It took fifteen years–a decade and a half–between the moment that a smartphone prototype was unveiled; and till it became the commercially-viable product that we unfailingly use each day.

Most of us haven’t a clue in the world as to how our beloved mobile device is created, engineered or even marketed. All we want is a device that works. One thing we all do know is that in the event that your mobile phone doesn’t work, you’ve got one big problem on your hands.

It wasn’t love at first sight, but rather, love at first touch.

Ready for some tech throwback? Here it comes.

The Smartphone

The first commercially available device that can be referred to as a “smartphone” began as a prototype called Angler. It was developed by IBM engineer Frank J. Canova in 1992 while he was at IBM.

In November of that year, the prototype was demonstrated at the COMDEX computer industry trade show. It would, however, be another 15 years before the world famous fresh fruit company Apple would unveil its spectacular iPhone.

It happened in January 2007, with Jobs’ famous keynote speech, that introduced the ‘leapfrog product’ that is way smarter than any mobile device as well as super easy to use.

Apple never invented the smartphone; but rather, reinvented it.

It had a 3.5″ capacitive touchscreen with twice the resolution of most smartphone screens at the time. Apple introduced multi-touch to phones, which allowed touch-sensitive gestures such as pinching to zoom in or out on photos, maps and web pages.

Other significant features included: the abandonment of the use of a stylus, keyboard or keypad that were, at the time, typical of commercial smartphones. The iPhone instead had a large touchscreen as its main means of interaction.

A year and a half later, in July 2008, Apple released the iPhone 3G in twenty-two countries. A new world had been born.

The iPhone was notable as being the first device of its kind targeted at the mass market. Since then, Samsung has crept in as the Big Fruit’s chief competitor.

The Device Dilemma

What device are you using for your daily needs? Is it a phone? Is it a tablet? Is it a computer? Is it SpiderMan?

It may well be all of the above. There’s a new umbrella of users out there who are known as the Digital Omnivores. It seems that they’re neither digital herbivores nor digital carnivores. Herbivores must be the folks who use only computers and carnivores are the folks who use only mobile.

Is it just me or is it hard to keep track of all these trending terms?

Increased Wi-Fi availability and mobile adoption have changed the way that people are going online. As of 2021, the average amount of time spent daily consuming digital media was eight hours. It marked an increase from 2020 and a further increase from 2019; partially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will things revert to ‘normal’ as we return to our networking events, our mask-free world and our flesh-and-blood ‘physical’ lives?

The Digital Omnivore is a thing and it is here to stay. But what does a digital omnivore do, anyway?

On a typical day, digital omnivores accessed the morning news of the day using their tablet. They favoured and preferred to use their computer during the working day, but ultimately returned to using the tablet in the evening. Mobile phones were used for web-browsing throughout the day when users were away from their personal computer.

Mobile devices–excluding tablets–now account for more than half of web traffic worldwide. In the second quarter of 2022, mobile devices generated 58.99 percent of global website traffic. It consistently hovered around the 50 percent mark since the beginning of 2017; before surpassing it in 2020.

And none of this would have happened if not for… fifteen years of iterations.

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