Success And Challenges For The Gadget Industry Computer Science Essay

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Iphone these days is a very popular End gadget in the mobile industry. Although, there are many smart phones available in the market which are based on Linux, Windows Mobile and Android platforms, the Smartphone that has drawn the consumer's eye is the Apple's Iphone which runs on Apple's IOS as its platform. However, Apple has proved its capability by making a big impact over the gadget industry with its Iphone's sale of 500,000 units over the first weekend of its launch. Which arguably making it one of the most powerful smart phones ever launched. In this paper we try to define a set of success criteria to investigate the Iphone's success and the reasons why the other companies emulate its success.

When the apple Iphone was announced in January 2007, there was an overwhelming response. In two months of the announcement, the word "Iphone" was the most searched term which was listed over 60 million web page reference in Google. After Iphone was successfully launched in June 2007 consumers lined up for days to get chance to purchase one over 500,000 units sold in the first weekend. Since then, millions of Iphones have been sold, making it one of the best popular mobile phone products ever launched. In this report, we try to explain the factors that contributed to the success of Apple's Iphone including its hardware, operating system and the SDK for the Apple's app store etc.


The innovation of Iphone series started when Steve Jobs (CEO, Apple Inc)' directed that Apple Inc. Engineers to research about touch ability of screens on hand help devices. At that time he was considering to have Apple work on tablet PCs, which later came to fruition with the iPad. They come up with a new device which can play multimedia applications with touch input. Later Mr. Jobs extended the research to embed these features in a mobile phone giving birth to the iPhone.


Touch Screen and input

The touch screen has a 9cms (3.5'inch) Retina display with a scratch-resistant glass. The capacitive touch screen is suitably designed for bare finger, or multi-touch usage. The touch screens on the traditional generations have a resolution of 320 x 480 at 163 pels per inch, where as Iphone 4 comes with a screen display resolution of 640 x 960 at 326 pels per inch.

The touch and gesture technology features are originally developed by Finger Works for Iphone. The iphone 3GS and later versions has a special feature called fingerprint-resistant oleo phobic coating.

The iphone 3GS, is an identical twin to the iphone 3G except for certain changes i.e., The switches are black and plastic in the original model. On the sides there is wake/sleep button, SIM card slot, silence switch, headphone jack, volume controls. And on the top there is earpiece and screen.

The iphone got a minimal hardware UI, featuring only four to five buttons, depending upon the generation. The only similar thing in all generations is the physical menu button which is located directly below the screen, and is called as the "Home button" because it aborts the active apps and navigates directly to the home screen. A multifunctional sleep/wake button is located right on the top of the device which functions as the unit power button, and also manages the phone calls. Pressing the sleep/wake button when a call is received silences the ringtone, and pressing it twice transfers the call directly to the voicemail. And the volume controls are located on the left side of the phone. Whereas, in iphone 4 there are two circular buttons located on the left spine of the phone for volume adjustments. Except for the Home all other were made of plastic on the traditional iphone and later models came up with metal.

The display responds to three sensors on 3G, 3GS and 4 on the iPhone4. A new feature called "Proximity Sensor" helps deactivate display & touch sensors of the device when it is brought closer to face while on a call. This helps in saving the battery power and prevents unwanted inputs by the touch of face or ears of the user.. A light sensor automatically sets the brightness of the display which saves the battery power. The user can easily switch between portrait and landscape mode through 3-axis accelerometer which senses the position of the device and changes the visibility accordingly, which allows the user for a smoother browsing and navigating experience. Web browsing, photo browsing and music player supports both landscape and portrait full screen orientations. As seen in iPad, the iphone doesn't rotate the screen when turned bottomside-up, unless the application is designed for that particular purpose. The third party apps such as games and players can also be controlled by the accelerometer. The movement of the device is gauged by a special gyroscopic sensor included in the iphone.

Audio and output

The speakers and microphone are placed at the bottom of the device along with the dock connector which produces the surround sound effect. When you connect a headphone the sound output is given through headset instead of the builtin speaker.

The speakers are located at the top and bottom ends of the phone along with the microphone beside the connector pin.iphone has a special feature of an additional microphone at the top whose main purpose is to fight noise cancellation and also allows the user to speak in any position of the phone. The audio console is included to control the volume, play and pause the player for all the iphone variants.

The 3.5mm audio jack connector used to connect the headset is placed at the top end of the phone.Other headsets otherthan a iphone headset cannot be connected to a iphone without using an external adaptor..

The iphone comes with an internal rechargeable Li-ion battery. However the battery cannot be replaced by the user. The battery can be replaced only by opening the device and thus exposing the internal hardware. Iphone can be charged either through a direct connection to the plug or by connecting it to a computer using a USB cable.

Every battery is tested by a special unit before production. "Apple's website says that the battery life "is designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity after 400 full charge and discharge cycles", which is comparable to iPod batteries. The original Iphone's battery was stated to be capable of providing up to seven hours of video, six hours of web browsing, eight hours of talk time, 24 hours of music or up to 250 hours on standby. The iphone 3G's battery is stated to be capable of providing up to seven hours of video, six hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi or five on 3G, ten hours of 2G talk time, or five on 3G, 24 hours of music, or 300 hours of standby"[1]. Apple claims that the iphone3GS battery can be used up to 10 hrs of multimedia, 9 hrs of surfing over WiFi or 5 hrs on 3Gnetwork, 12 hrs of 2G talktime or 5 hrs on 3G,30 hrs of music & 300 hrs of standby life.

If there is any premature death or malfunction of the battery, one can return the phone to Apple and get it replaced with a new one absolutely free provided the warranty period is still available. Warranty period ranges between one year initially to 2 years extendable later.

The iphone 4 is the first one to come with two cameras one in front and one in back. There are separate flashes for both cameras one at top and one at bottom.


The traditional iphone had 2 MP cameras while the new one has 5MP camera. There is no flash nor autofocus, optical zoom, and doesn't have video recording facility however jail breaking of the device allows users to do so. Latest ipone has a new extended feature of geotaging.

The iphone 3GS comes with 3.2 Mpix camera, made by Omnivision, can capture 640x480 video at 30 fps compared to highend CCD video camera it has rolling shutter effect. You can crop and edit the image on the phone itself and upload them directly to social network sites

The iphone 4 has a 5.0 Mpixel camera (2592x1936 pels), located on the back, which has a backside illuminated sensor that is capable to capture pictures in low-light conditions as well as an LED flash capable of recording HD video recording at 720p resolution. There is a front camera available helping the user to use facetime calling.

Storage and SIM

The basic iphone has a storage capacity of 4GB or 8GB. On September 5, 2007, Apple replaced these models with 8 GB and 16 GB storage. The data can be stored on internal memory drive; the iphone doesn't support storage expansion by a memory card slot or the SIM card.

GSM Models uses SIMs to register themselves to the network. The SIM is placed in a slot at the top in a tray designed for a sim card only. The 3G and 3GS uses "SIM-Eject tool" to remove the sim card. Which is included in iphone. There is a microSIM located on the right side of the iphone 4. The CDMA model in Iphone doesn't use a SIM.

Liquid contact indicators

The iphone has a liquid contact indicator technology which will change from white to red colour when the device comes in contact with water. These helps us to know if the device is damaged by water contact. The indicators on the iphone include a small disc located at the bottom of the audio jack and with the iphone 3G and all latest models there is one more located at the bottom of the dock connector. The indicators are used by Apple employees to determine if the phone is qualified for a repair or replacement. If the indicators show that the device was exposed to moisture, they can reject any claim for warranty from apple. But the liquid contact indicators can also be activated through day to day use, and if a device is carried during exercising, the sweat from an owner may damage the indicators there by indicating water damage. Unlike other company phone which have the indicators in secure locations, iphone exposed the indicators making them vulnerable to moisture immediately.

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Fig.: Liquid submersion indicator's location on various models.

E-mail and text messages

"Iphone supports HTML email, with i POP3, iMAP and push mail which enables users to attach photos and documents to mail messages Apple's mobileme provides push mail, which is similar the functioning of the famous BB email application one can also access email clients like gmail and yahoo mail through iphone. IMAP and POP3 electronic mail standards are supported, inclusive of MS Exchange and KerioConnect.. With the release of the firmware iphone 2.0 Apple also supports the push mail through a licensed Microsoft ActiveSync software . The iphone uses mail applications from Microsoft, Outlook and entourage, to configure email settings on iphone which enables the user to access nearly any IMAP and POP3 email accounts.


Main article: List of iOS devices

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The Basic Home screen IOS v4 shows all of the applications available in the Apple phone. Any new applications can be downloaded from Appstore. They can also create new folders, webclips, and rearrange icons on the phone interface as per his choice.

All Apple products run on same platform called IOS which is also formerly known as iphone OS. The IOS is developed from the basic MAC OS architecture. Along with the Powervr hardware or on the iphone 3GS, OpenGL ES 2.0 is responsible for the motion graphics of the interface. The OS can be stored on a memory space less than half a gigabyte. It can support future apps from Apple, and from third-party developers through App store. Any new S/W application will have to be installed on the device as they cannot be copied on the phone directly.

The applications and the device is managed through an apple application called i Itunes. Itunes requires the operatng systems later than the version 7.3 of Operating systems compatible with Mac OS v10 and 32-bit Windows XP or Vista. Advanced developments in the Itunes software enable the device to be compatible with the 64 bit versions of windows Vista and Windows XP. The OS on iphone can be updated through itunes as Apple provides free updates for Iphone OS. These updates can be anything like security patcjhes , new features of existing applications etc.

User Interface

The User interface of iphone concentrated around the home screen,with a iconic display of list of applications vailable on the device. iphone does not support multi tasking while running the applications as they are normally run one at a time. The most important feature if the iphone is its navigability between the screens. The home screen can be accessed at anytime irrespective of which application you are running and which screen you are on by just a click of a button below the screen. When this is done the already open application will be closed and the home screen will be displayed. The basic and default icons and applications that can be seen on the home screen are Messages, Calender, photos, Camera, Youtube, Stocks, Maps etc. The main purpose of developing the iphone can be understood by the four icons displayed at the bottom of the screen which displays the four major applications of ihone safari, iPod, mail and phone. New software updates released by Apple enable the iphone users to create web clips and many other graphical applications like home screen icons that look similar to applications that already exist on the phone.Thi salso enables the users to organize several (upto 9) home screens side by side easing the accessaility. This also allows the users to add, remove and move the icons on the screen. The iphone home screen can hold upto 16 icons and the dock can hold 4 icons. Itunes also helps users to add, remove and move web clips and applications conveniently excluding the basic iphone applications. This also provides a system-wide search called "Spotlight" on the left side of the screen.

The iphone takes the input through a touch screen which understands complex inputs with the help of the multi touch feature that is first introduced by Apple on iphone. This enables the user to move the content up, down, right or left, zoom in and zoom out through the motion of fingers on the screen. Scrolling on the screen can be done by sliding the fingers on the screen up and down. The movement of the list is as if it is sliding over the surface of a wheel and deaccelerates to stop as if friction acted upon it. Thus simulating the physics of the real object. Depending the screen we are on necessary Menus can be seen on top and bottom of the screen. Their options may vary by application, but always follow a consistent style motif.


Making calls on iphone is a very user friendly task with many other options being presented apart from a normal voice call such as FaceTime. The proximity of the phone to the user's face fades these features from being displayed.

The iphone provides several on call options such as holding active calls, caller Identity, conference calls, merging up of the two active calls, and integrating with other networking features and iphone functionalities. For instance, When music player is on and a call is received, the music player stops its functions and automatically start once the call ends. The iphone 4 supports "video calling" using both cameras located in the front and rear sides of the device over Wi-Fi, using the popular "FaceTime". iphone 4 supports a voice based calling feature called Face Time to call the person he wants to call and the phone will initiate a call.

Voice mails on iphone need not be heard over phone as it supports a feature called "Visual Voice Mail" using which the user can view the messages instead on hearing the messages on phone.The messages can also be viewed, and deleted in a non sequential order unlike other systems.


The music library is presented in the fashion similar to an iPod or current Symbian S60 phones. The media library can be sorted by tracks, albums, artists, genre, playlists and artists etc. Objects in the list are shown in alphabetical order, except in playlists, as given in itunes order. Users can find it easy to select the items in the list as iphone uses a large font to display the items. The handset can be rotated to watch the multimedia file in a 360 degrees view.Apart from the on screen controls apple iphone also provides a console on the headset to allow the user to control the player.`

Fig.: Pictures can be viewed in both portrait and landscape modes.

The major set back for the multimedia on iphone is that it does not support Flash player. Apple claims that Adobe Flash player consumes a lot of battery power which is the major hindrance for including it on iphone. It also does not support XVid and DivX coded files.

Internet connectivity

Fig. Wikipedia Main Page on the iphone's Safari web browser in landscape mode

Internet can be accessed by connecting iphone to a local WiFi or a 3G or and EDGE network.

UMTS AND HSDPA are introduced for the first time on iphone 3G at a rate of HSUPA 5.6 and HSDPA of 7.2. Iphone supports 802.11 wireless LAN, an authentication system which is already being used by many educational organizations and other corporate Wi-Fi networks.

Iphone is smart enough in accessing WiFi as it prompts the user to choose from the available wifi access points to get connected with. However, iphone will automatically choose the strongest network available when they are not protected by a password.

Safari is the iphone's web browser, with display analogous with Mac and Windows similitude. Web portals can be seen in both portrait or landscape mode and also supports automated pinch and zoom options on the screen. The iphone supports SVG, CSS, HTML Canvas, and Bonjour.

Text Input

iphone comes with a virtual keypad that implements the text input on the touch screen with features like auto spell check, predictive word capabilities, correction and dictionary. Automated word predictor on iphone can identify what user is typing and prompt him with the word and thus easing the task of typing the whole word.In landscape mode the keys are more spatially organized. However, this feature can be used only on a limited number of selected applications.

Fig.:The virtual keyboard on the original iphone's touchscreen.

Users can place the cursor in the middle of the text by mere touch of the text for a couple of seconds which enables the magnifier. The iphone's virtual keyboard supports upto 21 languages, including Chinese and there by removing the language barriers for iphone users.updates are available which can enable the cut, copy and paste features in many iphone applications.

Third-party applications

Iphone supports third-party "web applications" coded in using Ajax to give them the same display properties like iphone interface. The iphone SDK was officially released on March 6, 2008. It is a freeware with Apple licence which allows application developers to develop apps and test them using "iphone simulator". A user cannot load applications on iphone directly on to the device unless he pays for the Developer membership from Apple. However, he can decide the cost of his application to be available on App Store and he will get 70% of the profits earned by the Apple on that application or the application can be released for free.

When a developer submits an application to the App store, it cannot be freely distributed as Apple hold a firm distribution rights over the application. Prior to the announcement of SDK, Apple allowed the third parties to develop a web based applications compatible with safari.

Why iphone is Successful?

The major factors that contributed for the success of iphone can be categorised into Commercial, Technological and environmental factors.

Commercial Factors:

Apple since the launch of iphone targeted a particular consumers between the age of 20 to 40. This boosted the sales of iphone as the number of people who fall in this age group forms a major chunk of the population all over the world.

Technological Factors:

Apple used all its technically advanced systems in developing iphone. This has made the iphone a most technically advanced gadget of the era. Apple's decision to not to allow any third party applications to be included on iphone with out its knowledge also helped in increasing the sales of this phone. Later, introduction of SDK, allowing users to develop new applications for iphone dragged more users to buy iphone. Finally, "Although Apple designs and manufactures iphone hardware, they have realised that from a technology perspective, the future of mobile phones will be differentiated by software, not by hardware."

The below is the graph representing the growth in the sales of iphone so far.

Original iphone   iphone 3G   iphone 3GS   iphone 4 Fig.: Iphone sales per quarter simple


After a detailed investigation about the phenomenal success and the factors that made iphone successful are its hardware build up and a sophisticated Operating System and its user interface. Though a first try from Apple iphone took the market by storm. Though iphone is hugely successful, there have been a considerable number of critizisms People still beleive that if you need a first grade calling and messaging service you cannot opt for iphone as the call quality is not considered to be supreme and the virtual keyboard is many a times annoying for the user.However, the multimedia features of the iphone still rule the market as the iphone is consedered to provide the most user friendly applications through multimedia.