Travel, too, has experienced a sea change since the
iPhone’s introduction. From increased efficiency in the way
people travel to technology enabling the industry, especially
agents, to work from virtually anywhere in the world on
powerful, connected pocket computers, the landscape is
vastly different than it was a decade ago.
“It’s changed everything, really, about travel — everything,” Karen Yeates, Signature Travel Network’s executive
vice president of information technologies, said of the
iPhone. “It has changed how we travel; what we travel with;
how we manage things while we travel and what we manage; how we interact with other people we’re traveling with;
how we interact with our own families back home. It’s
changed everything about the industry.”
Why the iPhone?
Apple’s version of the cellular telephone wasn’t the first
smartphone on the market available to consumers. In
fact, devices that offered cellular capabilities alongside elements first introduced on personal digital assistants (PDAs)
emerged in the mid-1990s.
One particularly popular PDA that would be integrated
with cellular capabilities was made by Palm, whose devices
like the PalmPilot (which did not have cellular abilities)
were widely used since their 1996 introduction.
The Palm operating system powered several types of
smartphones, including the Treo, which could also be purchased with a version of the Windows operating system. But
the reigning king of smartphones when the iPhone was introduced was the BlackBerry, which had quickly become a
favorite email and PDA tool for business travelers.
However, the iPhone was arguably the first smartphone
that caught the fancy of the general public, ushering in a
new era of communication as its fame and sales soared.
Norm Rose, senior technology and corporate market analyst at Phocuswright, attributed that device’s popularity to
the iPhone’s user experience and design.
“All the iPhone did is [Apple] put it in a beautiful design,
and they increased the user experience from what a Palm
was,” he said. “They didn’t invent the smartphone.”
Conceptually, he understood
smartphones, but he didn’t really “get it” until he got an iPhone.
“Getting the iPhone and understanding how, basically, you
have the internet in your hand
in a much more seamless way
was much more eye-opening to
me, and I think that was probably a very common reaction around that time,” he said.
A ‘liberating, empowering’ device
The iPhone brought with it the era of instantly available
information for travelers.
Henry Harteveldt, industry analyst and founder of Atmosphere Research Group, said the iPhone and subsequent
smartphones have both “liberated” and “empowered” consumers at every touch point in their travels.
For example, trips can be researched and booked on mobile phones. The phones can be used to check in to flights
On June 29, 2007, the first gen- eration iPhone made its way into consumers’ hands. In the 10 years since, the smartphone has become ubiquitous, chang- ing the way everything from communication to how commerce takes place today.
June 29, 2007
• Launched with Visual Voicemail, which
• Launched with a predictive keyboard to prevent/correct mistakes
• 2-megapixel camera
June 19, 2009
iPhone 3Gs released
• Included built-in GPS to expand
June 24, 2010
iPhone 4 released
• Launched with Face Time, Apple’s
video-calling service that uses WiFi
• 5-megapixel camera
• As of iPhone 4’s release, over
225,000 apps were available and over
5 billion apps had been downloaded
from the App Store
• Included a front-facing camera for
the first time
and hotels. Once at a destination, they can aid in both way-
finding and sharing information, photos and video on so-
“There’s hardly any part of the travel experience that
hasn’t been touched by the mobile revolution,” he said.
The iPhone also moved travel toward a more paperless
system, according to Mark McSpadden, director of technology for Sabre Labs.
“It is the technology that has moved the traveler from a
paper-based system into a digital system,” he said. “Cutting-
edge technology when the iPhone came out for the traveler
was the manila folder with a lot of printouts in it.”
The iPhone has become that folder, with the capability to
replace paper boarding passes, reservation information and
itineraries with digital versions. Those aren’t the only things
the iPhone has replaced, though.
Signature’s Yeates listed some of the things the iPhone
has rendered unnecessary in travel in many cases, especially
from a consumer perspective: a laptop, a point-and-shoot
camera, a video camera, a GPS device for a rental car, an
“The big change is that [the iPhone] has allowed you to
do all of this stuff later in the journey, where it’s not uncommon to land in a city now without even a hotel [reserva-tion],” he said.
Travel by its very nature disconnects travelers from the
comforts of home and brings with it change and uncertainty, whether that’s in the form of flight cancellations, traffic
or something else entirely, according to Evan Konwiser, vice
president, digital traveler, American Express Global Business
July 11, 2008
iPhone 3G released
• Ran iPhone 2.0 software that includes
support for apps available in the App Store,
which was launched the same month
2007 2008 2010
See IPHONE on Page 18
‘Understanding how you
have the internet in your
hand in a much more
seamless way was
eye-opening to me.’
– Norm Rose,