Industries love to measure themselves and mobile is no exception.

There are weekly reports on the number of ‘smartphones’ shipped, sliced and diced by vendor, operating platform and geographical territory. Most recently, I read the number of ‘smartphones’ shipped last year now exceeds the number of ‘PCs’.

These terms – ‘smartphone’ and ‘PC’ – are nonsense and they compound the problem of adopting a technology-centric, rather than a user-centric, approach to the evolution of digital experience.

Which is the smarter device, a so-called ‘feature phone’ costing USD 100 but pushed to its limits with instant messaging, games and web browser, or a so-called ‘smartphone’ costing USD 500 but never used for more than phone calls and an occasional email?

Which is the more personal computer? The lump of metal and plastic sitting on a desk in a study or the device with a 4 inch touchscreen through which the user spends the majority of their digital interaction time?

The more you operate within semantic boundaries defined by others (primarily, it should be noted, for the convenience of selling analyst reports) the further you travel from the reality of your users.


Add yours
  1. 1

    So you’d banish the the terms “smartphone” and “PC”, and presumably “laptop”, “tablet” and “game console”, and every other term used to describe products with a CPU.

    How does is this user-centric (or useful in any other way), exactly?

  2. 2
    Marek Pawlowski

    I think there’s a danger in taking it to those extremes – no one in the industry would have anything left to say to each other 🙂 However, you will always get a more accurate picture of user behaviour if you consider what a device means to each individual, rather than imagining a generic stereotype defined by a term like ‘smartphone’ or ‘PC’.

  3. 3

    It sounds like you’re arguing with the author. 🙂

    I do consider what a device means to each individual, but to me that doesn’t support the conclusion that the names of the device categories are nonsense.

    To me, it supports the conclusion that we’re living in a time of sea change in people’s relationship to their devices.

+ Leave a Comment