Modern smartphones.

A smartphone is a high-end mobile phone[1][2][3] that combines the functions of a personal digital assistant (PDA) and a mobile phone. Today's models typically also serve as portable media players and camera phones with high-resolution touchscreens, web browsers that can access, and properly display, standard web pages rather than just mobile-optimized sites, GPS navigation, Wi-Fi and mobile broadband access. The term smartphone is usually used to describe phones with more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone, although the distinction can be vague and there is no official definition for what constitutes the difference between them. The definitions also shift over time since many phones that are considered feature phones today can have capabilities that exceed those of phones that had been promoted as smartphones in the past.

Smartphones run mobile operating systems such as Apple's iOS, Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Windows Phone, Nokia's Symbian, RIM's BlackBerry OS, and embedded Linux distributions such as Maemo and MeeGo. Such operating systems (OS) can be installed on many different phone models, and typically each device can receive multiple operating system software updates over its lifetime. Smartphones run third-party applications using advanced application programming interfaces (APIs),[4] which can allow those applications to have better integration with the phone's OS and hardware than is typical with feature phones. In comparison, feature phones more commonly run on proprietary firmware, with third-party software support through platforms such as Java ME or BREW.[1]



Early years

IBM Simon (introduced 1992) shown in the charging station

The first smartphone was the IBM Simon; it was designed in 1992 and shown as a concept product[5] that year at COMDEX, the computer industry trade show held in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was released to the public in 1993 and sold by BellSouth. Besides being a mobile phone, it also contained a calendar, address book, world clock, calculator, note pad, e-mail client, the ability to send and receive faxes, and games. It had no physical buttons, instead customers used a touchscreen to select telephone numbers with a finger or create facsimiles and memos with an optional stylus. Text was entered with a unique on-screen "predictive" keyboard. By today's standards, the Simon would be a fairly low-end product, lacking a camera and the ability to download third-party applications. However, its feature set at the time was highly advanced.

The Nokia Communicator line was the first of Nokia's smartphones starting with the Nokia 9000, released in 1996. This distinctive palmtop computer style smartphone was the result of a collaborative effort of an early successful and costly personal digital assistant (PDA) by Hewlett-Packard combined with Nokia's best-selling phone around that time, and early prototype models had the two devices fixed via a hinge. The Communicators are characterized by a clamshell design, with a feature phone display, keyboard and user interface on top of the phone, and a physical QWERTY keyboard, high-resolution display of at least 640×200 pixels and PDA user interface under the flip-top. The software was based on the GEOS V3.0 operating system, featuring email communication and text-based web browsing. In 1998, it was followed by Nokia 9110, and in 2000 by Nokia 9110i, with improved web browsing capability.

In 1997 the term 'smartphone' was used for the first time when Ericsson unveiled the concept phone GS88,[6][7] the first device labelled as 'smartphone'.[8]


The Nokia 9210 Communicator (Symbian 2000 model smartphone)

In 2000, the touchscreen Ericsson R380 Smartphone was released.[9] It was the first device to use an open operating system, the Symbian OS.[10] It was the first device marketed as a 'smartphone'.[11] It combined the functions of a mobile phone and a personal digital assistant (PDA).[12] In December 1999 the magazine Popular Science appointed the Ericsson R380 Smartphone to one of the most important advances in science and technology.[13] It was a groundbreaking device since it was as small and light as a normal mobile phone.[14] In 2002 it was followed up by P800.[15]

Also in 2000, the Nokia 9210 communicator was introduced, which was the first color screen model from the Nokia Communicator line. It was a true smartphone with an open operating system, the Symbian OS. It was followed by the 9500 Communicator, which also was Nokia's first cameraphone and first Wi-Fi phone. The 9300 Communicator was the third dimensional shift into a smaller form factor, and the latest E90 Communicator includes GPS. The Nokia Communicator model is remarkable for also having been the most costly phone model sold by a major brand for almost the full life of the model series, costing easily 20% and sometimes 40% more than the next most expensive smartphone by any major producer.

In 2007 Nokia launched the Nokia N95 which integrated a wide range of multimedia features into a consumer-oriented smartphone: GPS, a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity and TV-out. In the next few years these features would become standard on high-end smartphones. The Nokia 6110 Navigator is a Symbian based dedicated GPS phone introduced in June 2007.

In 2010 Nokia released the Nokia N8 smartphone with a stylus-free capacitive touchscreen, the first device to use the new Symbian^3 OS.[16] It featured a 12 megapixel camera with Xenon flash capable of recording HD video in 720p, described by Mobile Burn as the best camera in a phone,[17] and satellite navigation that Mobile Choice described as the best on any phone.[18] It also featured a front-facing VGA camera for videoconferencing.

Symbian was the number one smartphone platform by market share from 1996 until 2011 when it dropped to second place behind Google's Android OS. In February 2011, Nokia announced that it would replace Symbian with Windows Phone as the operating system on all of its future smartphones.[19] This transition was completed in October 2011, when Nokia announced its first line of Windows Phone 7.5 smartphones, Lumia 710 and 800.[20]

Palm, Windows, and BlackBerry

The HTC Touch Pro2 slate smartphone (May 2009)

In the late 1990s the vast majority of mobile phones had only basic phone features and many people who needed functionality beyond that also carried PDA and/or pager type devices running early versions of operating systems such as Palm OS, BlackBerry OS or Windows CE/Pocket PC.[1] Later versions of these systems started integrating cell phone capabilities with their PDA and messaging features and support of third-party applications. Today, high-end devices running these systems are often branded smartphones.

In early 2001, Palm, Inc. introduced the Kyocera 6035, the first smartphone to be deployed in widespread use in the United States. This device combined the features of a personal digital assistant (PDA) with a wireless phone that operated on the Verizon Wireless network. For example, a user could select a name from the PDA contact list, and the device would dial that contact's phone number. The device also supported limited web browsing.[21] The device received a very positive reception from technology publications, but the product line never became widespread outside North America.[22]

In 2001 Microsoft announced its Windows CE Pocket PC OS would be offered as "Microsoft Windows Powered Smartphone 2002."[23] Microsoft originally defined its Windows Smartphone products as lacking a touchscreen and offering a lower screen resolution compared to its sibling Pocket PC devices.

In early 2002 Handspring released the Palm OS Treo smartphone, utilizing a full keyboard that combined wireless web browsing, email, calendar, and contact organizer with mobile third-party applications that could be downloaded or synced with a computer.[24]

In 2002 RIM released their first BlackBerry devices with integrated phone functionality and shifted the positioning of their products from 2-way pagers to email-capable mobile phones. The BlackBerry line evolved into the first smartphone optimized for wireless email use and had achieved a total customer base of about 32 million subscribers by December 2009.[25]

In February 2011 Nokia announced a plan to make Microsoft Windows Phone its operating system of choice for all smartphones.[26]


The original iPhone (June 2007)

In 2007, Apple Inc. introduced its first iPhone. It was initially costly, priced at $499 for the cheaper of two models on top of a two year contract. The first mobile phone to use a multi-touch interface, the iPhone was notable for its use of a large touchscreen for direct finger input as its main means of interaction, instead of having a stylus, keyboard, and/or keypad, which were the typical input methods for other smartphones at the time. The iPhone featured a web browser that Ars Technica then described as "far superior" to anything offered by that of its competitors.[27] Initially lacking the capability to install native applications beyond the ones built-in to its OS, at WWDC in June 2007 Apple announced that the iPhone would support third-party "web 2.0 applications" running in its web browser that share the look and feel of the iPhone interface.[28] As a result of the iPhone's initial inability to install third-party native applications, some reviewers did not consider the originally released device to accurately fit the definition of a smartphone "by conventional terms."[29] A process called jailbreaking emerged quickly to provide unofficial third-party native applications.

In July 2008, Apple introduced its second generation iPhone with a lower list price starting at $199 and 3G support. Released with it, Apple also created the App Store, adding the capability for any iPhone or iPod Touch to officially execute additional native applications (both free and paid) installed directly over a Wi-Fi or cellular network, without the more typical process at the time of requiring a PC for installation. Applications could additionally be browsed through and downloaded directly via the iTunes software client on Macintosh and Windows PCs, rather than by searching through multiple sites across the Internet. Featuring over 500 applications at launch,[30] Apple's App Store was immediately very popular,[31] quickly growing to become a huge success[32][33] and inspiring other smartphone makers to copy its model.[34]

In June of 2010, Apple introduced iOS 4, which included APIs to allow third-party applications to multitask,[35] and the iPhone 4, which included a 960×640 pixel display with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi), a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash capable of recording HD video in 720p at 30 frames per second, a front-facing VGA camera for videoconferencing, a 1 GHz processor, and other improvements.[36] In early 2011 the iPhone 4 became available through Verizon Wireless, ending AT&T's exclusivity of the handset in the U.S.,[37][38][39] and allowing the handset's 3G connection to be used as a wireless Wi-Fi hotspot for the first time, to up to 5 other devices.[40] Software updates subsequently added this capability to other iPhones running iOS 4.[41][42]

The iPhone 4S was announced on October 4, 2011, improving upon the iPhone 4 with a dual core A5 processor, an 8 megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p video at 30 frames per second, World phone capability allowing it to work on both GSM & CDMA networks, and the Siri automated voice assistant.[43] On October 10th, Apple announced that over one million iPhone 4Ss had been pre-ordered within the first 24 hours of it being on sale, beating the 600,000 device record set by the iPhone 4,[44][45] despite the iPhone 4S failing to impress some critics at the announcement[46][47] due to their expectations of an "iPhone 5" with rumored drastic changes compared to the iPhone 4 such as a new case design and larger screen.[48] Along with the iPhone 4S Apple also released iOS 5 and iCloud, untethering iOS devices from Macintosh or Windows PCs for device activation, backup, and synchronization,[49] along with additional new and improved features.[50]


First Android smartphone HTC Dream (released October 2008)

The Android operating system for smartphones was released in 2008. Android is an open-source platform backed by Google, along with major hardware and software developers (such as Intel, HTC, ARM, Motorola and Samsung, to name a few), that form the Open Handset Alliance.[51] The first phone to use Android was the HTC Dream, branded for distribution by T-Mobile as the G1. The software suite included on the phone consists of integration with Google's proprietary applications, such as Maps, Calendar, and Gmail, and a full HTML web browser. Android supports the execution of native applications and a preemptive multitasking capability (in the form of services). Third-party apps are available via the Android Market (released October 2008), including both free and paid apps.

In January 2010, Google launched the Nexus One smartphone using its Android OS. Although Android has multi-touch abilities, Google initially removed that feature from the Nexus One,[52] but it was added through a firmware update on February 2, 2010.[53]

Concerning the Xperia Play smartphone, an analyst at CCS Insight said in March 2011 that "Console wars are moving to the mobile platform".[54] In the same month, the HTC EVO 3D was announced by HTC Corporation, which can produce 3D effects with no need for special glasses (autostereoscopy).[55] The HTC EVO 3D was officially released on June 24, 2011.[56]


The Bada operating system for smartphones was announced by Samsung on 10 November 2009.[57][58] The first Bada-based phone was the Samsung Wave S8500, released on June 1, 2010,[59][60] which sold one million handsets in its first 4 weeks on the market.[61]

Samsung shipped 3.5 million phones running Bada in Q1 of 2011.[62] This rose to 4.5 million phones in Q2 of 2011.[63]

Patent licensing and litigation

Recently the number of lawsuits, trade complaints, and countersuits and complaints based on patents and designs in the markets for smartphones, and devices based on smartphone OSes such as Android, has been increasing significantly.

Timeline[64][65][66][67][68] (initial suits, countersuits, rulings, licence agreements, and other major events in bold):

  • 2009, Oct 22: Nokia sues Apple over 10 patents.[69][70]
  • 2009, Dec 11: Apple countersues Nokia over 13 patents.[71]
  • 2009, Dec 29: Nokia files a second lawsuit[72] and a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint against Apple over 7 more patents.[73]
  • 2010, Jan 15: Apple files an ITC complaint against Nokia over 9 patents.[74][75]
  • 2010, Feb 19: Apple drops 4 patents from their countersuit against Nokia that are in their ITC complaint against Nokia.
  • 2010, Feb 24: Apple countersues Nokia in Nokia's second lawsuit, over the 9 patents that are in Apple's ITC complaint.
  • 2010, Mar 02: Apple sues HTC over 10 patents and files an ITC complaint against HTC over 10 other patents.[76][77][78][79][80]
  • 2010, Apr 26: 5 of the patents in Apple's ITC complaint against Nokia are merged into their ITC complaint against HTC.
  • 2010, Apr 27: HTC signs an agreement with Microsoft to licence Microsoft patents in return for royalties on HTC's Android-based devices[81][82] (rumored to be $5 per handset).
  • 2010, May 07: Nokia files a third lawsuit against Apple over 5 more patents.[83]
  • 2010, May 12: HTC files an ITC complaint against Apple over 5 patents.[84]
  • 2010, May 28: S3 Graphics files an ITC complaint against Apple over 4 patents used in the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Apple computers.[85]
  • 2010, Jun 28: Apple countersues Nokia in Nokia's third lawsuit, over 7 more patents.
  • 2010, Jul 06: HTC countersues Apple over 3 patents.
  • 2010, Jul 21: Nokia drops 1 patent from their ITC complaint against Apple.
  • 2010, Aug 12: Oracle sues Google over 7 patents relating to the use of Java in Android.[86]
  • 2010, Sep 17: Nokia adds 2 more patents to their third lawsuit against Apple.
  • 2010, Sep 27: Apple sues Nokia in the UK and Germany over 9 patents.
  • 2010, Sep 30: Nokia countersues Apple in Germany over 4 patents.
  • 2010, Oct 01: Microsoft files an ITC complaint and a lawsuit against Motorola over 9 patents.[87][88]
  • 2010, Oct 06: Motorola sues Apple over 18 patents, and files an ITC complaint against Apple over 6 of them.[89]
  • 2010, Oct 08: Motorola files a request for declaratory judgement that they do not infringe 12 Apple patents, and that those patents be declared invalid.[90][91]
  • 2010, Oct 12: Nokia adds 3 more patents to their countersuit against Apple in Germany.
  • 2010, Oct 25: Nokia sues Apple in another German court over 5 patents.
  • 2010, Oct 28: Apple drops 4 patents from their ITC complaint against HTC and/or Nokia.
  • 2010, Oct 29: Apple sues Motorola over 6 patents, and files an ITC complaint against Motorola over 3 of them.[92][93]
  • 2010, Nov 05: HTC drops 1 patent from their ITC complaint against Apple.
  • 2010, Nov 09: Microsoft alleges Motorola has failed to comply with RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing obligations.
  • 2010, Nov 10: Motorola sues Microsoft over 7 patents in one court and 9 patents in another.
  • 2010, Nov 18: Apple makes counterclaims against Motorola over 6 patents.
  • 2010, Nov 22: Motorola files an ITC complaint against Microsoft over 5 patents.
  • 2010, Dec 01: Apple adds the 12 patents to their suit against Motorola that Motorola previously requested declaratory judgement that they do not infringe.[94]
  • 2010, Dec 03: Nokia countersues Apple in the UK over 4 patents, and files a new suit against Apple in the Netherlands over 2 patents.
  • 2010, Dec 03: Apple countersues Nokia in Nokia's second German lawsuit, over 1 patent and 2 utility models.
  • 2010, Dec 06: Nokia drops 1 patent from their ITC complaint against Apple.
  • 2010, Dec 15 and 22: Nokia and Apple take their first German suit/countersuit to the Federal Patent Court of Germany.
  • 2010, Dec 23: Motorola files a third lawsuit against Microsoft over 3 patents.
  • 2010, Dec 23: Microsoft countersues Motorola over 7 patents.
  • 2011, Jan 06: The third Nokia/Apple lawsuit/countersuit is transferred to the location of the first and second ones.
  • 2011, Jan 18: Apple seeks to invalidate one Nokia patent in the UK, which it was not yet being sued over.
  • 2011, Jan 18: Motorola drops 1 patent from their lawsuits against Microsoft.
  • 2011, Jan 19: Microsoft counterclaims against Motorola, asserting 5 patents.
  • 2011, Jan 25: Microsoft counterclaims against Motorola, asserting 2 patents.
  • 2011, Feb 14: Motorola adds 2 patents to their lawsuits against Microsoft.
  • 2011, Feb 22: Apple drops 1 more patent from their ITC complaint against HTC and Nokia.
  • 2011, Mar 21: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble over the Android operating system in the Nook ebook reader.[95]
  • 2011, Mar 25: ITC finds that Apple does not infringe on 5 Nokia patents.
  • 2011, Mar 29: Nokia files an ITC complaint against Apple over 7 more patents, and a fourth lawsuit over 6 of those.[96][97]
  • 2011, Apr 15: Apple sues Samsung for patent and trademark infringement (7 utility patents, 3 design patents, 3 registered trade dresses, 6 trademarked icons) with its Galaxy line of mobile products, including the Galaxy S smartphone and the Galaxy Tab tablet.[98][99]
  • 2011, Apr 22: Samsung sues Apple in South Korea (5 patents), Japan (2 patents), and Germany (3 patents).[100]
  • 2011, Apr 28: Samsung countersues Apple over 10 patents.[101]
  • 2011, Apr 29: Apple drops 1 more patent from their ITC complaint against HTC.
  • 2011, May 18: Samsung ordered to provide Apple samples of the announced Galaxy S2, Infuse 4G, and Infuse 4G LTE smartphones, as well as the Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets as part of Apple's lawsuit against the company.[102][103]
  • 2011, May 18: Samsung files a court motion for Apple to provide samples of the unannounced iPhone 5 and iPad 3 prototypes.[104]
  • 2011, Jun 14: Nokia and Apple settle their litigation with Apple agreeing to pay Nokia an undisclosed one-time payment as well as continuing royalties.[105][106]
  • 2011, Jun 16: Apple amends its lawsuit against Samsung, dropping 2 utility patents and 1 design patent, and adding 3 new utility patents plus 4 trade dress applications, now covering the Samsung_Galaxy_Tab_10.1[107]
  • 2011, Jun 22: Apple countersues Samsung in South Korea over an unknown number of patents.
  • 2011, Jun 22: Samsung's motion to be provided samples of Apple's unannounced iPhone 5 and iPad 3 prototypes is denied.[108]
  • 2011, Jun 27: General Dynamics Itronix signs an agreement with Microsoft to licence Microsoft patents in return for royalties on General Dynamics Itronix's Android-based devices.[109][110]
  • 2011, Jun 28: Samsung files an ITC complaint and a lawsuit against Apple over 5 patents.
  • 2011, Jun 29: Samsung sues Apple in London, UK over an unknown number of patents, and a Samsung lawsuit against Apple in Italy becomes known (details unknown).
  • 2011, Jun 29: Velocity Micro signs an agreement with Microsoft to licence Microsoft patents in return for royalties on Velocity Micro's Android-based devices.[111][110]
  • 2011, Jun 30: Samsung converts its countersuit against Apple into counterclaims against Apple's suit, dropping 2 patents but adding 4 more.
  • 2011, Jun 30: A consortium of companies made up of Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion and Sony win against Google[112] in an auction of over 6,000 Nortel mobile-related telecommunications patents for $4.5 billion USD.[113][114]
  • 2011, Jun 30: Onkyo signs an agreement with Microsoft to licence Microsoft patents in return for royalties on Onkyo's Android-based devices.[115][110]
  • 2011, Jul 01: Apple files for preliminary injunction against 4 Samsung products: Infuse 4G, Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge, and Galaxy Tab 10.1 based on 3 design patents and 1 utility patent.[116]
  • 2011, Jul 01: ITC rules that Apple infringes on 2 patents held by S3 Graphics, while not infringing on 2 others.[117]
  • 2011, Jul 05: Apple files an ITC complaint against Samsung over 6 smartphones and 2 tablets infringing 5 utility patents and 2 design patents.
  • 2011, Jul 05: Wistron signs an agreement with Microsoft to licence Microsoft patents in return for royalties on Wistron's Android-based devices.[118][110][119]
  • 2011, Jul 06: HTC agrees to purchase S3 Graphics in order to secure 235 patents for use in its defense against Apple.[120][121][122]
  • 2011, Jul 06: Microsoft seeks $15 licensing fees from Samsung for a range of claimed patent violations on every Android device,.[123]
  • 2011, Jul 11: Apple files a second ITC complaint against HTC over 5 more patents, and sues HTC over 4 patents from this second ITC complaint that they weren't already suing HTC over.[124][125]
  • 2011, Jul 11-12: Google acquires 1,029 Patents from IBM for an undisclosed amount.[126][127]
  • 2011, Jul 15: ITC finds HTC infringes on 2 Apple patents.[128]
  • 2011, Jul 29: HTC sues Apple in London, UK over an unknown number of patents.
  • 2011, Aug 02: Apple sues Samsung in Australia over 10 patents, resulting in Samsung delaying the launch and halting advertising of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Australia to an indefinite date.[129][130]
  • 2011, Aug 09: A German court issues a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Apple's lawsuit against Samsung which causes its sale to be banned in most of Europe.[131][132]
  • 2011, Aug 15: Google announces its intention to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion USD. Eighteen of Motorola's patents could potentially be used for defense or countersuits against Apple and Microsoft, and may influence the smartphone war. These patents may change the balance of power, and force the various players to settle their lawsuits.[133][134]
  • 2011, Aug 16: The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales ban in Europe is lifted outside of Germany.[135][136]
  • 2011, Aug 17: Google acquires 1,023 more patents from IBM for an undisclosed amount (not revealed until 13 Sep 2011).[137]
  • 2011, Aug 23: Microsoft files a complaint with the ITC requesting a ban on several key Motorola smartphones and devices in the USA based on infringements of 7 patents.[138][139]
  • 2011, Aug 24: A court in the Netherlands rules that Samsung will be banned from selling the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Galaxy Ace in a number of European countries due to Apple's patent infringement claims.[140]
  • 2011, Sep 02: Apple granted preliminary injunction against Samsung preventing display of the prototype Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 tablet at the IFA trade show in Berlin.[141]
  • 2011, Sep 02: Apple court filings assert that Andy Rubin got inspiration for Android framework while working at Apple prior to working at General Magic and Danger, Inc.[142]
  • 2011, Sep 07: HTC countersues Apple using nine patents from Google. The move is seen as a possible first step for Google giving direct support in lawsuits involving manufacturers using Android.[143][144][145][146]
  • 2011, Sep 08: Acer[147] and ViewSonic[148] sign patent license agreements with Microsoft regarding their use of Android on smartphones and tablets.[149][150]
  • 2011, Sep 09: Apple's preliminary injunction against sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany is upheld.[151]
  • 2011, Sep 12: Samsung announces a lawsuit against Apple in France that had been filed in July over 3 patents.[152]
  • 2011, Sep 12: Apple countersues Samsung in the UK over an unknown number of patents.[153]
  • 2011, Sep 13: Google's August 17 acquisition of 1,023 patents from IBM is revealed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.[137][154]
  • 2011, Sep 17: Samsung countersues Apple in Australia over 7 patents.[155]
  • 2011, Sep 28: Samsung signs an agreement with Microsoft to licence Microsoft patents in return for royalties on Samsung's Android-based devices.[156][157][158]
  • 2011, Oct 12: An Australian court issues a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Apple's lawsuit against Samsung which prevents its sale in Australia leading up to the 2011 holiday season.[159]
  • 2011, Oct 13: Quanta signs an agreement with Microsoft to licence Microsoft patents in return for royalties on Quanta's Android and Chrome-based devices.[160][161]
  • 2011, Oct 13: Judge in Apple's U.S. lawsuit against Samsung agrees that Samsung's tablets infringe on Apple's patents, but also that the validity of some of the patents might be questionable.[162]


Today, almost all smartphones have high-resolution touchscreens

Screens on smartphones vary largely in both display size and display resolution. The most common screen sizes range from 2 inches to over 4 inches (measured diagonally). Some 5 inch screen devices exist that run on mobile OSes and have the ability to make phone calls, such as the discontinued Dell Streak and forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Note, but it has been questioned whether hardware like this with screens approaching tablet sizes will be successful.[163][164] Additionally, ergonomics arguments have been made that increasing screen sizes start to negatively impact usability.[165]

Common resolutions for smartphone screens vary from 240×320 to 640×960,[166] with many flagship Android phones at 480×800 or 540×960 and the iPhone 4/4S at 640×960.

Application stores

The introduction of Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch in July 2008 popularized manufacturer-hosted online distribution for third-party applications focused on a single platform. Prior to this, smartphone application distribution was largely dependent on third-party sources providing applications for multiple platforms, such as GetJar, Handango, Handmark, PocketGear, and others.

Global Mobile Applications Store Revenue

The iPhone's platform is officially restricted to installing apps only through Apple's App Store, though via jailbreaking it can install apps from other sources. Other platforms may allow application distribution through additional sources outside of their manufacturer-provided app stores, such as third-party app stores and downloads from individual websites.

Following the success of Apple's App Store other smartphone manufacturers quickly launched application stores of their own. Google launched the Android Market in October 2008. RIM launched its app store, BlackBerry App World, in April 2009. Nokia launched its Ovi Store in May 2009. Palm launched its Palm App Catalog for webOS in June 2009. Microsoft launched an application store for Windows Mobile called Windows Marketplace for Mobile in October 2009, and then a separate Windows Phone Marketplace for Windows Phone in October 2010. Samsung launched Samsung Apps for its bada based phones in June 2010. Amazon launched its Amazon Appstore for the Google Android operating system in March 2011.

Store 2009 (Millions U.S.) 2010 (Millions U.S.)[167]
Apple App Store $769 $1782
Blackberry App World $36 $165
Nokia Ovi Store $13 $105
Google Android Market $11 $102
Total $828 $2155

The relatively high revenue of U.S. $1782 million in 2010 for Apple's App Store compared to competitor's stores[167] can be attributed to a combination of factors. In large part this can be attributed to having the largest number of apps available and the highest download volume of any mobile app store in 2010, but besides that only 28% of the apps in Apple's App Store were free apps, compared to over 57% in the Android Market. Similarly, Nokia's Ovi Store and the BlackBerry App World both had only 26% of their apps available for free, but both generated higher revenues than the Android Market despite having much lower download volumes.[168]

Market share

Smartphone market share

For several years, demand for advanced mobile devices boasting powerful processors and graphics processing units, abundant storage (flash memory) for applications and media files, high-resolution screens with multi-touch capability, and open operating systems has outpaced the rest of the mobile phone market.[169]

According to an early 2010 study by ComScore, over 45.5 million people in the United States owned smartphones out of 234 million total subscribers.[170] Despite the large increase in smartphone sales in the last few years, smartphone shipments only made up 20% of total handset shipments as of the first half of 2010.[171]

According to Gartner in their report dated November 2010, total smartphone sales doubled in one year and now smartphones represent 19.3 percent of total mobile phone sales.[172] Smartphone sales increased in 2010 by 72.1 percent from the prior year, whereas sales for all mobile phones only increased by 31.8 percent.[173][174]

According to an Olswang report in early 2011, the rate of smartphone adoption is accelerating: as of March 2011 22% of UK consumers had a smartphone, with this percentage rising to 31% amongst 24–35-year-olds.[175]

In March 2011, Berg Insight reported data that showed global smartphone shipments increased 74% from 2009 to 2010.[176]

Operating system market shares

2010 saw the rapid rise of the Google Android operating system from 4 percent of new deployments in 2009 to 33 percent at the beginning of 2011 making it share the top position with the since long dominating Symbian OS. The smaller rivals include US popular Blackberry OS, iOS, Samsung's recently introduced bada, HP's heir of Palm Pilot webOS and the Microsoft Windows Phone OS seeing a possible revival through an alliance with Nokia.

Quantity Market Shares by Gartner (in one year)
(New Sales)
Symbian 2009
Symbian 2010
Android 2009
Android 2010
RIM 2009
RIM 2010
iPhone 2009
iPhone 2010
Microsoft 2009
Microsoft 2010
Other OS 2009
Other OS 2010
Notes: The table is for a whole year. In one year RIM is still above iPhone.
Share of worldwide 2011 Q2 smartphone sales to end users by operating system, according to Gartner.[177]

Over late 2009 and 2010 Android's smartphone operating system market share increased very rapidly.[172] In the fourth quarter of 2010, Android surpassed Symbian as the most common operating system in smartphones, with 32.9 million units sold versus 31.0 million. Android-equipped phones sold seven times more than in the prior year.[178] According to Canalys, Google's Android operating system, which is offered to phone makers for free, has raced to the top past operating systems by Nokia, Apple, RIM, and Microsoft. In Q1 2011 Google's Android market share was 35 percent, increasing significantly from 10 percent the previous year, while Nokia's Symbian dropped to 26 percent from 46 percent over the same time period.[179]

Customer loyalty by operating system

According to a survey of more than 6,000 smartphone users through 2010 by mobile analytics firm Zokem, the top five loyalty scores for smartphone platforms are the iPhone at 73%, followed by Google's Android at 40%, Samsung's Bada at 33%, RIM's BlackBerry at 30%, and Symbian S60 at 23%. Windows Mobile and Palm follow at 10% each. Customer loyalty gauges the likelihood that the user of a smartphone platform whose contract has expired or who has broken or lost their phone will repurchase another one that uses that same platform.[180][181]

Manufacturer market shares

From the launch of their Communicator model in 1996 until 2011 Nokia was dominant in the smartphone market,[182] but as of Q2 2011 Apple, Inc. has become the worldwide number one single manufacturer of smartphones by revenue, profit, and volume, followed by Samsung, with Nokia now in third place and the remaining 48.9% of vendor market share split amongst all other manufacturers.[183] Based on Strategy Analytics, in Q3 2011, although Galaxy Tablet was banned in the various countries for patent rights infringement, Samsung overtook Apple as World's Biggest Smartphone Manufacturer by 27.8 million smartphone shipped againts 17.1 million respectively. Samsung produced both high and low-end smartphone, while Apple targets were only the high-end market and no low-end smartphone at all.[184]

Quantity Market Shares by Strategy Analytics
(New Sales)
Apple Q2 2010
Apple Q2 2011
Samsung Q2 2010
Samsung Q2 2011
Nokia Q2 2010
Nokia Q2 2011
Others Q2 2010
Others Q2 2011
Note: Nokia sales above only include their Symbian devices, which are being phased out.

Market share among smartphone manufacturers does not resemble smartphone OS market share numbers due to the differences between the two major smartphone OS sales models: single manufacturer and licensed. Apple's iPhone, Nokia's Symbian, and RIM's BlackBerry smartphones are currently only available from single manufacturers. Google's Android OS and Microsoft's mobile OSes are platforms that are licensed and used by a variety of manufacturers. As a result, manufacturers of smartphones using licensed OSes all split the total market share of that OS between them, while the total share for a single-manufacturer OS is held by that manufacturer alone.

Note that Nokia's Symbian OS was previously available from several manufacturers under a licensed model, then later predominantly only by Nokia itself more like a single manufacturer model.

Samsung smartphones use a diverse portfolio of operating systems, including their own Bada operating system along with Android and Windows Mobile.[185]

Apple surpassed Nokia worldwide by revenue and profit for the first time in Q2 2011, with Apple's profit share of the total worldwide smartphone market increasing to 66.3% while Nokia reported a loss.[186] Apple's iPhone sales also overtook Nokia's Symbian smartphone volume shipments by 20.3 million and 16.7 million respectively, although Nokia had already announced plans to phase Symbian out.[187]

Between Q2 2010 and Q2 2011 Nokia's worldwide Symbian smartphone sales dropped significantly from 38.1 percent to 15.2 percent, while Samsung smartphone sales increased significantly worldwide from 5.0 percent to 17.5 percent.[183]

Smartphone Customer Satisfaction
by J.D. Power and Associates
Apple 2010
Apple 2011
HTC 2010
HTC 2011
Industry Average 2010
Industry Average 2011
Samsung 2010
Samsung 2011
Motorola 2010
Motorola 2011
RIM 2010
RIM 2011
LG 2010
LG 2011
HP/Palm 2010
HP/Palm 2011
Nokia 2010
Nokia 2011
Rankings are based on a possible top score of 1000

Nokia still remains the number one company in the worldwide mobile phone market with sales for Q2 2011 of 88.5 million when including feature phone platforms such as S40, compared with 16.7 million smartphones running Symbian.[188]

According to Nielsen in July 2011, in the United States Apple is the top smartphone manufacturer at 28% of the market, with RIM at 20%. Google Android has 39% of the U.S. market as a whole, but this is split between HTC at 14%, Motorola at 11%, Samsung at 8%, and other remaining manufacturers at 6%. HTC's total share of the U.S. smartphone market actually ties RIM at 20%, since sales of their smartphones running Microsoft's mobile operating systems account for 6% of the total market. Samsung similarly gains 2% of overall U.S. market share due to their sales of Microsoft OS-based smartphones. In contrast to the worldwide market, Nokia's share of U.S. smartphone sales is very small, at only 2%.[189][190]

Checks with U.S. carriers by technology analyst firm Canaccord Genuity in April and August 2011 have found that Apple's iPhone 4 has consistently been the top selling device at AT&T and Verizon. In addition, the second most popular spot at AT&T has been maintained by the iPhone 3GS, which was originally released in 2009 (and has never been sold on Verizon). In August 2011 the most popular smartphones on Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S. were the HTC EVO 3D 4G and HTC Sensation, respectively. The other second most popular smartphones were the Samsung Charge 4G on Verizon, the Motorola Photon 4G on Sprint, and the HTC myTouch 4G Slide on T-Mobile.[191][192]

Currently the vast majority of smartphones are manufactured in China, Taiwan and Mexico, for companies based in the U.S. (Apple, HP, Motorola), South Korea (LG, Samsung), Canada (RIM), Finland (Nokia), Taiwan (HTC) and the U.K. (Sony Ericsson).

Customer satisfaction by manufacturer

According to global marketing information services firm J.D. Power and Associates smartphones from Apple Inc. have been consistently[193] ranking highest in customer satisfaction,[194][195] with a late 2011 score of 838 out of 1000. Based on the responses to their most recent survey of 6,898 smartphone users, Apple was followed in ranking by HTC (801), Samsung (777), Motorola (775), RIM (762), LG (760), Palm (733), and Nokia (721).[196][197][198][199]

Open-source development

The open-source culture has penetrated the smartphone market in several ways. There have been attempts to open source both hardware and software of smartphones.

In February 2010 Nokia made Symbian open source. Thus, most commercial smartphones were based on open-source operating systems. These include Linux based, such as Google's Android, Nokia's Maemo which was later merged with Intel's project Moblin to form MeeGo, Hewlett-Packard's WebOS, and Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) based, such as the Darwin-based Apple iOS.[200][201]

Popular services

Location-based check-in services

According to a ComScore report released on May 12, 2011, nearly one in five smartphone users are tapping into check-in services like Foursquare and Gowalla. A total of 16.7 million mobile-phone subscribers used location-based services on their phones in March 2011.[202]

Second Screen

The smartphones have introduced a new way of watching television[203]. The second screen is a consequence of the media multitasking which is exploding[204].

See also


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