The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time | Time.com

Source: The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time | Time.com

Google Glass Prescriptions

John Minchillo—AP
50

Google Glass

Google Glass, which cost $1,500 ≈ High-end bicycle

“>[≈ Smartphone cost per year] for those invited to a sort of public beta test, never took off. The relatively powerful head-mounted computer provided important signals for the future of wearable technology. Glass showed that designers working on computing devices that are worn face a different set of assumptions and challenges. Glass, for example, made it easy for users to surreptitiously record video, which led some restaurants, bars and movie theaters to ban the device. Glass also showed the potential pitfalls of easily identifiable wearables, perhaps best proven by the coining of the term “Glassholes” for its early adopters. While Glass was officially shelved in 2015, augmented reality—displaying computer-generated images over the real world—is a concept many companies are still trying to perfect. Google included.

Makerbot Industries LLC Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer

Victor J. Blue—Bloomberg/Getty Images
49

Makerbot Replicator

The Makerbot Replicator was neither the first nor the best consumer-level 3-D printer. But it was the model that made the technology widely accessible for the first time, thanks to its sub-$2,000 [≈ One Starbucks latte per day for a year] price tag. The Replicator used inkjet printer-like technology to extrude hot plastic that took three-dimensional form as artwork, mechanical parts and more. As a company, Makerbot’s future is uncertain. But the firm’s equipment helped bring 3-D printing into the mainstream and is a fixture of many American classrooms.

segway

David LeFranc—Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
48

Segway

Why is the Segway personal scooter such a potent cultural symbol? Maybe it has something to do with providing a metaphor for increasingly out-of-shape Americans. Perhaps it was seeing a U.S. president fall off one. Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” video helped, too. The Segway—as hyped and as mocked as it has been—is a defining example of “last mile” transportation, an electric scooter designed to make walking obsolete. (Recently, the idea has been somewhat revived by the emergence of so-called hover boards, which are now also entering a kind of post-fad twilight.) The Segway’s symbolic impact greatly exceeded its commercial success. Unit sales never exceeded the six-figure mark before the firm was purchased by a Chinese interest in 2015 for an undisclosed sum.

47

Yamaha Clavinova Digital Piano

You could argue the Minimoog did far more for music tech, or that the Fairlight was cooler, but visit average U.S. households from the 1980s forward and you’re most likely to encounter the Clavinova. Yamaha’s popular digital piano married the look and compactness of a spinet (a smaller, shorter upright piano) with the modern qualities of a modest synthesizer. With a plausibly pianistic weighted action and space-saving footprint, it’s become a staple for parents looking to bring maintenance-free musicality—you never have to tune it—into households, all without sacrificing huge swathes of living space.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional

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46

DJI Phantom

Small drones may soon be delivering our packages, recording our family get-togethers and helping first responders find people trapped in a disaster. For now, they’re largely playthings for hobbyists and videographers. Chinese firm DJI makes the world’s most popular, the Phantom lineup. Its latest iteration, the Phantom 4, uses so-called computer vision to see and avoid obstacles without human intervention. That makes it easier for rookie pilots to fly one, making drones more accessible than ever.

Raspberry Pi Product Shoot

Olly Curtis—Future Publishing/Getty Images
45

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer with a price tag to match its tiny size: about $35, without a monitor, mouse or keyboard. Not meant to replace everyday computers, the Pi is being used in classrooms worldwide to help students learn programming skills. With eight million Pi’s sold as of last year, the odds are decent that the next Mark Zuckerberg will have gotten his or her start tinkering with one.

nest thermostat

Nest
44

Nest Thermostat

Developed by the “godfather of the iPod,” Tony Fadell, the Nest Learning Thermostat was the first smart home device to capture mass market interest following its launch in 2011. Pairing the iconic round shape of classic thermostats with a full-color display and Apple-like software, the Nest features considerable processing power. (For instance, its ability to use machine learning to detect and predict usage patterns for heating and cooling a home.) As interesting as the device itself is, the Nest thermostat really turned heads in 2014 when the company behind it was bought by Google for $3.2 billion ≈ box office sales of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937

≈ net worth of George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, 2011
≈ total US football salaries for all teams, 2011

“>[≈ box office sales of Gone with the Wind, 1939]. The search engine giant turned the device into the center of its smart home strategy with hopes of ushering in an age of interconnected devices that will make everyday living more efficient.

Osborne 1 portable microcomputer, c 1981.

Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images
43

Osborne 1

When you think of a portable computer, the Osborne 1 is probably not what comes to mind. But this unwieldy 25-pound machine was heralded by technology critics at the time of its 1981 release—BYTE magazine celebrated that it “fit under an airline seat.” The Osborne’s limitations, like a screen about the size of a modern iPhone’s, kept sales low. The machine’s true influence wasn’t on future gadgets, so much as how they are marketed. The company’s executives had an unfortunate knack for prematurely announcing new products, leading would-be customers to hold off for the better version and thus depressing sales. Marketing students now learn to avoid this deleterious “the Osborne effect.”

Fitbit Alta

Dave Kotinsky—Getty Images
42

Fitbit

Pedometers have been around for centuries (seriously, look it up), but it was Fitbit that helped bring them into the digital age and to the masses. The company’s first device, released in 2009, tracked users’ steps, calories burned and sleep patterns. Most importantly, it allowed users to easily upload all that data to the company’s website for ongoing analysis, encouragement or guilt. Priced at $99, the Fitbit showed that wearables could be affordable. The company sold more than 20 million of the devices in 2015.

roku

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41

Roku Netflix Player

An inexpensive upstart running Linux, Roku’s hockey-puck sized Netflix-and-more video streaming box emerged out of nowhere in 2010 to rally waves of cord-cutters who cancelled their cable. What its chunky remote lacked in features, the box more than made up for in software. While at first Apple struggled to rationalize its comparably barren Apple TV-verse, Roku was offering thousands of channels and the most partnerships with the biggest players.

sony-discman-d50
40

Sony Discman D-50

Following up on the success of the Walkman, Sony unveiled this portable CD player in 1984, just a year after the music industry adopted the format. The device and later portable CD players helped the compact disc usurp cassettes as the dominant music format in the United States in less than a decade.

oculus rift

Oculus/AP
39

Oculus Rift

2016’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headset could wind up a total flop and we’d still grant Oculus a special place in computing history. And not just because Facebook paid $2 billion ≈ cost of Virginia-class submarine

≈ 2008 presidential contributions

“>[≈ Average total annual tax break to the five biggest oil companies] for the device’s parent company foreseeing a future of social interaction and virtual vacationing provided by VR. Whatever happens next, the Rift, along with ebullient creator Palmer Luckey, will be remembered for reinvigorating the notion of strapping awkward-looking things to our faces in trade for the privilege of visiting persuasively real imaginary places.

apple ibook

Reuters
38

Apple iBook

The iBook’s brightly-colored, plastic trim may look dated now, but it was the first laptop to offer wireless networking. Apple’s consumer-oriented portable—for its cool-factor as well as its technology—grew into a serious business. The product’s reveal was a classic example of Steve Jobs’ showmanship at its best. While loading a webpage and showing off the computer’s display at 1999’s MacWorld conference, the Apple co-founder lifted the computer off its table and walked across the stage. The crowd roared in approval. In a gesture, he showed that Wi-Fi was here to stay.

A 1984 Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, the world's first commerciall

Tim Boyle—Bloomberg/Getty Images
37

Motorola Dynatac 8000x

Motorola’s Dynatac 8000x was the first truly portable cellphone when it launched in 1984. Marty Cooper, an engineer with Motorola at the time, first demonstrated the technology by making what’s regarded as the first public cellular phone call from a New York City sidewalk in 1973. (It was both a PR stunt and an epic humblebrag: Cooper called his biggest rival at AT&T.) The Dynatac 8000x weighed nearly two pounds and cost almost $4,000 ≈ Typical annual cost of car ownership

≈ Per capita income – Mexico, 2006

“>[≈ Per capita income – China, 2004].

PalmPilot palmtop computer, c 1998.

Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images
36

Palm Pilot

The original Palm Pilot 1000 solidified handheld computing when it launched in 1996, paving the way for BlackBerry and, eventually, today’s smartphone. The “palm top” computer (get it?) came with a monochrome touchscreen that supported handwriting and was capable of syncing data like contacts and calendar entries to users’ computers. It spawned a device category known as the “personal digital assistant,” or PDA. It wasn’t the first such device—the Apple Newton preceded it—but it was the first one people wanted and bought in droves.

hp deskjet

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35

HP DeskJet

Obsoleting noisy, lousy dot matrix technology, devices like 1988’s HP DeskJet gave computer owners the ability to quietly output graphics and text at a rate of two pages per minute. The DeskJet wasn’t the first inkjet on the market, but with a $995 [≈ Traditional cell phone cost per year] price tag, it was the first one many home PC users bought. Over the 20 years following the product’s launch, HP sold more than 240 million printers in the DeskJet product line, outputting Christmas letters, household budgets, and book reports by the millions. Even in an increasingly paper-less world, the inkjet’s technology lives on in 3-D printers, which are fundamentally the same devices, only extruding molten plastic instead of dye.

Nokia 3210 / Handy

Ullstein Bild—Getty Images
34

Nokia 3210

For many, Nokia’s colorful candy bar-shaped 3210 defined the cell phone after it was released in 1999. With more than 160 million sold, it became a bestseller for the Finnish company. The 3210 did more than just introduce the cellphone to new audiences. It also established a few important precedents. The 3210 is regarded to be the first phone with an internal antenna and the first to come with games like Snake preloaded. Gadget reviewers even praised the phone more than 10 years after its launch for its long battery life and clear reception.

jerrold-cable-box

Jerrold
33

Jerrold Cable Box

True story: Cable TV was already a thing in the 1950s. Sure, it took Ted Turner in the 1970s and channels like MTV in the 1980s for what we think of as cable TV’s halcyon days to emerge. But decades earlier, the first commercial cable box that would inspire so many others was an unassuming wood-paneled console manufactured by Pennsylvanian company Jerrold Electronics, sporting three-way sliders for dozens of different channels.

Nintendo Unveils Wii Game device

Robert Gilhooly—Bloomberg
32

Wii

“Thanks to Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata, we’re all gamers now,” went the headline of Wired’s obituary for Nintendo’s beloved president, who died last July. Nothing speaks to Iwata’s legacy more than the company’s game-changing Wii (pun intended). Nintendo’s tiny pearl-white box, released in 2006, and which users engaged with motion control wands, had moms and dads and grandpas and grandmas out of their seats and swinging virtual golf clubs or dancing. No game system has done more to illustrate the omni-generational appeal of interactive entertainment.

sony playstation

Jesse Wild—Edge Magazine/Getty Images
31

Sony PlayStation

You’d be hard pressed to name a single PlayStation feature that by itself transformed the games industry. It’s been Sony’s obsession with compacting high-end tech into sleek, affordable boxes, then making all that power readily accessible to developers, that’s made the PlayStation family an enduring icon of the living room. Part of Sony’s triumph was simply reading the demographic tea leaves: The company marketed the PlayStation as a game system for grownups to the kids who’d literally grown up playing Atari and Nintendo games. And that helped drive the original system, released in 1994, to meteoric sales, including the PlayStation 2’s Guinness record for bestselling console of all time—a record even Nintendo’s Wii hasn’t come close to breaking.

A Toshiba HD-A30 HD DVD player with 1080p resolution is shown at a news conference at the CES in Las Vegas

Rick Wilking —Reuters
30

Toshiba DVD Player

Electronics manufacturers were already fiddling with standalone optical storage in the early 1990s, but the first to market was Toshiba’s SD-3000 DVD player in November 1996. Obsoleting noisy, tangle-prone magnetic tape (as well as the binary of “original” versus “copy”) the DVD player made it possible to watch crisp digital movies off a tiny platter just 12 centimeters in diameter—still the de facto size for mainstream optical media (like Blu-ray) today.

tivo

TiVo, Inc/AP
29

TiVo

“How much would you pay never to see another talking frog or battery-powered bunny again?” this magazine asked when the first TiVo was announced in 1999. The box, called a “Personal Video Recorder” at the time, is the forerunner to today’s DVRs. TiVo owners could record shows picked from a digital menu (no more confusing VCR settings) and pause or rewind live television. Much to TV execs’ consternation, the TiVo let viewers of recorded programming breeze past commercials. That the TiVo made it easier than ever to record a TV show gave rise to “time-shifting,” or the phenomenon of viewers watching content when it fits their schedule.

Amazon Kindle

Mel Melcon—LA Times/Getty Images
28

Amazon Kindle

Amazon began as an online bookstore, so it’s no surprise that its most influential piece of hardware changed the way we read. The Kindle quickly took over the e-reader market, becoming the best-selling product in the history of Amazon.com in 2010. Follow-up hardware ventures, such as the Kindle Fire Tablet and Echo home assistant, have also found success. The Kindle also marks the beginning of Amazon’s evolution as a digital media company. Today the company has digital stores for music, movies and video games in addition to books.

Polaroid camera

Stephen Oliver, Dorling Kindersley—Getty Images
27

Polaroid Camera

Millennials get plenty of flak over their penchant for instant gratification. But that’s a desire that crosses generations. Need proof? When the first affordable, easy-to-use instant shooter, the Polaroid OneStep Land camera, hit the market in 1977, it quickly became the country’s best-selling camera, 40 years before “Millennials” were a thing. That Polaroid photographs so dominated 80s-era family albums and pop culture gives the square-framed, often off-color snaps a retro appeal that today is celebrated by enthusiasts and aped by billion-dollar apps like Instagram.

Commodore 64 microcomputer, c 1985.

Science & Society Picture Library—Getty Images
26

Commodore 64

Commodore’s 8-bit brown and taupe lo-fi 1982 masterpiece ranks with record-keeper Guinness as the best-selling single computer in history. No surprise, as the chunky, relatively affordable keyboard-housed system—users plugged the whole thing into a TV with an RF box—did more to popularize the idea of the personal home computer than any device since. And it promised to make you more popular, too: “My friends are knockin’ down my door, to get into my Commodore 64,” sang a Ronnie James Dio clone in a power-metal ad spot.

iPad 2

Dan Pearce—Future Publishing/Getty Images
25

Apple iPad

The iPad’s 2010 launch spurred a slew of headlines questioning whether or not the tablet would replace the laptop as the most important personal computer. Apple’s iPad wasn’t the first tablet, but it was radically different from what came before. Earlier devices, like the GriDPad and Palm Pilot, had smaller touchscreens users had to operate with a stylus. Microsoft unveiled a tablet that ran Windows XP in 2002. The problem, however, was that these devices didn’t have interfaces that were well-suited for touch, and they were often clunkier and larger than the iPad. Apple sold 300,000 iPads on its first day in stores, roughly matching the iPhone’s day-one numbers, and has gone on to dominate the market.

blackberry 6210
24

BlackBerry 6210

BlackBerry made pocket-sized gadgets for accessing email on-the-go before the 6210, but this was the first to combine the Web-browsing and email experience with the functionality of a phone. The 6210 let users check email, make phone calls, send text messages, manage their calendar, and more all from a single device. (Its predecessor, the 5810, required users to attach a headset in order to make calls.) All told, the 6210 was a pivotal step forward for mobile devices.

23

Phonemate 400 Answering Machine

The idea of an answering machine weighing more than a few ounces may sound ludicrous by today’s standards. But in 1971, PhoneMate’s 10-pound Model 400 was viewed as a glimpse of the future. The Model 400 was considered the first answering machine designed for the home during a time when the technology was only commonly found in workplaces. It held roughly 20 messages and enabled owners to listen to voicemails privately through an earphone.

TomTom navigation device in Amsterdam

Robin van Lonkhuysen—United Photo/Reuters
22

TomTom GPS

Like the early Internet, GPS started life as a government-funded innovation. It wasn’t until President Bill Clinton decided in 2000 to fully open the network that it became a massive commerical success. (He was filling a promise made by Ronald Reagan.) Shortly afterwards, companies from TomTom to Garmin introduced personal GPS devices for automotive navigation (like the Start 45) and other uses. Later, combining GPS technology with smartphones’ mobile broadband connections gave rise to multibillion dollar location-based services like Uber.

ibm thinkpad advertisement

IBM
21

IBM Thinkpad 700C

Few products are so iconic that their design remains largely unchanged after more than 20 years. Such is the case with the ThinkPad line of laptops, which challenged the dominance of Apple and Compaq in the personal computing industry during the early 1990s by introducing features that were considered to be innovative at the time. (It’s also part of the permanent collection at New York City’s MoMA.) One of the earliest in the line, the ThinkPad 700C, came with a 10.4-inch color touch screen, larger than displays offered by other competing products. Its TrackPoint navigation device and powerful microprocessors were also considered to be groundbreaking in the early 1990s.

Motorola Droid

Jeremy Bales—Bloomberg/Getty Images
20

Motorola Droid

Other Android-powered smartphones existed before the Droid launched in 2009, but this was the first one popular enough to push Android into the spotlight. It cemented Google’s Android platform as the iPhone’s biggest competition. (And sowed a rift between Apple and Google, which had previously been close allies.) Verizon is said to have poured $100 million[≈ Large city office building] into marketing the device. It seemingly paid off—although neither companies disclosed sales figures, analysts estimated that between 700,000 and 800,000 Droids were sold in roughly one month following its launch.

JVC camcorder gr-c1

JVC
19

JVC VideoMovie Camcorder

From Rodney King and citizen journalism to America’s Funniest Home Videos and unscripted television, the camcorder did as much to change the world from 1983 to 2006 as it did to record it. And though the 1984 JVC VideoMovie wasn’t the first model on the market, it became iconic when Marty McFly lugged it around in 1985’s Back to the Future. The ruby red model was the first to integrate the tapedeck into the camera. (Previously, home videographers had to wear a purse-like peripheral that housed the cassette.) Eventually, camcorders were displaced by flash memory-packing Flip Video cameras and, later, smartphones. But their impact will live forever, like the movies they captured.

motorola bravo pager

Motorola
18

Motorola Bravo Pager

Long before cellphones became commonplace, beepers were the way to stay in touch on the go. Early pagers allowed users to send codes to one another, like 411 for “what’s going on” or 911 to indicate an emergency (for obvious reasons). Message recipients would respond by calling the sender via telephone. The Bravo Flex, introduced in 1986, became the best-selling pager in the world, according to Motorola, giving many people their first taste of mobile communication. It could store up to five messages that were 24 characters in length. By the early 1990s, having a pager became a status symbol, paving the way for more advanced communication devices like the two-way pager, the cellphone, and eventually the smartphone.

Ibm Selectric Ii Typewriter

Indianapolis Museum of Art/Getty Images
17

IBM Selectric Typewriter

Turning the plodding, jam-prone mechanical typewriter into a rapid-fire bolt of workplace ingenuity, this Mad Men-era machine worked at the “speed of thought” and marked the beginning of the computer age. The 1961 Selectric model began by introducing changeable typefaces through the typewriter’s iconic, interchangeable, golf-ball-shaped print head. Then in 1964, a magnetic tape model gave the typewriter the ability to store data, arguably making it the world’s first word processor. So in 1965, when the IBM System/360 mainframe rolled out, it only made sense that the Selectric’s keyboard served as the computer’s primary input device.

Nintendo Game Boy, 1989.

Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images
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Nintendo Game Boy

It’s a wonder we didn’t destroy our eyes gaming on the Game Boy’s tiny 2.6-inch olive green screen, considering how many Nintendo sold (over 200 million when you include the souped-up subsequent Game Boy Advance.) A chunky, somewhat dismal looking off-white object with garish cerise-colored buttons, Nintendo’s 1989 handheld invented the modern mobile game. Its modest power and anemic screen forced developers to distill the essence of genres carried over from consoles. The result: A paradigm shift in mobile game design that’s influenced everything from competing devoted handhelds to Apple’s iPhone.

nintendo NES

Neil Godwin—GamesMaster Magazine/Getty Images
15

Nintendo Entertainment System

Nintendo’s debut front-loading, rain-gray console showed up just in time to save the games industry from its excesses, arriving a few years after a crash that capsized many of the field’s biggest players. The NES was to video gaming what The Beatles were to rock and roll, singlehandedly resuscitating the market after it launched in 1983. The NES heralded Japan’s dominance of the industry, establishing indelible interface and game design ideas so archetypal you can find their DNA in every home console hence.

56k modem

Ryan McVay—Getty Images
14

US Robotics Sportster 56K Modem

Beep boop bop beep. Eeeeeeerrrrrrroooooooahhhh ba dong ba dong ba dong psssssssssssh. In the days before broadband, that was the sound the Internet made. Dial-up modems, like the US Robotics Sportster, were many families’ first gateway to the Web. Their use peaked around 2001, as faster alternatives that carried data over cable lines arrived. But millions of households still have an active dial-up connection. Why? They’re cheaper and accessible to the millions of Americans who still lack broadband access.

Atari computer console and games, c 1977.

Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images
13

Atari 2600

Its blocky 8-bit graphics looked nothing like the lavish, rousing illustrations on its game jackets, but the black-and-faux-wood Atari 2600 game console was the first gaming box to stir the imaginations of millions. It brought the arcade experience home for $199 [≈ Low-end bicycle] (about $800 adjusted for inflation), including a pair of iconic digital joysticks and games with computer-controlled opponents–a home console first. It sold poorly in the months after its launch in September 1977, but when games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man arrived a few years later, sales shot into the millions, positioning Atari at the vanguard of the incipient video gaming revolution.

vcr

Andrew Safonov—iStockphoto/Getty Images
12

Philips N1500 VCR

Though it took a long, winding road to mass market success, the videocassette recorder, or VCR, got its start in 1972 with Philips’ release of the N1500. Predating the BetaMax versus VHS format war, the N1500 recorded television onto square cassettes, unlike the VCRs that would achieve mass market success in the 1980s. But featuring a tuner and timer, Philips device was the first to let television junkies record and save their favorite programs for later. But that kind of convenience didn’t come cheap. Originally selling in the U.K. for around £440, it would cost more than $6,500 ≈ Typical week-long trip for two to Hawaii

“>[≈ Typical household annual food spending, 2009] today. That’s the equivalent of 185 Google Chromecasts.

canon-pocketronic-calculator

Canon
11

Canon Pocketronic Calculator

All business? Hardly. If you trace the path of technology far enough, iconic adding machines like this 1970 classic blazed the trail for the smartphones we’re packing today. Selling for $345 at its launch (a cool $2,165 today), this calculator was built around three circuits that let it add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Thirteen rechargeable battery cells were crammed into the casing to power the calculations, with results spat out onto thermal paper. After the Pocketronic’s launch, circuitry quickly miniaturized and prices shrank to match. Within five years, comparable devices cost just $20, and the first shots were fired in tech’s pricing wars.

hitachi magic wand

Alex Cao—Getty Images
10

Magic Wand

A few years after a 2002 episode of Sex and the City revealed the electric neck massager’s cultish adoption as a vibrator, Hitachi dropped its brand from the device. But only in name: the Magic Wand—in service since the late-1960s—likely remains the best-known product stateside made by the $33.5 billion ≈ Harvard University endowment in 2011

≈ China’s 2009 investment in renewable energy

“>[≈ cost of 1993 Midwest flooding] Japanese company. (Hitachi makes everything from aircraft engines to defense equipment, but perhaps nothing as personally stimulating.) Though sex therapists and fans have extolled the Wand’s virtues by analogizing it to cars (the Cadillac, the Rolls Royce), it more closely resembles a microphone, with a white plastic shaft—the wand—and a vibrating head—presumably, the magic.

apple ipod

Apple Corp/Getty Images
9

Apple iPod

There were MP3 players before the iPod, sure, but it was Apple’s blockbuster device that convinced music fans to upgrade from their CD players en masse. The iPod simultaneously made piracy more appealing, by letting people carry their thousand-song libraries in their pockets, while also providing a lifeline to the flailing music industry with the iTunes Store, which eventually became the world’s biggest music retailer. The iPod’s importance extends far beyond music. It was an entire generation’s introduction to Apple’s easy-to-use products and slick marketing. These people would go on to buy MacBooks, iPhones and iPads in droves, helping to make Apple the most valuable technology company in the world.

No 2 Portrait Brownie cameras in �fashion� colours, 1929-1935.

Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images
8

Kodak Brownie Camera

Marketed toward children, carried by soldiers, and affordable to everyone, this small, brown leatherette and cardboard camera introduced the term “snapshot” through its ease of use and low cost. Priced at just $1 (with film that was similarly inexpensive) when it was introduced in February 1900, the Brownie took cameras off tripods and put them into everyday use. For Kodak, the low-cost shooter was the hook that allowed the company to reel in money through film sales. And for the rest of the world, it helped captured countless moments and shape civilization’s relationship to images.

7

Regency TR-1 Transistor Radio

The Regency’s pocket radio was the first consumer gadget powered by transistors, ushering in an age of high-tech miniaturization. A post-WWII innovation developed by Texas Instruments (which had been making devices for the Navy) and Industrial Development Engineering Associates (which previously put out television antennas for Sears), the $49.95, 3-by-5-inch, battery-powered portable was built on technology developed by Bell Labs. From the transistors that amplified the radio signal to the use of printed circuit boards that connected the components to the eye-catching design, many factors conspired to make the TR-1 a holiday must-buy after its November 1954 launch. And as revolutionary as all this tech was, it only scratches the surface of how the Regency — by ushering in truly portable communications — changed the world overnight.

Victrola

Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
6

Victrola Record Player

Though the phonograph was invented in 1877, it was the Victor Talking Machine Company’s Victrola that first made audio players a staple in most people’s homes. The device’s amplifying horn was hidden inside a wooden cabinet, giving it the sleek look of a sophisticated piece of furniture. Records by classical musicians and opera singers were popular purchases for the device. Eventually, the Victor Talking Machine Company would be bought by RCA, which would go on to become a radio and television giant.

IBM PC Model 5150 with printer, 1981.

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5

IBM Model 5150

What would the computer market look like today without the IBM PC? Sure, the world had personal computers before the 5150 was introduced in 1981. But IBM’s sales pitch—bringing Big Blue’s corporate computing prowess into the home—helped make this a wildly successful product. Even more influential than the 5150 itself was Big Blue’s decision to license its PC operating system, DOS, to other manufacturers. That led to the birth of “IBM Compatibles,” the forerunner to almost all non-Apple PCs out there today.

Sony Walkman, c 1980.

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4

Sony Walkman

Sony’s Walkman was the first music player to combine portability, simplicity and affordability. While vinyl records were still the most popular music format, the Walkman—originally the “Sound-About” in the United States—played much smaller cassettes and was small enough to fit in a purse or pocket. It ushered in the phenomena of private space in public created by the isolating effect of headphones. It ran on AA batteries, allowing it to travel far from power outlets. Sony eventually sold more than 200 million of the devices, which paved the way for the CD player and the iPod.

Apple Macintosh computer, model M001, c 1984.

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3

Apple Macintosh

“Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?” That’s how Steve Jobs introduced the ad heralding the arrival of the Macintosh. With its graphical user interface, easy-to-use mouse and overall friendly appearance, the Macintosh was Apple’s best hope to take on IBM. High costs and Microsoft’s successful Windows software conspired to keep the Mac a perennial runner-up. But it forever set the standard for the way human beings interact with computers.

Sony colour television, 1970.

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2

Sony Trinitron

Renowned journalist Edward R. Murrow famously described television as “nothing but wires and lights in a box.” Of all such boxes, Sony’s Trinitron—launched in 1968 as color TV sales were finally taking off—stands at the fore of memorable sets, in part for its novel way of merging what to that point had been three separate electron guns. The Trinitron was the first TV receiver to win a vaunted Emmy award, and over the next quarter century, went on to sell over 100 million units worldwide.

Iomega SuperHero, dock for Apple iPhone and iPod touch, session for Tap Magazine taken on February 8, 2011. (Photo by S

Simon Lees—Tap Magazine/Getty Images
1

Apple iPhone

Apple was the first company to put a truly powerful computer in the pockets of millions when it launched the iPhone in 2007. Smartphones had technically existed for years, but none came together as accessibly and beautifully as the iPhone. Apple’s device ushered in a new era of flat, touchscreen phones with buttons that appeared on screen as you needed them, replacing the chunkier phones with slide-out keyboards and static buttons. What really made the iPhone so remarkable, however, was its software and mobile app store, introduced later. The iPhone popularized the mobile app, forever changing how we communicate, play games, shop, work, and complete many everyday tasks.

The iPhone is a family of very successful products. But, more than that, it fundamentally changed our relationship to computing and information—a change likely to have repercussions for decades to come.

BlackBerry Wants to Be a Leader in the ‘Internet of Things’ | Entrepreneur.com

BlackBerry Wants to Be a Leader in the ‘Internet of Things’ | Entrepreneur.com.

 

BlackBerry wants to push beyond communications into mobile computing, and eventually play a leading role in the “Internet of Things,” the term for a predicted revolution in which many ordinary objects will be given computing power.

That was chief executive Thorsten Heins’s message at the annual shareholders meeting in Ontario today, as he tried to defend the company’s trajectory after sales of the new BlackBerry 10 line of smartphones fell well below analyst expectations. A disappointing earnings report June 28 caused BlackBerry stock to fall to $10.46 per share that day, a 28 percent drop from its previous-day closing price of $14.48.

Today, Heins outlined a three-phase plan for BlackBerry’s future, the first of which happened earlier this year with the debut of the new BB10 mobile operating system and new phones. The second phase, he said, will focus on scaling. That means reaching new customers while also transitioning existing users from the BlackBerry 7 operating system to BB10.

Related: BlackBerry to Bring Popular ‘BBM’ App to Android and iOS Devices

In the third phase, BlackBerry will seek to become “the leading mobile enterprise services platform,” Heins said. As early evidence of this goal, he pointed to a new BlackBerry service for automakers that was unveiled in Detroit last month. The service makes it possible to update vehicle software remotely, get status updates on vehicle components and install apps to a car’s entertainment system.

As smart technology becomes an increasingly vital part of everyday life, Heins said, BlackBerry will use its global data network and create new partnerships to develop more mobile computing services for enterprise clients.

Asked whether he and the company board have seriously considered breaking up BlackBerry — perhaps splitting off the devices business from the enterprise services business — Heins demurred. “I’m here with my team to create jobs and not to destroy jobs,” he said. “We have to get through this.”

Related: Beyond Smartphones: Mobile Innovation That Could Change the Way You Do Business

“Whatever [Wall] Street expects from us, we are still early” in our product cycle, Heins told shareholders. The next 12 months, he said, will be a time of investment, with an eye toward achieving sustainable growth sometime in 2014.

At press time, BlackBerry’s stock value stands at $9.72.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227337#ixzz2YdXHyRBu

How the next billion smartphones will be sold – Quartz

How the next billion smartphones will be sold – Quartz.

You can bet on continued rapid growth in the smartphone market. But ongoing unbridled profitability for its biggest players such as Apple and Samsung? That’s less of a sure thing.

Korea’s Samsung last week reported a 76% increase in net profit year-on-year. But its forecast that “the furious growth spurt seen in the global smartphone market last year is expected to be pacified by intensifying price competition, compounded by a slew of new products” disappointed investors eager to continue bingeing on smartphone and tablet euphoria.

Shares of Apple, largely driven by its iPhone business these days, have fallen 36% from their peak at $703.99 per share in mid-September. And the company’s quarterly earnings call on Jan. 23 didn’t inspire faith that the company could continue its market dominance indefinitely.

This does not mean that the world is full of smartphones—or even cell phones. Sales of phones and penetration rates are increasing in countries around the world, although the rate at which sales are increasing in some of the early-adopter markets is slowing. In October, Strategy Analytics estimated that one billion cell phones were in use; it expects there will be two billion smartphones in use by 2015. Investors’ doubts are predicated on the idea that these companies and others won’t be able to live off the smaller margins generated by low-cost handsets.

smartphone penetration rate projections

The smartphone sales lines keep going up.

Valor of volume

Concerns about Apple have had a lot to do with declining margins, as high-end sales growth slows amid increased competition from the likes of Samsung and less urgency among consumers to upgrade to the latest models when their current smartphones are more than adequate. Apple has typically been the industry leader, pioneering new technology. It has not—to date—said it would make a cheaper iPhone, though that is expected and Apple already carries its old models at a discount. Samsung has swiftly expanded its market share in the last few years by offering a variety of options for consumers. It has even had success expanding into already crowded emerging markets; Samsung has spent billions of dollars on marketing campaigns and drawn in consumers at all price points.

The problem is that both companies have trouble capitalizing on mid- and low-cost cell phones. Because it builds almost all of the parts that go into any cell phone, Samsung is better positioned to make money on the difference between the cost of the phone’s manufacture and the cost the consumer pays for it. Apple so far has made the decision not to compete aggressively in the lower-end market.

But simply because there’s not as much profit in low-cost phones doesn’t mean there’s no profit; so long as there are some profit margins in selling to a new world of consumers, someone will do it. RIM’s BlackBerry is starting to focus on African consumers, Nokia has made a bet on Indian consumers, and a variety of other companies are competing heavily for a piece of the pie. Little-known manufacturers in China and Asia making extremely low-cost devices that run Google’s Android software will surely grab a slice of the low-end market.

Exchange rates

Although Samsung appears to be winning the volume game, it may be at a disadvantage in the near future, creating an opening for other players. The Korean won has been rising in value in relation to many other currencies. With loads of foreign currency flying into the growing South Korean economy, the won is becoming more expensive, even as the world’s major central banks duke it out in a race to devalue their currencies. For example, the won rose nearly 20% against the Japanese yen in 2012. But exchange rates are even more important in emerging markets, where the company is pressured to chop costs to the bare minimum in order to make their phones competitive; the won has risen against emerging market currencies, particularly the Indian rupee and, to a much lesser extent, the Chinese yuan. Robert Yi, the head of Samsung’s investor relations, explained the impact currency fluctuations had on the company last quarter:

Our fourth quarter earning operating profit was negatively impacted by the foreign currency exchange ratios of about KRW360 billion ($33 million) from the continued strong Korean won, which we expect to continue for the time being. To clarify a little bit further, the most of the impact came not from the US or euro in Q4, but from various local currencies, including Chinese yen, Brazil real and others.

This could turn out to be a bigger deal in the future, as Samsung expects that these conditions will continue through 2013. Indeed, sharp appreciation in the currency against the yuan could allow for the rise of Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, the third- and fifth-largest smartphone vendors in the world at 4.9% and 4.3% of global market share, respectively. Admittedly, their market share does not yet compare with the likes of Apple and Samsung—which have 21.3% and 29% of the market. Japan’s Sony could also benefit from a depreciating yen—the currency’s current trajectory.

Then again, the exchange rate game is one of chance. The Bank of Japan has so far disappointed those expecting it to embark on dramatic new monetary easing measures right away, while the Bank of Korea has already been hinting that it might cut rates. Meanwhile, an Apple incursion into the mid- and low-priced smartphone market could disrupt the game, and a cheap dollar might be there to help.

Clearly, there are wars ahead in the cell phone world, as manufacturers duke it out on price points and volume. What’s clear is that smartphone penetration is on an upward trajectory, and someone will be around to make a buck from that—even if it brings lower profit margins.

BlackBerry réussira-t-il à revenir à la mode?: L’Echo

BlackBerry réussira-t-il à revenir à la mode?: L’Echo.

 

Le groupe ca­na­dien va lan­cer en grande pompe mer­cre­di ses Black­Ber­ry 10. Avec trois ans de re­tard. Le lan­ce­ment de la der­nière chance pour l’ex-lea­der des smart­phones.

Jadis lea­der du mar­ché des smart­phones, dé­sor­mais joueur mi­neur face à Apple et Sam­sung, le ca­na­dien Re­search in Mo­tion joue son ave­nir en lan­çant ce mer­cre­di sa nou­velle gamme de té­lé­phones et son nou­veau sys­tème d’ex­ploi­ta­tion, Black­Ber­ry 10. La so­cié­té, qui a vécu ces cinq der­nières an­nées une des­cente aux en­fers, a convié mer­cre­di jour­na­listes et ana­lystes à un grand lan­ce­ment à New York dé­bu­tant à 15H00 GMT et re­trans­mis si­mul­ta­né­ment à To­ron­to, Londres, Paris, Jo­han­nes­bourg et Dubaï.

Un an après le dé­part des deux fon­da­teurs et co-di­ri­geants de RIM, Jim Bal­sillie et Mike La­za­ri­dis, ce sera l’épreuve de vé­ri­té pour le PDG Thors­ten Heins. Re­pre­nant le vo­ca­bu­laire cher au grand rival Apple, cet Al­le­mand passé par Sie­mens doit ani­mer une “Key­note”, une pré­sen­ta­tion ma­gis­trale des nou­veaux pro­duits Black­Ber­ry, lan­cés avec trois ans de re­tard par rap­port aux pré­vi­sions ini­tiales.

“Nous avons pris le temps de construire une pla­te­forme fiable pour les dix pro­chaines an­nées”
THORS­TEN HEINS,
CEO DE RIM

“La haute di­rec­tion sa­vait qu’ils n’avaient qu’une chance pour sor­tir ce pro­duit et qu’en termes de re­cherche et dé­ve­lop­pe­ment, ils n’étaient pas au point”, es­time Fran­çois Morin, pré­sident du ca­bi­net conseil ca­na­dien M2M Di­gi­tal.

Ce re­tard a coûté cher à l’en­tre­prise éta­blie au sud de To­ron­to: sa part de mar­ché a glis­sé de 10,3% à 6% entre 2011 et 2012, selon le ca­bi­net IDC, se fai­sant même dé­pas­ser par Nokia et HTC. A l’in­verse Sam­sung a conso­li­dé sa po­si­tion de lea­der des smart­phones, avec 39,6%, et Apple s’ad­juge dé­sor­mais un quart du mar­ché.

Un sys­tème d’ex­ploi­ta­tion très at­ten­du

“La par­tie n’est pas per­due, mais c’est la der­nière chance pour Re­search in Mo­tion”, juge Fran­çois Morin, qui a ré­cem­ment eu sous les yeux le nou­veau Black­Ber­ry.

Au faîte de sa puis­sance, en 2008, le titre RIM va­lait 144 dol­lars. Entre l’ar­ri­vée de l’i­Phone et des pannes mon­diales à ré­pé­ti­tion, il s’échange dé­sor­mais au­tour de 18 dol­lars, ce qui marque tou­te­fois une hausse de plus de 160% en six mois. Car pour frei­ner l’hé­mor­ra­gie et convaincre que RIM n’avait pas dit son der­nier mot, le groupe a dis­til­lé ces der­nières se­maines des in­for­ma­tions sur ses fu­turs té­lé­phones.

Néan­moins, le titre reste vo­la­til et de­vrait le res­ter jusqu’à ce que le mar­ché per­çoive si le consom­ma­teur ré­pond pré­sent aux in­no­va­tions du Black­Ber­ry10. Lundi en cours de séance, l’ac­tion cé­dait plus de 6,5%.

Le cla­vier phy­sique, qui fai­sait la force des Black­Ber­ry, est conser­vé, mais cer­tains ap­pa­reils au­ront à la place un cla­vier tac­tile.

Très at­ten­du, le nou­veau sys­tème d’ex­ploi­ta­tion doit no­tam­ment per­mettre d’uti­li­ser jusqu’à huit ap­pli­ca­tions à la fois, ce qui est im­pos­sible avec l’i­Phone. RIM a en outre in­di­qué cette se­maine que son nou­veau na­vi­ga­teur in­ter­net re­pose sur la tech­no­lo­gie HTML5, qui per­met une in­té­gra­tion pous­sée des conte­nus mul­ti­mé­dias et in­ter­ac­tifs.

Des blogs spé­cia­li­sés ont par ailleurs af­fir­mé qu’il se­rait pos­sible de lire du conte­nu Flash, ce que ne per­mettent pas l’i­Phone et l’iPad d’Apple, en bis­bille avec la so­cié­té Adobe qui a créé ce for­mat. Il de­vrait en outre être pos­sible de se ser­vir des Black­Ber­ry pour payer ses achats, grâce à une en­tente avec Visa.

Reste la ques­tion des ap­pli­ca­tions: Apple en pro­pose plus de 700.​000, soit 10 fois que ce qui est dis­po­nible sur Black­Ber­ry World, le nou­veau por­tail de RIM pour té­lé­char­ger ces mi­ni-lo­gi­ciels, mais aussi -c’est une nou­veau­té-, des vi­déos ou de la mu­sique.

A SA­VOIR

Re­search In Mo­tion a ob­te­nu le sou­tien de géants des conte­nus mu­si­caux et vi­déos pour le lan­ce­ment mer­cre­di de son sys­tème d’ex­ploi­ta­tion Black­Ber­ry 10 et sa gamme de nou­veaux smart­phones.

Le fa­bri­cant ca­na­dien du Black­ber­ry cite comme par­te­naires les stu­dios Dis­ney de Walt Dis­ney Co, Sony Pic­tures de Sony Corp, Uni­ver­sal Music Group de Vi­ven­di et War­ner Music Group. 

D’après RIM, son ma­ga­sin en ligne Black­Ber­ry World sera doté d’un large ca­ta­logue de chan­sons, de vidéo et de pro­grammes té­lé­vi­sés. La plu­part des films se­ront dis­po­nibles le même jour que leur sor­tie en DVD et le len­de­main de leur dif­fu­sion pour les sé­ries TV.

L’offre de RIM com­prend éga­le­ment de la mu­sique issue des ca­ta­logues de Ma­ta­dor Re­cords, Rough Trade Re­cords et Sony Music En­ter­tain­ment. Leur dis­po­ni­bi­li­té sera dans un pre­mier temps li­mi­tée à 18 pays.

Les conte­nus vi­déos en té­lé­char­ge­ment dé­fi­ni­tif ou à la lo­ca­tion se­ront dis­po­nibles au début uni­que­ment aux Etats-Unis, en Grande-Bre­tagne et au Ca­na­da. Les sé­ries TV se­ront pro­po­sées par ABC Stu­dios, BBC World­wide et CBS Corp.

Pour com­bler ce re­tard, les di­ri­geants de RIM “ont même payé des pro­gram­meurs pour conver­tir leurs ap­pli­ca­tions pour Black­Ber­ry, je n’ai ja­mais vu ça”, note Fran­çois Morin.

Black­Ber­ry réus­si­ra-t-il à re­de­ve­nir à la mode? Il semble jouable de re­ga­gner le coeur des hommes af­faires car ces der­niers ont “tou­jours perçu l’i­Phone comme un outil de di­ver­tis­se­ment”, in­dique M. Morin. Pour le PDG de RIM, in­ter­ro­gée par Die Welt, “ce qui im­porte pour le mo­ment, c’est de lan­cer Black­Ber­ry 10 avec suc­cès. On verra pour la suite”.

 

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RIM va jouer sa survie avec Blackberry 10 – 20minutes.fr

RIM va jouer sa survie avec Blackberry 10 – 20minutes.fr.

HIGH-TECH – Le fabricant canadien a dévoilé de nouvelles fonctions de son futur OS cette semaine, alors que ses premiers smartphones ne sont pas attendus avant le début 2013…

Pour Research in Motion, c’est quitte ou double. Après trois trimestres successifs dans le rouge, le constructeur mise tout sur son système Blackberry 10, qui doit sortir début 2013. Le point.

Blackberry 10, l’OS

L’idée, c’est de faire table rase du passée. RIM a racheté le système QNX et son équipe, en 2010, avec la mission de proposer un système moderne adapté au touch et au clavier. Initialement baptisé BBX, il s’appellera finalement Blackberry 10 (ou BB 10). Dévoilé en mai, il s’est davantage montré lors d’une conférence pour développeurs, mercredi.

Globalement, comme Windows Phone 8, le système fait le pari de proposer de l’information de manière dynamique. D’un double geste, on accède directement à huit «active frames», des miniatures –que l’on peut choisir– d’apps ouvertes (calendrier, etc). Ces données sont ainsi toujours à portée de doigts, sans qu’il soit nécessaire d’aller dans l’app. Le gestionnaire des notifications, lui, est totalement personnalisable. Enfin, l’écran peut se déverrouiller d’un simple geste vertical, sans avoir besoin d’appuyer sur le bouton on.

Les smartphones

Six téléphones devraient sortir en 2013, visant l’entrée, le milieu et le haut de gamme. RIM a précisé qu’il ne les présenterait qu’en début d’année. La fuite d’une vidéo officielle, jeudi, semble toutefois avoir levé le voile sur les deux vaisseaux amiraux de la flotte: les séries N et S. Avec son clavier, l’un est similaire au Bold 9900 tandis que l’autre mise sur un appareil 100% tactile, un secteur sur lequel RIM a jusqu’ici échoué.

Au-delà du design, RIM n’aura pas le droit de proposer du hardware au rabais et devra concurrencer la puissance graphique de l’iPhone 5 et l’appareil photo de Nokia.

Les apps

Le plus gros challenge de RIM sera de séduire les développeurs. Lors de la conférence Blackberry Jam, les dirigeants leur ont chanté Keep on loving you(On vous aime toujours), pour un grand moment kitsch

RIM semble avoir retenu la leçon de l’échec de la tablette Playbook. Blackberry 10 aura un client email, des apps Facebook et Twitter natives. L’accent est également mis sur le business, avec deux profils «travail» et «personnel» étanches (photos, mails, apps), afin de séparer vie pro et vie privée.

Avec une base mondiale d’utilisateurs qui a progressé de 2 millions au dernier trimestre, à 80 millions, RIM peut compter sur des fidèles. Les dernières pertes, moins importantes que prévues, ont rassuré le marché, avec un titre en hausse de 20% depuis mardi. L’entreprise dispose encore de 2 milliards de dollars de cash. Aucun cent ne sera de trop pour tenter un come-back des enfers.

 Philippe Berry

 

Think smartphones are ubiquitous now? Just wait a few years | Charles Arthur | Technology | guardian.co.uk

Think smartphones are ubiquitous now? Just wait a few years | Charles Arthur | Technology | guardian.co.uk.

A South Korean boy uses an iPhone 4

Apple took 73% of mobile handset operating profits in the first quarter of 2012. Photograph: Park Ji-Hwan/AFP/Getty Images

Five years after the first iPhone went onsale, the sales of smartphones – loosely defined as phones that can run third-party “apps”, and access the internet directly – now make up nearly two-thirds of mobile phonessold in western Europe and north America, although only about half of mobile users in both regions own one. (The difference arises because some early smartphone adopters have upgraded a number of times, while many “featurephone” users have not.)

Analyists predict that in two years, 90% of mobile users will have no choice but to own smartphones – even if all they want to do is call and text.

Yet the revolution has had its casualties, with BlackBerry-maker RIM expected to announce a second quarter of losses this Thursday, and the sector’s former dominant player Nokia’s debts downgraded to junk status. Some analysts wonder whether both companies will see the sixth anniversary of the phone that undermined them.

“The iPhone had three big effects,” says Neil Mawston, executive director of the research company Strategy Analytics. “We moved from keyboards and keypads to finger-driven touchscreens; it meant a shift away from the painfully slow mobile phone browser to app stores; and it revolutionised the market by encouraging more use of data, beyond just text messaging.” The fact that the first iPhone contracts offered completely unlimited data use transformed a market where mobile internet connectivity had previously been parcelled in per-megabyte allocations, to screens with tiny displays.

But the real agent of change was the arrival in late 2008 of Google’s Android mobile software, which soon offered the same touch-driven experience, with multiple handset companies – including Korea’sSamsung – vying for the top spot. “Android democratised touchscreens and app stores,” says Mawston. “The iPhone was relatively expensive. Android brought smartphones in at low price points.”

That brought in all sorts of other transformations – particularly the ubiquitous “apps”, without which no company seems to be complete. Android phones now make up more than half of all smartphone sales globally (with Samsung’s making up half of those on its own, outpacingApple).

And Apple has grabbed a huge share of the profit in the mobile market:according to Horace Dediu, who runs the Asymco consultancy, in the first quarter of 2012 Apple grabbed 73% of the handset industry’s operating profits, Samsung 26%, and HTC 1%; meanwhile LG, Motorola, Sony, RIM and Nokia all posted losses.

Even so, the profit in the handset industry has grown enormously, from a total of $5.3bn (£3.4bn) in the first three months of 2009 to $14.4bn (£9.2bn) at the same time in 2012, Dediu points out. Apple has grown its profits hugely – in effect, sucking them out of mobile operators, which have seen their per-user profits diminish even as smartphone use has risen.

They’re not alone in feeling the pinch. Nokia has seen smartphone sales collapse as it struggles to reinvent itself after abandoning its own pre-2007 Symbian software. Some analysts worry it could run short of cash before Microsoft’s new Windows Phone software can revive it.

As for BlackBerry, Mawston says: “Arguably its new handsets in autumn are its last chance. If they’re a hit it will be back on an upward track. Otherwise it will continue downward.”

The economic crunch in many eurozone countries is already showing that the 50% of consumers yet to buy a smartphone will be very different from those who queued up five years ago. “In some countries such as Portugal, most iPhones are sold without a data plan,” says Francisco Jeronimo, smartphones analyst for the research company IDC. “They’re used at home or offices, where people connect to the internet via wifi, because in most European countries and the US – though not the UK – people have to pay extra to get internet data on their phone plan. But if you pay €50 per month for an iPhone, you don’t want to be paying another €20 for the data.”

Even so, Jeronimo sees the market becoming 90% smartphone-based by 2016 (Mawston puts it at 2015): There’s no price point where carriers can make any money with them,” he explains.

Now, Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei and ZTE have begun making smartphones for carriers using Google’s Android for just £100 – an indication of how commoditised the business has become. “They’ll just be used for voice and text,” says Jeronimo.

At the same time, carriers are also trying to inch away from subsidising phone sales, because they make almost no money from selling them, even at the top end.

Ironically, the models on which carriers make the most money are RIM’s BlackBerrys – and the prospects of an Apple-Android (or even Apple-Samsung) duopoly has them worried. What they are hoping is that Nokia will come back with a resilient showing – though it may be 2013 before that happens, on most analysts’ reckoning.

Mawston, meanwhile, is certain that smartphones will almost see off other models, whether users want them or not. “In Europe, all the young and rich segments have purchased one already,” he says. “The older and less wealthy won’t have a choice – they’ll have to buy them. But they’ll tend to go for simpler versions. They’ll use them for voice and text – and the app stores.”