…living up to its name

Mobile Phones (naming)

First up… The name is wrong. I hear people rant I don’t want a camera on my phone. That’s reasonable. I don’t want my TV to make coffee. You say phone and people think thingy with numbers, a little speaker on one end and a little microphone on the other. It should also go ring ring when someone is calling your number (unless you are in the US, in which case is should just go riiiiing, but enough conversation on the transatlantic differences in ring style already). Only an idiot would want a camera on said device.

A camera on the other hand very much needs the ability to take photos. In fact many would argue that it was failing in one of its core functions should its feature list not contain ‘taking photos’.

Same for your PDA, you want your PDA to have all that contacts, diary, notes stuff (in such a way that it never ever syncs with all the applications you need it to, grr).

Of course, we all know (because all readers of this site are smart, attractive people, god we are great) that  what has happened is that the small box thing most of us carry around has just merged most of these functions. This is sensible, it means we can carry less gadgets in our pockets, and we have things like a camera or mp3 player available to use when we least expected we needed it. Plus these things share a lot of things in common: battery, storage, software, screen, input. To make a phone a camera just requires adding the actual camera bit (note my highly technical term there).

So the ‘talking on phone’ bit is really just one small part of it all. But somehow the name has stuck. It’s not so much a mobile phone as a mobile thingy gadget. Some would say thingy gadget doesn’t sound so good as a name.

You can see this most in kids. You can stand in your local 02 shop (and why wouldn’t you stand around in a crushed shop full of annoying people for fun) and hear comments like:

  • [stressed mother] “well if you must have one then it will be from that range” (points to el cheapo mobiles)
  • [kid] “god, no way, can’t be seen dead with that, its like got nothing” (you’re impressed by my realistic kid street talk no?)
  • [mother] “but it is better than the one I’ve got” (waves nokia 3310 in front of kid’s face)
  • “as if i would ever have a phone as bad as yours”

The thing is that kid is not thinking ‘as soon as i get this i can occasionally make the odd call to alert mother that my bus is running late’. No, you will be shocked to hear they are not thinking this. Instead they are running through a mental checkist in their head when reviewing a phone:

  • can i play loads of dire music to an entire train carriage? [tick]
  • can i  bluetooth loads of dire songs from my mates in a legally questionable manner? [tick]
  • can i download loads of funny (i.e. lots of swearing) videos, sound clips and pictures and impress all my mates? [tick]
  • can i swap all of the above with anyone i meet? [tick]
  • can i take endless pictures and videos of everything ? [tick] (oh and as an aside, I am always disappointed at the average child’s inability to develop a coherent archiving and storage plan for the  photos and stuff which are often only left on the camera until the inevitable day it is lost/broken, the kids today… what are they like)
  • can i sign up to loads of premium txt services which send ring tones plus all of the above, then deny all knowledge of ever doing so when parental-unit sees the bill? [tick]

Notice something? only the last one actually requires them to have any credit/phone-functionality. Kids say they want a phone, but actually want a multimedia device for music, video, pictures and sharing. If it so happens to allow them to talk to others further than shouting distance, then thats just an added bonus.

Old gits moan about why phones have all these none phone like features. but it isn’t a phone, it is a multi functional gadget which so happens to include phone like functionality. ‘What’s that you’ve got there?’, ‘ah my new camera… which also comes with built in mp3 player, contacts list and can act like a phone too!’, ‘pah in my day a camera was a camera why would you want a phone in your camera for’.

Still, wouldn’t mind a phone (sorry, mobile thingy gadget) that makes a good coffee.


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