The First Android Smartphone: A Game Changer in 2008
In 2008, smartphones were a rarity, with only a few options available to consumers. BlackBerry had already launched its smartphones, but they were primarily targeted towards business users. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile was used by various phone makers, but it wasn’t until Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007 that smartphones gained popularity among regular consumers.
However, even before the iPhone’s debut, Google had acquired the Android team in 2005 and started working on its own smartphone operating system. On September 23, 2008, the first-ever Android smartphone was announced: the HTC Dream, also known as the T-Mobile G1 in the US and parts of Europe.
The HTC Dream differed from the iPhone as it featured a 3.2-inch touch display that could slide out to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard. Powered by a Qualcomm MSM7201A processor with an Adreno 130 GPU, the HTC Dream had 192MB of RAM, 256MB of expandable internal storage, and a removable 1,150mAh battery.
While these specifications may seem primitive by today’s standards, the HTC Dream was a significant milestone in the smartphone industry. Its announcement was accompanied by a press conference in New York City, where Google, T-Mobile, and HTC jointly introduced the device.
The HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1 officially went on sale on October 22, 2008, priced at $179 with a two-year contract. By April 2009, T-Mobile had sold one million units of the first Android phone, marking a respectable achievement at the time. Android had captured 6 percent of the total smartphone market in the US, placing it behind iOS/iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile.
Fast forward 15 years, and the smartphone landscape has dramatically changed. Apple’s iPhones now dominate the US market with a 54.7 percent share, while the rest of the market is comprised of Android-based smartphones. Samsung, which launched its first Android-based Galaxy phone in June 2009, leads the pack.
BlackBerry has exited the smartphone market, and Microsoft’s attempts to enter the industry were unsuccessful. Even HTC, the pioneer of Android devices, has mostly withdrawn from the smartphone business after selling a significant portion to Google.
Nevertheless, the Android era of smartphones continues to thrive as Google prepares to launch Android 14 in October alongside its Pixel 8 phones. It’s remarkable to reflect on how it all began 15 years ago with the announcement of the HTC Dream, a device that revolutionized the industry and paved the way for the smartphones we use today.