There was a time, not so very long ago, when you could gauge whether your cruise had arrived at somewhere rather special by the click of shutters and the whir of camera motor drives. From Miami to Mumbai and Singapore to Sydney the Nikon’s, Pentax, Olympus and Leica held sway, capturing the world’s most alluring ports of call onto real, tactile, film.

How Did Our Phones Get So Smart?
In what seems like an extraordinarily short space of time the ‘phone’ part of the now ubiquitous smartphone has become something of an afterthought. Indeed, making a call is unlikely to make the top 10 things that most people use their smartphones for. Aside from taking pictures and video, most people will also be texting, checking e-mail and social media, listening to music and keeping up with the news and current affairs.
It’s amazing to think that the first commercially available device that could be referred to as a ‘smartphone’ was developed by IBM back in 1992 and marketed to consumers two years later as the Simon Personal Communicator.

The Not So Simple ‘Simon’
Simon had a touchscreen and could send and receive faxes – remember them? - as well as e mails. Simon also boasted an address book, calendar, appointment scheduler, calculator, world time clock, and notepad, plus the decidedly prescient inclusion of maps, stock reports and news!
On the face of it Simon should have taken the world by storm and was undoubtedly way ahead of its time. Sadly though, battery technology had some catching up to do and, perhaps, just as importantly, Simon wasn’t the sort of device that could sit comfortably in your pocket. However, the concept of a ‘smart phone’ had arrived and it was just a matter of time before converging technologies facilitated the birth of the iconic modern smartphone.


Picture This – The Camera Phone
Hot on Simon’s heels the commercial camera phone hit the Japanese market in May 1999. The Kyocera Visual PhoneVP-210 ushered in the age of instant image and video sharing. This feature was so sought after and so successful it was speedily adopted and, by 2003, camera phones outsold stand-alone digital cameras.
By the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, almost all smartphones had an integrated digital camera. Inevitably, this led to a further, rapid decline in sales of stand-alone cameras, whilst smartphones continued to develop improved camera technology.


Apple’s iPhone - The Icing On The Smartphone Cake
By the late 2000s smartphones were well and truly part of the landscape, yet it took Steve Jobs and Apple to really nail the concept and properly open up the web to phone users. The iPhone was perhaps the key product that defined what a smartphone really was. And so, in 2007, out went the, hitherto, rather clunky keyboards, replaced instead with a large – 3.5 inches! – touch screen and single ‘home’ button. In terms of a user experience the bar had been raised several notches, helping cement the smartphone’s place at the centre of most peoples’ daily lives.


Appy Days
Aside from encompassing pictures and video, an essential part of the smartphone’s armoury was the app’. Nowadays there are apps for almost everything and, as a thoroughly modern cruise line MSC Cruises has its own app’ too. MSC for Me is available on all the ‘smart’ ships in the fleet and is there to help each of our guests enjoy every moment of their cruise, just the way they want to. Cutting edge technology allows MSC for Me to interconnect passengers, crew and the ship for a seamless cruising experience.
It’s fair to say smartphones have permeated every corner of our lives, facilitating everything from high art to passport photos and capturing global news events as well as the most precious family moments. As well as researching your holiday, you can even book your next cruise with your smartphone and, whilst you’re about it, complete your embarkation details and reserve tours and visits to theme restaurants too!