Year in Review: Mobile in 2009

2009/2010 sign with workmen

This year has been a busy one for the mobile industry, but what are the moments that stick most in our minds? Read on to find out.

iPhone 3GS cometh, O2 waves goodbye

We loved the first generation iPhone and the second one built on that solid foundation. But despite their obvious beauty, both lacked key features. Until the iPhone 3GS came along this year that is, bringing with it copy and paste and other omissions of value to mobile fans.

Of course, that wasn't the only iPhone news this year. Far from it. O2 also waved goodbye to its exclusive hold over the iconic device and Orange and Vodafone's announcements that they'd got it were so close they might as well have shared the same press release. Orange is already selling the handset on its network, but we'll have to wait until 2010 for the iPhone's debut on the Vodafone network.

Alas, the arrival of the iPhone on two new networks hasn't thus far resulted in the fantastic deals users were hoping for. Then Tesco came to the rescue. In mid December the iPhone arrived on the Tesco Mobile network, which strangely enough is a joint venture with O2. Users can get it on a 12 month contract too. Full circle, eh?

T-Mobile and Orange get married

It was mid 2009 that rumours first surfaced that T-Mobile could be snapped up by a rival. Vodafone was first in the frame, followed soon after by O2 so it was a bit of a surprise when Orange and T-Mobile confirmed they were talking behind closed doors about getting together to form a new company.

The deal is expected to be completed in January, but it's still subject to regulatory approval. And, according to reports this month the companies would prefer to have the deal scrutinised outside of the UK for fear it'll take too long here and result in customers fleeing into the arms of competitors in the interim.

If the two do combine, they'll form a massive mobile powerhouse. If they don't, we're not sure what T-Mobile plans to do about the iPhone...

Palm and Motorola get their groove back

In recent years, it wouldn't be completely unfair to say that Motorola and Palm have both been treated as the poor relations in the mobile family. Their best seemed to be behind them and everyone's attention was on either the iPhone or Android.

So it was surprising then - pleasantly so - when Palm decided to create a whole new operating system dubbed webOS and unveil not one but two new devices on the platform. We've already got the Pre, which is exclusive to O2, and its younger sibling the Pixi has already hit US shores.

Motorola served up its own innovation in the form of MOTOBLUR but decided to jump on the Android bandwagon too by launching the DEXT and the MILESTONE.

Windows Mobile has a makeover

The marmite of mobile operating systems took note of user distaste this year by changing for the better. It was out with Windows Mobile 6.1 and in with Windows Mobile 6.5, otherwise known as Windows Phone.

Backed by a big money marketing campaign, support from the major handset vendors and, of course, some innovative tech, Windows Mobile is likely to gain more fans and even perhaps turn some of the haters into believers. Although it is a bit of a shame that we found out this month that its successor will be delayed in arriving on the scene.

App happy

We used to live in a world where you bought a phone because it looked nice and had to put up with its hollow innards or you bought something of substance that required a wheelbarrow for you to carry it around in. Then you could have the best of both worlds provided you stumped up a whole load of cash.

That's all in the past thanks to the emergence of app stores. While Apple's App Store was born before 2009, it was this year that it - and others like the Android Market and Windows Marketplace - really arrived. Apple's store reached the two billion download milestone and Android has reportedly reached the heady heights of 20,000 apps in its market.

So now, users can buy almost a blank canvas when they purchase a phone and then add to it through free and paid for apps whenever they choose. And when they don't want that app anymore, they can discard it just as easily.

Nokia dabbles

Aside from suing Apple for alleged patent infringement, Nokia served up its fair share of devices this year including the N97 Mini and N900. But it was something slightly bulkier that grabbed most people's attention.

When the company announced itsBooklet 3G it was adamant it wasn't a netbook, even thought it really really looked like one. Then, this month, it confirmed the product would have a 650 price tag, no doubt silencing any remaining inaccurate netbook tags.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.