For several years now each subsequent generation of the smartphone has seen the ubiquitous mobile devices become that much smarter and that much less of a phone. To wit, compared to data and text, voice communication accounts for a relatively miniscule portion of the average person’s network use, meaning fewer and fewer people are actually using their smartphones as phones.
So is it a stretch to think that Apple, a company long known for its ability to revolutionize the marketplace, might actually depart from its standard iPhone form factor and create a device that speaks to people’s actual mobile usage habits. In fact, in my mind it doesn’t seem so far-fetched to imagine that come the Fall Apple unveils a product that no longer sports the ‘iPhone’ moniker at all.
While I really have no idea what it might be called—I would guess Apple has an entire marketing division tasked with thinking up cool ‘i’ words–it certainly is interesting to speculate where Apple might take the smartphone market with the next iteration of its popular mobile line-up.
The truth of the matter is that the title ‘smartphone’ has become rather blasé, if not altogether antiquated, in the current mobile market. When one thinks of the word ‘smartphone’ it certainly brings to mind cutting edge technology, but still contains that pesky word ‘phone,’ which itself no longer rings relevant in a market that is increasingly moving away from voice communication.
Moving beyond the revolutionary device first invented by Alexander Graham Bell, the modern smartphone still acts as a communication platform, but now consists mainly of digital communication–meaning texting, tweeting, social networking, emailing, and mobile applications.
As CNET writer Chris Matyszczyk observes, “That [device] in their pockets is something that is operated solely by the hands and eyes, not the ears and lips,” meaning it has little in common with anything we would consider to be a ‘phone.’
More to the point, we all expect Apple will increase the size of the screen on the next iPhone, enhance its camera, tweak its user interface, include technology like NFC, and likely sport a better battery, but do companies or users even think about advancements to voice communication anymore? Do we even care?
So if there ever was a company that had the confidence to spark a radical paradigm shift, moving away from the traditional telecommunications nomenclature, it would certainly be Apple, as the Cupertino Company has shown time and again its ability not only to revolutionize markets, but actually create them.
Further, given the fact that Apple has shown its desire to move away from designating the generations of its devices—evidenced by the fact that the latest iPad wasn’t the iPad 3, but the New iPad—perhaps its time to ditch not only the ‘5’ in the iPhone 5, but the ‘phone’ part as well, creating something that users will think is fresh and new (despite the fact it’ll likely still be exactly what we expect it to be).
Agreeing with Matyszczyk’s conclusion, I know it’ll probably still be the iPhone 5 (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I suppose), but wouldn’t it be cool if it wasn’t?