Just looking back over the past twenty years, the mobile phone has seen an incredible amount of development. Take, for instance, the Nokia 101 of 1992, a phone only hotshot businessmen had, but the first in ‘affordable’ mobile networking. It was probably about the same size as your average Sky TV remote, so not quite the discreet pocket device you and I are used to nowadays.
As mobile phone development continued through the nineties, mobile phones gained a more mainstream image, with pay as you go contracts and monthly tariffs targeted at personal users as well as business users. Come 1998, the Nokia 5110 provided a great example of the personal mobile. It offered the now iconic ‘snake’ game and allowed users to personalise their phones with interchangable faceplates.
Nokia had almost a monopoly power over the mobile phone market during the 1990s. They poineered new technologies, but more importantly they opened the eyes of the general public to the fact that a mobile phone was not just a phone anymore, it was now a fashion accessory.
Bowling into the new millennium, and Nokia was still market leading. The advances continued, proffering a sleek new style of mobile phone with an internal antenna. Discreet and pocket sized phones had well and truly arrived.
With phone shops popping up on every high street corner, the competition between manufacturers stepped up a gear. Samsung, Sony, Panasonic to name but a few entered the fray and phones became smaller and smaller, with more features crammed into tiny plastic shells. Colour screens and integrated cameras started to become the norm. Mobile phones were quickly becoming complex pieces of kit, and this reflected in the price. Monthly tariffs became more of a payment plan to purchase the phone, rather than merely cover network usage.
Progressing through the naughties, developments continued at a rapid rate. Why carry separate gadgets such as cameras, mp3 players and a phone when you could now buy one that combined all three? Nokia’s N95 with a large screen and quality camera plus video functions and mobile internet access turned the mobile phone into much more than just a phone. Mobile phones were now firmly a staple media communication tool.
Whilst all of this went on, and mobiles grew yet larger again, to accommodate the kit included, two major players entered the personal phone market. BlackBerry suddenly became a popular option for the personal user, having worked their way up the technology scale within a business market before gaining fashionable brand status. The other major player was obviously Apple with its iPhone blasting everything else on offer out of the water, changing the playing field for good. Where will it go next?!