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It all started with Nathan Stubblefield

Rick_Barron ‎11-25-2013 10:38 AM - edited ‎09-09-2015 11:08 AM

This year we celebrate the 40th year of the mobile phone. From the first cellphone call in 1973 through the iPhone, the mobile phone has gone through changes that have impacted world…and it’s only just begun. 


We can thank Nathan Stubblefield, who in 1906, filed the first U.S. patent for a wireless phone.


Between 2000 and 2012, the number of mobile phone subscriptions grew from approximately 750 million to 6 billion worldwide. Now, to put that in perspective, there are approximately 7 billion people in the world! So in 40 years, the cell phone went from non-existence to a device that is owned and used by virtually everyone. Whew!










When Steve Jobs walked onto a stage in 2007, to introduce the world to the iPhone, it raised the standard for mobile devices. In fact Steve Jobs went so far as to say ‘Apple has re-invented the phone’…and they had. Touchscreen technology was not as precise or easy to use as it is today, and many consumers still weren’t convinced that touchscreen keyboards were a good idea. It didn’t take long to erase those thoughts.


The sleek design of the new Apple device raised expectations, and it drove the mobile market for years. This design led to the development of many of the slim, highly-functional devices that people use today. Blackberry finally gave in this past January, releasing a smartphone without a physical keyboard - a device that one could easily mistake for any number of competing iPhone clones. It was a valiant attempt, but they were just too late to the party.

Over the past 40 years, the mobile phone has taken various twists and turns. Sure the phone keeps getting smaller, sleeker and ease of use has improved, but it’s also become a platform for other technologies. As technology has converged over the past 40 years, the mobile phone hasn't just gotten smaller, sleeker and easier to use, it has also become a platform for other technologies. Mobile phones aren’t really phones anymore - they’re computers that can make phone calls. The coalescence of technology has rendered the exact designation of a given device irrelevant. Tablet, phone, PDA, Google Glass – it doesn’t matter what a device is called today, mobile devices can do almost anything.

So how else will the use of the mobile phone change as we head into the future, say by 2020?

By 2020, mobile phones will be the primary Internet devices for most people in the world, according to a panel of experts They also predict that Web technologies will probably not lead to increased social tolerance.


“The mobile phone – now with significant computing power – [will be] the primary Internet connection and the only one for a majority of the people across the world,” the Pew Internet & American Life Project writes in a new “Future of the Internet” report. “Telephony [will be] offered under a set of universal standards and protocols accepted by most operators internationally, making for reasonably effortless movement from one part of the world to another.”


Wearable Enhanced Reality

Our smartphones help us take photos, video and get directions, but in 2020, it will be the devices we wear that we will turn to first.




Google Glass is a wearable computer with a head-mounted display slated to launch later this year, although some lucky early adopters are already using the device. It allows them to overlay helpful information onto the real world, such as directions, and take photos directly from the device.


Just like smartphones and tablets, the applications are limitless. China’s search engine Baiduis working on a similar product.



While it may be several years before these technologies become rampant in the workplace, IT professionals can start preparing now by making sure high-speed broadband and video networks are in place. They can also configure their cloud hosting platforms, which will be useful in processing and storing data captured by sensors. So get ready – the future is coming, and it will be more high tech than ever before. 


Happy birthday to the mobile phone and the seeds it has planted to another 40 years of innovation and ingenuity.


Thank you Mr. Stubblefield


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About the Author


Rick Barron is a Program Manager for various aspects of the PM team and HPSW UX/UI team; and working on UX projects associated with He has worked in high tech for 20+ years working in roles involving web design, usability studies, and mobile marketing. Rick has held roles at Motorola Mobility, Symantec and Sun Microsystems.

Mark Simon
on ‎11-26-2013 12:56 AM

With so many types of devices, and with many more that will surely appear in the next years, every developer should be thrilled, because he has so many options, starting from traditional computers to tablets, phablets, smartphones, smartwatches, Google Glass

Maybe we will have some new programming languages also, that will aid the developers in creating apps for these devices (not that the ones available right now can’t be used with success, like Java or Python for Google Glass).

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