Just a few years ago we were carrying around those big, heavy lumps of plastic. If you walked down any sidewalk in any city, all you would see was the antennae sticking up as people valiantly tried to talk as they walked. Thankfully, it wasn`t long before cell phones became smaller, neater and with a much improved signal. Then came sms messaging, picture messaging, then video calling and now we have a range of cell phones that act as a mobile office, these are smartphones.
These are exactly what their name suggests; they are very smart. You still have all your normal cell phone functions, but you also have full internet access, email, a QWERTY keypad, fax facility and the Microsoft office suite. These new generation phones are an essential item for today`s businessmen, but are becoming more and more popular with techno geeks who want to get their hands on the latest bit of kit.
The first ever smartphone was unveiled by IBM in 1992, and shown as a concept product at COMDEX, a trade how in Nevada. It was called `Simon` and released to the general public a year later by BellSouth. Its main features were a world clock, a calendar, an address book and notepad, email and the ability to send and received fax. It was also the first phone with a touch screen. Compared to today`s phones, Simon was a fairly low end product, but at the time its technology was outstanding.
The other manufacturers were keen to get in on the act, and it wasn`t long before they started to produce their own smartphones. The Nokia 900 range brought out the Nokia communicator in 1996. This was marketed as a ‘computer in the palm of your hand. The Nokia 9210 was the first true smartphone, with a full color screen and independent operating system, although Nokia continued to call it a communicator, which made it sound like it had less capabilities than it actually did. The 9500 then came out, with an integrated camera and Wi-Fi facility.
In 2002, the world of smartphones changed forever with the arrival of the first blackberry. This phone had absolutely everything you could want to run your business on the move. It was the first phone to optimize wireless email. Within 5 years it has an estimated 8 million users, 3/4 of which were in North America.
The latest inception into this growing market is the I-phone. This phone can download smartphone applications directly from the Apple App store. This gives you the luxury of picking and choosing exactly what you want on your phone. This is great for users who don`t want a phone clogged up with loads of applications that they won`t use.
The seven main operating systems found on smartphones are Symbian OS, Blackberry, Windows mobile, I-phone OS, Palm webOS, Linux and Android. By far, the phones with the Symbian system led the way with over 50% of the global market.
As technology is continuously improving, who knows what the next generation of smartphones will give us. It`s hard to imagine what else there could possibly be to add to a phone, but these technology giants will no doubt think of something.