15 years doesn’t seem like a long time ago, but believe it or not, in 2008, there were very few of what we would today call “smartphones” in the wild. BlackBerry launched its first smartphones a few years earlier, but they were mainly for business users. Microsoft had Windows Mobile which was used by several mobile phone manufacturers.
However, smartphones really started to become popular for ordinary consumers when Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007.
Even before Apple launched the iPhone, Google bought the Android team in 2005 and began working on its own smartphone operating system, one that could be licensed by any phone maker. On September 23, 2008, 15 years ago today, the first ever Android smartphone was announced.
Called the T-Mobile G1 in the US and parts of Europe, the HTC Dream wasn’t a full touchscreen device like the iPhone. It had a 3.2-inch touchscreen display that could slide out to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard.
Inside was a Qualcomm MSM7201A processor that included an Adreno 130 GPU. The GT Dream also had 192MB of RAM, 256MB of expandable internal storage and a 1,150mAh removable battery.
Today, most of these specs seem extremely primitive, although many phone owners right now wouldn’t mind having a removable battery or expandable storage on their current smartphone.
The event announcing the new phone was a big deal. This included a press conference in New York, where Google, T-Mobile and HTC teamed up to officially introduce the HTC Dream. Ars Technica Report on the event at the time:
In addition to being full of Google’s open source code, the companies have worked to ensure that the Android-powered Dream is also full of familiar features and apps. Users will have one-click access to all of Google’s mobile apps, such as Gmail, Google Maps (including street view, a feature infuriatingly missing from the iPhone), Google talk, Google Calendar, and more
God New York Times, in its own story about the HTC Dream announcement, noted that HTC had previously been a big supporter of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system. However, it decided to go all out with Android, including putting a large number of HTC phone engineers in Google’s Android offices.
The HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1 officially went on sale about a month later on October 22, 2008. T-Mobile priced it at $179 with a two-year contract. April 2009, CNET It was reported that T-Mobile sold 1 million units of the first Android phone, which was quite a respectable amount at the time.
The same report cited a report by research firm AdMob, which stated that Android had 6% of the total US smartphone market at the time. This was fourth behind iOS/iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile.
15 years after the introduction of the first Android phone, it’s a very different situation. Apple’s iPhones currently occupy 54.7 percent of the entire US smartphone market, According to this report from Uberlo.
The rest are all smartphones that use Android. At their head is Samsung, which launched its first Android-based Galaxy phone in June 2009, less than a year after the launch of the HTC Dream.
BlackBerry no longer makes smartphones, and Microsoft’s attempts to enter the market, which included buying Nokia’s phone business, have been unsuccessful. Even HTC, the maker of the first Android device, has largely exited the smartphone business, having sold a significant portion of it to Google a few years ago.
However, the Android era for smartphones still continues as Google prepares to launch Android 14 in early October alongside its own Pixel 8 phones. And it all really started today 15 years ago.