Producers and Usages of Smartphones

Modern society has made substantial expenditures in technology. One of the most widely used devices in personal use is the smartphone. It has evolved to take the place of many gadgets in people's lives. The smartphone can now effectively do the tasks once carried out by calculators, calendars, clocks, alarm clocks, diaries, flashlights, stopwatches, newspapers, books, gaming consoles, telephones, cameras, and some other fundamental devices. The smartphone has slowly evolved over time. Although it has features of many different gadgets and devices, the computer and phone were the two main influences on its development. In order to maximize efficiency, the engineers combined these two technologies. To most people, the basic function of a smartphone remains making calls. However, there are variations where some individuals spend more time on other uses than calling and sending messages (Shin and Anind 335) Most definitions of the term smartphone tend to be vague or shallow because they do not cover all the aspects that the reader expects. One good definition of a smartphone that avoids this vagueness is that it is a gadget that combines the features of a mobile phone and those of a computer. This means that it can access a cellular radio system, has an operating system and can run multiple downloadable applications.

The history of the smartphone traces how the functions have been discovered and integrated over time. The drive to develop and improve smartphone technology has come from the desire of private entities to capture new markets and hold onto existing ones. This has seen innovators come up with more efficient phones with multiple applications to try and stay ahead of their competitors (Arthur n.p). The first smartphone went on sale on August 16 1994. It was the IBM Simon Personal Communicator that combined the features of a cellular phone and PDA. It was handheld with a touchscreen interface. International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) engineered the designing of the gadget. Mitsubishi Electric Corp assembled the device under a contract given by IBM. The company in charge of distribution, BellSouth Cellular Corp., was able to sell 50,000 units by February 1995, after which IBM started facing a financial crisis and had to discontinue its production.

BBC (n.p) notes that though the first smartphone was put on sale in 1994, efforts to have a smartphone in the market started as early as the 1970s. Theodore Paraskevakos, a Greek inventor, came up with the idea of visual display in telephones and data processing in 1971 while working for boing in Alabama. His ideas were later patented as U.S. Patent #3,812,296/5-21-1974 (Apparatus for Generating and Transmitting Digital Information) in 1974 under Paraskevakos’ name. Paraskevakos just demonstrated how one can use additional methods to communicate with remote devices. Though this idea was not directly incorporated into the first smartphone, it gave other innovators hope that PDA applications could be combined into remote devices to give the users a variety of utilities.

The IBM Simon Personal Communicator was actually made for business. It retailed at a very high price ($899) and thus was out of reach of the middle class households of the time. It was only available in the US and had a limited network that covered about 15 states. The members of the business community felt that it was convenient to carry around compared to having to move with both a computer and a cellular phone (Sager n.p). According to the phone user’s manual by IBM (1994), the phone could be used to send and receive e-mails and faxes. It also had a phonebook that could store various contact details, calendar, a note pad, a predictive screen keyboard and a standard keyboard. The phone now looks obsolete and can be found in museums around the world (BBC, n.p). However, it was a gadget that was way ahead of its time when it was invented.

The main reasons why the IBM Simon Personal Communicator was not very successful at its time was its price and lack of mobile internet. The Simon was not referred to as a smartphone during its early years. This word was coined years after its presence in the market. Initially, IBM felt that many people feared buying the Simon because they felt that it was too complicated given the numerous functions that it could perform (BBC, n.p). The company had to promote the gadget through adverts to make the target audience comfortable that they could handle it. In 1994, IBM sought to give its customers a more efficient phone that was also more portable than the Simon. The company reduced the size of the Simon and coded it the Neon. By the time the Neon was being invented, IBM was facing serious financial problems that led to closing of most of its plants and offices. It fell out with a number of its major engineers regarding relocations and this ended thus the Neon never got to the market.

The experiences of IBM with Simon Personal Communicator and Neon drew the attention of entities in the technology and telecommunication industry. Bellsouth, a company that had been involved in selling and distributing the Simon was still in business and entities such as Microsoft made an effort to get partnerships with it. These partnerships were meant to harness its experience in from its relations with IBM towards the rising interest in smartphones. The next major company that entered the smartphone business was Nokia. The ideas behind the Simon motivated Nokia’s developers. In 1996, the company launched the Nokia 9000 communicator (Nokia n.p). Unlike the Simon, the device targeted the whole world.

One of the challenges that both IBM and Nokia faced as the forerunners of the smartphone concept was limited coverage of the cellular network (Sager n.p). This limited the usability of the devices’ applications that relied on the internet. Individuals could only access the network in certain limited radii. The Nokia 9000 was much lighter than its predecessor in the market. The Simon weighed slightly above 500 g while the Nokia 9000 weighed 379 g. The Phone had a dial pad, navigation keys and a monochromatic display. The phone had a qwerty keypad that was attached to the main body using a hinge. During the time of the Nokia 900, the word smartphone had not been coined yet. Most of the phone’s features were similar to those of the IBM’s Simon. However, it had additional features that included word processing, web browsing and spreadsheets. It was powered by a 24MHz i386 Intel CPU. Its predecessor, The Simon, had 1 GB of memory. Nokia felt that this would increase the price and chose a memory of just 8 MB(Sager n.p).

Companies started balancing between the capabilities of the smartphones and the affordability. IBM is a company that has largely focused on producing powerful computers for business purposes. Therefore, its inventions were aimed at providing the most powerful phone while disregarding price. This was because it mainly targeted businesses entities that had little problem with the cost so long as it offered them utility. This changed with the entry of companies such as Nokia and Sony Ericson. These entities targeted private users. Since the American population is mainly made up of the middle class, there was need to ensure that the price was lowered and placed within its means. Very few individuals in the country could be willing to pay as much as $899 for the Simon. Nokia did not release the official price for the Nokia 9000. It was upon individual retailers to determine it. It went for between $8000 and $1000. The company felt that it was likely to fail like the Simon. It therefore embarked on research to improve the phone while lowering its price.

The period between 1995 and the new millennium saw many other companies try and come up with digital personal assistants aimed at private users. However, the price remained high and out of reach of the middle class. Companies such as Blackberry and Microsoft entered the industry as manufacturers of operating systems. Microsoft came up with Pocket PC while Blackberry came up with the Blackberry OS (Reed n.p). These two were later developed into mobile operating systems. The companies have continued releasing newer versions of the two operating systems to date. Hewlett-Packard entered the industry in 1996 with the release of the OmniGo 700LX PC. This was meant to support various Nokia devices with various software. Before the entry of Hewlett-Packard, the PDA feature of smartphones could not multitask as is the case today. This meant that one had to pause or close one application before using another. The introduction of the OmniGo 7000X PC gave Nokia devices the ability to multitask while running many software titles. Most of the early smartphone interventions were patented before the devices were released to the market (Sager n.p). Despite this trend, the inventions offered insights to other innovators who came in with methods of adding more applications to the devices and ensuring that they were portable while giving the user multiple utilities.

Though the term smartphone is now being used to refer to any device that combines both computing and cellular capabilities, it was not until 2000 that the term was officially recognized. According to Brown (n.p) the Ericson R380 was released by Ericsson Mobile Communications in and marketed as a “smartphone.” Unlike its predecessors, the gadget was as light as cellular mobile phones and could comfortably be carried in the pocket. It displayed on a black and white screen that could be covered by a flip after use. It used the Symbian OS that was developed by Psion but users could not update it or install any other software after its purchase. This was the most popular device manufactured outside the US at the time and was sold for $700 USD. The Kyocera 6035 was released by Oalm Inc. in 2001 and had almost similar capabilities to that of the Ericson 380 (Segan n.p).

Treo 180 was released by Handspring in 2002. The device was more similar to the current smartphones than others of the time. It used GSM technology and its Web browsing application was fully integrated into the Symbian operating system on which it ran. There are few major breakthroughs in discoveries made on smartphones between 2001 and 2006. These include the adoption of the Linux operating system that was used in Motorola smartphones. During this period, manufacturers tried to shift their attention from smartphones for business purposes to personal use. This included the incorporation of applications aimed at entertainment purposes such as games, music and video.

Smartphones entered a new phase in 2007 when Apple released the iPhone. Unlike other entities in the market, Apple targeted high-end users. The company first took its time developing the product with many rumors and speculation going around about it (Monbiot n.p). This followed information that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had come up with an idea of a computer interface where the user could directly tap on the display without using a keyboard and a mouse. On revising the idea, he realized that it could work better with a mobile phone. The rest of the operations were secretive until the announcement in January 2007 that the phone was due for release later the same year. The iPhone used 2G broadband technology. It used both Edge and GPRS to transfer data. It could also perfectly communicate with Apple PC when connected using a USB cable. Users could update the operating system over the internet to enhance security. The iPhone has remained the most preferred high-end user smartphone to date. Individuals often look forward to releases of newer devices (Arthur n.p). After the release of each subsequent version, millions are sold within the first few days. For instance, 13 million units of iPhone 7 were sold within the first weekend after its launch.

Apple seems to have tightly gripped the high-end user smartphone market. Other companies therefore saw it fit to target the middle and lower-end users. Google announced that it would avail the Android mobile operating system for free in November 2007. By that time, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile was covering about one fifth of the smartphone market. Google’s entry meant that individuals could obtain smartphones at a cheaper price because the OS was obtained without cost. Google services could them be used for email, video and web search. In 2009, it emerged that Nokia’s Symbian was still holding majority share in the market followed by RIM. The first smartphones running on android operating system appeared in the market in February 2010 (Monbiot n.p). This was followed by legal battles between Google and Apple over what apple alleged as copying the features of iPhone by individuals who manufactured devices that ran on Android. The two parties settled for an out-of-court settlement where Google referred apple to hardware manufacturers. Apple then signed a number of licensing agreements with entities whose devices ran on Android for the use of features such as touchscreen. By 2011, Android hat taken up about half of the smartphone market, with Samsung leading in the smartphone hardware market (Arthur n.p). The smartphone market continues to grow with entities struggling to ensure that their they give their users phones with the best capabilities at lower prices to solidify their position in the market.

The Role and Position of Smartphones in the society

Technology occupies a central position in many people’s lives today. Many people will argue that technology, especially hand-held devices such as smartphones, has strained our relationships with those around us. In the family, parents will often complain that the young people spend too much time on these devices. According to Fitoussi (53) hand held gadgets have reduced the time that people spend on strengthening relations with family members and friends. It has led to loneliness and isolation of the young people despite the availability of individuals they can talk to. This leads to the perspective that technology is delinking the millennials from earlier generations that are supposed to teach them important aspects of survival (Sarwar and Tariq 218)

A keen scrutiny of the issue of smartphone use will reveal a very different perspective from what many sociologists have believed. For instance, individuals claim that people spend too much time on mobile phones and other related hand-held devices. This can be refuted by listing the number of items that mobile phones have replaced then estimating to total time spend on these items before the penetration of smartphones in the market. Among the items that smartphones have replaced include camera. Radio, portable music player, calculator, e-book reader, maps, flash light, voice recorder, scanner, compass, GPS navigator, leveler, portable gaming devices, game consoles, USB thumb dive and other data storage devices, barcode scanner, video player, calendar, books, alarm clock, wrist watch, timer, newspaper, photo album, notepad, board games, video player, mails, thermostat, measuring tapes, credit cards, various types of tickets, television, remote controller, paper money, coins, guitar tuners, personal computer, landline phone among others. More uses of smartphones are being discovered each day now that the manufacturers have invited the users to help them increase the number of uses that they can be put to. The argument on the amount of time individuals spend on smartphones can be countered by adding the amount of time that individuals spent using all these items then comparing it with the hours that people spend on their phones. It is likely that these two will balance.

The observation that the smartphone is changing interactions in the society is not valid. A look at the society from the interactionism perspective will reveal that most of the norms have been passed down the generations. The judgement on what is morally right and wrong mainly depends on the culture and religion in which an individual was brought up. Smartphones have not redefined our culture and religion. Instead, they have been integrated into these aspects. According to Stokel-Walker (n.p) smartphones, especially social media have been used to propagate religious ideologies that existed before their invention. The fact that these devices have increased connectivity does not mean that they should be blamed for moral degradation of the society. The connection has only served to spread the existing ideologies rather than create new ones. Individuals use smartphones in the same manner that the gadgets listed above were being used before (Sarwar and Tariq 217)

Smartphone users that we have been observing have always been eager to obtain better devices. Some will tend to go for the most visible brands in the media and the internet. Others will look at the features of the mobile phones such as random access memory, display, thickness, quality of photographs by the camera, memory and the software versions that the device can support. Therefore, the interest in superior smartphones continues to rise because of their growing relevance and utility in people’s lives.

Works Cited

Arthur, Charles. The history of smartphones: timeline. The Guardian. January 24, 2012. Web. 25 February 2017.

British Broadcasting Corporation. World's first 'smartphone' celebrates 20 years. BBC, 15 August 2014. Web. 25 February 2017.

Brown, Bruce. "Ericsson R380 World Review & Rating". PC Magazine. April 27, 2011. Web. 25 February 2017.

Fitoussi, David. "So close and yet so far: Information technology and the spatial distribution of customer service." ICIS 2003 Proceedings (2003): 53.

IBM. Simon Says "Here's How!" - User’s Manual (PDF). Part Number 83G9872. 1994. Archived from the original on July 29, 2013. IBM. July 29, 2013. Web. 25 February 2017

Monbiot, George. "Why is Apple so shifty about how it makes the iPhone?". The Guardian. September 23, 2013. Web. 25 February 2017.

Nokia. GSM-based communicator product hits the market. Nokia starts sales of the Nokia 9000 communicator. Nokia News Release. September 15 1996. Web. 25 February 2017.

Reed, Brad. A Brief History of Smartphones. PC World. Jun 18, 2010. Web. 25 February 2017.

Sager, Ira. Before IPhone and Android Came Simon, the First Smartphone. Bloomberg, 29 June 2012. Web. 25 February 2017.

Sarwar, Muhammad, and Tariq Rahim Soomro. "Impact of Smartphone’s on Society." European journal of scientific research 98.2 (2013): 216-226.

Segan, Sascha. "Kyocera Launches First Smartphone In Years | News & Opinion". March 23, 2010. Web. 25 February 2017.

Shin, Choonsung, and Anind K. Dey. "Automatically detecting problematic use of smartphones." Proceedings of the 2013 ACM international joint conference on Pervasive and ubiquitous computing. ACM, 2013.

Stokel-Walker, Chris. How Smartphones Are Changing Religion. British Broadcasting Corporation. 23 February 2017. Web, 25 February 2017.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price