Almost 43 years ago, on April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper from Motorola made the first call on a mobile phone. It was a business call to a rival manufacturer, also in the race to develop a portable, hand-held device.
That phone weighed about a kilogram; its brick-like heavy battery took 10 hours to charge and allowed a talk time of only 30 minutes. Hardly what you might call mobile. But it was a start.
Development of the mobile phone continued, and a decade later they were on sale in the USA for the equivalent of £2,500 each.
2 years later, on January 1, 1985, the first mobile phone call was made in the UK by comedian Ernie Wise, who called Vodaphone’s office in Newbury, Berkshire from London.
By 1987, mobile phones went on sale in the UK. Costing £1,200 each they were very much the must-have, show-off gadget of the yuppie – a phrase coined from the acronym of young, upwardly-mobile professional – describing “a young college-educated adult who has a job that pays a lot of money and who lives and works in or near a large city”.
Comedians mocked them in sketches that portrayed shiny-suited, red-bespectacled young men, shouting into brick-like phones clamped to their ears as they walked the streets of London. Well some things have changed since then…
Many of the early mobiles were considered car phones; too cumbersome to carry in the pocket or handbag. At that time they were mainly for business use, rarely for personal – and just for talking.
As technology advanced, mobiles became smaller, and manufacturers developed ways of adding new features to ever more portable and affordable models. Nokia and Motorola led the way with phones that had longer battery life and talk time, making them more popular.
New features introduced
The first new feature to be added was voicemail. Ideal for business, it meant that messages could be delivered directly to a customer or colleague, even if that person wasn’t immediately available. No more relying on a third person to deliver the message that you called.
In 1993 IBM released the Simon Personal Communicator in the USA. A bulky gadget, it was the first ‘smartphone’ with an address book, calendar, appointment scheduler, calculator, world time clock, electronic note pad, handwritten annotations and standard and predictive stylus input screen keyboards.
All for around £500. Sound familiar?
It was only on sale for 6 months and sold 50,000 units. A further 14 years elapsed before the first smartphone, as we know it, came to market.
In the meantime we embraced the idea of texting. Less intrusive than a phone call, it became a popular way to communicate with clients, customers and colleagues – at any time of day.
The first laborious internet access from handsets was achieved in 1996.
A communication tool
The last 20 years have seen the purpose of the mobile phone shift from one of just verbal communication to a multimedia tool.
Modern devices are much lighter and go everywhere with us, and with 5 billion of them worldwide, communicating time-sensitive important information directly to your contact can be done in an instant, even globally. Responding is easy too, without being either at home or work.
But there’s more to it than that…
Connecting directly with your customers
Mobile devices also provide enormous opportunities for businesses to connect with consumers in order to understand their needs and to strengthen relationships with them.
With many smartphone users checking their devices up to 150 times per day – reading text messages, sending emails, using apps or even just watching the time – organisations can capitalise on this behaviour to engage directly with consumers.
Inviting consumers to respond to messages through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn not only boosts engagement between them and your company but can also help to you understand their expectations and improve customer satisfaction.
SMS marketing can be used to deliver your marketing message directly into your consumer’s hand. With 98% of messages opened, and many read within 15 minutes of sending, it is clearly a very targeted and accepted method of advertising.
Data analytics can be used to gain insight into your customers’ mobile behaviour and allow you to make better informed decisions.
Into the future
The move towards phones becoming mobile media devices has resulted in larger phones being developed, with clear high definition screens for optimal web viewing.
Expanding capacities now hold as much memory as a computer would just a few years ago, and constantly improving software and interfaces make mobiles easier to navigate.
It means that the convergence of all our tech gadgets into one mobile device continues to advance, expanding opportunities for business.
It seems as though almost anything we can imagine may be possible for the future.
Is your business capitalising on ever-evolving and improving mobile communications? Talk to the experts at Direct Voice and Data to see how we can help – 0800 84 999 84