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Smartphone History: A Brief About Apple, Android and Blackberry

A smartphone is a mobile phone that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone. Smartphones and feature phones may be thought of as handheld computers integrated with a mobile telephone, but while most feature phones are able to run applications based on platforms such as Java ME, a smartphone allows the user to run and multitask applications that are native to the underlying hardware. Smartphones run complete operating system software providing a platform for application developers. Thus, they combine the functions of a camera phone and a personal digital assistant (PDA).

It's more than three years since Apple brought the smartphone to a mass consumer market, but smartphones have actually been around in one form or another since 1993. The difference between then and now is that early smartphones were primarily used as enterprise devices and were prohibitively expensive for most consumers. But with the enormous success of the iPhone, carriers have discovered that they can lock in customers for long periods of time by heavily subsidizing their purchases of the latest and hottest smartphones. In this slideshow we'll track the evolution of the smartphone, from its humble beginnings as a clunky monochrome device to today's sleek multimedia devices capable of supporting HD video.

The first smartphone was the IBM Simon; it was designed in 1992 and shown as a concept product that year at COMDEX, the computer industry trade show held in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was released to the public in 1993 and sold by BellSouth. Besides being a mobile phone, it also contained a calendar, address book, world clock, calculator, note pad, e-mail, send and receive fax, and games. It had no physical buttons to dial with. Instead customers used a touchscreen to select telephone numbers with a finger or create facsimiles and memos with an optional stylus. Text was entered with a unique on-screen "predictive" keyboard. By today's standards, the Simon would be a fairly low-end product, lacking for example the camera now considered usual. However, its feature set at the time was highly advanced.

The Nokia Communicator line was the first of Nokia's smartphones starting with the Nokia 9000, released in 1996. This distinctive palmtop computer style smartphone was the result of a collaborative effort of an early successful and costly personal digital assistant (PDA) by Hewlett-Packard combined with Nokia's bestselling phone around that time, and early prototype models had the two devices fixed via a hinge. The Nokia 9210 was the first color screen Communicator model which was the first true smartphone with an open operating system.

In 1997 the term 'smartphone' was used for the first time when Ericsson unveiled the concept phone GS88, the first device labelled as 'smartphone'.

Brief History of Android Smartphone

Android is a flexible, Linux based operating system that is made by Google and released as open source. It has a cult following of developers creating applications for the platform and is rapidly advancing to provide a comprehensive feature set. There is support for desktop Widgets to stack functionality in the phone, and as a whole the platform is quite customizable and extensible. There are around 18 phone models to choose from (and many more coming soon) which allows for quite a range of choice when it comes to phone hardware.

Brief History of Blackberry Smartphone

Research in Motion's Blackberry devices run BlackBerry OS, which is very much a Business-oriented platform that enjoys great popularity in some markets. BlackBerries are known for their sturdy, excellent hardware, top notch keyboards, and super-fast push email integration. Many businesses use BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) to exercise strict control and monitoring of employee BlackBerries, which provides an effective means of instantly sharing and centralizing data from devices. BlackBerries also have the ability to use RIM's good (but proprietary) BlackBerry Messenger application for free text-based chatting with other BlackBerry users. Touchscreen based BlackBerry designs (i.e. Storm and Storm 2) have met with mixed reviews - largely because the operating system was not originally designed with touch as a factor, and it doesn't harness the power of touch as well as other platforms.

Brief History of iPhone iOS Smartphone

In 2007, Apple announced the iPhone, and with it, the iPhone OS. This operating system has been said to have revolutionized (and popularized) the smartphone with its intuitive, well-thought out interface and smooth user experience. Apple is quick to brag about a massive base of applications available in their app store which makes it quite easy to find and purchase an application for nearly any purpose you can imagine. The device has great appeal to those who are invested (or locked in to) in the Apple iTunes/iPod ecosystem. Despite this, there remain to this day some limitations and restrictions to the platform - the most notable of which is the inability to multitask (except with a few of Apple's native applications), and the fact that any applications must be approved by Apple and downloaded through their app store, unless you are brave enough to "JailBreak" your device. A version of iPhone OS will also be the platform which is used by the upcoming iPad tablet.



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