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Tracing the History and Evolution of Mobile Apps

Everyone loves the awe-inspiring world of mobile application development. Whether it is a business tablet utility application or popular mobile game, apps are operating on the smart phones and users are running with the smarter and better applications.

What Is A Mobile Application?

A mobile application or mobile app is a software application. Basically, it is a computer generated program designed and developed to run on iPhone, Smartphones, tablets and many other mobile devices. Without doubt, the world has accepted the fact that apps are the way to get the most of the smartphones. So, it will be riveting to trace the history markups for the mobile apps development.

History Of Mobile App Development

If you go back to the history of the mobile applications, then you can clearly figure out that a few Java games, a calculator or monthly calendar were all that came under the category of mobile apps. However, the first smart phone was announced for the general use by IBM in 1993 that was equipped with the features like calculator, world clock, calendar and contact book. The BlackBerry Smartphone released in 2002 was the next major achievement in the field of mobile application development and it was marked by BlackBerry Limited, formerly known as Research In Motion Limited (RIM) and integrated with the innovative concept of wireless email.

History Of Mobile App Development

Some Facts About Early Mobile Phones:

  • You could only make calls for 30 minutes a day due to the terrible battery life and users had to charge their mobile phone for more than 10 hours.

  • Mobile users could only call a few people a day in your area because of network range issues

Where Did It All Start?

On the 3rd day of April 1973, the first mobile phone call was made by Martin Cooper of Motorola to Dr. Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs. That device or instrument weighed 1.1 kg and measuring (23 x 13 x 4.45) cm. And, it took two decades of Research and development (R&D) to get first mobile application for smartphones, and the credit goes to IBM Simon, who introduced the world with the first mobile apps for smart phones.

Psion EPOC

EPOC (operating system) developed by Psion for portable devices, primarily PDAs. It was the first recognizable apps and first released in the early 90s, the sixteen bit machines (SIBO) which ran EPOC permitted user’s programmes such as a word processor, spreadsheet, diary and database. However, later models running at 32-bit OS, would come with up to 2MB RAM and let users to add extra apps via software packs.

Palm OS

Also known as Garnet OS, developed by Palm, Inc., in 1996 for personal digital assistants. This had a touchscreen GUI (graphical user interface) and came with a raft of basic apps and tons of third party apps programmed in C/C++. Also, from Palm OS 3.0 onwards these included a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) browser.

Palm OS

WML (Wireless Markup Language)

WML was developed by the WAP Forum for use in Wireless Application Protocol enabled devices and based on XML. It was light in weight and best for the low bandwidths you got with mobile phones back in the late 90s as it stripped out much of the HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) that needs processing power.


Java ME began life as JSR 68, replaced Personal Java and rapidly became so favorite that it evolved into several standards for use across PDAs, phones and other embedded devices. Devices implement profiles, such as the Mobile Information Device Profile) which are subsets of configurations like the Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC). In addition, CLDC, designed for devices with total memory of 160KB to 512KB, and holds the bare minimum of Java-class libraries needed for operating a virtual machine.


Symbian grew out of the Psion EPOC OS, AND developed by Symbian Ltd – a joint venture of Psion, Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola. This the operating system was almost omnipresent and 250 million devices were running Symbian in 2009. It was Nokia that drove the development of Symbian OS, and the S60 platform was used on about all Nokia handsets with some LG and Samsung as well.


What Makes Mobile Apps So Popular?

Most people have smart phones and iPhones today, so apps are easy to access and simply make your life better as a result. There are millions of mobile apps at present. For examples, apps for social networks, travel, health, banking, fitness, calendars, games, news and much more. The Apple App store adds more than 20,000 apps every month.

Top10 countries in terms of mobile phone users:


What Makes Mobile Apps So Popular

Also, as per Flurry Analytics:

  • Total iPhone app downloads: 30 billion
  • Total Android app downloads: 15 billion
  • An average number of apps per smartphone user: 41

Now, let’s have a look on the number of apps users in the following ten countries in comparison to mobile users.

countries in comparison to mobile users

The app market is seeing the revenue of more than $30 billion yearly and still growing). The year of 2014 was witnessed over 138 million app downloads in a single year, with an estimation of downloads reaching 268 million by the year 2017.

Mobile Apps Developers

According to a report, “There were 19 billion software developers across the world in the year 2014, and the number would grow to a whopping 25 billion by 2020”. Nowadays, India, Russia and China are seeing fast growth in the number of mobile app developers in compared to the first world countries that produced more mobile applications developers once.

This post has gone on long enough, so I’ll explore the current mobile app development landscape in my next post.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Written by:
Mehul Rajput is a CEO of Mindinventory Technologies - is a leading mobile app development company which provide best iPhone app development and Android app development Services.
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