"Mobile phone" is a misnomer that is leading industries -- especially media -- astray as they try to develop services and business for the next wave of connectivity. So what would a better name be? I'll have a nominee in a second. In this week, the fifth anniversary of the iPhone, it is appropriate and long overdue that we rename this disruptive wonder. But first, let's dispose of these old descriptors.
"Phone" doesn't work anymore, of course, because we -- especially the younger among us -- are using these devices to call people less and less. Note these stats in the UK from O2 via Shane Richmond in the Telegraph.
"Mobile" doesn't work because that makes us envision a user on the road or on the sidewalk when, in fact, most of the use of tablets -- which often fall into the mobile-device category -- is at home. I use my "mobile" phone all the time in my office and even at home and certainly in boring meetings, when I'm quite sedentary.
Mobile = local = around me now. Mobile is my personal bubble. It is enhanced convenience, putting the device and the world in my hand. But next, imagine no device: Cue the war between Siri and Google Glass to eliminate the last mediator, the thing.
I see companies assuming that mobile requires maps and geography or apps and closed worlds. But I think what we now mistakenly call mobile will instead be about getting each of us to what we want with fewer barriers and less effort because the service has gathered so many signals about us: who we are, where we are, what we like, whom we know, what we know, what we want to know, what we buy... The power of what we now call mobile, I believe, is in signal generation and the extreme targeting and convenience that enables.
What we call "mobile" is disruptive in ways we can't yet figure out. We call it "mobile" but we should call it "what's next."
But what do we call it, really? I asked for a new name on Google+ and at last count got 164 responses. None satisfied me. I also asked on Twitter and there I got an answer I like:
In Germany, they call this wondrous device the "handy." Actually, it's "Händy," but to paraphrase Mark Twain, "we'll bring the vowels, let the Germans bring the umlauts."
"Handy" is wonderful because the device fits in the hand. But even when it won't -- when Siri or Glass replace it -- the word still works because it is, indeed, handy. It is the ultimate in handy: convenient, personal, nice to have.
iHändy. Sounds like iCandy. It works, ja?