The History and Evolution of Cell Phones

free essayThe modern technologies and devices have greatly altered the way people communicate and exchange information. One of the most significant roles in this process belongs to the mobile phones. Nowadays, they help people not only talk with one another, but also use the Internet, take photos, store important information and do many other things that are important for the contemporary lifestyle. Mobile phones are sometimes called cell phones or handphones. In many societies, they have become an integral part of everyday life, thus people coined many different slang words that denote these gadgets. In general, the mobile phone is a portable device that works due to the transmission of data on certain radio frequency within the certain area. The user of this gadget can freely move within the area of its functioning. The essay will prove that mobile phones are the technology that has been developing at a very high pace since the 1980s and has showed a great variety of innovation functions and designs.

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Brick Phones

The mobile phones were not invented all of a sudden. There was a long history of technologies and devices that preceded this innovation. One of the most significant achievements of the “pre-cell” era was a radio common carrier, but such station did not have personal phone number and used the public network, so the calls could not be truly personal. The first model of handphone was demonstrated by Motorola Company in 1973, but it was not applied in industry. However, the first true mobile phone sold to the customers was Mototola DynaTAC 8000X. The launch of this product occurred in 1984. It was quite large and due to its form this model and the ones of similar shape and functions were often called “brick phones”. These technologies were inaccessible to most consumers and they were often treated as signs of top income that was absolutely true as the above-mentioned Motorola cost around 4 thousand dollars in the middle of the 1980s.

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Candybar Phones

The large size of the brick phones was one of the most significant inconveniences for users, so reducing the dimensions of the mobile phone was the top priority for producers. Nokia exerted every effort to be the leader in this sphere and in the beginning of the 1990s this company launched several models of these devises that were no larger than a bar of chocolate. This form was often employed by a variety of companies, such as Nokia and Sony Ericsson. Bar type mobile phones usually had a screen and keypad on the same side. However, the companies tried to create some unique designs and Samsung SPH-M620 had a special bar style, offering different devices on either side of the bar: a phone on one side, and a simple audio player on the opposite one. Sony Ericsson also had a well-known model CM-H333 that was very popular on the European market.

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Mass Production and Introduction of Additional Functions

The problem of size was more or less solved and the next task for the manufacturers was connected with the challenge to make mobile phones cheaper. The leading companies in this aspect were Siemens, Motorola and Nokia. Nokia’s 3310 model, for instance, helped the corporation to dominate the mobile phone market from the middle of the 1990s as the manufacturer managed to sell millions of units both in Europe and America. The relative cheapness of such models was achieved due to the simplification of technological processes and recent innovations in the communication sphere. It was also necessary to diversify the functions of these devices. One of the most innovative and mind-blowing improvements was the integration of the camera into the gadget. At first these cameras produced pictures of relatively low quality that was incomparable with professional cameras, but later, when the elite segment and smartphones were launched onto the market, cameras became really powerful. Many models were also integrated with audio players and radios.

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Elite Segment and iPhones

However, keeping all the mobile phones cheap was not a good idea as this approach did not cover the customers who represented the elite segment of the market. Therefore, many companies started producing elite gadgets. The best example is, by all means, iPhone that was launched in 2007. As it can be seen from Figure 1, Apple with its iPhone does not occupy a very large share of the market. However, this company managed to make a mobile phone a distinctive feature of a specific lifestyle that no company did before. Since that time many different producers began to follow Apple’s steps and started creating similar models. One of the most successful rivals of iPhone is Samsung Galaxy series, but still the combined efforts of engineers and designers of iPhone keep it on the top of the smartphone ranking. As, in fact, there are no critical differences in the functions of iPhones and other similar models of other manufacturers, the main attention is paid to the small technical details, reliability, service and design. These factors have become the most significant elements of the new mobile phone market.

This stage was also marked with the extensive development of various mobile applications that turned smartphones, such as iPhone and others, into efficient helpers in one’s everyday life. Mobile applications also became a huge industry. The development of smartphones made the IT sphere pay more attention to the development of mobile software. Moreover, this software differs from one region to another. For example, Bessant and Tidd (2011) state that in the Philippines pay-as-you-go-credits became a common unit of currency, thus creating a very special niche in the market. The same tendency can be seen in website design as many users nowadays use their mobile phones to browse the Internet. Therefore, the industry of mobile communication not only developed itself, but also created many other new opportunities for other engineers, companies and manufacturers.

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Future of the Technology

The history of any technology should not end at the current moment of time. The forecasts and prospects of its development should also be taken into account as any society that wants to have harmonious and sustainable development must have a clear plan that people can implement in the future. The sales of mobile phones (including the segment of smartphones) are constantly growing. “Almost two billion mobile phones were sold to the end users worldwide in 2014” (The Statistics Portal, 2016). It is easy to forecast that this tendency will remain steady at least for 5-10 years until the science comes up with more innovative products. Samsung is gradually getting the bigger share of the market in comparison with its main rival Nokia / Microsoft. This situation will unlikely change in the nearest future as the engineers of Nokia / Microsoft do not pay enough attention to the development of innovative products in this sphere. Patricia Grullon, an Industrial Design instructor at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, believes that in the future “cell phones will become even more naturally in sync with our biological reflexes and processes such as eye movement, thought processes, kinesthetic, cultural preferences” (The Art Institutes, n.d.). This field seems to be the most interesting and innovative, but there are many other opportunities for the development of this technology – the new methods of extensive usage of these devices in medicine, security, and other segments.

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In summation, mobile phone technologies became widely used only in the 1980s, but within several decades they managed to completely change the way people communicate and exchange information. They altered not only the technological sphere, but also had a deep and profound influence on the main mechanisms of economics and marketing. The history of mobile phones shows that such innovative technologies can become a real engineering break-through if the technological and design aspects develop in harmony with the social and economic spheres. Klemens (2010) provides a very interesting example in his book. He describes a poor fish seller on the banks of the Congo River. She does not have a refrigerator to keep the fish, she cannot read or write, but any customer can call her on her cellphone and she will take the fish out of the water where she keeps it and bring to the client. It is a very thought-provoking example of how having gone through all the stages of their development, mobile phones have turned from heavy and expensive things into an important part of life even in the poorest areas near the Congo River. The great variety of types, functions and designs offered by different manufacturers have made this process fast and overwhelming. Therefore, the lessons that can be learned from the sphere of mobile technologies can be easily applied to many other industries and economic sectors.

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