The iPhone is considered a very expensive device to own, but the fact that newer technologies become cheaper with every year enables vendors like Apple to ensure that each new model packs more new and exciting features for roundabout the same price. If prices of the raw materials remained constant, building a handset like the iPhone would be impossible on a large scale, and to emphasize this point, Tech Policy Daily has carried out some research on how much an iPhone would have cost to make in 1991.
Prompted by a RadioShack ad from two decades ago that showed off a range of products now obsolete thanks to devices like the iPhone, TPD’s Bret Swanson decided to see how much the now all-in-one device would have made to cost to produce back then. The short answer, quite incredibly, is well over the $3m mark.
It’s worth pointing out that most of the estimates are rough, and that actually, he’s only factored in some of the major hardware found in the latest and greatest iPhone 5s, but nevertheless, the figures make for staggering reading.
The equivalent of the A7 processor, which harbors enough power and might to push 20,500 MIPS (millions of instructions per second), would alone have cost around $620,000 – almost two thirds of a million dollars. But the new chip, which is the fastest and most efficient that Apple has built to date, wouldn’t even have been the priciest feature to replicate back in the early nineties.
Considering, at the time, that much of the vaguely connected world was on dial-up, creating something even close to the connection of today’s LTE would have cost a monumental amount of money; a whopping $1.5 million, in fact.
Add to that the fact that flash memory – so commonplace and cheap to purchase in this day and age – would have cost a further $1.44 million, and it puts into perspective just how much technology has advanced over the past twenty or so years.
The iPhone, and others similar, quite literally put the world in the palms of our hands, and even though we’ve only been dependent on the iPhone for seven years, it feels as though it’s been around forever.
Tech Policy Daily’s breakdown also misses out things like touch-screen, camera, software, and other major aspects of the iPhone experience, so it’s arguable that in actual fact, the cost would have been a lot higher.