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Factors That Made The Iphone So Successful Computer Science Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Computer Science
Wordcount: 4982 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The Apple iPhone has been a phenomenal success. Today iPhone is the most popular smart phones as compared to the other smartphones in the market. In this report we are going to investigate the factors that have made iPhone so successful- starting from its hardware, its Operating System to its User Interfaces. We are also going to investigate the concept of AppStore as a way of getting third party entities to write software for the iPhone platform. Also we are going to see the ways to emulate Apple’s success.

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The iPhone an Apple Inc. product is a multimedia enabled smartphone which was introduces on 9th January 2007. The iPhone functions as a multimedia phone with texting, e-mailing and visual voice mailing, media player, internet surfing, as well as wireless and 3G internet connectivity. The iPhone is multitouch screen phone over which the user interface is built and has no physical keyboard, instead it has a virtual keyboard.

In the year 2008, the company launched the 3rd- party apps. which could be downloaded from the App Store and these applications have diverse functionalities such as social networking, GPS navigation, Maps and games. Apple has approved about 300,000 applications till date. The company produces four models of iPhone accompanied with corresponding release of iPhone Operating System (iOS). The design of the initial model of iPhone persisted throughout all the models. The 4 models of iPhone were iPhone which was a GSM phone, the second model was iPhone 3G with 3G network and Assisted Global Positioning system locator, the third model was iPhone 3GS which had a compass, better camera including video and a faster processor and the latest model was the iPhone 4 which has two cameras.


The growth of iPhone began with Mr Steve Jobs, the Chief Executive Officer of Apple and directed the engineers to investigate on the concept of touchscreen. Apple along with AT&T Mobility originally produced the device and invested around US$100 million. The original iPhone came to the market on 29th June 2007 and was made available in Europe on November 2007. The second release of iPhone was the iPhone 3G model in 22 different countries. The 3G model was released on 11th july 2008. On 8th june 2009, the company released iPhone 3GS. Finally, on august 2010 Apple released the iPhone 4 model in major parts of Europe, US, Canada and some parts of Asia. Whenever Apple launched a newer model of iPhone, the previous models would go cheaper, i.e., when Apple released iPhone 3GS the 8GB and 16GB iPhone 3G were made cheaper. Apple used this kind of a strategy to gain wider market.

The rear part of the initial models of iPhone was made of aluminium with black plastic accent whereas the rear part of iPhone 3G and 3GS featured a full plastic in order to raise the GSM signal. In the table below is the list of iPhone models till date and model specification of each model.



iPhone 3G

iPhone 3GS

iPhone 4

Operating System

iOS V1

iOS V2

iOS V3

iOS V4.0


3.5 inch, 3:2 aspect ratio, scratch-resistant glossy glass cover screen, 144 colour LCD, 163 ppi

3.5 inch, 3:2 aspect ratio, scratch-resistant glossy glass cover screen, 144 colour LCD, 163 ppi

In addition to previous, features a fingerprint-resistant oleo phobic coating

3.5 inch, 3:2 aspect ratio, alumina silicate glass covered IPS LCD screen, at 326 ppi, 800:1 contrast ratio


four, eight, sixteen Gigabytes

Eight, sixteen Gigabytes

Eight, sixteen, thirty two Gigabytes

Sixteen, thirty two Gigabytes.


620 Megahertz Samsung 32-bit RISC ARM 1176JZ-Sv1

620 Megahertz Samsung 32-bit RISC ARM 1176JZ-Sv1

833 Megahertz ARM Cortex-A8

Samsung S5PC100

ARM Cortex-A8 Apple A4


128 Megabytes Dynamic Random Access Memory

128 Megabytes Dynamic Random Access Memory

256 Megabytes Dynamic Random Access Memory

512 Megabytes Dynamic Random Access Memory


PowerVR MBX Lite 3D GPU

PowerVR MBX Lite 3D GPU

PowerVR SGX535 GPU

PowerVR SGX535 GPU


Wi-Fi (802.11b/g),

USB 2.0/Dock connector,

Quad band Global System for Mobile communication /General Packet Radio Service/Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (850, 900, 1800, 1900 Megahertz)

Bluetooth + EDR CambridgeBluWi-Fi 

In addition to previous:

Assisted GPS,

Tri-band Universal Mobile Telecommunication System/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 Megahertz),

Includes earphones with mic

In addition to previous:

7.2 Megabits/sec HSDPA,

Bluetooth 2.1

Penta-band Universal Mobile Telecommunication System/HSDPA (800, 850, 900, 1900, 2100 Megahertz),

5.76 Megabits/sec HSUPA,

2.4 Gigahertz 802.11n,



2 MP

, 3.MP with VGAvideo at 30 frames per second ,white balance

a rear 5.MPbackside illuminated CMOS image sensorwith 720p HighDefinition video at 30 frames per second and LEDflash

Materials used

aluminium, glass and plastic

Glass and plastic;

Glass and plastic; black or white

Aluminosilicate glass and stainless steel; black


3.7 Volts 1400 milliAmphs·h

3.7 Volts 1150 milliAmphs·h

3.7 Volts 1219 milliAmphs·h

3.7 Volts 1420 milliAmphs·h


115mm Ã- 61mm Ã- 11.6 mm 

115.5mm Ã- 62.1mm Ã- 12.3 mm

115.5mm Ã- 62.1mm Ã- 12.3 mm

115.2mm Ã- 58.6mm Ã- 9.3mm


135 gms

135 gms

135 gms

137.2 gms

Types allocation codes


01/161200, 01/181200



The iPhone has earned positive feedbacks from sites and magazines like Mobile9, GSM arena and Walter Mossberg. People belonging to any age group or any orientation can easily attracted to iPhone,[11] and since it was a multimedia enabled smart phone, it has also been used for business purposes


Screen and input

The Apple iPhone has a 9cm LDC ( liquid crystal display) touch screen with scratch resistant glass specially designed for users to use their fingers instead of styluses and have a sensation of multi-touch. The touch screen is 20 times tough and 30 times stronger as compared to plastic. The first three generation of iPhones had a resolution of 320×480 (Half-size Video Graphics Array) at 163 pixels per inch, but the iPhone 4 has a resolution of 640×960 at 326 pixels per inch.[1] (Single pixel is about 78 micrometre). iPhone uses In plane switching technology which offers more vivid colours and wide viewing angle and hence enhances the display.

Using styluses or gloves on the touch screen may prevent the necessary electric conductivity but by using capacitive styli, this problem can be resolved.

The touch and gesture technology for the device was engineered by FingerWorks. Using styluses or gloves on the touch screen may prevent the necessary electric conductivity but by using capacitive styli, this problem can be resolved. The iPhone 3GS has a oleo phobic coating to protect the touch screen from fingerprints.

How the iPhone works?

First, when the finger is placed on the screen, the screen registers the touch and captures the raw data. For further filtration of the touch, all the background noise such as unwanted registered touches is removed and then the pressure points are measured. After measuring the pressure points, the touch areas are established and the exact touch co-ordinates as calculated and in this way the phone responds to the users touch.

Being a touch screen phone, the phone features a very little hardware interface with about 4 to 5 keys on it. Right below the screen is the main menu button called the “Home Button”, as it navigates the user to the home screen from any active application. This button is denoted with a house symbol. The power button of the iPhone is situated at the top of the device. This button also server as sleep/wake button and also used to control calls. By tapping the button once, the phone is turned into silent mode and if the button is pressed two times, the call directly goes to the voicemail. The volume control button is on the left of the phone, and directly above that is the silence button that mutes the audio when in use.

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The display has 3 sensors. The Proximity Sensor disables the touchscreen when the phone is held close to the face while calling. This is to prevent unwanted interrupts from the user. A conditional light sensor helps in adjusting the light intensity of the screen. Both Proximity Sensor and Ambient Light Sensor help is saving the battery power. The 3-axis accelerometer detects the orientation of the phone of how it is held and changes it screen accordingly. This feature allows the user to casually change from portrait to full screen mode and vice-versa. This feature of iPhone is very useful and convenient to view photos, web browsing and watching videos.

The iPhone 4 also includes a gyroscopic, used to locate the orientation of the phone. The 3.0 update introduced shaking the device as an input to the phone. This feature was widely used in game applications and also to change music tracks.

On January 2008, Apple launched a software update that allowed the original iPhone to switch from mobile network to Wi-Fi network which ever may be convenient,  despite of lacking Global Positioning System hardware[1]. The iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4 employ Assisted Global Positioning System.

Audio and output

The dock connector of the phone is at the bottom of the phone and to the left of the dock is the speaker and to the right of the dock is the microphone[1]. The earpiece of the unit is located above the screen. The iPhone 4 features a noise cancellation at the top which is very useful when the user is speaking over the phone and the receiver can hear the speaker clearly even if there is a lot of noise around him. To the left of the device is the volume controls.[1]

A 3.5mm TRRS connector is placed at the left top corner of the phone to connect the headphones. The headphone socket of the original iPhone is depressed into the casing[1], which makes the headphones not suitable with most headsets. But by using an adapter this issue can be resolved, and this issue is eliminated by a flush mounted headphones socket.[1] Vehicles with auxiliary socket allow users to speak the phone handsfree while driving.

Since iPhone features normal headphones, the headset produced by Apple has a multi-function key close to the MIC. Using this button the user can play, pause, change tracks, answer phone calls without even touching the phone[2]. The third party headset designed for iPhone also features the control button and a microphone and the extra information generated by the control button is carried by the fourth ring on the audio jack.

The iPhone has a built-in Bluetooth 2.x+EDR. Using this, wireless earphones or headsets can be connected to the phone, that demands the Headset profile . The iPhone does not feature exchange of multimedia files with other devices featuring Bluetooth since the iPhone does not officially support Object Exchange File Transfer Protocol[1].

The adapter sold by Apple, can support a stereo audio and video upto 576i from the Dock connector. The iPhone with iOS 3.0 featured voice recording.


The iPhone battery cannot be replaced by the users and the battery can is internal rechargeable. The device can be charged using a USB AC adapter (or wall charging) as well as by connecting the device to the computer using a USB cable (similar to charging an iPod).[1] A list of 3rd- party accessories such as car chargers, protable chargers, battery cases are also available.[1]

Apple thoroughly examines the iPhone’s battery life by running tests on the production unit[*]. According to Apple, the iPhone battery is capable of retaining upto 75% of its original battery life capacity even after 400 full charging and discharging cycles. We shall now compare the battery capacity of each of the iPhone models.


iPhone 3G

iPhone 3GS

iPhone 4

Video Playback

7 Hours

7 hours

10 hours

10 hours

Web browsing

6 hours

6 hours on Wi-Fi, 5 hours on 3G

9 hours on Wi-Fi, 5 hours on 3G

6 hours on 3G, 10 hours on Wi-Fi

Talk time

8 hours

10 hours on 2G, 5 hours on 3G

12 hours on 2G, 5 hours on 3G

7 hours on 3G, 14 hours on 2G

Audio playback

24 hours

24 hours

30 hours

40 hours

Standby time

250 hours

300 hours

300 hours

300 hours

Many journalists criticised that the battery life of the early models of iPhone was and less than what Apple claims[11]. This is also reflected by a J. D. Power and Associates customer satisfaction survey where the iPhone 3G was rated 2 out of 5 star.

This problem of the battery was a very serious issue as far as Apple was concerned. It was because of this the sales of the phones reduces slowly. To avoid this, the company decided to replace the phone for free if the battery of the iPhone malfunctions or dies permanently while still under warranty. Apple guaranteed its customers a warranty of one year on every phone and this warranty can be extended for two years with Apple care replacing the iPhone battery is similar to that of iPod, but the users were not aware of the cost involved in replacing the battery. Later on 3rd- party battery replacement kits were made available for a much cheaper price. These kits include an instruction leaflet and a screwdriver. But using the third party replacement kit might void the warranty and the phone will no more be eligible for any sort of replacement[1].


The iPhone and iPhone 3G has a 2MP camera behind the phone for still photos. The phone does not feature opt. zooming, flash or autofocusing. iPhone does not feature video recording, but by jailbreaking, this feature can be enabled. iOS 2.0 features geo-coded photographs[1].

The iPhone 3GS features a 3.2MP camera, produced by OmniVision which features autofocusing along with auto white balance and auto macro upto 10cm[1]. iPhone 3GS also features video recording of 640×480 VGA resolution recording at a rate 30 frames/sec, and also exibit the rolling shutter effect.[63]. The videos or photos captured can be editted on the phone itself and uploaded to web application such as YouTube, Facebook and so on[1].

The iPhone 4 has two cameras; one of them is a 5MPcamera at the back of the device. The camera is capable of capturing pictures even at a very low light condition as it features a backside illuminating sensor and also has a LED light for video recording at 720 pixel(HD)resolution. The second camera is a VGA camera at the front if the phone capable of capturing images at VGA quality and standard-definition video recording.[10]

Storage and SIM

The internal storage for the original iPhone was 4GB and 8GB, and there was no slot to expand the memory. The 4GB model was discontinued by Apple on 5th September 2007, instead added a 16GB model. The iPhone 3GS came in 16GB & 32GB variants and the iPhone 4 was released with internal memory of 16GB and 32GB. The memory of the device is fixed and cannot be expanded as there is no slot to insert any external memory card and all the data

The SIM card of the iPhone fits in a tray, which is then inserted into a slot at the top of the device and the SIM tray can be ejected with the help of a “SIM eject tool” included with the iPhone 3G and 3G. In many countries like the USA, UK, France and many other European countries, the phone is usually sold with a contract SIM, that is the phone is by default with a service provider with a minimum contract of 24 months. Due to SIM blocking, the phone was not compatible with other service providers apart from contractor. Only microSIM cards can be used in iPhone 4. Unlike normal SIM card, the microSIM is very small in size and is inserted in a slot which is on the right side of the iPhone and all the data is saved in an internal flash drive.

Moisture Sensor.

The Liquid Contact indicators on the iPhone is placed at the bottom of the phone and also include a small disc. The indicator will change its colour from white to red when the phone comes in contact with water and this indicator is used by the Apple technicians to decide if the phone is eligible for warranty repair or not[1]. The liquid contact indicators may be triggered through routine use, for example if the owner is sweating [1]; the sweat may also trigger the indicator, and also may be by the steam in a bathroom.[72] This could be one of the disadvantages of the iPhone as in many other mobile phones, this indicator is placed in a very protected are where it is very difficult for moisture to get into, for example in all Nokia phones the indicator is placed beneath the battery.


The iPhone runs on  iOS (formerly iPhone OS). The iPhone Operating system look similar to that of Apple desktops which uses Macintosh Operating System X. For graphical motion interface, iPhone uses PowerVR and core animation software component from Macintosh Operating System v10.5 Leopard and on the iPhone 3GS, it uses OpenGL E.S 2.0 instead of PowerVR. The operating system of iPhone requires about 500 to 600 Megabytes of hard drive space. The iPhone Operating System is capable of supporting present as well as future AppStore applications. Software applications must be written and compiled exclusively for iOS and cannot be directly copied from Macintosh Operating System (Mac OS X).

Similar to iPod, iPhone is also administrated with iTunes, say for example any software update or downloading any songs or any videos are all managed by iTunes which should be installed in the user’s desktop or laptops. iTunes is compatible with Mac OS V10.4 (Tiger) or later, and 32-bit Windows XP, Windows Vista and later. But this version was not compatible with higher versions of Windows, but with the release of version 7.6, iTunes was made compactible with 64-bit Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. All the updates were provided free of cost to iPhone users and the iOS could be updated only through iTunes.


The interface of the device is based around the home screen. The home screen comprises of a list of application represented graphically [*] iPhone application generally run one at a time but the iPhone OS V 4.0 includes multi-tasking (i.e., applications running in the background while another application is in use), however most of the function is still available while the user is listening to music, watching a video or making a phone call. Returning to the home screen is very simple while running an application by just pressing the home button at the bottom of the screen. By default, there are certain icons which are already present on the home screen. At the bottom of the home screen, there are four icons for phone, e-mail, browser and music[1]. On 15th January 2008, Apple launched software update 1.1.3. This update allowed the users to create “Web Clips”. After the release of update, the iPhone users were able to rearrange the icon and also adding or deleting icons from the dock. The iPhone had a maximum of nine home screens and each screen could hold upto sixteen icons. These screens could be accessed by horizontally swiping the finger over the screen. The 3.0 updated also added something known as Spotlight. This tool was used for system wide search.

Almost all the input to the iPhone is through the touch screen, which is very smart in understanding complex gestures.[1] The iPhone’s graphical interface[1] allows the user to move the icons by just touching and dragging the finger over the screen[1], say for example if the user wants to zoom in or out of a photo or a web page, he just does it by placing his two fingers over the touch-screen and moving them farther apart or bringing them close together and scrolling through a long list or menu is done just by sliding a finger over the screen from top to bottom or from bottom to top, depending upon the users choice. The list moves in such a way that it creates an illusion that the list is pasted on a wheel as slowly decelerates.[1]


The iPhone supports features such as placing the call on hold, call merging, caller ID audio conferencing, also integrating with different network service features and iPhone functions [1], Say, if the user receives a call while the music is playing, the music fades out, and fades back when call has been ended. The proximity sensor helps in avoiding unintentional inputs when the phone is held close to the face. The proximity sensor does this by shutting down the screen and also helps in saving battery life[1]. The iPhone 4 supports video calling or video conferencing but the previous versions of iPhone lack this feature. The iPhone and iPhone 3G could support voice dialling (i.e. by just prompting the name, the phone would dial the number) only through third-party applications[1] but this feature was enabled in the later models of iPhone.

iPhone also included a visual voicemail that allows the users to view their voicemail messages on the screen itself. The user could listen to his voice mails and if not required, he could delete the messages from the main screen itself.


The outlook of the music interface of iPhone and iPod are almost similar.[1] Options are normally presented alphabetically, except in playlists, which retains its order from iTunes.[1] For convenience purpose, the iPhone fetures large fonts that allows users distinctly touch their selections.[1] While watching a video, photo viewing or even browsing, the user can switch from portal mode to landscape mode by just rotating the phone from vertical position to horizontal position. Scrolling through videos or images is done by just sliding a finger across the touchscreen. Also, iPhone user can play, pause or skip tracks using the controls on the headset.[1] On the iPhone 3GS features a voice recognition technique to identify a track from the playlist. The iPhone allows users to watch digital videos such as TV shows and movies widescreen. Using iTunes stores, the iPhone user can purchase and download songs or any applications directly to their iPhone.[1]


iPhone users can gain internet access by connecting to a local area Wi-Fi or Global System for Mobile communication or Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution network.[*] The iPhone 3G does not support High Speed Upper Link Packet Access networks but supports third generation Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems and High Speed Download Packet Access 3.6. iPhone 4 introduces support to High Speed Download Packet Access 7.2. In July 2004, AT&T introduced 3G but later Mr.Steve Jobs (C.E.O of Apple Inc.) stated the chipset is not energy efficient and the model was not so popular in the United States.

By default, if the phone detects a new Wi-Fi connection, the phone will ask the user for connectivity and for access code where ever necessary. The smart iPhone will automatically detect for a strong Wi-Fi network and if such network is available, it will automatically switch from EDGE to Wi-Fi. The flight mode disables all the Wi-Fi and network connections at once and the phone can only be used to listen to music, take pictures or may be to use specific third party applications[1].

The iPhone 3GS can download at a maximum speed of 7.2 MB/s, but if downloading a file over any cellular network, the file must be less than 20MB. However, attached file through e-mails or podcast can be downloaded over Wi-Fi since it has no limits for file download size[1].

The iPhone uses Safari as its default web browser and the pages can be viewed in portal or landscape mode as the user may prefer. the web page may be zoomed in or out by just pinching the fingers together on the screen or just moving the fingers apart. The device does not support JAVA or Flash however, it supports Scalable Vector Graphics, Cascading Style Sheets, Hyper Text Mark-up Language and Bonjour.

The iPhone uses Google maps for applications such as navigation, GPS, etc., satellite and hybrid form.[*] This map was basically used for GPS systems to generate directions between two selected locations and also provide traffic information. This application was very useful for walking directions, street viewing and public transit. The iPhone 3GS and 4 uses the inbuilt digital compass for map orientation. iPhone uses H.264 codec for YouTube video streaming. The iPhone also has application such as weather report and daily news which is regularly updated from the internet.


The iPhone features a keyboard on the touch-screen, for text or number input and automatically detects and corrects if any word is misspelled. [*] The iPhone also has a dictionary which has a list of words so that the phone can predict what the user wants to type. The keyboard has been well organised and each character have been distinctly located. Not only that, the characters can be magnified by just touching the section for a brief amount of time and the character is magnified. The keyboard can support 21 different languages and also enables cup, copy paste technique.


Electronic-mailing is the key features in iPhone. It allows HTML e-mail and also attaching files such as photos, word docs. PDF files, Power point, excel. The iPhone uses Push and POP 3 technique to send and receive e-mails. The iPhone has an application for yahoo which offers free push e-mail services. The iPhone supports Internet Message Access Protocol, POP3, Microsoft exchange and Keiro connect and this feature of iPhone makes it even more convenient to use the phone.

Third-party applications

On 11th June 2007, Apple declared that iPhone would be compatible with third-party applications that are compiled on Asynchronous java script and XML. On the 17th October 2007, the CEO of Apple declared that a SDK (software Development Kit) will be distributed to the developers to develop 3rd -party applications.[*] This software kit was basically used by the developers to develop web applications or any other applications which could be compactable with iPhone and was sold legally with a licence activation.[*] This development kit software was free to download with Apple registration. Once any application was developed, it was then tested in an iPhone simulator[*] but the application was then made available to the user once the developer pays an Apple Development Connection membership fee. The developers were responsible for setting a price for their applications and the applications would be distributer through App Store and the developer gets about 70% share on the application sale. The developers may also sell their applications free of cost and will not be liable to pay any cost to release except for the membership fee. The AppStore was released along with the release of iPhone 3G

Apple hold the responsibility over the distribution of the applications once they have been submitted to the App Store by the developer. Apple also hold the release of any application if the company feels that the application is inappropriate.


Apple’s success

If there is any firm that is hot spot of the high-tech community today, beyond doubt it’s Apple. The CEO of Apple Mr. Steve Jobs was the master mind behind Apple’s success with a string release of hit products . Apple is one of the top 10 companies in the world with market capitalisation of over $200 Billion, and just a few steps below Microsoft which is the biggest high-tech company[7].

Due to heavy competition, every company like stop the growth of Apple and try to emulate Apple’s success. There are many reason why Apple has achieved such a phenomenal success. The following are a few reasons for Apple’s success[7]:

Vertical integration – Apple owns almost all technology stacks for its products and thus has an advantage over other companies with less integrated products[7].

Making markets vs.  addressing markets – Apple does not produce products according to people need but instead gives them products they want to[7].

 Differentiated business models – whether it was iPod+iTunes or the iPhone+App Store, Apple does not focus only on its technology, but also on its business models.

This makes it difficult for competitors to play catch up, let alone overtake Apple once it establishes itself in a dominant position[7].

I’m sure that there should be many other reasons for why Apple is so successful, but it’s interesting to see how much debate is happening today on this topic. What it says to me is that there is no single reason for their success. And keep in mind that Apple has had failures as well.  Notice Apple doesn’t talk much about Apple TV. And remember the G4 Cube? The20th Anniversary Mac?  Even the ultracool MacBook Air has had far from stellar success.[7]


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