Earlier on today I was inspired by a post on ten years of web design evolution which i highly recommend you check out.
It was an eye opener how things can change over the course of a decade.

Along with the internet, mobile devices have also become considerably more user friendly, powerful and useful over the years.

Here is a quick overview of the different devices which have been important over the past ten years, and why:

1. Nokia 7110
Released: October 1999

Although this handset was released in late 1999, I am including it because it is the first that featured a WAP browser. This allowed people to browse special formatted WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) formatted websites. Practical for almost nothing at first, and then email and banking sites and some web portals later.
This phone has a spring loaded slider, inspired by the modified Nokia 8110 used in the film The Matrix. Nokia handsets were at the time the most popular worldwide, and this phone was a very big seller.

2. Sony Ericsson T68m/T68i
Released: Late 2001/Early 2002

One of the most feature rich phones released in the early part of the decade, this was the first Sony Ericsson screen with a color screen and an at the time impressive 101x80 resolution and 256 colors (the iPhone has a 480x320 and millions of colors). Not only was it one of the first phones on the market with color MMS as well as bluetooth capability and a tri-band antenna which made it a nearly truly "global" handset.
The original phone was launched as the Ericsson T68m and had no camera at all. After the Sony/Ericsson merger, the phone was given an important upgrade; a camera as an optional upgrade. It was relaunched as the T68i and given a full email client as well.
The phone was considered an early example of stealth marketing as Sony Ericsson paid actors to pose as tourists and asked them to take photos of them with the phone.

3. Danger Hiptop
Released: October 2002

If you were a T-Mobile USA customer, this phone was known to you as the Sidekick.
What made the Danger Hiptop different?
The difference was everywhere. From the large screen to the easy to navigate menus (you could quickly move around the menu system without exposing the keyboard), to the full qwerty keyboard, the phone was obviously made for multimedia, and gave parents everywhere a shock when they saw that SMS could cost money, and service providers the world over a good reason to begin to offer SMS packages, moving away from the "cell phone means minutes" model they had used for years.
Eventually this handset became popular with celebrities and even more popular with teens the world over. The screen was upgraded to color and the line still exists today.

4. Palm Treo 600

Released June 2003

Before the Palm Pre, there was the Palm Treo.
Before there was a Palm OS operated phone, there was a Palm OS operated PDA (personal digital assistant). Make no mistake, the Treo was the iPhone of its time.
The Palm Teo was the first merger of PDA and mobile phone giving business users a good excuse to throw out one of their two devices and use just one.
The handset includes a 0.3 megapixel camera and has fully functioning email, web browsing, and office applications. It also has a touch screen as do all Palm devices, however touchscreen technology at the time was limited to LCD screens with limited colors.

This handset was also manufactured by Handspring, which was later purchased by Palm and rebranded as Palm.

5. Motorolla Razr
Released late 2004/early 2005

How do you make a piece of technology a fashion statement? Market it as an exclusive and "must have" type of item, and charge a large ammount for the "privilage" of having one (sound familliar original iPhone first day customers?).

The Razr was marketed as an exclusive phone. There was even a limited edition Dolce & Gabanna gold Razr which came with a charm to attach to the phone.

What made the phone so popular? Was it the most powerful on the market? Hadrly. It did browser the mobile web, took photos and some versions took video. It ran Java based games and applications, and there were also international versions that had the Motorolla Rockr version of iTunes installed. It also had a bad habit of locking up during use requiring the battery to be removed (not all users suffered this), however this phone was all about the style. To have one was to say that you were fashionable. At least that was the case until 2006, by which time Motorolla had sold nearly 50,000,000 Razr handsets world wide.

6. Blackberry 7290
Released 2005

Welcome to Push.
Before 2005, the internet was a manual experience. Users would have to manually open a web page on a mobile browser or mail application and manually check for mail. Push notifications would solve all of this as mail was sent to devices the instant that it was sent to the incoming mail server. This was the last step enterprise (read: businesses) needed to be able to finally efficiently roll out mobile email, and until this date Blackberry remains the handset of choice for enterprise. iPhone and other devices have started to utilize the same push technology as the Blackberry, but the full QWERTY keyboards and predictive text made way for the ultimate email machine, giving it the name "crackberry" amongst its fans and detractors alike, the Blackberry 7290 was truly the first handset to show us what a mobile handset could do for business.

7. iPhone
Released 2007

If the story behind the iPhone is true, someone at Verizon Wireless has lost his or her job.
The story goes that Steve Jobs went to the largest data network in the United States and offered them a new type of handset, one dedicated to browsing the internet without the limitations of WAP, sending text messages and email, all while including mobile maps, and a full iPod built in.
Verizon turned Apple down and the phone was pitched to At&t with the rest history.
The iPhone is the first entry into the mobile phone market for Apple. It's critics decry it's lack of Adobe Flash in its Safari web browser and strict limitations on Applicaions available, while its proponents consider it as close to perfection as a mobile device can come.
In either case, it is very hard to argue how much this one device has changed the landscape. In a mere two years since its launch there are now dozens of other touch screen phones, and operating systems fit to compete with Apple (the Google Android and Palm Pre platforms come to mind) and only better the industry.

In The End, We All Win

Technology has launched itself so far in a mere ten years.
Chances are that every person you keep in touch with has a phone which is far "smarter" than that which was available only a few years ago.
Looking at this list shows how far we have come and only we can guess how we may end up, and how we will get there.