So where were you back in April 16th 2008? Do you remember what device you were using, or what device you were interested in owning? For many industries, five years aren’t a big deal. Carmakers for example rarely ever change their designs until after six or seven years, but again that’s a different industry.
Smartphones are a very different animal. Some assume that the reason why mobile phones evolve so fast is because it’s much cheaper to develop new technologies for them than say a new car, and that’s not necessarily the case. Apple invested a rough $150 million just to design the first-generation iPhone, so we’re not talking about pocket change here. Competition is what’s driven the industry to challenge each player year over year, and as customers we all benefit from the outcome.
So, if we were to rewind the clock just five years back, off the bat I can tell you that everything was upside down, and the purpose of this article is to give you an idea of how mobile computing has evolved in just a short period of time. In 2008 there were no iPads, or even modern tablet computers to talk about. Back then, there were still no 4G LTE networks, and even if there were, you still couldn’t use Skype to make a call over your smartphone, nor did Spotify exist for the need to higher speeds. These were the times when video calling did exist, but over a much different infrastructure, and when nobody really cared about it.
Just to give you an idea, on April 2008 I was still a full year away from opening my Facebook account. My daily driver was an HTC p4350 Windows Mobile 5 device, which most of you will remember as the Herald or T-Mobile Wing. Slide-out QWERTY keyboards where HTC’s new innovation back then, and for the first time ever, I was carrying a smartphone that was permanently connected to the internet. Slow internet though, as back then 3G was the new thing, and my Herald barely supported EDGE data.
What was on the news back on this date? Let’s have some fun:
The Samsung EPIX
Do any of you remember this device? In Europe it was dubbed the i780, but in the United States it came as the i907 EPIX that was exclusive to AT&T. What was so hot about it? Well back then BlackBerry was the king of smartphones and that also made the front-facing QWERTY keyboard a true object of desire. Samsung had scored a true hit with their BlackJack and BlackJack II line-up (which I owned) and this phone was going to step-up a notch in the BlackBerry competition by providing us with a Touch Screen and Windows Mobile Professional.
Yes, if you’re laughing at the unboxing, we are too. Our YouTube channel was less than a year old and we were still experimenting with many of the things that we do today. If you try to search for unboxings back in those days, you’ll notice that we were among the first YouTube channels that institutionalized the unboxing as a way of reviewing a smartphone.
Satellite-HSPA Windows Mobile Phone
If you dig deep and hard, you may still find the TerreStar Genus available on AT&T somewhere. Obviously this specific model wasn’t launched until two years after the news of this first device from Elektrobit. Satellite phones were big in the early days, and I’m not just talking about their size. They were incredibly expensive, and simply a product that only a business could afford. Their battery life was also terrible, which totally defeated their purpose of having you connected in the middle of no-where since wall outlets are as unseen as cellphone towers. I guess that’s why we don’t see this technology built into smartphones these days.
Android running on Windows Mobile devices
Android wasn’t officially released until five months after this date in 2008. The T-Mobile G1 didn’t see the light of day until October 2009 as well. Still, Android was already a public thing and even though none of us liked what we saw back then, the hacker community at XDA-Developers was already working on porting the developer tests of Android onto Windows Mobile devices, since they ran on the same hardware.
Yes, the HTC HD2 was not released until years later, but it has proven to be the most resilient smartphone of all time since people still use it, and part of the reason for that is because this Windows Mobile device still runs recent versions of Android better than a ton of current Android devices in the market.
What’s your story?
Ok so now it’s your turn. What device were you using on this date in 2008, or tell us which device you had the hot’s for? Did you own any of the devices mentioned today?
I’ll tell you this much, going from EDGE to 4G LTE, from Windows Mobile 5 to Windows Phone 8 on a desktop kernel, and from an idea to Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean is huge. Technology has evolved incredibly, and we’d love to hear your story, so make sure you leave us a comment.