Smart Phones: Historical Development

photo of smart phones

WHAT ARE SMARTPHONES?
Smartphones are mobile phones (also known as cell phones or mobiles) with advanced mobile operating system that combines features of a personal computer operating system with other features useful for mobile or handheld use. Smartphones, which are pocket-sized, typically combine the features of a mobile phone, such as the abilities to place and receive voice calls and create and receive text messages, with those of other popular digital mobile devices like personal digital assistants (PDAs), such as an event calendar, media player, video games, GPS navigation, digital camera and digital video camera. Smartphones can access the Internet and can run a variety of third-party software components (“apps” from places like Google Play Store or Apple App Store). They typically have a color display with a graphical user interface that covers more than 76% of the front surface. The display is almost always a touchscreen and sometimes additionally a touch-enabled keyboard like the Priv/Passport Blackberrys, which enables the user to use a virtual keyboard to type words and numbers and press onscreen icons to activate “app” features.

In 1999, the Japanese firm NTT DoCoMo released the first smartphones to achieve mass adoption within a country. Smartphones became widespread in the late 2000s. Most of those produced from 2012 onward have high-speed mobile broadband 4G LTE, motion sensors, and mobile payment features. In the third quarter of 2012, one billion smartphones were in use worldwide. Global smartphone sales surpassed the sales figures for regular cell phones in early 2013.

HISTORY: EARLY YEARS
Over the past 23 years, smartphones have changed the way we live our lives. From checking the weather to running a business, we often rely on these small powerful devices to complete our daily tasks with ease. Since their first introduction, smartphones have consistently evolved to meet our growing needs in the form of faster wireless connections, sharper images, and greater memory storage, just to name a few. Today, we salute the ever-changing Smartphone and feature highlights to understand its transformation to this day.

FORERUNNER
The first true Smartphone was developed by IBM in 1992 and was released in 1994. It was called the Simon Personal Communicator. It was the first phone to meld together the functions of a cell phone and a PDA element.

Aside from its calling capabilities, you could also use the Simon to send and receive emails, faxes, and pages. There were also a suite of built-in features including a notes collection you could write in, an address book that looked like file folder, calendar, world clock, and a way to schedule appointments.

PDA’s (Personal Digital Assistant)

Nokia
In 1996, Nokia introduced its 9000-series Communicators which rolled all of the features of a computer into a phone, putting email, web browsing, fax, word processing and spreadsheets into a single pocketable device.

The Nokia 9000 Communicator was a mobile powerhouse, with 8MB of memory and a 33MHz processor. This combination ran Nokia’s own GEOS operating system (a predecessor to the Symbian OS used on later models), combined with a suite of business programs that could read and edit Microsoft Office files from a desktop PC. The screen was a black and white LCD, with a then-high resolution of 640 x 200 pixels.

Previous phones had offered only text web browsing, but the 9000 Communicator could render graphics in all their monochrome glory and connect to the Internet over the built-in 9600 bits per second GSM modem, which worked with the new digital GSM phone networks that were being rolled out across the world.

Ericsson
The Ericsson R380 launched in late 1999 was the very first device to be marketed as a Smartphone. It combined the functions of a mobile phone and a personal digital assistant (PDA). It was a groundbreaking device since it was as small and light as a normal mobile phone. It was the first device to use the Symbian OS that had previously only been used in Psion personal organizers.

The display was a black and white touchscreen, partially covered by a flip. For that reason it can be considered the clear forerunner of the popular P800/P900 series of smartphones. It predates the UIQ user interface which runs on those later phones, but again, the heritage is clear.

Kyocera 6035
The Kyocera 6035 was one of the first Smartphone to appear in the America market, released in February 2001. Its predecessor was built by QUALCOMM and called the PDQ 800 (and 1900), then after Kyocera acquired Qualcomm’s handset division (Qualcomm Personal Electronics), they built the QCP 6035. It was one of the first phones to combine a PDA with a mobile phone. The Kyocera 6035 was the first smartphone to operate on a Verizon network.
The phone appears to have a dual-software nature, with the cellphone firmware operating independently (though available through an interface) from the Palm OS system. Like most modern smartphone, the phone operations can be off while the Palm operates, and vice versa.

MASS ADOPTION
The vast majority of those early smartphones did not make as much of a breakthrough as you might think. Very few people were actually interested in purchasing such devices. The very first devices to be massively adopted were developed by NTT DoCoMo in Japan. The phones used a mobile internet service known as i-mode. By the end of 2001, there were more than 40 million subscribers of the service nationwide.

Later, in the mid-2000s, devices based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile started to gain popularity among business users in the U.S. The BlackBerry later gained mass adoption in the U.S., and American users popularized the term “CrackBerry” in 2006 due to its addictive nature. The company first released its GSM BlackBerry 6210, BlackBerry 6220, and BlackBerry 6230 devices in 2003.

IOS
Symbian was the most popular Smartphone OS in Europe during the middle to late 2000s. Initially, Nokia’s Symbian devices were focused on business, similar to Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices at the time. In 2003, Motorola launched the first Smartphone to use Linux, the A760 handset.

IOS, then known as iPhone OS, was unveiled at the Macworld event, early 2007. At the time, features of the iPhone were very limited. There wasn’t an App Store, you couldn’t multitask between the built-in apps, move the app icons on the homescreen (until the 1.1.1. update), copy and paste text, attach files to email, 3G and MMS.

However, while other devices were still using resistive touch screens, Apple revolutionized its iPhone with capacitive touch capabilities, making the whole experience of a Smartphone smooth and swift to users.

The capacitive touchscreen made multitouch pinch-and-zoom and smooth scrolling a thing of the future as users experienced it when surfing on the Safari web browser, or zooming and scrolling through pictures on their camera roll. Google Maps was also awesome on the iPhone because of the capacitive touch-zooming in and out quickly had most of us excited back then.

ANDROID
In October 2008, the first phone to use Android called the HTC Dream (also known as the T-Mobile G1) was released. Android is an open-source platform founded by Andy Rubin and now owned by Google. Although Android’s adoption was relatively slow at first, it started to gain widespread popularity in 2010, and in early 2012 dominated the smartphone market share worldwide, which continues to this day.

CONCLUSION
Both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android boast high customer loyalty numbers, and pre-release sales of the Microsoft Lumia 800 would lead one to believe that it will enjoy the same. It’s been a long road to get us to where we are today, but the history of smartphones is an interesting journey. What does the future hold?
REFERENCE
1. Kyocera wireless.2001. Archived from the original on 4th March 2001. Retrieved 17th May 2017.
2. https://enwikipedia.org/wiki/ smartphone.
3. www.mobile industry review.com.

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