Evolution of design: Mobile Phones

Let’s get into a real world evolution that most of us experienced in our lifetime: the evolution of the mobile phone. One of the most important inventions of the 20th century that influenced our whole society.

The idea: this could work…

Mid 1960s bell systems advertisement

The idea is the starting point. We had phones but could only be reached at a certain location. (office or home) What if we could reach people everywhere? Science fiction began to fantasize about the idea. (The communicator in Star Trek)

Invention: It works!

One of the first mobile phones

The mobile phone was invented. People could be reached anywhere. But these early phones were only for the elite few and clunky. The coverage of the mobile network was very limited…

Evolution: Making it usable

evolution to usable mobile phones

The first mobile phones were not something you could bring in your pocket. They were big and clunky and only used by a few… But the technology was there and in production. It became cheaper and cheaper to produce and technology made it more and more accesible.

Convergence: Adding features and uses

SPV windows phoneAnother smart phone

When the mobile phone became portable, affordable and usable people began to buy it. Everbody wanted a phone.

The tech companies needed reasons so people would buy new versions. They discovered people wanted to do more on their phone. It had to become whole portable office tools or entertainment centers. People wanted camera’s, internet browsers, word processors, games, music players into one device.

The phone remained a phone but had some extra clunky software so it could perform these extra tasks. But it was better to have a separate device for it. The phone could do the extra stuff but it was almost unusable. Even calling itself could be more difficult then on the simple phones. Only the technophiles would buy the high end versions which had all those extra functions.

Holistify: Melting it together

iPhone, an holistic approach to the mobile device.

But the first step towards perfection of the mobile device seems near. Apple has announced a device that combines a phone with an iPod music player, a camera and full internet browsing options. They tried to create a holistic whole by making an adaptive interface and smooth transitions between functions. The first version will not be perfect but it is the next step in the evolution of mobile devices. One that will open our minds towards new uses.

Already this device is considered holy in the mainstream press before it is released. The promise of holistic design is the key these days.

Design Evolution

The whole described process could be adapted to any designed object. Think of houses, cars, chairs, paper, trains, glass, watches, food, music etc.

Design Evolution