RIP Payphone


Hongkiat, a website that occupies a dynamic niche focused on “features tips, tricks and tutorials for designers, bloggers, developers, techies, and readers who are hungry for creativity and inspiration” has a fetching infographic on the history of the smartphone. Having a Blackberry at work used to mean you were a heavy hitter, something about checking your email while sitting on the bus or waiting for your double shot mocha no fat extra hot latte at Starbucks provided gravitas amongst the general population. 1999 seems so long ago in technology years.

Everything changed in 2006 when Apple reinvented the mobile phone at the expense of  all established competition. No one company dropped the ball per se, it was a group effort including Palm, HP, Nokia and RIM although the latter did not realize until later the horse had left the barn. Here’s a couple of prescient quotes from tech titans they would love to walk back:

“Five hundred dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan? I said that’s the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good e-mail machine.” – Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, January 2007

“Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone” since “There is no likelihood that Apple can be successful in a business this competitive.”  “This is not an emerging business. In fact it’s gone so far that it’s in the process of consolidation with probably two players dominating everything, Nokia Corp. and Motorola Inc.” – Computing industry pundit John C. Dvorak, March 2007

Hongkiat has another post dedicated to the evolution of mobile technology, specifically how the scale and design of mobile phones has changed dating back to 1995, which is a few years beyond the glory days of the brick phone era. Pre 2003 its all Nokia handsets in the gallery; given all the talk about mobility being central to our life going forward there cant be too many bigger squandered  business opportunities in this day and age.

The day you get your hands on your first cellphone (in my case in 1998) is an experience you cherish, back then the concept of making phone calls untethered to a fixed location seemed fantastical. I often wonder how we got by in the pre mobile days, usually when I encounter an old  Law & Order episode on cable; there is something almost prehistoric about the sight of Lenny Briscoe dropping  a quarter into a payphone to call in a homicide.





You can be the first one to leave a comment.


Leave a Comment