Then and Now: The Surprising Start and Success of Your Favorite Technologies

ByBecky Patton

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Aspect 2: E-Commerce, Smartphones, and Robots

The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially accelerated the adoption of technology in enterprise, enabling businesses to optimize their operations and meet up with shifting client expectations. In Part 1 of this report collection, we mentioned the origin and achievement of department merchants, supermarkets, and the retail bar code.

Let us carry on this exploration of the past to find the good results of the foreseeable future. In Element 2, we evaluation e-commerce, smartphones, and robots. Now ubiquitous in our lives, how did they get their get started and what can we anticipate in the future?

First Item Acquired On the net

cyber monday 3870916 1920Sometimes it would seem tough to consider there was a time right before online purchasing. These days, we can get essentially nearly anything, from publications and housewares to groceries and cleansing provides, to be sent ideal to our door in just a couple times. That usefulness has unquestionably paid out off, but how accurately did we get in this article.

As with other rising systems, one can discussion the origin of e-commerce. Candidates include a pizza, weed, a CD, or computer sections.

The initial serious on the web transaction that included details encryption software package to mail a credit card securely took location in August 11, 1994 on a web-site termed NetMarket. On that now unforgettable working day, Dan Kohn offered a CD of Sting’s ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’ to a good friend for $12.48 moreover shipping.

After the internet could be applied as a safe shopping channel, on-line shopping’s results was unavoidable. In 1995, and eBay introduced their on the web browsing platforms, before long followed by Rakuten in Japan and Alibaba in China.

A 10 years ago, e-commerce designed up only 8% of overall retail revenue in the United States. The pandemic, as with most electronic systems, turned a key development accelerator for e-commerce. In accordance to McKinsey, COVID-19 compressed 10 decades of e-commerce adoption into 3 months.

At peak in 2020, globally e-commerce grew nearly 26%.


E-commerce will carry on to develop double digit crossing $6 trillion worldwide by 2023. China has by significantly the greatest retail ecommerce sector, symbolizing 52.1% of overall worldwide sales. United states is second but at only at 19%.

As of 2021, in excess of 2 billion individuals globally shopped on the web — that’s more than a single in 4 persons. ‘Field of Gold’, which was 1 of the tracks on that Sting CD that started off it all, properly summarizes the journey’s riches that ecommerce has accrued considering that its unforgettable get started.

Initial Smartphone

communication 6605648 1920The smartphone provides the planet of electronic information suitable to our fingertips, and it’s tricky to envision living devoid of a single. Right now, 85% of older people in the United States own a smartphone. But the path to the smartphone commenced with a two-pound handheld cell phone known as “the Brick.” In 1984, Motorola launched the very first handheld transportable telephone, the DynaTAC 8000X, which cost practically $4,000 and had a battery existence of just 30 minutes.

Anything need to have been in the drinking water in August 1994, as like e-commerce, that was the stunning start off for the smartphone. On August 16 of that year, IBM launched the Simon Individual Communicator to the market. Whilst the time period “smartphone” did not occur into existence right until a calendar year later on, Simon had quite a few of the characteristics of a real smartphone, these kinds of as developed-in apps like an handle ebook, calendar, calculator, and notepad. It even had a touchscreen, even though it essential a stylus.

The price of that original Simon smartphone is not much too unique rate from the cost of an Iphone right now. IBM priced Simon at $899 with a services agreement ($1,435 in today’s dollars. The authentic Simon was on the current market for 6 months and only 50,000 models have been offered.

Speedy forward to 2007 when the Apple Apple iphone emerged and the environment was without end improved. In many of my world-wide presentations and articles or blog posts, I name the smartphone as the 3rd megatrend that transformed retail.

Right now, the entire planet has been qualified to stare at that smartphone display screen.


In 2021, just the best 5 premier smartphone markets crossed about 2 billion units in complete utilization.

First Robotic

david 7017729 1920“The term “robot” was coined in 1920 by the Czech playwright Karel Capek. In “R.U.R.” (“Rossum’s Common Robots”) Capek imagined synthetic, fully useful servants.”

The initial industrial robot was the Unimate, created in the 1950s by Joseph Engelberger and George Devol. The unique objective of these early prototypes was to conduct duties that would harm individuals.

In 1959, a Unimate prototype was mounted on a Normal Motors assembly line to transfer sizzling items of metallic. The introduction of robots in the producing approach led General Motors to become the most automatic automotive plant in the globe. Robots could establish 110 cars and trucks per hour, much more than twice as quick as any other automotive plant at the time.

The global market for industrial robots was $43.8 billion USD in 2021. The current market is expected to expand at a compound-annual-progress price (CAGR) of all-around 10%, reaching nearly $71 billion USD by 2028.

In the retail industry, the robots are now also accelerating their invasion. A person in four merchants are at this time doing work on a robotic venture and 47% report that they will be working on an instore robotic challenge in the up coming 18 months.


The pandemic lifted the profile of robotic automation in warehouses and stores. Sixty-three of retailers say the pandemic increased robotics’ importance for use in warehouses and 42% see increased worth in outlets coming.  Robots and other autonomous systems are feeding the travel to contactless commerce that has been underway for some time.

E-commerce and smartphones have substantially changed the worlds. Far more robots are coming to do the identical.