iPhone, Apple’s most revolutionary product, is no doubt one of the symbols of globalization. The world will never be same again after its appearance. So what is globalization and how iPhone is related to this phenomenon?
Globalization is a process of world’s both transitional and transcultural integration (Al-Rodhan). Globalization implies the formation of a single (universal) international economic, legal, cultural and information space. In other words, the phenomenon of globalization goes beyond the purely economic framework, and has a significant impact on all major areas of public life - politics, ideology and culture. It will no doubt play a decisive role in the global economy in the 21 century setting a powerful impetus to the formation of a new system of international economic and political relations.
Globalization is caused by objective factors of world development, deepening of the international division of labor, scientific and technical progress in the fields of transport and communications reducing the so-called economic distance between countries. Another source of globalization is trade liberalization and other forms of economic liberalization, resulted in limitations of protectionism and global trade transformation to more free one.
Cultural globalization is characterized by the convergence of both business and consumer culture between the different countries of the world and the growth of international communication. On the one hand, this leads to the popularization of certain types of national culture worldwide. On the other hand, the popular international cultural phenomenon may displace national ones or turn them into international. Many people consider it to be a loss of national cultural values and fight for the revival of national culture.
Apple iPhone was not the first smartphone, not the first to have the touch screen and was not the first device to use the Internet, email, games, or applications. However the way it provided all these functions was drastically different from anything done before. Apple iPhone is one of the best examples within all the points regarding globalization mentioned above. When first introduced on January 9, 2007, iPhone reinvented a cellphone and changed the world’s concept of it. However, the story of iPhone is even much greater. It’s about the new world socio-cultural trend, new concept of the role of technologies in our everyday life and new business model.
First of all, iPhone changed the global image of what a cellphone could be. It was presented as a combination of an iPod with a wide screen, a mobile telephone and an Internet communication device. iPhone offered a new level of interface, based on a multi-touch display along with the essentially pioneering software. Therefore, customers were able to use their fingers to control a smartphone. As a result Apple set up a new era, having shown people the new scope of opportunities which can be done with their devices (Apple Reinvents the Phone with iPhone).
Therefore, 1.4 m iPhones were sold just in first 3 months (Farber). Having reinvented a mobile telephone, Apple on the one hand created a new market niche and on the other hand became the world’s trendsetter on the market fidgeting cellphone makers all over the world. This is the example of how one idea can drastically change the world.
Secondly, besides new type of a cellphone, iPhone has created a world’s smartphone culture, its own one. iPhone has created an entirely new ecosystem. Hundreds of thousands of applications allow to use the phone for solving such problems, which have never been solved before with the help of mobile devices: “When the App Store opened, people suddenly had access to a stockpile of well-designed third-party apps, and developers were able to build an astonishing variety of custom apps” (Kelly). Hence, anyone in the world received a beneficial opportunity to express their idea - to create an application, download it for free in the App Store and to become a global leader, like Instagram, Angry Birds and dozens, if not hundreds, of other companies.
Concerning the smartphone culture, a part of Apple’s marketing strategy is to develop “Apple lifestyle”. This is all about product positioning. Nowadays, iPhone as well as other Apple products are bought not only for their technical features but also for their ‘premium status’. iPhone makes people all around the world day-dream about it and stay in very long queues when a new model comes out. What is more, the queues don’t differ greatly from country to country despite relatively high prices. This proves the iPhone’s global influence on people from different socio-cultural areas (Sato).
What is more, the iPhone’s influence was enormous on cellphone manufacturers. They couldn’t but have to follow Apple. Those who did it then are quite successful nowadays. Samsung, for instance, which managed to become the world’s largest smartphone producer. On the other hand, those who failed to follow the trend were simply ‘killed’ like Nokia or Blackberry. This point shows the interdependence on the world market and the role of technologies. Basically, they are the engine of globalization, the key factor that define the world’s order in a particular field.
What is more, the release of iPhone “ushered in an age of all Internet, all the time. For better or worse, it's blurred the lines between work and home lives, made communication a round-the-clock habit and led to a host of new rules about when and how it's appropriate to use smartphones (not while walking, driving, playing trivia or on a date, please)” (Kelly). Thus, iPhone made quite a great contribution to the spread of the Internet, which is both the catalyst and the cause of globalization.
Finally, iPhone as a product represents the long chain of business transactions in the era of globalization. Nowadays companies have many opportunities of conducting business. Industrial and technological ones: a sharp increase in the scale of production; a transition to a new high-technological mode of production; a rapid and widespread dissemination of new technologies; new means of transport and communication and their unification encouraging the rapid spread of goods and services as well as resources and ideas; the rapid spread of knowledge through scientific or other intellectual interchange. Organizational one: new organizational forms going beyond national border and allowing to control company’s divisions located in various places. Economic one: the liberalization of the trade of goods and services, capital market and other forms of economic integration.
Hence, such a small and common thing as iPhone is the result of all these processes. For instance, when talking about iPhone’s components, they all come from various places: “Though components differ between versions, all iPhones contain hundreds of parts, an estimated 90 percent of which are manufactured abroad. Advanced semiconductors have come from Germany and Taiwan, memory from Korea and Japan, display panels and circuitry from Korea and Taiwan, chipsets from Europe and rare metals from Africa and Asia.
When Apple was deciding where to set up its production for iPhone, China was beyond competition. For instance, when Apple’s executives estimated the number of workers necessary for their plant, it would have taken them 9 months to find them in the US whereas in China it took only 15 days (Duhigg and Bradsher). At the same time, the software for iPhone as well as marketing and promotion strategies are made up in the US. Therefore, this is the way companies work today. If there is not what they need in their home countries they are able to find it anywhere in the world and do business more efficient. On the other hand, without looking for possibilities of employment the benefits from globalization the company are likely to give up the competition.
So, iPhone is really the symbol of globalization. On one hand it has made a huge impact on the world, having changed the idea of what a cellphone could be and made a contribution to the spread of the Internet. On the other hand, iPhone itself is a product of globalization and international economic relations in particular.
Al-Rodhan, Nayef R.F. "Definitions of Globalization: A Comprehensive Overview and a Proposed Definition." Geneva Centre for Security Policy. 19 June 2006. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://www.gcsp.ch/content/download/1267/9834/file/Definitions of Globalization - A Comprehensive Overview and a Proposed Definition.pdf>.
"Apple Reinvents the Phone with IPhone." Apple. 9 Jan. 2007. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2007/01/09Apple-Reinvents-the-Phone-with-iPhone.html>.
Farber, Dan. "When IPhone Met World, 7 Years Ago Today." CNET. 9 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://www.cnet.com/news/when-iphone-met-world-7-years-ago-today/>.
Kelly, Heather. "5 Ways the IPhone Changed Our Lives." CNN. Cable News Network, 30 June 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/28/tech/mobile/iphone-5-years-anniversary/>.
Sato, Katsuaki. "The Next Ten Years Of The World In The Era Of Globalization And The Internet." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katsuakisato/the-next-ten-years-of-the_b_4761714.html>.
Duhigg, Charles, and Keith Bradsher. "How the U.S. Lost Out on IPhone Work." The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>.