These days, it’s hard to imagine a world without the smartphones we have become so dependent on. From checking emails to video calling friends and family and browsing the web, we use our smartphones for work and play, and we would be lost without them! But whilst they are now poised to take over the world, there was a time when the Apple iPhone was just a twinkle in Steve Jobbs’ eye – a time before streaming mobile video and browsing websites on the bus was possible; a time before smart phones existed.
The Evolution of the Smartphone
There will be some who claim that the world’s first smartphone was the IBM Simon, which was actually released in 1993. It had a PDA, fax and pager capabilities – ground-breaking technology for its time! But it wasn’t until 2000 when Sony Ericsson released its touch screen R380 that smartphone technology really started to take off – the R380 was the first mobile phone to use an operating system. Between 2000 and 2006, various models of Windows powered ‘smartphones’ and BlackBerrys, the first phones to be optimised for sending emails, were released on to the market. In 2007, the first fully touch-screen smartphone became available – Apple’s iPhone.
A competitor for Apple’s smartphone was soon launched – the first Android phone, the G1, hit the market in November 2008; by this point Apple had already sold 4.7 million iPhones in the summer of 2008 alone. Hot on the heels of Android, Microsoft developed their own new operating system, Window Phone, which launched in December 2008. But Android were slow to pick up on touch screen technology, and their first fully touch-screen phone wasn’t launched until February 2010! Windows released their first phones running the new Windows Phone operating system in October of that year.
For a while, it looked like Apple were set to dominate the world’s smartphone market – by April 2011, Apple had sold 18.6 million iPhones in the spring, becoming the world’s largest smart-phone manufacturer. Their fifteen minutes of fame didn’t last long however – by October 2011, Samsung had made their mark, taking the global share of the market and becoming the world’s largest smart phone vendor. Nokia were the next brand to jump on board the smartphone trend, releasing the Nokia Lumia 800, their first phone running the Windows Phone operating system.
What Does it all Mean?
So what does this all mean for the future of the smartphone? With Samsung’s recent release of the Galaxy S4, running the latest version of Android, technology is becoming even more advanced – they give Apple a run for their money with features such as Smart Scroll, which detects where your eyes are looking and scrolls the screen accordingly! When you consider that in 2013 there are 36 million smartphones in the UK alone, it’s easy to see how the smartphone has become a nationwide (and global) phenomenon – it’s changed the way we shop, bank, communicate, work and play, and as Windows, Android and Apple all compete for their share of the market, we are only set to see more advanced technology arrive in the next few years. By 2016 it’s estimated that there will be 63 million smartphones in the UK – and who knows whether these will be the brands of today, or entirely new phones.
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