This week in mobile history: look how far we’ve come
The mobile world moves quickly – probably faster than just about any other industry in the world.
New devices are announced on what feels like a weekly basis; perpetual software updates are hitting for the hundreds of mobile devices; one-off press events are always happening; and while phones seem to have a longer life span than they did back in, say, 2010, they still become antiques in what feels like no time.
Back in September, I went on a nostalgia binge and did a throwback review for one of my favorite mobile devices of all time: the BlackBerry Curve 8330. Looking back, it’s crazy to see how far the industry has come in less than a decade – from phones that (barely) handled email to pocket-sized computers that are increasingly awesome for gaming, music, Web browsing, communication, and everything in-between.
So Michael had this idea that could bring back tiny bites of nostalgia for all, a look into the history of the mobile space. Below you will find many of the major happenings for May 25 through May 31 from 2009 forward.
For me, 2009 was a great year. It was the year I walked away from my job as a wireless sales associate and started writing about phones full-time. But man does looking back at some headlines from that year bring back some memories. This week five years ago, we were talking about how Internet Explorer on the Zune HD might foreshadow Windows Mobile 7 efforts. Microsoft hadn’t completely pulled the plug (at least officially) on Windows Mobile yet, and Windows Phone wasn’t even a thing. At the same time, it appeared HTC had tossed VGA panels for WVGA on its high-end devices.
Palm Eos, remember that? It was one of many devices rumored to launch in 2009. The Eos was rumored alongside other nostalgia-inducing phones like the HTC Diamond2, iPhone 3GS, HTC Lancaster (said to be running “Google mobile OS”), BlackBerry Gemini, Magnum, and Onyx, Nokia E71x, Samsung Jack, and many more.
Just days later, our own Brandon Miniman provided an unboxing and software tour of the HTC Touch Pro2.
May 27: RIP, VGA
May 29: HTC Touch Pro2 unboxing
May 31: HTC Touch Pro2 software tour
While 2009 was an important year for mobile, 2010 was when everything took off. Companies turned production up to 11 and sliced product life cycles in half. Motorola launched the first rugged, Android-powered PTT smartphone, the i1 for Nextel. Now, Nextel is gone and PTT is all but dead. Samsung’s original Galaxy S smartphone went on sale, Dell was just beginning to break into the smartphone arena with the Streak, and HTC hit a brick wall with its DROID Incredible handset, due to an AMOLED shortage, which we later learned was just Samsung playing coy and hindering a direct competitor.
It may be difficult to remember, but these were the days when BlackBerry handsets were still popular, and T-Mobile had just received the white Bold 9700 to sell on May 28, 2010. The U.S. government announced plans to invest a staggering $8 billion in upgrading GPS technology, and the FCC started looking into carrier overages for ways to fight bill shock.
Oh, and Microsoft announced its rather ambitious plans to sell 30 million Windows Phone 7 handsets by the end of 2011. It missed that mark by a fair margin.
May 25: Motorola i1 launched
Fast forward another year, and everything started to mature a great deal. The Windows Phone Marketplace, for instance, surpassed the 20,000 app threshold. Now called the Windows Phone Store, it’s home to over 250,000 apps.
T-Mobile halted all sales of the G2x, and many speculated it was due to the insurmountable software bugs that plagued the phone, but T-Mobile later claimed it was only due to very high demand. It then raised the price of the G2x. Some of you may recall that the G2x was easily one of the most problematic smartphones of T-Mobile’s history.
This week in 2011, Verizon got two new phones, the LG Revolution and Xperia Play from Sony, and the DROID X was treated to its Gingerbread update. Don’t get me started on Gingerbread.
Our own Brandon Miniman gave the HP Veer 4G the unboxing treatment and NVIDIA showed off the power of its Tegra 3 SoC with the famous Glowball demonstration app.
May 27: HP Veer 4G unboxing
Thinner is always better, right? That’s been the mentality from roughly 2012 forward, for some mobile OEMs. At CES 2012, Huawei claimed the title for the thinnest phone in the world – just 6.68mm thick. Oppo stole that crown this week two years ago with the Finder, just 6.65mm thick. LG also raised the bar with its 5-inch 1080p smartphone display – no phone attached.
Samsung finally launched its third-generation Galaxy S handset alongside Sony’s announcement of its two water-resistant handsets, the Xperia Go and Xperia Arco S. Meanwhile, Nokia unveiled one of the coolest Windows Phone handsets to date: the limited edition Batman Lumia 900.
On our editorial front, Adam Lein dove into the hacking scene on Windows Phone, which is practically non-existent these days, and Michael Fisher ranted about how his Verizon Galaxy Nexus was anything but … a Nexus.
May 31: This ain’t no Nexus phone
Excuse the cliché, but for some reason, much of this seems like it was just yesterday. The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini was made official alongside HTC’s Google Play edition One M7 and a U.S.-bound Xperia Z from Sony. Tim Cook confirmed iOS 7 would finally show its face at WWDC 2013, and HTC finally addressed its issues (read: misfortune) with component manufacturers.
While those bits of news still seem somewhat fresh, it’s hard to believe Waze was still up for grabs one year ago this week, and the white Nexus 4 was just announced.
May 28: Waze was still for sale
May 30: Samsung Galaxy S4 mini announced
Suffice it to say, this was a busy week in the history of tech. A lot of things are always going down, though, and we have plenty more nostalgic trips down memory lane that will likely hit you right in the feels. Stay tuned for those, and share your nostalgic stories from this week in history below!