What role does a Viking king have in the evolution of smartphones? What’s the connection between Samurais and iDesigner Jony Ive? And what's so fruity about BlackBerrys? Check out top ten rundown of telecoms trivia to find out.
1 BlackBerrys were almost called Strawberries
A marketeer at Research In Motion initially wanted to call the company's iconic business blowers 'strawberries'. The thinking was that the physical QWERTY keyboards they feature reminded him of the seeds you find in the summer fruit.
He was overruled by his boss, though, who favoured 'BlackBerry' because the alliteration meant it had more of a ring to it. It’s hard to argue with him.
2 Microsoft’s Kin sold just 500 units
The Kin was launched in a blizzard of hype. But in the face of mass indifference from consumers, Microsoft pulled its social networking focussed Kin phones from the market after just six weeks. In that time a trifling 500 units were sold.
Of all the handsets once touted as iPhone killers (an ignominious list that also takes in the Palm Pre and the Nokia N8), none fell as short as the Kin.
3 The first mobile phone call was in 1973
One afternoon in 1973, Motorola General Manager Martin Cooper took to the streets of New York with a prototype mobile phone. It was a monolithic device that snaps reveal was every bit as obelisk-like as you’d expect.
But it worked well enough for Cooper to make a call. And what a call. The first number he rang was Dr Joel S Engel of Bell Labs phone company. When Engel, who was head of research at Moto's deadly rival, picked up, Cooper was delighted to be able to inform him that Moto had beaten them to the punch with the first functional mobile phone.
4 Cameraphones in Japan & Korea must make a shutter sound by law
The rise of voyeuristic photography in Japan and Asia was an unwelcome side effect of the boom in cameraphone ownership. It's now such a problem that handset makers are now legally bound to make handsets that do not allow users to turn off the shutter sound.
5 Bluetooth was named after a Viking King
Bluetooth technology, which enables smartphone owners to swap data wirelessly, landed in smartphones back in 2000 with Ericsson’s T36. But the name 'Bluetooth' goes much, much further back.
The tech, which was developed jointly by Scandinavian tech giants Ericsson and Nokia, takes its name from King Harald Bluetooth of Norway. Unlike other potentates of the 10th century, the Danish king favoured negotiation with his foes over bloodletting. And it’s for that propensity to talk first and fight later that his name was chosen for the communications technology.
6 'App store' was patented by Sage Networks back in 1988
Patent battles are ten-a-penny in the tech sector right now. But few are as intriguing as the ongoing spat between Apple and Amazon over the latter’s use of the term ‘app store’ for its Android applications market.
In fact, the phrase 'app store' was originally coined in 1998 by Sage Networks. And a cursory look at its patent filing reveals that it was thinking along similar lines to Apple way back then. Not least in the way that the application details plans for a service to host computer software applications over a global computer information network. Sound familiar? It gets even more uncanny later on, when we're informed it planned to allow “multiple users to rent software applications developed by applicant or third parties”.
Alas, although Sage was granted the patent, it didn’t complete the final stage needed for it to be binding. In 2002, a rebranded Sage, now in the hands of new owners, attempted to reapply for it and was rejected out of hand.
7 Nokia phones’ tone for receiving texts is Morse Code
Or to be more specific, it’s Morse Code for the letters 'SMS'. That’s 'short messaging service' to you and me.
8 Nokia once claimed there was no market for touchscreen phones
Back in 2006, Nokia bestrode the mobile phone world. But if you cared to look close enough, the seeds of its decline were already in evidence. Nowhere was that more evident than a survey it conducted into sector trends.
According to Nok Nok, poll participants had left them in little doubt there was ‘no market for touchscreen phones”. So for its Nseries phones it retained physical QWERTY keyboards in keeping with their billing as pocket PCs.
A year later, the touchscreen-toting first iPhone appeared. And as the world went for the tech in a big way, Nokia was left floundering. As Apple and Android eat away at its market share month by month, the company’s movers and shakers must rue their “faster horse” moment more each day.
9 HTC stands for High Tech Computer Corporation
As anyone who knows phones will tell you, HTC wasn’t always the fun consumer brand it is now. For aeons, their functional phones were the sole preserve of geeks and technocrats.
But while the gadget-maker’s MO has changed, in the form of the moniker 'High Tech Computer Corporation' (HTC) it’s stuck with a name every bit a sawdust-dry as its handset offerings once were. Although in a funny kind of way, we actually think that it’s meta-boringness almost makes it cool.
10 iPhone takes its cues from samurai swords
Apple design doyenne Jonathan Ive is Apple’s not so secret weapon in the smartphone wars. And his weapon of choice is the samurai sword.
Or at least, it’s an inspiration. In search of an insight into ensuring his products stay light while retaining an integral toughness, Ive once travelled to Japan to see how the sword-creating craftsmen have been forging the blades since time immemorial.
The purpose? To see metal pushed to its absolute limit. The sword makers are experts in creating blades with soft, light inner layers while ensuring the outer, business end is super sharp and robust. It's a process that involves folding and re-folding steel over and over again and is a tradition that's been handed down for centuries.
How far the techniques he’ll have learnt in the Land of the Rising Sun actually feed into Ive’s drive to create ever-thinner-but-robust kit is hard to quantify. But given the man’s meticulous attention to detail, you can be sure that the experience will have fed in somehow.