Over the years, our handheld communication devices have been known by quite a few names. They started as “cellular phones”, were shortened to “cell phones” and eventually shifted toward “mobile phones”. Some have even taken on regional names in particular markets (e.g. In Kansas City, a lot of people call them their “PCS” because Sprint’s world headquarters is located in nearby Overland Park, KS). Others see their owners referring to them specifically by their brand name, like “iPhone”, “Blackberry” or “Droid”. Depending on their functionality, some have even earned the nickname “smartphone”.
The problem with most of these names is they tend to focus on “phone” as the key functionality. The shift to mobile devices that are rich with technical functionality, however, has dramatically shifted the way we choose to use the devices. Because of this, it may be time to rethink what we call our communication devices.
For instance, if you have a “smartphone”, take a second and think about how many minutes you spend on actual phone calls. For me, it’s about 30 minutes on average daily. Sure, there are marathon conference calls that are the exception, but on average, I spend about 30 minutes using the phone functionality each day. Now take a second to compare that to the amount of time you spend using your device for something other than phone calls. Between email, Facebook, playing games, surfing the Web, and texting, I probably spend 2-3 hours interacting with my “phone”.
Shifting the name of these devices away from the phone functionality could pose a problem, though. With all of the features being included in these devices, how would we rename them? We could go with something completely generic like “mobile device”, but that doesn’t really explain the functionality offered by these great gadgets. We could go the other way and try to explain everything they do, but a “communi-gaming-media-collab-productivity-device” just doesn’t have a sexy ring to it.
Maybe Gene Roddenberry had it right. Maybe we should just stick with “Communicator”.
Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions on a new name? I’d love to hear your thoughts.