Why do we call them phones?The other day I thought for a minute about why we call the supercomputers that we carry around in our pocket, “phones?”
The other day I thought for a minute about why we call the supercomputers that we carry around in our pocket, “phones?”
Ask a young person in today’s generation and you will find out quickly that people hardly use these rectangular devices to make “phone calls.” Indeed, they are mainly used for texting, snapping, tweeting, consuming, gaming, etc. Pretty much every form of communication BESIDES calling people we know.
So I did some research and found that other people have asked this same question…Why do we call them phones still?
This isn’t just a semantic issue. It’s a marketing one. Wireless companies want us to think of our rectangular gadgets first and foremost as phones, since what their plans give us in the phone department (unlimited minutes and texting, on most carriers) is much better than what they give us in the data department (tiered caps on data use, with charges for overage). In fact, these companies make millions of dollars a year from our tendency to overestimate the number of calls we’ll make in a given month, and underestimate the amount of data we’ll use. — NY MAG
Regardless of its implications on wireless carriers, it’s odd to refer to these vast, all-encompassing gadgets merely as “phones.” It would be like calling a car a “radio box,” or a microwave a “popcorn maker.” All smartphones can make calls, sure, but what makes one device different from another is how well it can do everything else.
So let’s call these devices something that more accurately reflects how we use them. One idea would be to take a cue from the British and start referring to them simply as “mobiles.” We could even call them “Handys,” as the Germans do, or “mini-tablets,” which is essentially what they are. Or we could coin another neologism, like “pocket computer.” (“Pock-comp” for short.)
Inevitably, we will use a new word. But for now, I guess we have to deal with something that does not really make much sense.
Originally published at gonen.blog.
Exported from Medium on February 17, 2018.