Nomenclature

How long will we still use the terms “mobile” and “phone”? It’s a question that’s come to mind as I read Charles Arthur’s book Digital Wars, which is an entertaining view of the last 10 years or so of corporate competition between Google, Microsoft and Apple.

In many ways, the term seems outdated. Most computing devices that are now sold are “mobile” as in easily transportable (phones, tablets and notebooks now vastly outsell traditional desktop configurations); probably (I guess) most of them now have the inbuilt capability to hold a mobile network sim card, and USB dongles and 3G Wi-Fi hotspots cover off the rest at a minimal charge; the nature of phone these days is one increasingly of SIP and IP traffic (ie data, not dedicated voice lines).

My mobile phones aren’t phones at all – they’re highly powerful computing devices that I mostly use for web surfing, apps and to take photos. My traditional phone at home is only really there these days because the cost of top of the broadband service is marginal.

And yet, and yet… I still “hang up” after giving “dialling” someone to give them a “ring” or a “bell” (luckily I don’t choose to give people a “vibrate” despite that being the way that my phones now generally tell me that someone is calling). I never talk about PDAs these days, or Walkmen. I don’t even hoover up any more, now that I have a Dyson. But I have a hunch that some of the phone language that is borne of the days of Alexander Graham Bell might be with us for quite some time to come, even if it is fairly meaningless…

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