Technically speaking, smartphones have been around for a while. However it was probably until 2007 with the introduction of the iPhone that the smartphone race really kicked off. That being said it seems that at one point in time, Samsung could have gotten a leg up on the competition in a very big way had they made their decision differently.
The year is 2005. There are no smartphones, at least not by today’s standards. Carriers control not just what apps run on your phone – they try to curate search results on phones pushing ringtones first and relevant results last. At the same time, countless phones run various software versions, and what apps work on a Nokia phone often won’t work on Motorolas or Samsungs. Developers stay away from phones as if they were the devil. The few that feel obliged to write software for mobile are doing so on a per phone basis, literally writing separate code for dozens of phones, often for over 100.