Form is more important filling: design before iPhone
There were some form-factor for phones 5 or even 10 years ago which still haven't got any names. Now people mostly prefer monoblock but designer's thinks were inexhaustible fountain in that years producing a masterpiece or a terrible monster. Slaiders, flips, rotators, sticks - phones were sometimes deprived convenience and functionality. Let's remember incredible creations of genius of design and that ugly ducks that never will be beautiful swans.
Saying honestly the selection is not TOP-10 of the most strange gadget in the world. It is a tribite for times when mobile manufacturers was trying to impress users with unique form and not with powerful OS. Today devices design is more or less successful combination of some dozen repeatable elements. But in that times appearance was often created from scratches. Designers and manufacturers were brave and daring pioneers. And we exault that people who done many mistakes on their way.
Well, there was 2003... Siemens mobile was on the top of mobile producing. The compane had started to work for a phone for mods and trendies about a year ago and planned to take premium segment of phone market. Thereby specialists of the company should to create potentially symbol of generation. And new collection was represented to shops in the beginning of 2003. There were not a one phone, even 4 phones in the Xelibri collection. The first collection named Space on Earth had got miserably fail because phones were too expensive and low functional eve for that time.
But Siemens was not going to lose the position. The company entrusted new design for phones to sided company IDEO which produced in the same year second collection of four... more awkward gadgets. Fashion Extravaganza got the same destiny of the first collection - "fashion extravagance" was not estimated a lot. Finally, Siemens closed the project in 2004 spent millions for advertising and sell about 70 thousands of phones. If you want to realise the scale of fiasco you need just know that Siemens sold about 42.3 millions of phones in 2004 worldwide.
Nokia announced unusial fashion smartphone in 2003. It was petal Nokia 7600 that was looked like a tamagotchi. The phone was targeted for youth. But the development of the phone got a good fate because the phone wasn't a technological soother and had got powerful Nokia Series 40 platform, color display, 0.3 megapixel camera and 29 MB memory inside. The phone supported 2G and 3G mobile networks and stream audio and video playback
Nokia was a leader on the mobiles phone market and could allow itself many experiments. A next fashion phones were produced after "petal" Nokia 7600 at once. It was Nokia 6800 witn unusial keyboard block comparing standard 12-key keyboard with QWERTY and legendary phone-console Nokia N-Gage. Extraordinary form, original arragement of management elements and powerful 'filling' made N-Gage very popular phone for gamers. And it was luck.
Finnish company showed off again in 2004 with a phone in tube form-factor - Nokia 7280. The phome looked like a lipstick appearance and, honestly, was looked like a lipstick in functionality. The phone hadn't got a keyboard, data entry and interface management were implemented with a sensory ring like in iPod Classic. Nokia 7380 was produced after Nokia 7280: the phones were looked alike but there were skin, metal and ceramics in new phone appearance. And its display was specular. Of course, glamor needs sacrifice but they became excessive in such form-factor - there were not enough fans for evolution of a trend.
Also Nokia stand out with Nokia 9500 which was opened like a book and had got two displays - little outside and big inside. And Siemens produced a turning phone-crucifix Siemens SK65 for the company experiments continuation.
CHinese company Haier announsed three phone in stick form-factor since 2003 to 2005. But such sequence could be implemented in better way. Results of unnatural union a phone, ball pen and electronic thermometer were named PenPhone P5, P6 and P7. Displays on the phone bodies supported horizontal orientation - imagine how it was conviently.
But if Haier PenPhone just resembled a ball pen so Siemens PenPhone 2004 was a pen literally. It had got only a tiny display, joystick and nib on the end - How to dial a number or write SMS? Just write them, The phone supported hendwriting recognition system. It was really an reference of a design think... or madness.
Tandem of Samsung and Bang&Olufsen announced awkward creation named Serene. The device was presented as a phone for successful and business men but it looked like a puff-box. Or male puff-box that was worse. Automatic openning mechanism and the best display that Samsung had got in that years didn't save the cituation - 'puff box' got a flunk. Samsung SGH-Z130 with turnable screen that was produced in that year looked more manful.
HTC company decided to experiment with form-factors in 2005 and produced communicator-transformer HTC Universal with QWERTY keyboard. Its display could open and even turn round its axis fixing under any degree to keyboard. The keyboard was enough big for comfortable printing of big texts. Even after ten years we can meat fans of this gadget whos are puzzled why this form-factor development was desolated.
Nokia 3250, phone with a turnable keyboard, was produced at the begining of 2006. The phone was an ancestor extremely popular Nolia 5700 Xpress Music. Slider with turnable screen Nokia N93 was announced in 2 month. Phones in this form-factor were produced before by LG and Nokia but we want to notice precisely this gadget. It provided for users one of the best camera at that years with Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar optics with 3,2 Mp dimension and 3x zoom optical ability.
Samsung and Bang&Olufsen announced a new device that was more harmonious after awkward "puff-box": design of Serenta remained fussy but now it matched characteristics and device assignment. It was a musician slider with 4 GB of memory, imbedded acoustic system and sensory display.
But not every design experiment concluded with a failure even if form-factor was failed into oblivion next years. Motorola company presented the first rotator in the world in 2001. THe phone beat its time but was tooken very frostily. But Motorola Aura that came to markets in 7 yers became a real symbol of generation. A person who keeps the phone in hands remembers sonant click when turnable cap was fixed at opened position. Elegant steel housing, sapphirine glass, unique round display that was produced by only Sharp - Aura still looks sumptuously and hasn't lost the price for eight years since produced moment.
But let us to come back to losers. Do you rememeber 2008? Toshiba G450 was announced - a compact phone-modem and MP3-player in original housing. But the phone somehow had got only 160 MB of intenal memory (Even absolutely fashion Motorola Aura had got 2 GB). And round monochrome display and buttons that were placed in two circles made the phone aliked a massage nozzle. The phone was little avail for straight usage.
Square Nokia Twist was announced in 2009. In point of fact the phone was produced as a slider form-factor - its two parts slide relative to each other - but is opened like a fan. Nokia Twist offered compact housing, big display and QWERTY keyboard. The phone was liked by Motorola and was copied to more advanced model named Motorola Flipout. But according to some reasons users didn't accept courageous square idea -- both models didn't have popularity.
Next 2011 year was remembered by announce of horizontal slider Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. The phone was presented as a gadget for gamers and had got mass of dignities but was produced too late: the world was capturing by sensory monoblocks. Slider with playing buttons didn't get success.
Perhaps, that year could be labeled as a year of end of experiments epoch. May be it was in 2007 when the first model of iPhone was announced and everybody followed for fabulous success of its simplicity. But it was patently the evolution chose monoblock because other form-factors died if you looked at market showcases. For man who wasn't interested in gadgets all that tubes, puff-boxes, pens, sliders and rotators are seemed funny and incomprehensible artifacts and not gadgets at the top of design ideas that they were at that years.
But fashion is a cyclical phenomenon. BlackBerry Priv that was recently produced looks freshly and originally but we realise that the phone is just old slider with actual "filling". And who knows - may be people will swank with smartphone-pins or smartpone-pens in few years?
But the top of our article in our discussion is not returning to forgotten old. It is something new that proves not all companies prefer to go on trodden way. For example it is smartphone 2013 - Docomo N-05E Medias W in the form of book of two sensory displays.