Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Massive Misnomer of the Smart "Phone"

Back in the good old (pre-iPhone) days, we used to call these pocket computers that organized your life a PDA (or Personal Digital Assistant).  With the Palm and Blackberry devices, the convergence of PDAs with cellular phone technology began.  I began with what was called the Palm Pilot, later the Pilot, then just simply "Palm" - had that for many years, and when Samsung came out with the I-300 Palm phone, I was all over it.

And, as is now cliche, along came the iPhone and everything changed.  In fact, I was constantly searching for apps for my Palm and downloading them, but the availability of apps was severely limited (especially as compared to today's App Store and Play Store).  And, I noticed that the plethora of people who had Blackberries and Palm phones, called them a pretty evenly split combination of Phone and PDA (a few called them Organizers).  With iPhone, and I suspect related to the product name, it seems we have abandoned the somewhat wonky and clunky "PDA" for the simpler, but less descriptive, "Phone."  When I want to take a photo, and have to look for my device, I say "Have you seen my phone?"  When I need to check bank balances, travel itinerary, play a game, or the myriad of non-phone things I use my "phone" for the vast majority of its usage time, I call it my "phone."  Kind of interesting.

Although these devices are computers, calling it one is also clunky, because it doesn't take into account the communications and mobility aspects, as well as confusing it with all the non-"phone" computers (desktops, laptops, notebooks, and tablets).  Interestingly enough, the kids constantly say "I want a TV in my room," to which I reply, "You have TV's that you can put anywhere, including in your room."  With Netflix, Watch ABC, PBS Kids, the UVerse app, and more - you have these computing devices that are, by all definition, televisions.  Tablet, by the way, is a great name.  But phone is terrible.  We could go with a Trekky "communicator" - but when you unlock it, you will be forced to change your unlock sound to that of a communicator when Kirk whips it out and says "Kirk to Enterprise, come in Enterprise."

At some point in the not-too-distant future, we will see people who have only ever known a "phone" to be a fully-capable, desktop-class computer with a small footprint and touchscreen interface (i.e. a "smart phone"), and when you say to them "pick up the phone please, it's ringing" - they will stare uncomprehendingly at your cordless handset, wondering what it is, what it does, and why you have it at all.  I mean, all it can do is make and receive phone calls - how useless is that?

Sitting right now in my recycle bin, in fact, is a thick book with the letters "YP" on the front cover.  I have no idea what it is for (other than as a platform for advertising - like there aren't other more useful ones built into my iPhone???).  I mean, it is filled with business names and phone numbers.  Really?  Where are their web sites?  If I want to look up a business, I am going to ask Siri, or type it into a web or map search.  The section on private individuals is totally gone, and rightly so - how could a publication hope to stay on top of peoples' contact numbers?  Maybe this book would be good to use as kindling to start my charcoal chimney, except that I have tons of newspaper for that.  Maybe it could be a paperweight - like I need that.  I have a million other things that have other uses that can also weigh paper down on the patio table when we chill outside.  Obviously there is a segment of people who use these books, but I can't imagine who that is besides senior citizens who don't have a smart phone (a very small segment indeed).  Maybe it is simply a bunch of people working in an office, where over the past 10 years most of the employees have been laid off, and they are desperately trying to hang onto their jobs.

No comments:

Post a Comment