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At what point do "smartphones" become just "phones"?

At what point do
Earlier today, we learned that smartphones have finally hit the magical point where more than half of all mobile users had a smartphone (in Q1 2012, according to Nielsen.) This begs a crucial question: at what point do "smartphones" simply become "phones"? At some point the turn has to be made, and given how quickly smartphones are penetrating the market, it seems as though it's a turn that could be made fairly soon. 

We've seen this happen with a number of technologies already. There's almost no point in distinguishing between a TV and an HDTV anymore, because the cost has come down so dramatically that anyone can afford an HDTV. Stereos no longer really need to be labeled as "HiFi", because sound quality is pretty high even in the cheapest of devices. Sure, there will be a difference on more expensive equipment, but the standard already meets the criteria. What was once called a "super computer" would be considered slow compared to devices we carry in our pockets. Similarly, it doesn't seem as though the day is that far off where "feature phones" no longer exist, and every new phone is "smart" to some extent.

Smart by ubiquity

There are already free (or almost free) devices available for every major platform including Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Moving forward, the number of free devices will only increase and further push feature phones to the side. Cost is already less and less a determining factor in the choice between feature phones and smartphones, and the only real deterrent now is technological proficiency. Sure, there will be those who have no interest in smartphones because of some sort of fear of technology (which is often really just a fear of not being able to learn how to use the new tech,) but those people won't be able to stop smartphones from fully penetrating the market. Rather, those people will be forced to buy a smartphone due to a lack of feature phone options. 

Admittedly, this is a phenomena that we will see first in wealthier regions like the US/Canada, western Europe, Japan, etc., but eventually it is something that will extend to every part of the world. And, when we live in a world where all cell phones are smartphones, will we even bother with the term? If we do, what will distinguish basic smartphones from the upper echelon? With the speed at which the mobile market is evolving, what was dubbed the first superphone just two years ago isn't even able to run the newest version of its operating system because of a lack of internal storage. Now, the only company that even bothers with the marketing term "superphone" is RIM, because, well, let's face it, RIM needs every buzzword available to turn that ship around. 

The effects of naming

The idea may seem trivial, but the way we use language and the way we choose to describe things can tell a lot about the society at large. Maybe we're a bit too compulsive about accurate language (which may be why this is our chosen profession), but the naming of things is a way that we exert control and force understanding. By continuing to call these devices that we carry "smartphones", it makes two important assumptions: 

  1. That there is such a thing as a "dumb" phone.
  2. That users need to be "smarter" in some way in order to use these devices. 

The first assumption is still true, but, as we mentioned above, that is changing. The second point really isn't true at all, and eventually it seems as though the marketing teams may realize that they are alienating potential customers simply by calling these devices "smartphones" rather than "phones". 

The idea that you need to be smarter simply to use a smartphone is ridiculous. Yes, if you want to be able to use the smartphone to its fullest potential, you will need a certain level of tech savviness, or at the very least the willingness to learn a bit. However, to simply use a smartphone in the same way one might use a feature phone (you know for communication, like phone calls and maybe texting), smartphones can be even easier than most feature phones for completing these tasks. Even the addition of a virtual keyboard alone is likely to get more people texting than a simple T9 keypad that is found on many a feature phone. And, even the least tech savvy user could benefit from a contacts list or an incoming call screen with photos of their contacts rather than just text.

Technologically wary consumers may not realize this because they get scared off by all of the other features that are standard on a smartphone. Smartphones need to always be better and better, which means the marketing will focus more and more on advanced features like apps, web browsing, video chat, etc. These things may not be all that difficult to use, but the divide between "easy" tech and "hard" tech can be pretty thin for some users. 

The iPad alone has been one of the most instrumental devices in bringing in sections of the older techno-phobic crowd. Those who had been scared of smartphones will often pick up an iPad and realize just how easy the experience can be. There is just enough of the PC metaphor there to help people understand without needing to learn, but the over all experience is made even easier because of the touch interface. The direct connection from hand to action is so much more appealing for some than having to use a tool like a mouse. Once that initial hesitation is overcome, the smartphone experience is an extremely easy one. For basic use, there is no more learning needed than when using any feature phone, and all other functions are optional. 


That brings us right back to the beginning. Feature phones are already losing their cost benefit over smartphones, and it seems like it's only a matter of time before users begin to realize that the learning curve associated with a smartphone is actually optional. Just like with a traditional computer, if you don't need to use a certain function, you may not bother to learn how to do it. The same applies to smartphones. 

Once those two hurdles are overcome, the last hurdle is in making sure that smartphones have more built-in parental controls. iOS is so far the best for this, and others need to catch up, because eventually the only market left for feature phones would be for children, where parents don't want to allow access to content stores, web browsers, or certain apps. 

That day can't be too far off, and then there won't be a divide between cell phones, because they will all be smartphones. Eventually, it becomes the same as telling everyone that they are special and unique. With humans, being unique is normal; so, once smartphones are the norm, they won't really be "smart" any more. They'll just be phones. 

Until we get neural-embedded phones of course. Then, we'll definitely need a new word for what had once been known as a "smartphone". 

  • Options

posted on 07 May 2012, 20:55

1. alpinejason (Posts: 262; Member since: 06 Sep 2011)

pretty much sums it up!

posted on 07 May 2012, 21:24

2. Synack (Posts: 677; Member since: 05 Jul 2011)

My Galaxy Nexus is just a phone. The Galaxy S3 also did not impress me, just like the iPhone4S. Somebody needs to take a giant step out of the box that all of the smartphones are currently in. Everything seems to be the same except for screen sizes.

posted on 07 May 2012, 21:36 1

3. frmrVZguy (Posts: 42; Member since: 10 Mar 2012)

Title this: "SMART is DUMB if it doesn't work dependably."

There's a different point of view about all this 'smartness' that relates to what the device can DO FOR you. I've had the chance to ride the tide of the 'smartphone wave' for the last 7-8 years and the definition of DO has changed from business communication to (that+business documentation tool) to (all that+production tool) and now to (all of that+multimedia device). I use each of those terms very broadly.

A huge change in customer expectation occured as perceived and real affordability came along. Kids saw what mommy and daddy had in their pocket and it was like 'MAGIC' and eyecandy. They played and stayed with it.

BUT, dependability is the ingredient that makes or breaks a concept. We just witnessed Blackberry outages and (Palm, WinMo and Blackberry) device failures (nerver mind what reason) cause the mighty to fall. The so-called smartphone is becoming THAT dependable that the customer EXPECTS 'Utility-grade' dependability and if it ever fails, so does customer trust. SMART is DUMB if it doesn't work dependably. The stories I know from behind the scenes just makes me shake my head in wonder: "How could THEY be so sloppy?"

The big CAN fall merely due to quality and dependability problems that sabotage reputation and desirability. Remember THAT Apple. Who makes your phones and what is THEIR motivation to keep you as the top brand? Hmmmm?

posted on 07 May 2012, 21:37

4. wendygarett (unregistered)

Another great article michael :)
im searching whether ther are some thumb up for you :)

posted on 08 May 2012, 09:00

32. -box- (Posts: 3991; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)

Good article, but one concern I had about it was about the pricing. There are no truly "free" phones, just ones that are discounted with a contract and equipment subsidy. The way it's presented now is misleading

posted on 08 May 2012, 11:39

40. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

thats true. it may be free up front but your going to pay an averaged premium on it over the life of the contract...

posted on 07 May 2012, 21:45 2

5. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)

personally i think price is a large hurdle smartphones need to overcome... not the phone itself per say, but the price of the service... plenty of people would buy a smartphone, but the extra cost of a data plan is too much and uneeded... but none of the carriers are willing to sell smartphones without a data plan, which limits the amount of people who can access them and who are relegated to feature/regularphones

posted on 07 May 2012, 22:14 1

6. nando2do (Posts: 53; Member since: 10 Nov 2011)

agree on most of it. except when you say that carriers dont want to sell smartphones without data plan, that might happen on the US but not necessary on the rest of the world.

but if you think about it, in basic economics, if the demand keeps growing like right now, the price will be have to be increase. just like iphones, those phones are not made by gold (some of the parts on the chips only) and still have stupid prices like 1,000 per unit if buy it without contract.

next year the phones that right now have 2 cores will be obsolete since the competition keeps pushing the boundaries on expansion of hardware which actually doesnt necessary means its worth it.

the idea of a smart phone was to make your online assets easy and common ones like phone calls and txt easier. right now we find phones with 4 cores, retina display, ultra thin. etc.. stuff that makes people look and think is better just because is thinner, bigger, and good looking.

the thing is, whats next? what would you get on 2014? a 5.6 inch phone, 7 inches thick with super ultra amoled or super retina whatever they come out with. will never know till we get there :D

in the meantime we can still keep playing with our toys

posted on 07 May 2012, 22:42 1

7. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)

well the US is the only place i am familiar with, but i understand the rest of the world functions without contracts.. i think u mean 7 millimeters btw..

the carriers complain about subsidizing costs of smartphones.. but i dont see any of them giving up the model and moving toward one where people are not locked into data contracts-- except for sort-of tmbile.. but its not really much of a change..

posted on 07 May 2012, 22:56 1

8. potatosalad (Posts: 40; Member since: 07 May 2012)

..is when you can have free internet on your mobile. and i'm speaking zero balance of your credit. (plan subscription not included)

posted on 08 May 2012, 00:03 4

9. ilia1986 (unregistered)

I think that there needs to be a clear distiction here, Michael.

Smartphones used to be defined as a phone on which one can install 3rd party apps which bring additional functionality. These days there are still smart and "dumb" phones as you described, however this is indeed changing wildly - but in a different way.

I think that the distincion in the future will be between smart phones - and super smart phones. Or "dumb" phones and smart phones. Let me explain.

IMO, in the future, a smartphone will be considered a device which would be truly smart - capable of performing actions beyond the range of other phones not because it has necessarily better hardware or a different form factor, but because of the phylosophy driving the nature of it's OS.

A phone that allows you for example to take a picture of an icon of a file on your PC via it's monitor, and which then proceeds to automatically connect with said PC over Wifi, and download the file to your device. A phone which can be set to ring the alarm at a certain rate, and detect that if it is not picked up, put a status on every social network telling everyone how lazy you are. A phone which can truly do everything because of the open nature of it's OS, and the freedom given to both developers who write apps for it, and the user who ends up using it. A phone customizable in every way which is possible, as needed. I am talking of course about phones running Open Source OSs - Android and (hopefully in the future) WebOS

On the other hand, there are other types of phones - which in my opinion are "dumb" phones. Sure, they may be considered smartphones right now, but as you said - Times - they are a'-changin. These phones contrary to those mentioned earlier, provide the end user with a 95% fixed user experience. In order to get a different experience out of their phone, a user needs to download a 3rd party app, simply because he\she cannot change almost anything on the device otherwise. These apps also are very restrictive in their nature, and cannot interface or change directly various aspects of the phone itself. These phones have a closed OS. What you see is what you get. A good exapmple would be of course phones running iOS and Windows Phone 7, but there is also RIM with it's BB platform. In my opinion, these phones are very very similar to "dumb" phones nowdays, if we were to take dumb phones, give them a touch-screen and add a proprietary application store for them.

So, to conclude, I believe that the future distinction will be between "dumb" phones which only give the end user a fixed user experience, and only provide 3rd party apps in order to enhance it in very fixed ways, and between smartphones which are capable of literally anything a person can think of and the hardware can perform, and give the end user almost unlimited choice and have virtually unlimited potential.

So in short - IMO, the times are changing - but the distinction will stay pretty much the same.

posted on 08 May 2012, 00:24 3

11. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Sorry, but I can't agree with any of that. You've got yourself a great start to an Android/Open source religion, but that's about it. Your definition of "smartphone" is way too exclusive for my tastes.

posted on 08 May 2012, 00:36 2

13. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Why is it exclusive, Michael? Isn't a smartphone a phone which can do more - much more - than the regular dumbphones?

And Android\Open source is not a religion. It's more of a philosophy. Religion requires donations\cash to exist. Android does not. :)

What is your definition of a smartphone, Michael?

posted on 08 May 2012, 00:47 1

14. bizwhizzy (Posts: 51; Member since: 04 Aug 2011)


posted on 08 May 2012, 00:49 2

15. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

It's exclusive because it is defining something not just on potential, but the potential to provide functionality that 99% of users will never use or care about. If you're going to define like that, you quickly get into some murky water.

So, an old G1 would be considered a "smartphone" just because it's running Android, but a Windows 8 phone or the iPhone 5 wouldn't because of the platform? That's absurd.

Just because something is "closed" rather than "open" doesn't mean that there aren't APIs to allow 3rd party devs to extend the functionality of the system past what the base platform offers.

I don't think "smartphone" is something that can have a static definition. Just like you can't have a static definition for "computer". Static definitions don't work well in tech, because everything evolves too fast. The loose definition you give is good enough for me. A smartphone is a phone which can do much more than a dumbphone. That gives a loose definition on both ends which can evolve over time.

That said, iOS, WP7, BB, webOS, Symbian, bada, and Android are all smartphones (some smarter than others in various ways).

posted on 08 May 2012, 01:09 2

19. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Well that's some yet-to-be-proven statistics you got there, Michael. I believe - as evidenced by countless YouTube videos, articles, and number of tweaks\apps\launchers\etc in Google Play - that there are a whole lot of things which are widely used by a lot of people - and these things provide functionality which people do care about - a lot of people - not just 1%.

And yes - potentially a G1 would be smarter when compared to an iPhone 5 or WP8. Just like the original Droid for example would be smarter than a Nokia S40 phone with a 1Ghz processor, despite having inferior specs.

"Just because something is "closed" rather than "open" doesn't mean that there aren't APIs to allow 3rd party devs to extend the functionality of the system past what the base platform offers. "

I am sorry but this is wrong. A closed platform wouldn't allow a developer to change it's core aspects, or interface with them in any matter. Apps for the iPhone can only interface with the hardware components - not with the software one. That's why you can use a different web browser - but when you open a link in your mail app - Safari opens no matter what. And that's just one example out of many.

And yes, the world is evolving - and as I said - IMO in the future there will be smartphones and there will be no-so-smart phones, aka dumbphones. Yes, as you said, all those aforementioned platforms are considered smart today, but remember than backn in the 1990's, having access to your mail via GPRS was considered the pinnacle of technology, where today almost any phone can do that. Times - they are a'-changin :)

posted on 08 May 2012, 01:22 2

20. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Open source doesn't mean unlimited access. There are limits on Android developer access just like any other platform. There are plenty of things you can't do without root access, which is no different than rooting WP or jailbreaking iOS. As I said, you can't define based on potential. The potential for Android is greater just because the source is open, but the functionality borne from that potential is only open to the very low percentage that roots their devices. You can only define for the base user.

posted on 08 May 2012, 01:39 2

22. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Yes, and this is why I was talking about the future. I believe that in the future every Android phone will be rooted, or at least the user can enable SU privilieges via the settings menu. Already we can see some companies openly providing tools to unlock the bootloaders of their devices. Besides - again - given the amount of custom ROMs and tweaks which require user access, I would argue that that the percentage of users who do root their device isn't nearly as low as you might think.

A produce can be defined based on potential, just like you'd rather buy a car which potentially could go 1000 miles on a single gallon of gas (for this example's sake) than a car which can only go for 30 miles on a single gallon. Given of course that both cars are evenly priced. Potential does matter. A lot.

As for this "base user" - he\she too is changing. People are becoming more and more aware of what smartphones do. That in turn will cause those of them who are curious by nature to explore, research and discover new things they can do with their phone, and if they ever find out that their phone can't do all these cool things that their friend's phone can because the company which made it decided that it should control the user experience, and not them, may God help that company once the number of such people grows large enough.

posted on 08 May 2012, 09:47 1

33. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Aha, so your definition of smartphone doesn't actually cover any existing "smartphones". According to your definition, everyone is buying a dumbphone, and those that choose to root are then converting their devices into smartphones. How is that not exclusionary?

Whether it gets 30MPG or 1000MPG, it's still called a car is it not?

Increased awareness of potential has very little bearing on choice with many consumers, because as I pointed out in the article, many people are simply too lazy or too disinterested to learn or take advantage of what smartphones can do. There are plenty of people who buy an Android, but never really install more than a few apps. Yes, the base user is changing, but not nearly as much as you think.

All of this leads right back to my point. You are not only setting a static definition, but one that may never come to pass (all phones rooted? really?), and one that doesn't even cover any current smartphones. As I said originally, that is far far too exclusionary for me.

Just because you have an idea of what the perfect smartphone would be for you, doesn't mean that everyone agrees, or even wants that idea to be true. That is exclusionary. Just because someone wants a touchscreen and a few apps, but doesn't want or care about advanced features doesn't mean they aren't buying a smartphone, it just means they aren't using it to its fullest potential, but it's still a smartphone.

According to your definition, only Linux boxes would be considered computers, not Windows or Mac. So, even a Chromebook, which is a Linux box that only runs a browser would be considered more of a computer than any Windows PC. That's the danger of defining on potential and philosophy.

posted on 08 May 2012, 12:55

44. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Well first of all we are all aware than even an unrooted Android phone can do much much much more than the most advanced iPhone will ever be able to.

But yes - essentially I see a smartphone - in the future - as a rooted Android\Open source phone. Sorry. That's just how I see it - because it's capable of virtually anything. It's a bit extreme, I know - but this is how I envision the industry in 10+ years - Smartphones which give the end user almost complete control over the device, and not-so-smart-phones which provide the user with a fixed user experience. If we compare it to the pre-iPhone era - this distinction is about right as well. There were dumb phones which couldn't do anything more than what they already did, and gave the end user very little if any control over the device, and there were the Nokia\Blackberry\WinMo smartphones which gave the user a whole lot more control over the device.

As for the root thing - as I said - a LOT of people are rooting their Android phones. There wouldn't be as many custom roms, tweaks and apps which require rooting if that wasn't true.

So yes - a car is still a car - just like a phone is still a phone is still a phone. But there is a clear and distinct difference in potential.

"Increased awareness of potential has very little bearing on choice with many consumers, because as I pointed out in the article, many people are simply too lazy or too disinterested to learn or take advantage of what smartphones can do."

True. For now. But remember the late 90's. Windows 95 launch. People bought it just out of hype, not even sure what to do with that. People bought it even though they didn't have a PC! Fast forward 2012. Show me a person who is willing to buy PC software just out of hype without being aware of it's core features and benefits, and I will show you a man who is either very rich, or loves gambling.

This is what is going to happen in the mobile market as well. It's already starting to happen. People are becoming more and more aware than the smartphone is a PC - and they don't wanna get stuck with a PC which can't do things while another PC which costs the same and exists in the same time - can.

Again, a "smartphone" is really definition dependent. We just happen to define it differently, I guess.

Btw - Linux IS superior to anything else. The problem with it is lack of support from large companies. If linux had the amount of support Android does today - I assure you that the desktop market would have looked drastically different by now.

But hell, at least Microsoft has the fracking basic decency to provide the user access to it's file system.

posted on 08 May 2012, 14:50

48. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

See, this is the problem I have when discussing things with you. You are constantly going off topic. The topic has never been whether or not there is a difference in potential between a rooted Android and stock iPhone, or between a 30MPG car and a 1000MPG car, nor am I arguing at all that what you're saying is true on either account.

The point has always been that regardless of that potential difference each is still placed under the same word. Regardless of potential gas mileage, a car is a car. Regardless of openness or potential, a computer is a computer. And, regardless of openness or potential, a smartphone is still a smartphone. To throw in a sports metaphor, Kevin Durant may be a far far far better basketball player with far far better potential than Brian Scalabrine, but they are both still basketball players.

Whatever you see as the best way, or the pinnacle of what certain thing can be is just your opinion, not the definition of that thing. Abstract concepts, like perfection (what you're talking about), can be defined differently by different people, but physical objects (smartphones) cannot otherwise language would be completely useless.

posted on 08 May 2012, 15:20

50. ilia1986 (unregistered)

How is this off topic? The article specifically states that you think that in the near future there will be almost no point in distinguishing between "smartphones" and "feature phones" given how every phone will be "smart" in some extent.

I presented my opinion which stated that in my opinion, in the near future there will be a clear distinction between open source phones, and closed source ones. I dubbed the former "smartphones", and the latter "not-so-smart phones". I also explained why on numerous occasions.

So yes - phones remain phones remain phones, and they are "smart" to some extent if by smart you consider access to 3rd party apps, and browsing the web (which is funny since these things existed on smart phones a long time before the original iPhone). These criteria will no longer be enough for a phone to be considered smart anymore, since you basically yourself stated that every phone is going to be "smart" to some extent. The same can be applied to phones 10 years ago. It can be argued that a camera phone 10 years ago, or a phone which allowed you to play MP3s was "smart". Heck, even WAP browsing was considered smart at one point. Access to a capacitive screen, a browser, and an ability to install 3rd party apps no longer define a smartphone these days. Something else does. And I believe that this something else is an open operating system which gives the end user an almost complete control over his\her phone.

There is nothing wrong about debating about this here, but claiming that this is off topic seems to me a bit weird, frankly.

posted on 09 May 2012, 14:37

56. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

As I said, "Abstract concepts, like perfection (what you're talking about), can be defined differently by different people, but physical objects (smartphones)"

It became off topic because you stopped talking about what the physical object is, how it relates to other physical things in the market, and how the definition of those physical things change over time, and began talking all about the abstract concept of perfection, which I don't think has any bearing on the conversation.

Your definition of the perfect smartphone is your opinion, because it's based on what you like, and what you think is best. It is 100% subjective. What I'm trying to talk about are the physical objects that exist in the market. The physical things that most people in the world agree fall into the definition of smartphone (iOS, BB, Android, WP, bada, Symbian, etc.) as compared to feature phones.

Trust me, I fully understand what you think is the ultimate smartphone, but my point is that the ultimate isn't the only thing that falls into a category and it is certainly not what defines that category, which is what you are continually trying to argue. I think this is off topic, because we aren't talking about what is the best, we're just talking about what falls into the category.

As I've said a number of times, a car is still a car regardless of MPG rating. A star is still a star regardless if it is the size of our Sun or Star R136a1 (300x bigger, 10 million times brighter.) A computer is still a computer whether it runs Windows, Mac or Linux. And, a smartphone is still a smartphone whether it runs Android, iOS, WP, etc.

posted on 11 May 2012, 13:00

58. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Again, you misinterpret my post as something which deals about the topic of "the perfect smartphone".

That was not my intent.

I merely explained that in the *future* - in my opinion - there will be a clear distinction between open source phones and closed source ones. The former *will* be more capable than the latter. Hence the similarity to the current situation in which smartphones are more capable phones than feature phones. As I said - in my opinion - in the future - "feature phones" will become today's smartphones which have a closed OS, while "smartphones" will become today's smartphones which have an open OS. I also explained why. In addition - I tried to stay as objective as possible.

It's true that I've thrown some hints here and there regarding which is superior - and these bits of opinions might have been off topic, but overall my posts have been only arguing that while you claim that in the future all phones will be more or less equal, unlike the current situation in which there are feature phones which are less capable, and smartphones which are more capable - I claim that in the future there will continue to be a clear distinction between different phone capability types: the "feature phones" will be phones with a closed OS, while "smartphones" will be phones with an open OS.

Again - the topic of my posts is NOT which is superior - a closed OS or an open OS, but rather what I believe will be the distinction between different phone types in the future.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 10:24

59. Saroku (Posts: 5; Member since: 26 Jun 2012)

No, calling a device that people use for surfing, music, posting on facebook, photos, looking for the train, chatting via facebook, reading news, only a phone is more like calling a Recreational vehicle a ordinary car.
A normal car is indeed primary used to drive. Thats what determines its form factor.
But a Smartphone is NOT primary a phone like a car is primary a car. A Smartphones form factor was determined NOT by making a call. It has a big screen for multimedia an all kind of apps. So you can't say that just because a car will primary always be a car, that phones will always be primary phones.

posted on 08 May 2012, 01:26 1

21. biophone (Posts: 1956; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)

Illia i also seem to find in your post you overestimate the importance of an open system. An open system is a matter a prefence some people would like a close system that has really world funcationality displayed in a intuivtive way. Really all a smartphone is, is a category of phones that have more capablebilties then standard phones. It just so carriers can seperate their premium phones from basic ones so they can distinguish which phones you must pay for data to have.

posted on 08 May 2012, 01:40 2

23. ilia1986 (unregistered)

You are implying that open source OSs are not intuitive to use, while closed source, are.

That's not necessarily so.

posted on 08 May 2012, 01:44

24. biophone (Posts: 1956; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)

Closed source os don't have as much customizability making them simplier and easier which makes it more intuivite for a first time smartphone user.

posted on 08 May 2012, 01:50 1

25. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Again, this is a generalization. Just because a system is open - doesn't mean it's harder to use. Yes you can do more with it, which means that you need to play with it for a bit to suit things for you, but that's the entire beauty of it.

What would you prefer? to live in a house in which everything was set up, but you couldn't change anything or even move the furniture, or to design your house\apartment together with a professional designer and plan where everything goes, and have the ability to chage or replace it if need be?

Control is good. It doesn't automatically mean that it gets harder to use.

posted on 08 May 2012, 02:18

26. biophone (Posts: 1956; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)

If the house is already nicely made its just easier that way. Some prefer it

posted on 08 May 2012, 02:22 1

27. ilia1986 (unregistered)

But what happens if you don't like the way it's set up? What if it bores you after awhile? And assuming that most furniture is free.. What then? You're stuck with it! Until you buy a new house of course.

posted on 08 May 2012, 11:03

35. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

luckily devices are far less expensive and can be resold pretty easily. so, if you find you don't like it, just sell it and buy something new.

however, if you do like it, then you've got a sweet house at a fraction of the effort!

posted on 08 May 2012, 13:01

45. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Not in Israel, Michael. And I'm pretty sure that this applies to other parts of the world as well. Selling a used cellphone here is almost as hard as selling a used car - you really gotta cut the price down, or people won't buy. It's not like you can change phones like gloves, or something.

As for the house - yes - if you happen to like it - and happen to like it for the entire duration you use it - which in cellphone terms is 1.5 - 2 years (!), then you are in luck. You've just saved yourself at most 5(!) minutes of customization which would otherwise be spent on tweaking, adjusting and tuning the "furniture". Congratulations.

posted on 09 May 2012, 14:43

57. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

As I've said, I'm talking specifically about places like the US, western Europe and Japan, because those are the regions that are showing how it will be going forward.

Yes, right now it is expensive and troublesome to buy or sell a smartphone in Israel, but that will change. The change comes along with the cost of technology dropping, which starts first in areas like the US and Europe (you know, those places where people don't care so much about debt as long as they have cool toys), then moves to the rest of the world (where people understand the concept of living within one's means a bit better).

posted on 08 May 2012, 11:40 1

41. gallitoking (Posts: 4718; Member since: 17 May 2011)

illia some people rent because either they cant afford a house or because they don't have to worry about anything... something breaks... call the landlord and is fixed,.,, some would prefer to buy a house and be in charged of everything.. same with smart phones,. some people just want to be able to place calls send a few texts... and occasionally use the internet.. just because you have different needs doesn't mean that everyone else will follow..

posted on 08 May 2012, 13:03

46. ilia1986 (unregistered)

"some people just want to be able to place calls send a few texts... and occasionally use the internet"

That's fine. But there is a device capable of doing so much more - at the same (or even lower) price. Why not buy that instead? Who knows what needs will these people develop over time? A bit of foreseeing here, please.

posted on 08 May 2012, 14:31

47. gallitoking (Posts: 4718; Member since: 17 May 2011)

so why buy a sedan when you can buy a SUV right has 4x4 and so many things that you cant do on a sedan?... you like Android because of choices.. right.. why you only wnat Android OS to exist.. the better the competions is.. the better android gets... is it what you want?..

and to answer your question is.. because some people dont need all that and will get it when needed

posted on 08 May 2012, 15:09

49. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Because a SUV is much larger? And costs more? And isn't as pretty perhaps? Things which aren't true when it comes to Android phones.

Android phones are not necessarily larger, or more expensive, or prettier than the iPhone, generally speaking.

And yeah they will get it when needed - but what if they need it 5 days after purchasing? We can't predict our desires, much less our own needs. Better have as much bang for your buck as possible. Especially these days.

posted on 08 May 2012, 17:40

53. gallitoking (Posts: 4718; Member since: 17 May 2011)

people that buy the iphone wil keep it of ryears and most likely will buy another. .you are the exception but most people will not returned the iphone ... the iphone works for most people the sooner you get and everyone else here gets it the better everyone wil be

posted on 08 May 2012, 23:06

54. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Yes, of course, the sooner we sacrifice our souls for Apple, the better everyone will be.

And I've found that 99% of the apps I have on the iPhone - also exist on Google play.

posted on 18 Sep 2013, 07:11

60. iDroid8 (Posts: 155; Member since: 16 Oct 2012)

Simply put, as of now a smartphone is just any phone that runs some kind of a 'smart' OS (android, ios, wp, anything like that)
so a $50 low end is a smartphone, but a $150 asha series phone is not
in future, the definition is surely going to change as a smartphone will be a phone with truly smart features, and not just some os (the current trend is putting some kind of os in those 'dumb' phones too, with some like nokia even throwing in an appstore)

posted on 18 Sep 2013, 07:12

61. iDroid8 (Posts: 155; Member since: 16 Oct 2012)

*low end android

posted on 08 May 2012, 17:36 1

51. mcky009 (Posts: 2; Member since: 17 Jan 2012)

You make some really strong points in your comment. It's something i have often wondered about. Is the iPhone and other phones that run on closed OS's true "smartphone's" or merely highly stylized, functional and extremely advanced future phones.

The fact is the same can be said for android to some extent. The fact is these "closed OS's" will have to changes and evolve in radical ways in order to keep up with the likes of android. That seems to be growing more advanced and efficient in its functions based on whats it's backers are doing, and this is on a daily bases. The makers of these closed OS's have realized this and are making some advancements.

But in the end i believe that smartphone's well be ranked the same way they are now. That is on what they allow the end user to do. Based on what they can do out of the box and what said user can add to enhance functionality

posted on 08 May 2012, 00:16

10. Pdubb (Posts: 248; Member since: 08 Aug 2011)

"the only real deterrent now is technological proficiency. Sure, there will be those who have no interest in smartphones because of some sort of fear of technology (which is often really just a fear of not being able to learn how to use the new tech,) "

I am not so sure about this. Some people don't want a smartphone simply becuase they don't need one. Some only use their phone for calls. Mainly older people but the same applies they could learn just no need. Kinda like the people that buy a SUV and they live alone just overkill.

posted on 08 May 2012, 00:35

12. cheeseycheeser (Posts: 413; Member since: 24 Mar 2011)

I really honestly know/think that the only think stopping 97% smartphone perpetration is data plans. RIght now about half my friends have smartphones. But it's mostly the wealthier ones.
Every single other one of them would have at the very least a lower end android or old iPhone if data were less or even free.

posted on 08 May 2012, 00:52

16. Giggity (Posts: 147; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)

At what point do "smartphones" become just "phones"?

What's make a phone "smart" is their ability to access other resources such as internet and 3rd party application software. That's pretty much the standard to qualify any phone as a "smartphone" today. When all phones achieve this status, they'll just be all phones again. The cycle continues until a new standard is establish, like hologram for example.

posted on 08 May 2012, 01:00

17. haseebzahid (Posts: 1853; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)

so the whole article point is in future mobiles will be smarter and user will be dumber.for example one who don't even know the office route can simple let the phone to do the routing and tell him what to do. so without it one wont even know where he / she is ?uhhh

posted on 08 May 2012, 01:05 1

18. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Technology always makes lazy people look dumber. GPS is the most recent example of that. if you can't be bothered to learn to use the new standard devices or use those devices to help you learn more, that doesn't make you dumb, but it definitely highlights some troubles.

posted on 08 May 2012, 02:39

28. the_s2 (Posts: 239; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

lol! so true!

posted on 08 May 2012, 11:21

38. haseebzahid (Posts: 1853; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)

well u agree/disagree both with my example and yes you are right on the learning part from technology but the fact is the Human nature most of us will see it as a way out of most things and lest will find it as intellectual although i have one myself. but think of future 20+ years i dont think 1% of kids will be able to do maths that we have done manually. it will be fastest growing technology by then but not much people smart enough to do it rather automatic machines

posted on 08 May 2012, 03:45 2

29. Murfpass (Posts: 23; Member since: 23 Aug 2011)

A smartphone become a "Dumb Phone" when it's made by Apple.

posted on 08 May 2012, 04:14

30. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)

Great Knowledgeable article, you need to get some awards or recognition.

posted on 08 May 2012, 07:48

31. TimTebow (Posts: 70; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)

Nexus One was a superphone? Funny, thought it was just another phone.

posted on 08 May 2012, 10:34 1

34. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

Smartphone is a designation of a phone that says "this phone is "smarter" than that phone" by the way it handles internet, email, texting, apps, and more. It has nothing to do with calling one user smarter than the other. There HAS to be that distinction until the last regular/texting phone disappears from the market. Within the smartphone realm it is already being divided up by "budget" "mid" and "high end" based on features, specs, and pricing.. which of course changes weekly. Without those categories, it would take 10x longer to help a customer get to the right phone.

Pretend for a second that you are a customer.. a regular Joe that knows jack about phones. You walk into a store and say "i want a phone". Having those easy categories of distinction helps ease the process of getting that phone as well as reducing frustration. "how would you like to use it? would you like it to call and text, or be able to email and browse the full web? Ok, u want a smartphone, so do you travel much and need the GPS? What kind of apps do you currently use or you know you would like to use? Are you a tinker'er or do you want it to just work and be done with it? Within a few questions a good sales rep can take the regular Joe and narrow him from a selection of dozens of phones to just a small handful based on the average features/specs of certain categories of phones.

So no, smartphones need to stay smartphones until it is the only category around. You have to look through the eyes of " average Joe", not a tech savy guy.

If you go to best buy they still call all TVs "HD" or "FullHD" or any other of a dozen names, because otherwise uneducated consumers might think its not.

posted on 08 May 2012, 11:05

36. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Best Buy may say HDTV for marketing purposes, but the second that TV is purchased, the consumer never says, "hey, have you seen my new HDTV?" rather, they say, "Hey, have you seen my new TV?"

posted on 08 May 2012, 11:43 1

42. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

ive seen people walk in and go "i just upgraded to my first iphone" and they whip out an SGS2. LOL. I dont trust people to use correct terminology in the least. But thats my point. The categorization breaks down phones into easy to understand classes that makes it easier for the uneducated consumer.. which is most of them. Its just like anything. Why differentiate between NFL, AFL, or college football? Or the minor and big leagues in baseball? Its all basically the same game, but they are all different levels of the same thing and immediately conjure up an image or understanding to a person.

posted on 08 May 2012, 11:11

37. dirtydirty00 (Posts: 421; Member since: 21 Jan 2011)

I dont really consider them 'smartphones' or phones.

to me they are just handheld computers with a phone app on them to make calls.

posted on 08 May 2012, 11:31

39. Sangeet (Posts: 232; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)

I think now it is actually time that people stop calling the Nokia N73 a smartphone..!!

posted on 08 May 2012, 12:48

43. huskerbigred (Posts: 1; Member since: 08 May 2012)

There are two answers to the article's question about Smart vs. Feature phones:

1. There are a few people who would be overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of features in a smartphone vs. simple flip phone. However, this percentage of overall cell phone users is dropping over time, especially due to the similarity of the iPhone and iPad plus the iPad's growing popularity.

2. The $720 per line cost for a data plan over the two years of a common contract. This is what keeps my family away from smartphones, even though all of us would enjoy smartphones. If the day comes that the mandatory data plans go away and allow for WiFi tlo used for all data needs, smartphones will quickly go up to > 90% market share. Most comments in this article miss this point, as well as the article itself.

This discussion is not about openness, dumbness, or anything else but primarily money along with a secondary issue of complexity, in my humble opinion.

posted on 08 May 2012, 17:37

52. Stuntman (Posts: 836; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)

They have just been "phones" to me for over a year. I only ever use the term feature phone or smartphone if I really want to be more specific. When I first got a smartphone, I would call it a smartphone because everyone seems to think it is an iPhone (which it isn't). Now that people no longer think every phone with a touch screen display is an iPhone, I just call it a phone.

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