Do You Own A Mobile Phone?

By: John Gibb

Mobile phones have a longer history than you might expect. The first mobile phones were, in fact, in use in 1946, when the Swedish police had them in their police cars. These quickly spread to the US and elsewhere, and by the 1950s devices existed that basically looked like very large versions of today’s mobile phones.

Mobile phones stayed an expensive, minority item until the ‘80s, when they became car phones. These phones were designed for permanent installation in a car, meaning that their size and power usage wasn’t that much of an issue. Companies started buying huge numbers of these for businesspeople to have in their cars, and the industry saw the kind of demand that was out there for mobile phones.

As technology moved forwards and got cheaper thanks to the massive demand for car phones, the first truly mobile phones came about. In the ‘90s, advances in battery technology meant that phones could stop being ‘bricks’ and started becoming the small, sleek devices we know today.

Since the mid-90s, however, surprisingly little has happened to mobile phones. Sure, they’ve got prettier, with their clamshell form factors and silver cases, but in terms of phone technology they’re pretty much in the same place. Instead of wanting better phone service, people have started to use their phones as cameras, or mp3 players, or for playing games on the go.

The next generation of the phone technology itself is here already: it’s known as 3G, and you’ve probably heard of it. For some reason, however, no-one really seems to care about 3G. Sure, you can watch videos on your mobile, but it costs a bomb, and few people really want to do that. It turns out that those tiny phones have an unexpected limitation – their screens are too small for anyone to really be interested in using them for Internet access or any of the other fancy things you can do with 3G. Unless a killer app comes along, it looks like we’re going to have today’s phones for a long time.

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