Mobile Phones: The Past, The Present, The Future

The world was recently revolutionised by the release of the smartphone – a phone good
enough to make every other appliance you owned appear ancient. Nothing could compare to
the fact that something so small could hold such technology and power. It was a Concorde
for the mobile phone and to some extent, for the technology industry.

At first, only a few small companies were investing in such technological development. Why?
To begin with, the concept that a small handheld device could handle the computing power
of a laptop or a PC and become a tool in your everyday life was difficult to envisage. The
closest product at the time was a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). Secondly, there would
be large costs in creating a working model because of the complexity of the microprocessor
made greater by the complexity of the smartphone concept. HTC was one of the few phone
companies developing such devices but the first big smartphone that everyone remembers
was, of course, the iPhone. This magnificent machine, made by the already well known
Apple Inc., was an instant success. Its iOS processor, developed by Apple, was a wonder to
behold. It could process everything from the simple things such as calling a contact or taking
a picture, to the more complicated things such as running an app from the iTunes store.

For a couple of years, Apple reaped the rewards, releasing new versions of the iPhone
such as the 3G and the 3GS. They even decided to expand their iOS range to their other
products in the range. As a result, all of their products have increased in value. Profits have
soared and life couldn’t have been better for Steve Jobs. Furthermore, they employed
game developers and in 2009, the addictive Angry Birds was let loose upon the millions
of iPhone users and now has over 12 million downloads from the App Store. All was well
and good until a red, blue, green and yellow monster appeared out of the shadows. Google
stepped into the playing field and unleashed its wrath upon Apple. In 2005, just a year after
it released publicly, Google bought the initial developer of the Android OS. Then, for two
years, it funded Android Inc. to develop a working and efficient OS that could be used in
mobile phones. When it was first released in 2007, a few mobile phone companies such as
Samsung and HTC decided they would use it as an OS for their smartphones. Obviously

at first, it wasn’t very popular especially after Apple had won over most consumers with
their product. Apple’s success could and should have ruined Android in its initial year.
However, in 2008, Android got a lifeline and what a lifeline it was. After hearing about this
new operating system, 14 new companies joined the Green Droid in its fight with the Big
Silver Apple. 3 of those that joined were already well known in the technology sector. One
of these was known in almost all sectors of technology; Sony. Sony Ericsson had decided to
enter the fray and with it came the rise in fame of the Android OS.

As soon as Sony Ericsson let Android integrate their OS into Sony Ericsson’s Xperia series,
the mobile phone market was changed. The beauty and intricacy of the phone attracted the
customers and then the complexity and the ingenuity of the Android system sealed the deal.
Samsung and HTC with their customers did the same and the Android system soon grew
in fame and other companies running the system got higher sales. Android Inc. released
updates to compete with Apple. Apple did the same in order to compete and even within
the ‘alliance’ between the other mobile phone companies, each trying to enhance their
product with more funding and improved aesthetics. Now, smartphones have almost become
an everyday good. They have become common to the majority of us and it is likely that
without them now, we would crumble and descend into insanity. The market is looking more
stable with Android and Apple taking control of the majority leaving smaller companies like
Symbian in the dust.

The future for mobile phones looks exciting. Yet it seems companies are more focused
on how to make the things that we already have better rather than go off and spend some
time developing something new that will surprise the world and lead to a different future.
Android, for example, have released a completely new OS called Ice Cream Sandwich.
Apple responded with a clever new device in the iPhone 4S that everyone will know is called
Siri. Android, in a desperate attempt to respond, got a team to develop similar technology
and, to make a pun, named it Iris. This attempt failed miserably, as people realised after
they downloaded it, which questions the future of the mobile phone. Will something that
was initially developed to assist human beings live life easier end up being another clash
between two international corporate giants with the consumers caught in the middle of
the ceasefire? The heavy optimists would think that it will not end that way but it is a likely
possibility.

Due to this sudden growth in investment in mobile phones and increase in consumption, the
governments of the countries involved in selling these products have generated greater tax
revenue from value added tax and also gained a large sum of revenue from the workers at
the companies developing these products. Due to competition, investment has shot through
the roof for these companies. Therefore, considering all the effects of sudden economic
boom in the mobile phone market, there should not be an economic crisis right now. In the
end, it seems that our government, despite their budgets increasing from this, they have still
managed to end up in a vast hole of debt from which there seems to be no escape. Right
now, a more likely future is that our governments will bring all of us to ruin before anyone
else does.

Contributed by Krishan Gobithen

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