Happy 5th Birthday iPhone — But Look At What You’ve Done

The iPhone was unveiled five years ago today but it's one of the major players in an industry that's created a new digital divide.

By Jorge Rivas Jan 09, 2012

Five Years ago today, Steve Jobs unveiled the new iPhone in San Francisco.

"Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything," Jobs said at the MacWorld Expo in 2007.

Even the most diehard Android fan would agree that the iPhone has changed the way mobile phone users think about and use their mobile devices.

"The introduction of the iPhone basically ushered in a new era of technology," Jamilah King said in an interview.

Today, 35% of adults in the U.S. own a smartphone and for one quarter of them mobile phones are a main source of internet access.

5% of African-Americans have iPhones while 10% of Latinos and whites use the Apple Inc. device, a Pew Research study found.

Smartphone penetration is the highest among mobile users of color in the U.S., namely Asian/Pacific Islanders (45 percent), Latinos (45 percent) and African-Americans (33 percent), populations that also tend to skew younger. Meanwhile, only 27 percent of white mobile users reported owning a smartphone.

King says that’s not surprising.

"For many households of color, it’s cheaper to have a smartphone than pay for home Internet and phone service," King said.

"As more and more people use smartphones to go online, they ought to access the same Internet. But too often, they don’t."

Last month King wrote a story titled "How Big Telecom Used Smartphones to Create a New Digital Divide" that includes many of these stats. Below is an infographic that illustrates how smartphones are helping create a new digital divide.