Who remembers Nelly? The early 2000’s rapper who wore a plaster on his face. Let’s go back…
In 2002, Nelly released Dilemma with Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child fame. In the video we see Nelly and Kelly strike up a complicated relationship, and at one point Kelly appears to send a text:
She gets no response and flings the phone down in disgust.
Wait. Rewind. If we take a closer look, we can see that Kelly hasn’t written a text message at all; rather she has opened a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet. On a 2002 phone. Impressive!
The Nokia Communicator
A little bit of research tells us that Kelly is in fact the proud owner of a Nokia Communicator 9210. Clearly a trendsetter, Kelly was using a smartphone five years before Apple released their first iPhone, and the smartphone market exploded.
Launched in 1996, Nokia’s Communicator series were not the first smartphones – that honour probably goes to the IMB Simon, which incorporated mobile phone and PDA technology.
But the Nokia 9000 was ground-breaking. Its clamshell design allowed users a full QWERTY keyboard, and – on the 9210 at least – a 4.5in screen. Web browsing on your phone was no longer limited to text only. Phone calls, text messages, email, fax, calendar, word processing, and spreadsheets could all now be managed from a single device.
Given the functionality of the Nokia 9210, it’s hard to know why Kelly chose to write her message in the EPOC Sheet spreadsheet app. One Reddit user suggests that Nelly had – of course – set up a Sharepoint server, allowing the lovers to share illicit messages via shared Excel documents. Obviously.

2006 to now
It really wasn’t until the late 2000s that smartphones became cost effective enough to gain mass popularity. The market was initially divided between Nokia’s Symbian devices, BlackBerry, and Windows Phones as business-aimed models, and Apple’s iPhones and various Android devices with an entertainment focus.
Today –with the possible exception of BlackBerry – almost all smartphones allow users to switch between business and entertainment functions with relative ease. And the ability to sync devices means that your smartphone can be your desktop away from your desk, and your entertainment system on the move.
What does the future hold for smartphones?
Despite the drive in the 1990s and 2000s to shrink devices and eliminate the keyboard and stylus, the introduction of Samsung’s Galaxy Note in 2011 opened our eyes to the phablet (phone + tablet). As camera technology and screen resolution also improve, it would be no surprise to see dedicated photo editing phablets emerge.
There is also some interest surrounding Fairphone’s ethical smartphones – which seek to contain the minimal amount of conflict minerals, as well as attempting to ensure the fairest labour conditions for the workforce involved.

Whatever you’re looking for in your business phone, at Fivebars Mobile we guarantee to do our best to get you the perfect combination of phone and tariff to suit your business needs.