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Our current world came into being on June 29th, 2007.

This kid thinks that can't play movies and serve as a drone beacon, it's not a phone.

This kid knows that if it can’t play movies and serve as a drone beacon, it’s not a phone.

I missed its birthday this year. Damn! I should have put a reminder on my phone.

When the iPhone was released, I and many others were tempted to see it as another me-too step by Apple. Apple didn’t have the first personal computers, they didn’t have the first mp3 players, and they didn’t have the first smartphone. The doubters (as I was at the time) always rushed to point that out.  It seemed to have always escaped them (and me, at the time) that Apple had consistently produced the first successful versions of those things–the versions that actually changed the world.

But this isn’t about Apple fandom. Most smartphones run Android, anyway. In 1999, the typical computer user was on a Dell desktop. In 2014, the typical computer user is on an Android smartphone.

And the typical user carries it around constantly and views his or her entire world through it.

So I date the current world to 2007, because the release of the iPhone was the tipping point. It brought the new world to life.

Almost everything is different now: Culture, commerce, law enforcement, manners, politics, family life, what we consider “valuable” and “close” to us. Everything changed that day in 2007.

At that point, the combination of mobile networks, social media, display technology and battery capacity came together. It just so happened Apple was there, with a stylish device and plenty of safe, cheap, and easily-installed apps. By the end of the decade most people were expected to be online constantly, transmitting and responding as through they were devices themselves–or rather, as one with the devices they held.

In only a few years, we went from seeing a cell phone as a handy device that was entirely separate from ourselves, to seeing a smart phone as a constant companion we live through: A periscope prodding up from the bunker.

And now it’s up for grabs as to who is serving whom. 

Our world today would be unrecognizable without hand-held GPS, rich-text communication, photos, videos, and constant and instant connection to every source of information around the world in the hands of almost everyone.

My God! It’s barely been seven years. . .

Consider this:

In 2007, most people’s cell phones looked like this:


In 2014, most people’s lives look like this:


And I think you can see what I’m getting at.

Happy belated birthday, World.

photo credit: Paul Mayne via photopin cc