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In Photos: 25 reasons to celebrate the iPhone's fifth birthday

From iOS to App Store, iCloud and more, the world's best-selling smartphone has come a long way

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Rumours of an Apple phone ran rampant in the years prior to 2007, with some particularly crazy gems — that it would boast an iPod-style clickwheel, or route calls over a home wireless connection instead of via Rogers or Telus. Of course, neither rumour exactly come true, but all was revealed on January 9, 2007, when the device was unveiled at Macworld.


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In September 10, 2007 Apple sold its one millionth iPhone — 74 days after launch. June 22, 2009 the new iPhone 3GS sells one million phones in its opening weekend. October 17, 2011 — iPhone 4S pre-orders top one million withing 24 hours of its announcement, and sales number four million in its first weekend. April 24, 2012 — Over 35 million iPhones sold in the three months of Q2 2012. More than 250 million iPhones have been sold since 2007.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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Consider this — in just five short years, Apple has managed to generate more than $150-billion in revenue from its iPhone family of devices, according to a report from Strategy Analytics. That's more than most companies generate over the span of their entire existence


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The key dates in Apple's share price, loosely tracked by iPhone launch events: June 1, 2007 — $118.40 Dec. 28, 2007 — $199.83 Feb. 27, 2009 — $89.31 (Financial crisis drags down stocks.) June 18, 2010 — $274.01 October 14, 2011 — $422 Peak price: April 16, 2012 — $633.68 Today — 569.05

Mark Lennihan/AP

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July 11, 2008 — iPhone 3G goes on sale with a new App Store, which features 500 apps available for download. April 24, 2009 — 1 billionth App Store download recorded, nine months after it opens. November 4, 2009 — Over 100,000 iPhone apps now available. March 5, 2012 — App Store downloads top 25 billion. Today, more than 650,000 apps in the store.


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Prior to the iPhone's release in 2007, smartphones weren't exactly known for their web browsing prowess. Sure, BlackBerries and Windows Phone's included a basic browser of sorts, but neither was particularly fast, nor gave users access to the desktop web — in other words, the same Internet browsing experience you might expect, but on a mobile phone. It probably helped that the iPhone's version of Safari was based on the same code as its desktop counterpart.

Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press

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It's easy to forget, but the first generation iPhone didn't even run on so-called 3G wireless networks, but a slower, older network called EDGE. And yet, the insatiable demand for bandwidth and data caught carriers so off guard that special iPhone-specific data plans had to be offered instead. But more importantly, the iPhone proved that access to mobile data – and lots of it – would be a big issue for smartphone users and carriers alike for years to come.


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Perhaps more than anything, the iPhone has spurred something of a renaissance in how sites and services are developed for the web. A big part of that was due to Flash. Apple was adamant that Adobe's Flash software not be supported on the iPhone, with then-CEO Steve Jobs going so far as to pen an open letter to Adobe executives on Apple's website. Jobs felt Flash was ill-suited for the mobile web, both slow and battery-hungry, and preferred more modern development standards such as HTML5 instead. The backlash was fierce, but in the end, Jobs won – highly interactive web apps built in HTML 5, including offerings from Facebook and LinkedIn, are now the mobile norm.


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The idea of push notifications was nothing new when Apple's first iPhone was released. RIM, for example, had long since popularized the notion of push e-mail on its own brand of BlackBerry devices. Where Apple differed, however, was in the type of information the company pushed. Apps downloaded from the App Store, for example, could push updates and timely information at will, which would then appear almost immediately on an iPhone's screen. It was an iterative approach to delivering information, but one that, in the age of Twitter and Facebook, has since made an important difference.


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When Nokia dumphones reigned supreme, you would have been crazy to believe that feature-length films would one day be streamed to mobile devices. And yet, here we are. With data caps now measured in gigabytes, streaming audio and video from services such as Rdio and Netflix have flourished.


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It's easy to forget that users couldn't actually install third-party apps on Apple's iPhone until almost a year after its release – at least, not officially. It was during this early period of iPhone existence that the term jailbreak was coined, and referred to the act of breaking out of the phone's secure sandbox so that users could access whatever component they pleased.

Paul Sakuma/AP

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The iPhone 3G, introduced June 9, 2008, was a big deal for Apple's iPhone line – it also marked the introduction of the now-eponymous App Store, where users could download apps both free and paid.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

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The notion of charging for software was far from radical, but it was a strategy that had yet to be tried on a mobile device at such scale. Apps could be sold for just a few dollars a piece – many for a mere $0.99 – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

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Instagram proved more than anyone that apps are now a billion dollar business. The wildly popular photosharing app was bought by Facebook in April for a whopping $1-billion. That a free, mobile app without any plans for monetization could be sold for such a large amount of money would have been unthinkable in the days of early BlackBerry and Windows Mobile phones.

Karly Domb Sadof/AP

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It's something of an understatement to say Angry Birds caught everyone by surprise. For many, the popular bird-flinging physics-based game inhabits a similar cultural mindspace to that of Mario or Master Chief. But while the game, at its core, wasn't anything new, it proved that the iPhone and its touch screen – derided by many as unfit for real gaming – was a force to be reckoned with for gaming on the go. In fact, big-name developers, from Epic Games to Sega, have since come to champion the device for its gaming capabilities, and releases such as Sword and Sworcery have proven that captivating experiences are more than possible as well.


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At first, no one quite believed you could easily type on a piece of glass. RIM executives derided the device as inferior when compared with their BlackBerry's physical buttons. But in reality, Apple's on-screen keyboard established the gold standard for touch-screen typing on a mobile device. Perhaps it's the spacing of the keys, or the overly-zealous autocorrect, but the iPhone's software keyboard has made believers out of legions of users who once swore by their button-based devices.

Mike Segar/Reuters

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That a cellular phone could serve double duty as a portable digital camera was nothing new, and Apple far from invented the concept. But the company's engineers did do one thing – they proved that a smartphone camera didn't have to be an afterthought, but one of the most important pieces of the devices. Apple's iPhones have consistently boasted some of the best image sensors and lenses on the market for a mobile device, and its no secret that consumers are pleased with the results – these days, Apple's iPhone is the most popular camera on photosharing service Flickr.

Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

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When was the last time you pinched something to zoom? or used two fingers to scroll? More importantly, do you remember doing any of that before the iPhone? Probably not. Though multi-touch screens are far from new, Apple made the tech mainstream – so much so that it holds patents on some of the most common touch-screen gestures we use today.

Robert Galbraith/Reuters

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One area where the iPhone has always impressed is its screen. Think back to other phones available around the time of Apple's first phone – namely, Windows Mobile, Palm and BlackBerry devices – and try to remember how those displays looked. They were small, because they needed to leave room for a keyboard, and the resolution of most screens – in other words, the number of pixels a manufacturer could fit into a display – was relatively low. The iPhone, however, was different. The screen itself was not only bigger, but it was practically the entire device.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

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For the longest time, software updates were something you downloaded for a computer, and not a phone. Usually, the software on a phone stayed as-is until you bought a new model. But with the iPhone, Apple treated the device as you would a computer, with updates and improvements provided to users over the coming months and even years, usually free of charge. More recent iPhones can even download these updates over-the-air – in other words, over a wireless network, without having to connect to a Mac or PC.


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It's no secret that RIM has faltered since the iPhone's release. Famously, RIM executives reportedly couldn't believe the device could do all of the things Steve Jobs claimed it could do. In the years since, RIM has seen its userbase falter and decline, as it has failed to produce competitive hardware or greatly iterate on its flagship devices. Now, with its upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system delayed yet again to 2013, RIM's future is looking far from bright.


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One of the few companies to actually thrive since the introduction of the iPhone has been South Korean manufacturing giant Samsung. Though the company makes everything from refrigerators to HDTVs, it has found an especially fruitful niche in making a range of iPhone competitors running on Google's Android OS. Most recently, the company was tapped by Google to produce the hardware for the search giant's flagship Galaxy Nexus Android phone, making Samsung the number two cellphone manufacturer worldwide.

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In 2007, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a proclamation. "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance," he said, in an interview with USA Today. "It's a $500 subsidized item." Instead, the iPhone has become the very definition of how a smartphone should look and function, which has left the likes of Microsoft and Nokia — partners on Windows Phone 8 — scrambling to catchup.

Vadim Ghirda/AP/Vadim Ghirda/AP

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Like Nokia, Motorola was long known for creating wildly successful cellphones in the pre-iPhone era — including its most well known flip phone, the RAZR. Its transition into the smartphone world was, as with most other manufacturers, driven largely by Google's Android operating system, and its efforts were quite successful too. Its Droid line of Android smartphones became bestsellers in the mobile industry, and more recently, spawned the moderately successful Xoom tablet computer. Motorola's success would not go unnoticed, however — the company was purchased by Google in August of 2011 for a cool $12.5-billion.

Paul Sakuma/AP

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Once the darling of the mobile industry for its line of Palm Pilot productivity devices, Palm's journey since 2007 has been troubling. The company, for a time, abandoned its homegrown operating system for Windows Mobile software produced by Microsoft, and then axed the struggling devices all together. But when Palm re-emerged with a radically different line of phones — including the Palm Pre and the Palm Pixi — running impressive new software dubbed WebOS, the company still struggled to attract both users and developers alike. Though the company was eventually bought by HP in 2010, its operations were effectively shutdown and Palm hardware discontinued the following year.

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