Martin Cooper is widely acknowledged for making the first cellular phone call in the 1970’s while working as an engineer for Motorola. But then in 1983, Ameritech rolls out the first U.S. 1G network which allows early mobile users to make voice calls on the go. Even so, the phones are like bricks, costly and have weak reception.
The second generation of mobile tech gives way to mass consumerism with cheaper and smaller components. Thus, letting phones fit in pockets and hand bags for the first time. When 2G arrives, about two in 100 people have a mobile phone. By 2000, near the end of the 2G life cycle, that figure is 39 in 100. Demand is greatest for the smallest models. This is a trend that will reverse when future consumers start needing big screens for watching videos.
Data is now the focus of 3G. This will be to the great benefit of Apple and its touchscreen iPhone, which changes conceptions of what mobile phones can be. Consumers quickly forget about keyboards and go crazy for downloading apps for navigation, social media and a capable mobile web browsing experience. Because the iPhone (and then Android devices) take photos and play music and games, consumers stop carrying multiple devices for various specific functions.
Emphasizing video, 4G enables consumers to disprove the long-held belief that nobody wants to watch content on small screens for long periods. Today, it’s not unusual for someone to work through every episode of “Breaking Bad” on their mobile device. Faster data speeds also change social media by making it easier to share video and images. And it ushers in unexpected services such as Uber and Snapchat.