Companies often make claims to boast and build up anticipation for certain products. One such product is cell phones, where â??revolutionizingâ? has been attempted so many times, that itâ??s hard to find a new phone that hasnâ??t dramatically altered the way we communicate.
But is it revolutionary if itâ??s already been done, multiple times? Sure, perhaps you add a new widget, or helpful function, but in the end the phone is still performing the same tasks.
The thing about smartphones is not that they revolutionized communication. That had first been done with the telegram using a transmitter and morse code. Then again by actual telephones, and then once more by mobile phones themselves. Smartphones didnâ??t revolutionize personal information management, which was first accomplished by the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). Smartphones didnâ??t first create cameras, music players, mobile games, or even the ability to check emails on the go.
Matter of fact, Smartphones werenâ??t even the first to add all of these things together into one all-inclusive device. So what exactly are all of these companies claiming they revolutionized? When you consider it, they havenâ??t done much beyond make the things we already have a little better. Thatâ??s not exactly revolutionary, but you canâ??t blame the marketers, theyâ??re just trying to do their job.
Perhaps we should give a little credit to where it is due, something that was actually revolutionary. I propose that we give a little attention to Simon, the godfather of all â??smartphones.â?
Simons debut was on November 2, 1992 at the COMDEX computer and technology trade show in Las Vegas Nevada. Simon was a cell phone and PDA combined into one device, with a few bells and whistles added to make it more appealing as the cost was rather steep.
IBM created the Simon Personal Communicator, and released it for itâ??s public debut in 1993. Though, due to malfunctions in the operating system, it wasnâ??t available until 1994. It was soon discontinued in 1995 with only 500,000 units being sold within the 6 months it was available. It was offered throughout 15 states where service could be had, and cost a hefty $900 for a 2-year service contract.
The Simon had the ability to both make and receive cellular calls, which is obviously the main function of any telephone. It could send and receive facsimiles, which otherwise at the time, required those huge and annoyingly loud machines. It could send and receive emails, which at the time was just beginning to become popular. It could also view cellular pages, which at the time was something of a web browser.
The Simon included an address book so that you can view your contacts, and a calendar and appointment scheduler as a digital personal assistant. There was a calculator, world time clock, and electronic note pad in case you had something you didnâ??t want to forget. One of the coolest features of the time, believe it or not, was a touchscreen keyboard. Remember this was over 17 years ago.
Were you going to ask where the apps were? Well those were available as well. You could install numerous third party applications to the Simons internal memory, which contained a staggering 1 MB worth of space. Imagine, walking around playing snake or pong on your phone. Well first imagine you couldnâ??t do thatâ?¦ then imagine you could. Thatâ??s how revolutionary the Simon was. Though an app on the Simon was also a staggering $300 each, but cost be damned.
The battery on the Simon was 7.5v NiCad, which allowed for an hours worth of talking, and half hours worth of use if using other applications. So you wouldnâ??t want to stray to far from the charging base station. But wait, they gave you two batteries, so if you didnâ??t mind lugging the extra one around with you, you could talk for up to 2 hours.
The Simon also weighed in at the featherweight of 18 oz. So if you didnâ??t mind carrying a pound of electronics around with you, which you wouldnâ??t, you were without a doubt the talk of any room you entered. It would also be hard not to notice, as it was 8 inches in height, 2.5 inches in width and only 1.5 inches in depth. Nowadays, less is more, but for Simon owners, they liked their electronics with a little meat on the bone.
Sadly the Simon didnâ??t take off, and for all intensive purposes was forgotten. As cell phones evolved, the functions of the Simon became commonplace. But what should be remembered here is that the Simon was the Flagship for all cell phones to come, and especially those termed â??Smartphones.â?
IBM couldnâ??t make enough money on the Simon to consider it viable to continue production. Though itâ??s difficult to understand why besides the fact it was priced so high. If IBM had the funding to continue itâ??s R&D on the Simon, perhaps hipsters, techies and fan boys alike wouldnâ??t be asking Apples Siri questions nowadays, but rather, would be curious as to what Simon would say.
A History Lesson
This is an important lesson in business history. Something so widely used and loved as smartphones today were seen as just as useful nearly 20 years ago. We can say with great certainty that it is marketable. Had only IBM stuck with their â??revolutionaryâ? idea back then, who knows how smart our phones could have been today. But of all the forms of wisdom, hindsight is by general consent the least merciful, the most unforgiving.
I couldnâ??t say that with enough funding and financing, that IBM couldnâ??t get the Simon to become a popular and common household name. We know cell phones are big business, sadly though, that could have been IBMs big business.
The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi. An SEO mastermind and self acclaimed content creating genius. You can follow me on twitter @JakabokBotch to realize you really donâ??t know Jack! I am writing on behalf of Premier Trade Solution,Â who believe no good business or idea should go without funding. They offer services related to Purchase Order Financing, which could be a great help to your business.