9th of January of 2007, after months of rumors Apple officially presented a new concept of mobile phone that called iPhone. The device surprised with its form and especially its operating system, which at the end of that year met with the presentation of Android as a response from Google.
At that time, the market was widely dominated by Symbian, and we also had a Windows Mobile that already in those days was trying to offer more with a phone, but with a totally different interface to iOS or Android. Today we are going to put the magnifying glass right there, in the operating systems that dominated the smartphones of ten years ago.
The mobile market in 2007
To look back we will turn to pages like Statista, where they show us in a graph how the mobile operating system market was in 2007. As you see, at that time the absolute dominator was Symbian with 63.5% of the market. More than half of the phones that were sold used it, and it seemed difficult that that would change in the short term.
At a fairly moderate distance Microsoft Windows Mobile followed with 12% according to the statistics of this web, followed by Research In Motion or BlackBerry RIM with 9.6% and Linux with another 9.6%. To the queue already begins to appear a new arrival iOS, which in the graph appears Mac OS X and a Palm OS for PDAs that same year that was already beginning to disappear.
If we look at other sources like Visual.ly, the results are almost identical. Symbian dominated the market taking more than half of the devices, while the rest had to settle for crumbs.
With these graphs, we can already get to the idea of how was the panorama and which were the operative systems that used the most pointy mobiles. Now, what we are going to do is go one by one through these systems remembering what it looked like. In this way we can get a good idea of how much mobile systems have evolved in the last ten years.
This was Symbian in 2007
Symbian was the leading operating system in 2007, and since 2001 evolving the most popular variant of its operating system, Symbian S60. The star maker of the system was Nokia, which at the time came to be what is today Samsung, and had as spectacular mobile phones as the Nokia N95, with a screen that covered much of the front-
At that time the operating system offered its particular desktop where all the applications were seen, a fully functional GPS and a real multitasking with which we could easily move from one application to another. Earlier that year it was not tactile and you had to use the physical buttons to move around the desk.
Another virtue of Symbian on the N95 was a search engine like many current desktop operating systems. You just started writing something and you got all the documents or addresses that included the word. There was also the N-Gage gaming platform, a kind of Steam for mobile, as well as its own music store, a web browser, various applications or a system to share our photos and videos directly to Flickr or YouTube.
At the end of that year Symbian introduced the fifth generation of its S60, which as a response to the iPhone introduced a touch interface in which we could use the finger as a stylus. It was an interesting move to try to catch up with the news that imposed iOS and shortly after Android.
But none of this was enough, among other things because the applications and games that used this operating system were far from what Apple offered. Over time, it ended up happening what seemed improbable, Symbian did not manage to react in time to iOS and Android and ended up losing its throne of more used operating system.
How Windows Mobile was in 2007
10 years ago, Microsoft was already struggling to make a breakthrough in mobile telephony and on February 12, 2007 launched Windows Mobile 6.0. The concept was valid, to offer on your mobile an experience as complete and similar to a desktop as possible, but the way to do it was not quite right.
Its interface was tactile, but I wanted to get so much into so little room that all the screen elements were really small. It could be used well with a stylus, but what was petando that year was precisely being able to control everything with the tip of your finger.
As is customary in Microsoft, the system had up to three different editions. The first was a Standard for phones without a touch screen, accompanied by a Classic for PDAs without IP telephony and a full-featured Pro version, from touch screen to the option of including a remote desktop or voice commands.
It also included classic applications such as Windows Media Player, Messenger or the office automation suite. So, as we say, the concept of being able to do everything with your mobile phone was more than right. However it was all designed to be used with stylus, which put it at a disadvantage with the usability offered by iOS and then Android.
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The Blackberry OS in 2007
On February 12, 2007 and after several years of evolution, BlackBerry introduced its 8800 series, the company’s first conventional device to make use of its trackball. It did not include a camera to consider that from the professional point of view was not well seen, and was a fusion of PDA and mobile phone.
Its operating system aspired to offer you in a simple way everything you could need to carry the office in your pocket. That was to offer you a good set of applications and the ability to be able to write texts comfortably, hence its characteristic full keyboard located on the front of the device.
As we see in this 8800 series commercial, the main screen of the device consisted of a “desktop” with a launcher with several options on the left side of the screen. Among the applications included a powerful and complete email tool, a calendar with event management or another of maps.
The device picked up the idea of being handled, although instead of using tactile functions as the iPhone bet on a trackball with which to move from top to bottom and left to right in their menus.
We see in this unboxing how the device also had a drawer of applications like the ones we are used to seeing today, only instead of moving by it touching the app you wanted you had to get to it with the trackball. I also had some multimedia apps like a video player or a music application.
What I did not have were too many entertainment applications, precisely because of that business focus we talked about before. It was to work and period, something that limited him comparatively with the poly-valence of the new generation of smartphones that was born from that year.
The Linux on the 2007 mobiles
Many years before Android brought the Linux Kernel to the top thanks to Android, penguin operating systems were already trying to make room in the mobile market. In fact, in that 2007 Wired published an article that showed some of the best Linux-based phones on the market.
Linux was just the base, so every manufacturer could start from it to adapt it to every type of phone they had in mind. This means that the interface and elements of these operating systems could change radically depending on the changes that each manufacturer decides to make in its proposal.
Obviously, the big drawback of these phones was the lack of a catalog of applications as wide as that of Symbian or iOS. But all these mobiles had the essential applications that could be expected in a mobile of the time, such as an e-mail reader, file management, notes and contact, calendar, alarms, tasks or sound player.
Motorola was one of the most curved, and took out of the sleeve a proposal called Rokr E6. Its proprietary operating system based on Linux was not especially fast, but its interface included proposals as interesting as the top bar that you see in the video of the review, and which had several shortcuts to essential functions.
Another of the curious features of this device was its ability to recognize business cards. You just had to point them at the camera and try to recognize the owner’s name and email. That yes, the function gave enough errors. It also allowed to connect to the PC and be able to be used as a webcam, and part of its lack of fluency, another of its great weaknesses was its poor capacity when it comes to playing multimedia files.
And then there were also such risky and interesting bets as the Greenphoneof Qtopia. It was a developer mobile that included a development kit with Open Source license, which could create applications, games or Web services. The idea was interesting, but we had to wait for Google to go for Linux to see the penguin triumphing.
The Palm OS in 2007
In September of 2007, Palm was launching its smartphone proposal, a Palm Centro that would become one of the last devices launched with Palm OS. It was a device focused on a young audience, who communicates a lot and who wants to take advantage of the phone’s connectivity to navigate and communicate.
The operating system offered tactile functions specially designed for stylus, although could also be handled with the physical keys of a device that also included a keyboard full in the style of the Blackberry.
One of the things that the reviews like the video highlight of this operating system was that it was a very adaptable for different situations. You had useful applications for the world of work such as email and calendar, but also others to take advantage of the network as a browser or even Google Maps.
The operating system had at the top a menu function that served for different things, from organizing by categories (that could be edited) your drawer of applications until organizing your emails.
It also included a camera for taking pictures and videos, a music player with support for various formats , and several other productivity applications. The biggest criticism for this operating system is that although it gave the user a huge control of the system, it could not be customized as much as Windows Mobile.