The second life of smartphones and the rise of mobile apps

Today, a smartphone is such an important thing for people. People use smartphones for almost everything like checking emails, writing blogs(What I am doing now), Saying hi to friends on social networks, browsing the websites, watching videos, listening to music, taking photos, playing games and many other cool things.


1.Smartphones’ Stone Age: Palm, Symbian, Windows Mobile and Blackeberry (1994-2007)

Before we talk about smartphones, we need to know when the first mobile phone was invented and when the first PDA was produced. Because at first they are two kinds of things but now they have became one for long, which was known as smartphones in our daily life.

The first mobile phone was invented by Dr Martin Cooper of Motorola in 1973, which weighed more than 1 kg. 10 years later, Motorola’s DynaTAC 8000x became the first mobile phone on the consumer market.

(DynaTAC 8000x by Dr Martin Cooper, photo from Wikipedia)

Here is the history of PDA we can find on Wikipedia:

The first PDA (personal digital assistant) was released in 1986 by Psion, the Organizer II. The term PDA was first used on January 7, 1992 by Apple Computer CEO John Sculley at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, referring to the Apple Newton. In 1996, Nokia

introduced the first PDA with full mobile phone functionality, the 9000 Communicator, which is one of world’s best-selling PDA. And Palm, which was known as a popular PDA manufacturer also launched its PDA line called Pilot. (Source: Wikipedia)

(Palm Pilot in 1996, photo from Wikipedia)

(Nokia 9000 Communicator in 1996 beside the latest “successor” Nokia E7 in 2011, photo from Wikipedia)

Before Nokia introduced its PDA-Phone Nokia 9000 Communicator in 1996, IBM and BellSouth had launched a combination phone and PDA called the Simon Personal Communicator.

IBM Simon

(photo form Wikipedia)

It was a mobile phone with calendar, address book, world clock, calculator, note pad, e-mail client, the ability to send and receive faxes, and games. It had no physical buttons but provided a touchscreen to select telephone numbers with a finger and typed words. In fact, The Simon was costly and heavy.(Source: Wikipedia)

Before iPhone was invented in 2007, Symbian, Palm, Windows Mobile and Blackberry were known as so-called smartphones for almost decades. In this period, the smartphone is expensive and not easy to use for ordinary people. Here, I just list some milestone smartphones before 2007. They all have played a import role in the development of smartphones.

In early 2002 Handspring released the Palm OS Treo smartphone.

(Palm Treo 300, photo from Wikipedia)

And in 2002 , RIM introduced their first BlackBerry device.

(BlackBerry Curve 8300 in 2007, photo from Wikipedia)

(Touch Pro 2, Windows Mobile Phones by HTC in 2009, photo from Wikipedia)

In 2005, Nokia introduced Nseries devices with N70, N90 and N91, which were seen as bestsellers on smartphone history. It was based on Symbian OS which is fadeing away now.

(Nokia N95 in 2007, photo from Wikipedia)

2.Smartphones’ New Age: iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7(2007- Present)

When the time came to 2007, things were changed totally for smartphones. Because Apple refreshed the smartphone with its first iPhone this year. iPhone was notable for its use of a large touchscreen for direct finger input as its main means of interaction, instead of having a stylus or a physical keyboard.

In July 2008, Apple introduced its second generation iPhone 3G with pioneering App Store, adding the capability for any iPhone or iPod Touch to add third-party’s applications. Apple’s App Store was immediately very popular and got a huge success.

The iPhone 4S was announced with iOS5 and iCloud on October 4, 2011.

The Android operating system for smartphones was released in 2008 to compete with Apple’s iOS. Android is an open-source platform backed by Google, along with major hardware and software developers (such as Intel, HTC, ARM, Motorola and Samsung, to name a few), that form the Open Handset Alliance.(Souce:Wikipedia)

The first phone to use Android OS was the HTC Dream, branded for distribution by T-Mobile as the G1. The Android phone was featured with Google’s proprietary applications, such as Google Maps, Google Calendar, and Gmail. Third-party apps are available via Google Play (released October 2008 as Android Market).

(Photo from

The newest flagship Android Phone Samsung Galaxy S 3 has launched on 3 May 2012 in London.

3.The rise of mobile apps and app stores(2008-present)

 What are so-called Apps? Simply, it is short for applications, especially for mobile applications, which is usually designed to run on smartphones and tablets. Today, apps are available on different application distribution platforms, which are typically operated by different mobile operating systems, such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Marketplace and BlackBerry App World. App Store and Google Play are the top 2 app distribution platforms right now.

So many app stores show that mobile apps are gaining more and more power in internet investments today.

The Apple App Store launched in July 2008, a year after the first iPhone was released. It took the dominance of the native mobile application from 2008 to present.

Then, The Android followed App Store’s step to launch Android Market( Now change name to Google Play) in October.

Research In Motion was not far behind, announcing BlackBerry App World at its developers’ conference in October 2008. While Nokia’s Ovi Store opened in 2009. The Windows Phone Marketplace launched in late October 2010. By July 2011 it had nearly 30,000 apps. As of Jan. 2012, it has almost 50,000. The BlackBerry App World had about 37,000 at the end of July 2011.

Apple reached the 100,000 app mark first, a little more than a year after launch, in November 2009. Skipping ahead, the Android Market hit 200,000 in early 2011. As of now, the Market has about 400,000 apps available while iOS has nearly 550,000.(Source: Wikipedia)

Angry Birds

On the rise of mobile apps and app stores, Angry Birds is inevitably one of hottest and most successful apps.

Square Card Reader

And Square Card Reader is another excellent example for mobile apps, especially for businnes apps. Just read the news below, you will find out business apps are hot in the trend.

Engadget: Square has 800,000 merchants processing $2 billion per year(Oct 10th 2011)

Engadget : Square takes $5 billion in payments per year(Apr 26th 2012)


And another great example for business apps is Evernote. Many of my friends have been addicted to this little app for both life and work.

Evernote was launched on June 24, 2008 and had reached 11 million users in July 2011.

Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving on different platforms. And it has been open to hundreds of third-party application developers. Check this:

Cloud Connection

Similar to Evernote, Cloud Connection is also specialized on business softwares with exclusive OCR technologies. We have been working on this area for more than 10 years, especially for Business Card Reader. Our CEO Mr Liang has been working on OCR area for more than 20 years since he was a research scientist in Singapore’s Kent Ridge Digital Labs (KRDL) in 1996. In KRDL, hotcard is one of the most successful technologies. Cloud Connection is based on hotcard for years.

Here are our star products you can check at App Store:


Android users please visit Google Play:

Business Card Reader Free

If you have any question about OCR technologies or our products, please make comments below or email us :


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