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Where Smartphones Came From

In the smartphone world, Android and iOS have a clear and concise lead in the industry over competitors such as RIM (Blackberry) and Windows.

This means that consumers’ decision on which device to purchase usually comes down to these two platform options.

Over the years, smartphones have evolved to become integral parts of everyday life–a trend that first began with the iPhone.

In 2007, Steve Jobs took to the stage and unveiled the first device of its kind: a touchscreen phone with enhanced performance capabilities, called the iPhone.

Previously, the smartphone industry had been monopolized by Blackberry and similar companies. However, even their phones couldn’t match the functionality offered by Apple’s flagship device, and Blackberry’s days of remaining a relevant player in the industry seemed limited.

One year later, Google introduced the Android operating system through the HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1). That initial launch spawned a race by mobile developers to move away from “dumb phones” and enter the smartphone market through Google’s open-source license. Unfortunately for Android, the HTC Dream paled in comparison to the iPhone’s abilities, and both Google and HTC failed to truly capitalize on the public’s demand for smartphone technology.

A few years later, the Motorola Droid brand launched, entering a strong device into the smartphone world and giving Android a new face. But still the open-source element of Android allowed for malware and viruses to pass through Google’s app market, causing problems with some devices.

Another confusion for Android consumers comes through the 4,000+ device variants in over 195 countries. Since it’s an open-source platform, any company can tweak and mold the OS, which means that some Android phones offer more functionality than others. In an industry saturated by thousands of devices, it’s easy to see how Android is the #1 platform in the world as far as sales go, but the performance aspect of the OS is something entirely different.

Apple doesn’t outsource their system code, which has worked well for the company and follows their adherence to strict aesthetics and high quality standards. Each year, Apple releases a new operating system, whereas Google’s releases are sporadic and often require routine software updates to fix problems.

Critics of the iPhone point out that iOS offers little customizability in comparison to Android, which presents a highly modifiable environment. However, proponents of the Silicon Valley company explain that this method of development protects the user from bloatware, or unnecessary apps that can slow down a phone and/or cause it to malfunction.

Currently, the iPhone 5 is Apple’s most recent phone and runs on iOS 6. The Samsung Galaxy S III has been considered by many to be Android’s finest entry to the market, and runs on Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean”. On the Windows platform, the Nokia Lumia 920 will be their newest phone to operate using Windows 8 mobile. Blackberry is preparing a new operating system and hardware to be unveiled early next year, which likely will be their best and last chance to catch up in the smartphone industry.



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