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Notes on the $1,000 iPhone and Mobile Malware

Would you buy a $1,000 iPhone?

Sure, it’s not like iOS devices are super-cheap as it is (the iPhone 7 Plus starts at $769), but there’s something about that quadruple-digit threshold that seems momentous. It’s outsized and conspicuous, like it would fit perfectly into the millennium-era hip-hop trope of drinking Cristal in the back of a Hummer limo while sporting lots and lots of bling.

According to various reports, Apple's next major iPhone refresh, due Sept. 2017 for the gadget’s 10th anniversary, would include a top-of-the-line model that costs more than $1,000 for the 256 GB storage level, thanks to a higher cost of components. These include a 5.8-inch OLED screen, which is nearly 5.5% larger than the screen size of the 7 Plus, new touch buttons that replace physical ones, a faster processor, yadda yadda yadda. It will be called the iPhone X, reports Fast Company.

But more than anything, the thing that grabbed me about this story is the fact that the iPhone is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Only 10 years since our world irrevocably, magnificently shifted.

Before the iPhone we had flip-phones and the Motorola RAZR. We had an obsession with thin lines and candy bars. We had truly hideous mobile web “experiences”—it was an experience, all right—and of course, we had Blackberry, with its annoying physical keyboard. It was the reigning king of the enterprise. Mobile “cells” were part of the fabric of life, but were still mostly about voice and texting. And even the texting was not as much a thing back then—there were no emojiis, after all to liven things up.

2007 today sounds a bit bleak, even: No mobile video, no apps for everything, no MMS, no decent games. The “smartphones” of the day were troglodytes compared to today’s mini-computers that everyone has in their pockets and use for pretty much everything.

You know what else was missing? Mobile malware.

I would argue that Steve Jobs, when he introed the iPhone in January 2007, released a cyber-horror genie that, while eventually deciding to make Android its main squeeze, proceeded to fall in love with smartphones in general, with its interest growing apace with the mobile landscape itself.

Every beautiful thing needs a foil, perhaps. Can the beauty of something fully be understood without something ugly to show us the contrast? Maybe without malware, living in the mobile-everything world would be too easy—and far too taken for granted. We would become fat and lazy, unaccustomed to adversity, downloading apps from sketchy sources willy-nilly and clicking on any number of ads and dubious links. Complacent, the mobile-going public would become a bigger target than anyone ever dreamed of—unsuspecting and ripe for system-wide computing Armageddon.

No, maybe it’s best that malware has grown up with the smartphone. Keeps us honest and aware that anyone can pick up a bug if they’re not careful—even if you have a $1,000 phone in your pocket.

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