|   Business


  |   Business


A Brief History of Mobile Phones

The Age of Abundance

Today we spend a lot of our time chatting with family and friends and of course, scrolling through social media feeds. Social media usage and chatting are driven largely by instant gratification - a need to get pleasure or fulfillment without any delay.

Mobile games is another activity people spend a lot of time on their phone on. It is not only children who enjoy spending time playing games on mobile devices. Mobile games are just as popular amongst all age groups, with the difference that teenagers and adults tend to play more advanced, traditional types of games, which require longer sessions and more effort into interacting with the game.

Talking about instant gratification, adults also like to play games of chance, such as blackjack, roulette or slot games. In the US, you can find these types of games in any online casino that you can access through your smartphone. Not so long ago, it used to be that you could only visit the casino by putting on fancy clothes and driving down to a nearby or not-so-nearby land-based casino. Recently, however, playing casino online has become one of the most popular pastimes for Americans while on their phones, in turn, unsurprisingly, making the US a leading market for the online gambling industry. In recent years, gambling legislations have been introduced in several states, latest one being Pennsylvania, and it is expected this will spread across more states in due time.

For first-time players, find a trusted source to make sure you are aware of the legal situation in your state so that you are in compliance with the local laws, as American laws differ from one state to another state as well as on federal level.

Other popular activities include watching on-demand streams, listening to music or learning through applications and online courses.

In 2019, people in the US bought smartphones for a total amount of 77.5 billion according to this report. The number of smartphone users in the country is expected to reach 270 million in 2020. So how did we get here?

How We Got to Where We are Today

The first steps to where we are today didn't really resemble the smartphone you are reading this article one. The first step to getting where we are today was through 2-way radio communication. As early as 1908 a patent for a wireless telephone was issued in the US.


The first use case of mobile phones was implemented on trains in Germany serving a route between Berlin and Hamburg. The service was only available to first-class passengers.


The world's first automated system for mobile phones was launched in Sweden. The devices were installed in cars, it had a classic rotary dial and weighed roughly 88 pounds. Compare that to the iPhone 11 weighing around seven ounces.


Motorola Communications System division made the first public phone call on a portable device weighing 2.5 pounds.


1G (First Generation) is introduced enabling better voice services on a wide range of frequencies.

European engineers and administrators collaborated according to a Nordic model to establish a Europe wide digital mobile phone system based on 1G. This model laid the foundation for an international standard adopted in the United States.


2G (Second Generation) becomes commercially available. The second-generation further strengthened the voice capabilities of 1G and introduced digital signals enabling text and picture communication.


The first commercial SMS (Short Message Service) was sent. The contents of the SMS read "Merry Christmas", it was sent by the director of Vodafone in the UK, Richard Jarvis during an office Christmas party.


Ringtones are the first downloadable content sold to mobile phone users. The Crazy Frog ringtone was widely purchased and earned the company Jamster $400 million dollars.


Emojis are invented. Building on the then widely used text-based emoticons with pictures.

BlackBerry enters their golden age as the number one business tool incorporating email services allowing users to write and read emails on the go. The BlackBerry can be anointed as the predecessor of smartphones as the devices allowed users to engage with email conversations from anywhere. Vacations would never again be completely work-free.


Nokia enters its golden age selling 126 million indestructible Nokia 3310 devices.

Sharp launches the first camera phone, the Sharp J-SH04, exclusive to Japan. Europe would have to wait another two years for camera phones, the first commercially available camera phone in Europe was the Nokia 6750 in 2002.

3G (Third Generation) is launched but not fully commercially available. 3G enables the transfer of high-speed data.


The dawn of modern mobile internet starts with the worldwide adoption of the 3G standard. 3G was invented in 2000 based on the GSM standard but was not commercially available until three years later. It enabled the sending and receiving of high-speed data between mobile devices.


Enter the iPhone, what we all have come to know as The Smartphone. A true disruptor. Nokia dismissed it as nothing more than a cool gadget and famously went on to be known as one of three companies getting killed by Apple after the iPhone entered the commercial market.


The world gets to access Apple's App Store for the first time.

Android phones enter the market along with the Android Market (later renamed to Google Play Store).


New technologies built on top of 3G such as LTE (Long Term Evolution) are considered 4G (Fourth Generation) technology. 4G enables download speeds of 100Mbps and enables features such as Multi-Media Newspapers, watch streams with more clarity and conduct video chats. We are now just a step away from 5G, which began wide deployment in 2019 and will bring the fastest speed yet with, being 1–2 Gb/s down

What Does the Future Hold?

In the last 10 years, we have seen a massive widespread adoption of smartphones and the multitude of interconnected services related to the internet. If you look at what happened between 1926 and 1998 and compare it to the major leaps we have made between 1999 and 2020 it's safe to assume that we are only getting started. Smartphones being the first wearable devices, followed by smartwatches, what's next?

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

  • Market Data

Welcome to EconoTimes

Sign up for daily updates for the most important
stories unfolding in the global economy.