Phones before the iPhone


Every now and then I think back to what the world was like before the iPhone. Steve Jobs described the landscape in 2005:

So the carriers now have gained the upper-hand in terms of the power of the relationship with handset manufacturers. And they’re starting to tell the handset manufacturers what to build.And if Nokia and Motorola don’t listen to them, well Samsung and LG will.

There’s no question Android manufacturers also benefited immensely from Apple coming in and shifting this power model from telcos to consumers; though you can still buy Android phones today loaded with carrier crapware. They also took advantage of Apple’s R&D into full-screen touch devices and abandoned making Blackberry clones. Few Android advocates or tech journalists seem to remember this, though given it was a decade and a half ago I don’t blame them.

Companies that didn’t react fast enough to this change were lost. Symbian struggled before disappearing. My beloved Palm came out with the Pre before being bought out and extinguished; some of the features from that phone are still only being added to Apple and Android now.

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