16 Jun/14

Smartphone

In 1946, AT&T established the first mobile network, and the first wireless telephone call was placed by a truck driver on June 17.

Yet it took nearly 30 years until the smartphone concept was born, when in 1974, Theodore George Paraskevakos was granted a patent for an “apparatus for generating and transmitting digital information.”

Another 20 years were to pass by before the first smartphone hit the market.

On the 16th of August 1994, IBM and BellSouth released the Simon Personal Communicator – this ancestor of the modern smartphone was capable of making phone calls, faxing, text messaging and e-mailing. Just think about it – the phone included a monochrome touchscreen, operated by stylus, supported e-mail, had a clock, calendar, games, predictive typing and it even had apps (supporting the option for additional features through an external memory card). The Simon retailed for $1,099, or $899 if the buyer signed up for a two-year service contract, and weighed over half a kilo.

Ironically, even if the device sold nearly 50,000 units, it was just too advanced for its time and the market was not yet ready for such a technological innovation, as it lacked the fast networks, browsers and applications to release its full potential and in 1995, the first smartphone (at that time the phrase smartphone was not yet coined) was discontinued without gaining fame.

It was Ericsson, back in 2000, who was the first to coin the phrase “smartphone”. The Swedish company marketed its R380 flip mobile phone as a “smartphone,” a term that has certainly caught on since then. The R380 was Symbian-operated and the first phone to ship with an OS. Indeed, it was Symbian that dominated the market over the following decade.

The next milestone came in 2007 with Apple’s iPhone bringing smartphone design and functionality to new multimedia, user-friendly heights. This was followed by Google’s Android OS release the year later. And nowadays, over 90% of annual handset shipments worldwide are for devices driven by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS mobile operating systems.

The infamous Simon paved the way to the smartphone era. 20 years following its release, the smartphone market has grown to over 1 billion annual worldwide shipments. It is a fact that we have never been more mobile, but how about smarter?

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