It is hard to believe that the iPhone landed five years ago today. I remember heading out to observe the launch day festivities and trying an iPhone for the first time — it felt like using something out of Star Trek. However, as nifty as it was even at a demo kiosk, the iPhone was significantly different from anything before it, and so it was hard to figure out precisely how useful it would actually prove to be. I wrote about my buyer's indecision after I succumbed to the temptation to buy one.
While very little about the iPhone was “innovative” when the first generation model's features were placed in isolation, putting them all together into a very thin, capacitive touch screen-only device was strikingly innovative. Often times, these are the best sorts of innovations: ones that take a pile of good ideas that are sitting scattered around and putting them together into something new that has a cohesive vision. Before the iPhone, smartphones weren't terribly easy to use and presented users with a very strong step backwards in usability from the mouse driven interface of a desktop computer. With the iPhone, suddenly common tasks such as web browsing were as easy, if not easier, to do on a phone than on the computer.
That's why the iPhone made such a big impact. It is also why these stock growth statistics look as they do.