back to article Virtual reality is actually made of smartphones

The world didn’t pay much attention to the fifth anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death, back on the 5th of October. Perhaps that’s because we believe we’ve all moved on. But that’s less true than we believe, in both some very obvious and very non-obvious ways. First, the obvious: the smartphone is now undeniably the most …

  1. Bob Vistakin

    Look up "Conflation"

    Lot's of talk here about iPhones being mankinds saviour, and lots of talk about everyone using smartphones. Yet the iPhone market share continues to fall. Subtle. Is there some agenda here I missed?

    1. AstroNutter

      Re: Look up "Conflation"

      The original Philip Model 1500 was the first video recorder, after that came along the VHS and Beta-max wars. Ultimatly, the winnder from that was the DVD. Wait no, BlueRay came after that, and with the whole streaming thing, the whole idea of buying tapes or disks has it's days numbered. Instead people are purchasing storage in the form of Hard, flash or solid state drives. Things are changing, and rapidly too.

      Currently there is a whole IOS v Andriod war happening - there's a place for both. iPhone sales slowing, is OK, the thing is that the whole market saturation thing is coming. I'd expect that sales of both IOS and Android will slow at some point, Android has a much wider range of devices, so it'll probably take longer to hit it's plateau. Once thing is for sure, Microsoft's offing has already hit the kerb and isn't likely to get up again.

      IOS Sales may be dropping, however it still doesn't diminish the genius of the original iPhone. At the time, there was no Andriod. The competition was Nokia with symbian. Their offerings were not joined up. The devices designs did not really want to be used. Blackberrys were apparently great for texting, just that was just about it. The original iPhone's design was well thought out, well implemented and the testimony is not the "fanbois" of the world. It's that pretty much every smartphone on the market shares the common design points - screen covering as much of the front as possible, device small enough to be held in the hand comfortably. Minimal ports - most devices that I see these days seem to have a USB or lightning port, 3.5mm headphone jack and that's about it. Some devices might have a MicroSD card slot - but not so many these days. Removable batteries seems to have gone out of fashion. They all have motion sensors. It's a pretty common denominator.

      One thing that is for certain is that one day, the iPhone as a device will die and be replaced by something else. The desktop PC is already suffering, and is starting to look more like a tool for professionals rather than something for every home. You want to browse the internet - use your TV, tablet, or phone. You don't need a laptop or desktop for that. The laptop desktop of the world are now being used for more specialist things - video/photo/sound editing, programming. The rest of their functions can be done on the go.

      The world is changing. The iPhone was a device that sparked off this whole thing. Steve Job's like him or loath him will go down in history for sparking this technology revolution that is happening today. But like all great inventions, when you look at the original, it will seem very crude compared to today's offerings. Just look at the first wheel, bet you wouldn't be able to put that on a Formula 1 car ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Look up "Conflation"

      "Continues to fall?"

      For the two whole quarters in the iPhone's history it has seen a YoY sales decline? Everything reaches a peak at some point, and with all the unsatisfied demand Apple fulfilled with the iPhone 6 (first big screen iPhone and finally available on the world's largest carrier, China Mobile) it is no surprise that the iPhone 6 reached sales heights that its successors cannot match.

      If two years from now Apple has an unbroken streak of YoY sales declines then maybe they should start to worry, but more likely they'll simply level off next year. Android's market share growth is at the very low end at this point and have been for the last couple years, as OEMs find ways to make Android phones cheaper and cheaper to eat away at what remains of the feature phone market.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Mage

    Smartphone 1998

    Smartphones have as much to do with VR as your TV. It has a screen and maybe an ARM CPU too.

    They've existed since 1998.

    The form factor isn't an Apple design. It's what you get when you simply slap a touch screen on a rounded rectangle, the most efficient shape to fit maximum electronics in a hand held device.

    1. m0rt

      Re: Smartphone 1998

      Actually, I am quite surprised that this article made it into El Reg. Maybe to remind us how it *could* be?

      1. JetSetJim

        Re: Smartphone 1998

        Perhaps it's to be able to say "look how unbiased we are" when asking for a pass to the next Apple shin-dig...

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: Smartphone 1998

          Or is it because all the smart phones before the iPhone died on their arses and Apple made them desirable?

        2. John 104

          Re: Smartphone 1998


          No kidding. I haven't read a more gushing, sycophantic, Apple loving article like this since I stopped reading Gizmodo.

          Apple did not invent the smart phone. Sorry. As noted above, that happened in 1998 or whenever. Palm had smart phones in the early 2000's, predating the iPhone by several years. They were quite functional, had apps, touch screens, etc.

          And no one noticed the 5 year anniversary of Jobs because he was an ass hole. The world hasn't missed him much outside of crazy Apple FanBoi types.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Smartphone 1998

            Please, the smartphones of the early 2000s were a joke. Only geeks and PHBs used them. Apple turned them into something that regular people would want and use. Even the head of Android is on record saying that after they saw the iPhone announcement in early 2007 they realized they had to scrap their plans and start over.

            And if you're going to bring up PDAs, the Apple Newton predated them all.

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon

              Re: Smartphone 1998

              I think some people are missing the main point of the article - and that is that Apple increased the *quantity* of rapid turnover of device development, which has led to massive economies of scale, which has led us to the point where we can get a decent VR headset into our homes for £350/$399.

              Although I do agree the sunshine blowing was a bit OTT.

          2. wayward4now

            Re: Smartphone 1998

            If it hadn't been for the Woz, Jobs would have been selling term-life to blue rinsed old ladies, barefooted.

    2. You aint sin me, roit

      Re: Smartphone 1998

      Has someone told Apple's patent lawyers?

      Now that VR (and presumably all computing involving a screen, a GPU, some input devices...) was invented by Apple I'm surprised they aren't being a little more active.

    3. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: Smartphone 1998

      I recently discovered the secret to Apple designs. I'd been away from doing any CAD work for about 10 years so I was more than a bit rusty. But when I tried to design some new devices they all came out looking like something from Apple, not because I was copying Apple but because that's what you get when you only know the most basic features of CAD.

  4. James 51

    'Although smartphones have grown a lot more capable over the last decade (we’re just about 10 weeks short of anniversary of the original demo at Macworld) their basic form factor has changed hardly at all.'

    Blackberry is widely credited with creating the first smartphone, not Apple. Nokia and a whole bunch of others released smart phones before Apple. A rare example of biasis in favour of Apple from el Reg.

    *edit* Lets not forget the lack of keyboard and removable battery as well.

    1. Mage

      Re: Blackberry is widely credited with creating the first smartphone,

      True, though actually it's an erroneous credit.

      Though Nokia had the Communicator 9110 in 1998 and the 9000 in 1996.

      I'm not sure Nokia made the first smartphone, though it was certainly the first successful on in business.

      "The product line was continued in 2000 by the introduction of Nokia 9210 Communicator which introduced a wide TFT colour internal screen, 32-bit ARM9-based RISC CPU at 52 MHz, 16 MB of internal memory, enhanced web abilities and most importantly saw the operating system change to the Symbian operating system. The 9210i launched in 2002 increased the internal memory to 40 MB, video streaming and flash 5 support for the web browser."

      I had a 9210i and contract that allowed two GSM channels, thus 28.8k. Lots of home users only had that speed then. It marked the switch to a version of Symbian and ARM. Earlier versions were x86!

      A touch screen was envisiaged in 2002, but the development of the GUI families on Symbian used in Communicator was killed off around then in favour of inferior S60 GUI on Symbian. Nokia Politics.

      The BlackBerry 850 in 1999 was maybe third pager product and included email. I'd not regard it as a smartphone. Did BlackBerry have a real Smartphone in Nokia 9000 sense before 2003?

      1. FlibbleMr

        Re: Blackberry is widely credited with creating the first smartphone,

        The Ericsson R380 was the first smartphone of the modern era (1999/2000).

    2. Felonmarmer

      I've got a couple of PDA's that predate smart phones by quite a while, touch screen and all. The evolution of that to smart phones (i.e. add phone module) to me seems the natural progression.

      So in terms of VR if we say their origin is smartphones, then in reality you have to step further back to the PDA's as the VR aspects do not rely on the phone aspects of the smartphone.

      1. James 51

        a new psion 5mx would just eat the entire note market in one bite.

      2. manky

        I think the PAGER was far more instrumental in making VR what it is today.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      iPhone plebs are constantly rewriting history to suit. Nothing new here

      1. Lars Silver badge

        iPhone plebs should understand that articles like this one only undermine the value of a guy like Jobs. Surprised there was nothing about him also inventing the micro computer, rounded corners and the touch screen too. He was an exceptional person, no doubt, but a mortal all the same. As for cell phones I would claim he was the only CEO who actively used and fine tuned the interface to his liking.

        1. wayward4now
          Big Brother

          Jobs did NOT invent the microcomputer. When Apple came along, it was The Woz that did the heavy lifting. But, there were others who offered "microcomputers" before Apple. I had three IMSAI's (first released in 1975) that later ran CP/M and offered packages like WordStar, first released in 1978. The Woz's design, however, was the first "right thing" and all praise is due to him for doing so. Jobs gets credit for the case design, while actually Jerry Manock, an industrial designer. did the job. "Manock describes the shape of the Apple II case as having been "dictated by the size of the circuitboard and the keyboard that fits into a wedge on the front. It had to be tall enough for expansion cards to be slotted vertically onto the motherboard and have enough interior space to dissipate heat thrown off by the power supply" (Kunkel, 13-4). Jobs and Wozniak conflicted over using expansion slots for additional customized circuitboards, Jobs believing that they were inappropriate for a consumer market which would not be comfortable altering circuitry. Wozniak's desire for expandability prevailed and the height of the Apple II case reflects its eight expansion slots." Jobs was a dick from the beginning and he got it wrong.

  5. Tachikoma

    Hmmm not convinced, on the Playstation Portable there was a game called Metal Gear Ac!d 2 which bundled a Google Cardboard-like box with lenses that you slipped over the screen which turned the PSP into a pseudo VR/stereogram viewer and let you play the game and watch gravure videos of Japanese girls in sexy army costumes in 3D. This was in 2005, the iPhone came out in 2007, Google Cardboard in 2014. Re-purposing portable screens isn't new or thanks to St Steve.

  6. imanidiot Silver badge

    What? Why? How?

    What is this pro-apple drivel doing on the Reg? This whole article is so bland and obviously pro apple I have a hard time even grasping that the Reg would want to run it. I've come to expect better from the Register. Not always in a "quality news" sense, but certainly in a "balance and correctness of information" sort of way.

    The smartphone would have happened without Apple. Without a doubt. All the components both in hardware, software and in ideas where out there in that time. If Apple hadn't built it at that point someone else would have very shortly afterwards. And possibly it would have worked out better too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What? Why? How?

      Everyone was already working on all touchscreen phones before the iPhone released. The LG Prada had released about a year before and I'd seen what everyone else had going on in the labs.

      The only thing that was really different about the iPhone was that you were forced to take a data plan with your phone. There wasn't anything really new that hadn't already been done even on feature phones for years, it's just that few people were paying for data before then.

  7. WaveyDavey


    I can accept the premise that a mass uptake of a touch enabled, flat screen device has caused massive economies of scale, and has enabled advances in the VR field, I take huge exception to the assertion that The Great Arsehole Jobs would have approved - I contend he would have *hated* it, as it didn't belong to apple, and was not contained in their repellent walled garden.

  8. kmac499

    Hmm the reality distortion field is strong with this one

    Sony Ericsson p800 circa 2002.

    It's biggest 'thing' for me was the handwriting recognition with a stylus on a touch screen,

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Hmm the reality distortion field is strong with this one

      And how many p800s did Sony Ericsson sell?

      This article confuses "the first successful smartphone" with "the first smartphone", but it's difficult to argue that the unsuccessful ones changed the world.

    2. lotus49

      Re: Hmm the reality distortion field is strong with this one

      I had one of those too and I liked it.

      No-one else really did though so you cannot possibly compare something like that, which was a niche gadget for pointy heads like us, not a game changer like the iPhone.

  9. Justicesays

    Yep, undoubtably

    I guess those first few iPhone users who had to pay $100,000+ of dollars for their iPhones can feel a great sense of achievement now. Hang on, I seem to have found a flaw in this argument...

  10. Tom 64

    a bit rich...

    You can't credit Jobs with all of those things... GPUs, really?!

    What Jobs did do was insist on quality user experience (something Cook and his cronies should pay more attention to), making the smartphone nice to use. No more clunky keys and a butter smooth UI.

  11. John 110

    Missing the point

    I think folk are missing the point here. It's not the smartphone per se that's the great invention, it's the need to miniaturize all sorts of cameras, microphones sensors etc enough to fit into the form factor and make them at an affordable price that's the breakthrough. Do you really think we'd have seen (for example) the camera drone revolution without the small, high quality bits of kit originally developed for phones?

    But no, I wouldn't credit Jobs. My fliptop alcatel had a decent camera that foreshadowed just what you could achieve when you can stuff kit into a pocket-sized device.

  12. wibblewobble

    What a great man lol

    Yeah, we all owe Steve Jobs a debt for moving humanity on. Of course he was thinking of others rather than his bank balance and that of his shareholders, as all business leaders do...

    Hold on Lassie, you say that he actually was thinking of his remuneration and shareholders? Boy, was I wrong!

    Given that Moore's law has held for a fair few decades, I suspect these new technologies would be invented and popularized by somebody, they were in the right place at the right time so they got the prize.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If anything subsequent iterations of smartphones have shown how nearly perfectly correct Apple got their first device - and not just form, but function."

    What a load of crap. The first iPhone couldn't even run apps, you just had to make do with what was bundled with it. Cut and paste in the UI came years later (and long after the competition). The really big deal about the first iPhone was that Saint Jobs had the arrogance and market power to mandate that at least one cellular carrier in each market was signed up to providing an affordable data package. The ability to do internet-related stuff on your phone without needing to take a second mortgage to pay for the data was what transformed the market, not the perfection (or otherwise) of any particular manufacturer's devices.

    In other words, you could say it was Steve Jobs ability to get away with acting like an arsehole to business partners which made this all possible, not the iPhone itself. And he would probably be pleased about that.

    1. Mage

      Data cost


      "The really big deal about the first iPhone was that Saint Jobs had the arrogance and market power to mandate that at least one cellular carrier in each market was signed up to providing an affordable data package. The ability to do internet-related stuff on your phone without needing to take a second mortgage to pay for the data was what transformed the market, not the perfection (or otherwise) of any particular manufacturer's devices."

      I can't upvote this enough! I had three perfectly usable smart phones before iPhone existed, only possible because my employer was paying. All had real email, real browser (well, more real than iE6) and two had real fax TX and RX! Copy & Paste and Apps.

      The company I was working for even had a working 4G VOIP only "phone" with SD slot, USB host and client, touch screen, real Debian as OS and desktop Firefox browser the same time as 1st iPhone released. The HW was all out of a catalogue!

      Magical iPhone marketing and carrier deals. Not remotely responsible for miniaturised cameras, LCDs, GPUs, motion sensors etc. Apple didn't develop ANY HW for first iPhone. All bought in.

      Next people will claim they invented MP3 players (they were years late, but iTunes make it a success, deals with record lables, not the HW or SW)/

    2. Blank Reg Silver badge

      "Steve Jobs ability to get away with acting like an arsehole"

      He wasn't acting :)

  14. Nimby

    Factual? Fictional? Factitious? F___!

    Wow. I mean not every article can be a winner, but ... yikes! I think about the only factually correct part of that article is that Steve Jobs is dead.

    Hidden somewhere deep inside behind a lot of misinformation is the idea that the economy of scale of manufacturing our cellphones in general (not smartphones, and certainly not the iPhone) has made the components of various VR headsets (such as small batteries, small screens, ARM-based processors, multi-axis accelerometers, embedded cameras, etc.) affordable so that we can have a cheap PlayStation VR instead of an ever-inflating Oculus Rift. (Although I dare say even that is debatable as Sony already had most of that covered without phones being involved.)

    Which I think was just said in one paragraph, without misinformation. Not exactly worthy of an article in itself.

    Maybe if someone mixes in some price comparison and economy maths to be involved to explain the current market and sense (or lack thereof) to it.

    Not even a thread to hang by to correlate any of it the aforementioned dead dude.

    And definitely not an article worthy of the usual (if admittedly rather lax) standards of Vulture Central. It leaves me wondering if I'm about to see an article pulled. And if the author will remain employed. Either of which are far more interesting than the contents of that article!

    1. Naselus

      Re: Factual? Fictional? Factitious? F___!

      Yeah, same with most of Pesce's output. Lots of meaningless cyber-utopianism; a myopic view of history, and a lot of fellatio to big Silicon Valley figures.

      It's hard to say just how badly wrong the statement 'the smartphone is now undeniably the most significant technological innovation since the metal axe head' is, since it's just plain old idiocy.

      Think of some of the genuinely massive alterations to human life caused by, say, the steam engine. Until the steam engine came about, the speed limit of the planet was more or less human walking pace (over long distances, the speed of a horse falls to match the average human walking speed). And then we suddenly had a machine that allowed you to go at 30, 40, 50 miles an hour over an entire distance. This is infinitely more revolutionary than the smart phone. Or the venerable telegraph. While primitive, this was infinitely more revolutionary than the telephone, since prior to the telegraph if you wanted to communicate across a long distance, you walked. Both of these are much more significant than the smartphone.

      And the metal axe head didn't have much impact either, thinking about it; people had been using stone axe heads quite successfully for a couple of million years by the time they came about, and there wasn't a big change in how stuff worked as a result of people learning to smelt them out of copper instead. Other things were happening about the same time that had a way bigger impact - like, just for example, writing.

    2. robin thakur 1

      Re: Factual? Fictional? Factitious? F___!

      I think some of the people here doth protest too much, and have forgotten the dark days of what smartphones/feature phones were actually like before the iPhone. I owned lots of semi-smart phones including Blackberry, the Sony Ericsson P series (all of them) and the dreaded windows phone and the first iPhone WAS a revolution regardless of whether the hardware was 'off the shelf' or not or whether parts of its implementation were already on the market. Email is the only smart function I can think of that was done near to correctly on a Blackberry and nothing else. Everything else was a wildly compromised experience, buggy and unreliable.

      The fact that the iPhone was a game changer should be blindingly obvious to all but the most pig-headed individual the first time they swiped to unlock or the first time they used the keyboard. Using it in public would draw a crowd, and you never got that with the SE P990.

      The capcitative screen and GPU was key as the experience was real-time, not laggy and butter smooth. The other standard sensors like the accelerometer, gyroscope, camera, proximity etc, and crucially the ability for it to play accelerated video and browse the web in near full fidelity, the update system, it was all revolutionary because it was done right in a way that non computer science grads could understand it and it was inherently tied to Apple's OSX software experience. Before the iphone things like Hardware design polish and software stability/usability were barely an afterthought. After the iPhone they are everything. The App Store then caused another revolution and all of this made what we now understand by the term tablet possible with the release of the iPad. Before the iPad, tablet pc's were a completely dead segment of the market, lest you forget.

      I can see where the author is going with the VR comparison as the sensors on drones and VR are pretty much the same as on smartphones, and the collection of technology in the iPhone is what all current smartphones are based on, whether you like it or not.

      Would we be here without the iPhone? I highly doubt it. If you remember how long it took for other manufacturers (Nokia, MS) to even take the iPhone seriously as a competitor, and then the different iterations ("this one's an iPhone killer") when they cocked it up, through to when they exited the market (Blackberry, Nokia, Microsoft) The ones which are left in the market, with a couple of exceptions (Samsung Edge) ape the iPhone design so closely that from some angles they look like iPhones, (Xiaomi, Google Pixel, One Plus) and if you don't call that influential, I'm not sure what you do.

  15. Danny 5

    Our lord and savior!

    Seriously, this has got to be one of the most evangelic Steve Jobs posts i have ever read (and that's saying something, trust me).

    Go ahead and credit jobs with his achievements, because he did have some, but inventing the smartphone was not one of them.

    He was a marketing genius for crying out loud, he didn't have a technical bone in his body.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "... the smartphone is now undeniably the most significant technological innovation since the metal axe head..."

    Seriously? I mean SERIOUSLY?!

    1. James 51

      the wheel (and axil), electricty, germ theory of disease and that's just off the top of my head.

  17. drand

    This is commentard bait...

    ... and I am not biting.

    1. TitterYeNot

      Re: This is commentard bait...

      "... and I am not biting."

      Yes, Poe's law here methinks. The author must have had his tongue so firmly in his cheek I'm surprised he didn't choke on it before getting halfway through the article; as well as getting a massive hernia from the suppressed laughter...

      1. Aladdin Sane

        Re: This is commentard bait...

        Yet it reads like his tongue is lodged elsewhere.

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: and I am not biting.

      You posted a comment didn't you?

  18. Shades

    I didn't think it was possible...

    ... to give a dead, presumably cremated, person a blowjob, but here it is!

    What the fuck is this drivel on El Reg?

  19. Chris Evans

    Not here it isn't!

    " the absolute must-have tool for every adult everywhere." Speak for your self please.

    I sit in front of a computer all day and when I get home I have a PC there. When I'm not by a PC I'm cycling, driving or doing something enjoyable. When do I need a smart phone? I hardly ever need to use any of the smart features on mine!

    I know there are some people obsessed with their smart phone, mostly their friends are only other phone obsessives!

  20. stu 4

    ignore the apple angle - and trolling though he is - he has a point

    OK, forget all the apple/jobs mince. If the author was truly trying to make a point, alienating 50% of the audience is not a great way of doing it...

    The bottom line though is 'smartphones' HAVE changed things pretty majorly.

    From the way nearly everyone used the net, social media, camera and video to how business functions (my job now is doing digital transformation for companies around api economy, etc). The way we pay for things, the way we buy things, the way we communicate.

    The world is a very different place now that it was 10 years ago. Far more than it changed in the previous 10 years. And that's in no small part due to smartphone adoption.

    And yes, that smartphone technology has led to being about to get a 5" 4k resolution screen for 50 quid.. and that forms the basis of the oculus rift - it would have costs 10K otherwise in oculus sales numbers.

    We've seen solid state gyros and accelerometers that now cost 20p, and yet used to costs 1000s.

    we've seen advances in ARM technology driven down into IOT devices - so I can now get an esp8266 for 2 quid and have an internet connected powerhouse computer in a matchbox.

    All of this has been driven by the economies of scale of smartphones - economy of scale is one of the most amazing things about our industrial world imho.

    And I agree with the author that it opens to many avenues up that we never knew existed. It's a bit like the space race in the 50s/60s leading to a whole bunch of industrial tech that was now affordable and could be repurposed.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM Simon - Just saying.

  22. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Re: form factor

    It's a smeggin' handheld device! It has to be a size and shape that the majority of human beings can grasp and hold for a while, and that's all there is to it, really.

    The article as such is pretty much par with what you'd get from a born again christian waffling about an "intelligent designer".

  23. FlibbleMr

    Apple didn't invent the smartphone

    The first smartphone of the modern era was the Ericsson R380 which came out five years before the iPhone.

  24. Steve Crook

    Who cares? If it wasn't going to be Jobs, it would've been someone else...

    Osborne, Psion, even Sinclair. The all had a crack at producing a 'handheld' computer. The value of computer combined with a phone was pretty obvious to all, what was missing was technology and a perception of a market at the likely price of such a device.

    Apple happened to be in the right place at the right time technology wise and produced a quality product. I think what surprised many was the willingness of people to part with £450 'just' for a phone. That was where Apple's genius lay, they *really* understood the size of the market *and* how to sell to it.

    I know that for some, the eighties are ancient history, something only known from the mad ravings of the parents or history books. But really, a bit of technology PERSPECTIVE please.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hereby cancel my subscription.

    I shouldn't complain, really. El Reg is funded by advertising – I wonder how much Apple paid for this ad?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    steve jobs...saviour of the universe.

    if he was still alive id be joining the queue to suck him off after reading this. FFS get a grip. Right place, right time and massive resources behind him.

  27. Colin Millar

    Oh do get over yourself

    The development of hand tools was a major leap for humans not because it let you skin animals more easily but because of the state change it represented in abstract thinking. Smart phones, however shiny they are, are simply another derivative.

  28. anoco

    Before Apple ruined the world...

    ... I had some nice and complicated Symbian phones and a single frustrating Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC.

    As difficult as they were, they were used to help productivity however possible. Then came Apple dumbing the smart phone down for the masses which in turn fostered Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

    So thanks to Steve Jobs we now have "social media". That stigma is probably what killed him...

    1. robin thakur 1

      Re: Before Apple ruined the world...

      I think your comment pretty much sums up the wailing here, that IT geeks (myself included) enjoyed how totally unusable and exclusive smart phones were prior to the iPhone. When I was using my P990 or my HTC TYTN I was safe in the knowledge that my non-techy other half or a potential robber would NOT be able to work out how to use it or that the unresponsive plastic keyboard would fall off long before they could do any damage.

      I think they enhanced productivity in the sense that they supported no entertainment functions whatsoever outside of the exploration of the hardware and bafflingly designed OS. The thought of creating a Word document or Excel document on my old Windows Phone is laughable to this day however. The P990 launched in a famously buggy state, nearly everything you tried on it crashed the phone and had it been released today it would almost certainly have been recalled. About the only productive things on them were email and their tethering connection and the odd bit of dodgy software that let you use them as a flakey remote control. Now everything is just an iPhone clone (including the iPhone), and software mostly works reliably life is much less interesting...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First VR goggles date from 1980's - long before iPhone

    Researchers at Nasa Ames Life Sciences built VR goggles using a pair of handheld TVs. The TVs were fed a video signal from a pair of video cameras pointed at two calligraphic scan CRT displays driven by an Evans & Sutherland Picture System I connected to a PDP11-35.

    The big complaint in 1984 was that the VR goggles were too heavy - same as today!

  30. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    'all VR kit is descended from the first iPhone'

    No, it really isn't. I first tried VR at a computing show at London Olympia, getting on for 25 years ago. The VR and AR setups we have now are far more like those (reliant on external processing) than smartphones.

    This article is fanboi drivel.

  31. conscience

    This is the worst article I've ever seen on El Reg. Shamefully biased drivel not based in truth or reality.

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