Smartphones: The Genesis Story & Its Evolutionary Fact

What do you think of when you hear the term Smartphone? The term itself was not coined until 1995 by an AT&T employee, Pam Savage. Historically, devices that had computing processes were initially conceptualized by Nikola Tesla in the early 1900’s. Theodore Paraskevakos, the pioneer of communications developed what is now known as ”Caller ID.” He further introduced visual displays into telephones in 1971 and patented it in 1974. Although, in 1983, the first cell phone was the Motorolla DynaTAC 8000X – sounds like an advanced technological weaponry. It had a flexible antenna, with a 12-key telephone keypad and nine additional special keys. Looking at it with modern eyes, it may seem trivial, but then was a time of simplicity in comparison to today. Basically this device was something out of the movies, then. It was priced at $3,995 when released in 1984 – equivalent to $10,000 of modern currency value.

At the start of the century, the Ericsson R380 was released and marketed as the first smartphone ever. Hitting the market at the dawn of the 21st century was, indeed, a poetic move for a technologically-centered era. The device was the first host to the Symbian Operating System. It had a white and black touchscreen that was partly covered by a flip. But you see, the thing with the ”first smartphone” is controversial. While the Ericsson R380 was marketed as such, it was preceded in 1992 by IBM Simon, a touchscreen cellular phone, that by the standard of its time would be considered the first smartphone.

Diving into the etymology of things, when pondering on the word ”Smartphone,” a vast and various groups of people would have different meanings. When searching Oxford Dictionaries for the meaning, it provides the following meaning, ‘A mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, Internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded apps. But to argue from a scientific point of view, we can see that the meaning is biased with modern views as this meaning would not apply on the earlier devices. Perhaps, a generic one would suffice for now.

The smartphone underwent an evolutionary process in order for it to come to existence. A plethora of distinguished smartphones were released throughout the last decade and a half, each with a distinguished operating system. The popular ones were: Blackberry, Nokia S40 OS, Symbian, OS, Palm OS, and Windows. The aforementioned operating systems became increasingly popular in the 2000s. The phones of that time could send emails, fax, web browse, and yes, play games. Surely, you remember Snake, the ”console-like” game of its time. Now we have true console-like quality games such as Modern Combat 5 and others.

Throughout our progression in time, more and more smartphones with all kind of different features were being released. Smartphone usage increased dramatically between 2004 and 2007. In that developing period, if you will, the popular devices ranged from brands such as BlackBerry, Samsung, and Motorola. No one would’ve predicted that Apple will take over the scene back then, which it did with its Apple iPhone 1 (1g or 2g) in 2007. Unparalleled in design, it packed 4 buttons overall, with a Home button and three buttons around its edges. Touchscreen was finally “finger-friendly,” in the sense that it was proper touchscreen experience that registered every touch, unlike the others. Revolutionizing the Touchscreen technology, Apple has paved the way for the smartphones of today.

In 2008, Apple’s iOS has found itself facing a powerful rival, Google’s Android. And such started the debate of which operating system was more superior. Of course the other operating systems were still around, but none of them was able to compete with “The Giants”. In a respectful manner, BlackBerry did have a shot, trying to be more popular, but then fell off around 2010. By 2012, Symbian has disappeared, and all the other operating systems apart from Windows, were pretty much in oblivion. It turned into a vicious competition between two market leaders, Apple and Google, much similar to the Republicans vs Democrats in United States Politics. Now that we look back, the memory of this evolution moves farther and farther from range. In fact, the new generation barely recognize what Nokia is, now that Apple and Google are the titans of this mobile era. Since 2010, mobile companies started avoiding the physical keyboard on mobile devices as it was frowned upon by users – it was the time of touchscreens and nothing stood in its way.

Coming to the debate now, which operating system functions best on touchscreen devices? People will differ and debates by fan-atics can get ugly. It really comes down to what you prefer and what fits more to your daily needs. Credit should be given to Sony Ericsson and the Symbian operating system as they played a role in paving the way for iOS and Android. Truly, a mobile world it is that we live in. How many people can be without their smartphones for one hour? Probably none. Not that we recommend it but most people eat while using their smartphones, we are sure you have seen many people within this category as well. Now we have devices such as the iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S6, and soon to receive their successors. This whole technological breakthroughs were a part of an evolution that was generated with a simple and small idea. Apple’s campaign motto puts its best with ”Think Different.”