. Think about the last time you used a phone to call a cab, or, if you're in New York, hailed one on the street. Its been a while, hasn't it?

That is having a pretty big effect on the taxi industry in cities across the country, who are seeing their grip on the space slip away. In New York, for example, the price of a medallion, which are required to own a cab, dropped in half, from $1.32 million to $650,000. And in San Francisco, the city's largest cab company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. 

Sure, Uber may be facing some hard times right now, but the simple fact is that it, along with rival company Lyft, has managed to upend the taxi industry. All thanks to the iPhone.

  • Work

Beyond just changing the taxi industry, Uber is one of the companies that has created a whole new style of working: the gig economy, where people are able to work on-demand rather than at traditional, 9 to 5 jobs. For some people these are side gigs and additional money, and for others they are necessities to stay afloat. 

Companies like TaskRabbit, Airbnb, Handy, Thumbtack are all championing this new type of work, and the number of people participating is only going to grow. A report from Intuit and Emergent Research in May projects that the number of Americans working gig economy jobs will go from 3.8 million in 2016 to 9.2 million in 2012. 

According to a Pew study from November of last year, 8 percent of Americans earned money in the previous 12 months using digital platforms to take on a job or task.

Of course, with this new type of working come issues. Gig economy workers don't get the same benefits as salaried employees, which has led to fights and lawsuits between management and staff. How exactly this shakes out is anybody's guess, but there's no doubt that mobile has changed the concept of what it means to make money.

  • Healthcare

As we've all heard over and over during the most recent debates, healthcare is one-sixth of the entire U.S. economy. And the rise of smartphones have no doubt had an effect on how people take care of themselves, giving them more information and data to monitor their own health.

More than half of all smartphone users have downloaded a mobile health app for things like weight loss, exercise and pregnancy. 

On the other side, the iPhone has revolutionized the doctor's life as well, with more than 80 percent using smartphones at work. A lot of that has to do with the rise in telemedicine, which allows patients and doctors to connect via video chat, without requiring an in-office visit. Over 70 percent of phyisicians now use these tools. 

  • Retail

Despite the fact that the vast majority of shopping is still done in-store, to the tune of over 90 percent, there's no denying how much of an impact e-commerce has had on the sector. And a growing percentage of that is now coming from mobile.

In 2012, there was $37.72 billion done in m-commerce sales, for 46.6 percent of all e-commerce business, according to data from eMarketer. By 2021, it is expected to reach $333.65 billion, for 80.5 percent of sales. 

While mobile has the ability to disrupt e-commerce, it also has the ability to enhance the brick and mortar experience. There have been numerous companies popping up in recent users, which use mobile, specifically geolocation, to send targeted advertisements to smartphones. A survey from 2015 also found that 90 percent of shoppers use their phones in-store for price comparisons, to look up product information and to check reviews online. So the rise of mobile might actually wind up being a good thing for traditional retail.

  • Education

One of the more controversial uses of smartphones is when it comes to education, and it's easy to see both sides.

On the one hand, we're carrying devices that contain all potential information, and they are right at our fingertips. On the other hand, there have been studies that suggest that having information so readily available actually makes it harder to retain.

However, most people have a positive view of the Internet's affect on education. A Pew poll found that 64 percent said it was a good include on education, compared to 53 percent on personal relationships, and 52 percent on the economy. 

  • Video

The last few years have seen a big jump in video streaming online thanks, in large part, to the rise of Netflix. In 2015, video accounted for 70 percent of all broadband traffic. While video only made up less than 41 percent of traffic on mobile devices at the time, it is about to jump way, way up.

According to projections from Cisco, mobile video traffic grew to 60 percent in 2016 and will be 78 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic by 2021, a 9-fold increase in five years. 

As more people cut the chord, there's an expectation, thanks to the iPhone, of having entertainment wherever we go.

  • Dating

Online dating has been around for a while now, with eHarmony being founded all the way back in 2000. It was only when mobile came around, though, that things kicked into high gear. All of the sudden you had apps like Grindr and Tinder, which allowed you find a date right then and there, using the geolocation on your phone to find out who happened to be around you at that moment.

A 2013 study from ChristianMingle and JDate found that more than half, 55 percent, of single people felt that their mobile devices was making it easier to meet and get to know people they may be interested in dating, and that an even higher percentage, 64 percent, said that mobile devices improved the quality of their relationships. (From my perspective, I also think this is true: my girlfriend and I text each other constantly throughout the day, allowing to have communication with it being a burden or take away from the other things we're doing)

Half of the people in that survey said that they had used mobile online dating websites or apps.

  • Travel

Just about every aspect of travel has been changed by the invention of the smartphone. From booking travel on apps like Kayak or Expedia, to Google Maps, which helps tourists not get lost in unfamiliar cities, and apps like Fromers, which provide helpful tips and walking tours. 

Look at an app like HotelTonight, which lets people book nearby hotel rooms. An app like that could not exist unless it was on a mobile device. 

As of last year, more than half of travel-related browsing is done on a mobile device, while 31 percent of consumers will search for their next trip from a mobile device.

One overlooked way that the smartphone has changed travel is how we take pictures. When I went to Europe in early 2007, I had to carry around my clunky digital camera while worrying about losing it along with all of my photos. Now, I go and I use my phone, with everything backed up to the cloud, and I'm good to go.

  • Banking

If there's one area where I have been surprised about the shift to mobile, it has to be banking. I'd think for sure that people would be wary about having their financial information stolen or hacked.

Yet, people seem perfectly okay with it, even though there is evidence that it's dangerous. People transfer money to each other via PayPal and Venmo, cash their checks with a picture and move their money around.

According to a report from the Federal Reserve in 2016, 43 percent of people with a mobile device and a bank account had used online banking; that number jumped to 53 percent of smartphone owners. 94 percent used it to check their account balance, 58 percent to transfer money and 56 percent received an alert.

  • Gaming

It's so obvious that mobile changed gaming that I almost forgot to include it here. It's at the point now where if a gaming company doesn't have a mobile presence, it basically cannot survive. Nintendo, for example, fell into a rut as sales of its Wii console fell off and the company didn't release its first mobile game until 2016

According to data from Flurry, gaming apps were used more than apps from any other category for seven years in a row, though they have been declining since 2015.  The average US consumer still spends 33 minutes per day in mobile games, and the average session length is still growing: from 6 minutes and 22 seconds in 2016 to 7 minutes and 6 seconds in 2017.

Not that consoles are dead: Atari recently announced it is making its first one in over 20 years, but that is certainly not where the future of gaming is. 

(Image source: cultofmac.com)

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