“As I walked down the street while talking on the phone, sophisticated New Yorkers gaped at the sight of someone actually moving around while making a phone call. Remember that in 1973, there weren’t cordless telephones, let alone cellular phones.”
- Martin Cooper, Motorola inventor who placed the first cell phone call
To the question of how mobile phones came to be what they are right now, it can only be credited to the partnership between innovators and consumers, with both parties prodding each other to bring about progress. As innovators developed the wireless technology, consumers pointed out the limitations and presented to them potentials for advancement. As consumers enjoyed the technology on the other hand, innovators inspired them to want more and introduced new standards in the field of communication.
When Martin Cooper placed that first cell phone call while he walked the streets of New York, he invited the people to co-create and co-determine the future of wireless communication. The technology clearly provided a solution to limitations with communications. But instead of being completely satisfied, consumers indirectly threw him another problem to solve, which was bringing the technology to everyone. And that’s how Motorola and the rest of the mobile communications industry set out to make new innovations that spanned for decades.
By the 1990s, the United States as well as the rest of the world has millions of mobile phone subscribers. By this time, everyone was on the 2G technology and mobile phones were digital instead of analog. Wireless networks became much bigger and phones became a lot smaller, lightweight, and portable. After the developments that the mobile phones have also undergone, they became more accessible and affordable to the average-earning consumer.
Mobile phones hasn’t been really a really luxury. People adapted and warmed to the technology because it really offered a lot of benefits. It allowed parents to communicate with their kids while they are away. It allowed teens to talk their friends for updates when they missed school. It basically allowed everyone to connect and communicate each other whenever they want, wherever they are. With the proliferation of mobile phones, information and people became accessible. This in turn made everything else faster, easier, and more accurate. It was a new standard for communication. Everyone was included and nobody can be left behind.
By the mid 1990s, short messaging system was introduced. Because texting was relatively cheaper than talking and was marketed as an entertaining means of connecting with people, more and more people joined in the mobile phone craze. By this time, most members of the household each own their own device. Mobile phone has been successfully commercialized for mass consumption.
Aside from making it a necessity, commercialization made mobile phones fashionable accessory. Phones were already small during this time. Manufacturers made them even more interesting by making them even smaller and introducing other form factors such as the flip, the swivel, and the slide. Though the displays screen this time were still monochrome, mobile phones allowed users customization with fonts, languages, icons, wallpapers, and screen savers. Consumers have more reason to purchase phones and more ways to enjoy them.
Although smartphones were introduced as early as 1992, it eventually became a standard for business oriented people in the early 2000. Smartphones featured full QWERTY keyboard, were bigger and heavier compared to its feature phone counterparts. From being simple communication equipments, mobile phones started functioning like a portable computing devices.
By 2005, mobile phones were already a hybrid of other mobile devices. Phones featured a camera, a music player, and a video recorder. Users can also create full office documents and content with them. By 2009, smartphones were the standard. Users were not just using their mobile phones for communication and creating content, but also for surfing the internet, streaming media, and downloading content.
2011 saw the height of the social media age. Up to the present time, mobile phones are instrumental in connecting people online and in social media networks. It’s inevitable for socially connected people to have their own smartphone. With network providers making it more affordable to connect to the internet, mobile phones have never been more convenient to use.
Mobile phones became what they are now because they evolved with the times. They became what consumers needed them to be. With the work of everyone in the wireless communication and mobile technology industry, they transformed from a simple mobile telephone to a sophisticated hybrid of all other mobile devices you can think of. There’s no telling what the mobile phone will be to us a few years from now, but one thing’s for certain: it will remain essential in everyone’s everyday lives.