How the iPhone changed the mobile skills market

Today, 29 June 2017, marks the 10 year anniversary of the release of the first iPhone and it’s hard to imagine the smartphone market without this pioneering piece of technology. By combining a touch screen keypad with advanced computer-like capabilities never seen before in such a small device, the iPhone set the standard for the smartphones of the future. At the time, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said "Apple is going to reinvent the phone"  and he was right.

The sleek and simple design of the iPhone's UI (User Interface) makes it a beautifully crafted piece of technology. To make it as functional as it is visually-pleasing, it requires a huge quantity of back-end infrastructure as well as large memory, a great display, a powerful CPU, a graphics library, and stacks of other software.

Like any game-changing invention, on the day the iPhone was introduced to the market, competitors must have thought ‘why didn’t we think of that?’ and then immediately embarked on a mission to create something even better. Much of that task would be in the hands of UI/UX, hardware and software engineers.

On the ten year anniversary of the launch, four of our recruitment experts reflect on just how influential the iPhone has been within the mobile and telecoms sectors and evaluate the impact it has had on jobs in the sector.

On the impact on the telecoms sector

Nick Bailey, Head of Practice, Connected World said:

"There’s no denying the iPhone and smart phones have revolutionised the way people communicate, watch online content, work, take photos and even watch TV though I believe what made the iPhone great is how easy it was and still is to use, it didn’t crash like a lot of the older smart phones and the design and feel of the product felt superior to the competition."

"From a technology point of view, I don’t think Apple broke any major ground with the iPhone but I think the game changer was the Apps store."

"From a telecommunications point of view, it’s a mixed bag as the mobile operators have lost a lot of revenue to OTT players like WhatsApp as people are communicating via Apps rather than SMS, which was a profitable source of income for the operators. The operators therefore have had less revenue to spend and invest with the telecommunications vendors. However, some recent EU legislation may level the playing ground between the telecommunications and OTT players."

"From a consumer point of view the operators will need to continue to innovative to provide the extra speed and bandwidth consumers are demanding."

On the impact on network infrastructure

Mark Payne, Divisional Manager – Communications said:

“The funny thing is 10 years ago the future was supposed to be Orange but it turned out to be an entirely different fruit!”

"Dad jokes aside, like many people who owned a mobile phone 10 years ago Nokia was the leading handset maker other popular brands included Blackberry, Motorola and Ericsson but most were bulky and unattractive and were mainly used for voice calls and texting. Apple’s iPhone not only made handsets good looking but they opened up so many other new gadgets or improved features and moved social media from your PC to your mobile device."

“The demand by consumers for more and more data can be directly linked to the rise of the iPhone and the real winners (besides Apple) are the network engineers who specialise in 3G/4G and soon to be 5G technologies and of course all the mobile app engineers too.”

On how it changed the mobile phone development jobs market

Neil Toms, Digital Technology Specialist said:

“The iPhone App Store totally changed everything about how mobile software is made and distributed.”

“Apple wasn't the first brand to open up smartphones to third-party developers. However, the company achieved it in a pioneering way with a simple, user friendly method of searching, buying, and downloading free and paid-for apps.”

“People have purchased billions of apps from Apple, and Apple has paid out more than $2 billion to app developers. This shows how much demand there has been and indicates at how many jobs have been created for UX/UI designers, iOS developers and many other hardware and software engineers in the past 10 years.”

On the future 10 years

Saul Penhallow, Divisional Director – Communications said:

“The mobile phones of the future are expected to be more closely embedded in our day-to-day lives than ever before.”

“Some futurologists and industry experts predict that in years to come mobile phones will become remote controls for our whole lives, while others forecast that in the future mobile phones will literally run our lives for us.”

“One thing’s for certain: the technology involved in mobile phones and mobile networks has developed so rapidly over the last few years, it's going to be an exciting ride.”

With the launch of 5G around the corner, there’s sure to be a huge demand for R&D professionals and Developers. However, there’s still a way to go in the UK to improve the network infrastructure and banish the digital deserts. As a result, we’re sure to continue seeing demand for installers, testers, designers and project managers for FTTH and 4G/LTE upgrades across the country.

Could you be behind the next big mobile product? Check out our latest mobile and communications jobs.

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