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When the original i Phone launched, the OS was called "i Phone OS" and it kept that name for four years, only changing to i OS with the release of i OS 4 in June of 2010.
For the sake of simplicity (and because it's a much-less awkward phrase), I'm going to indulge in a little revisionist history here and refer to all versions of the operating system as "i OS" in this piece.
Yes, it famously has never supported the Flash plugin, but it was the first mobile web browser that felt nearly as capable and powerful as a full desktop browser.
Where other mobile operating systems reflowed, reformatted, or simply broke the look and feel of web pages, mobile Safari presented the web fully and offered simple zoom and scrolling features that were unmatched at the time. Apple used its already-massive i Tunes and i Pod ecosystem to provide an "anchor" for the OS and the beginnings of what would eventually become a huge ecosystem of music, movies, television, books, and apps.
That certainly doesn't mean it's underpowered or underfeatured — quite the contrary.
Through what can only be described as relentless and consistent improvement over the years, Apple has made i OS one of the most feature-rich and well-supported platforms on the market.
How did we get from a platform that began without third-party apps, multitasking, or even copy / paste support to where we are today?
Windows Mobile, Palm OS, Symbian, and even Black Berry were all established systems in 2007, with a wide and deep array of features.
Removing all physical buttons save 5, Apple made touch the primary interaction model.