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How the iPhone changed everything

Even if you don’t use Apple products, you still live in a world the company completely reshaped.

Steve Jobs onstage in front of a picture of a hand touching an iPhone screen.
Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone in January 2007.
David Paul Morris/Getty Images
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

True story. Once upon a time, mobile phones were ... phones.

You used them to make phone calls. Maybe you’d send some texts, if you were kind of advanced.

The iPhone changed all that. And it changed more than the way we used phones: It changed Apple, and it changed culture, and it overturned industries and created new ones.

And all of that happened really, really fast: Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone just 14 years ago. But it’s already almost impossible to imagine what life was like before that.

So that’s where we’re kicking off our newest season of Land of the Giants, our podcast series that focuses on the biggest and most influential tech companies of our time. If you want to tell the story of Apple, you start with the most important thing Apple has ever done.

In our first episode, we talk to high-ranking Apple executives who shepherded the iPhone project from the very beginning, as well as unsung Apple employees who actually figured out how to build the thing.

But the iPhone isn’t just a consumer electronics breakthrough. It’s a device that remade the world, and we want to explain how that happened. And, crucially, what it means to live, now, in a world where iPhones — and the competitors’ phones it inspired — aren’t just nice to have, but requirements.

It’s worth considering as Apple, Facebook, and every other big tech giant work on some kind of augmented/virtual reality headwear that each of them hopes will be the next iPhone. How do we want that story to play out this time around?

As in other seasons of Land of the Giants — we’ve previously tackled Amazon, Netflix, and Google — we want to bring you inside Apple and inside the thinking of the leaders who shaped it. And we also want to scrutinize the power Apple has amassed as it has changed the world, and the real-time battles it’s fighting with regulators and critics to hang on to that power.

That’s a big story to tell, and a fun one, and a provocative one. We hope you enjoy it. The first episode of Land of the Giants: The Apple Revolution is out now. New episodes drop on Wednesdays. Feel free to listen to it on your iPhone, or any other device you choose.

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