24 May Reviving the UK’s innovative spirit in mobile
The UK’s inaugural mobile phone call was made on the 1st of January 1985. By 1993 the mobile market opened to UK consumers for the first time causing a flood of competition and innovation as brands, such as Nokia and Erikson, battled to launch the latest greatest devices.
By 2007, Steve Jobs launched the first Apple iPhone which shaped the course of future mobile innovation. Flash forward to 2022 – Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi and OPPO now collectively own more than half of the smartphone market share. The remaining 50 percent consists of a host of mobile manufacturers from around the world, some of which are small but mighty companies based in the UK.
A mobile manufacturer for lovers of all things niche and nostalgic is Planet Computers. Since 2016, Planet has designed, developed and distributed three different pocket computer-smartphone hybrids from the ground up. Backed by thousands on Indiegogo, raising more than £5 million in the process, this crowdfunded company has innovation at its heart.
Looking at its devices, you would think the Psion PDA and Nokia Communicator of the 90s had been revived. Planet’s Gemini PDA, Cosmo Communicator and Astro Slide 5G combine the productivity of a laptop with the capabilities of a modern smartphone for users who like to create content on the go. The latest device – Astro Slide 5G – is the world’s first 5G smartphone with a full mechanical keyboard, available in 24 different layouts highlighting its international reach.
Founded in 2020 by Carl Pei, Nothing is London’s relatively new player on the smartphone scene. Its upcoming launch of Phone 1 is highly anticipated, claiming to reinvent the mobile wheel with a truly unique and iconic design, “unlike anything we have seen before” according to Pei. Phone 1 is rumoured to come with a transparent back, revealing its internal hardware components – a concept not yet seen on a mainstream smartphone!
If Phone 1 can live up to expectations, it could transform mobile innovation for the UK and far beyond.
Bullitt licences brands for rugged devices designed for professionals who work in extreme working conditions such as in construction, emergency services, and the outdoors. Bullitt has developed waterproof, drop, dust and scratch proof devices that can tolerate severe conditions providing a solution for those who work in physically high-risk environments to always have a working device by their side.
Bullitt addresses a large unmet need in an industry where form often takes priority over function.
Paving the way for future UK mobile innovators
Planet, Nothing and Bullitt are setting the standards for UK mobile innovation. Each company is proving that manufacturers do not have to dominate the market to create successful and innovative devices. Companies like these are paving the way for more competition in the mobile industry, showing that with innovation, smaller companies can do big things.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of mobile innovation, check out the Mobile Phone Museum: https://www.mobilephonemuseum.com/