Smartphone Device for $600?
My new Sprint Samsung Epic 3G/4G Galaxy S smartphone device arrived yesterday. Couldn’t get around to activating the phone until 10 p.m.
A hour later, my blogger’s eyes were as dry as the Sahari desert. Before hitting the sack, though, I quickly scanned Sprint’s “Get Started” booklet (not numbered), the “Basics Guide” (195 pages) and the “Important Sprint Information” booklet (25 pages).
Smartphone “Device” Gotta Go
I noticed the word “device” printed everywhere. Before dozing off into unconsciousness, I thought to myself: “Device? I paid $400 for a smartphone on eBay. But I actually bought a humble “device.” I should have bought something cheaper at Home Depot. They have lots of “devices.”
Clearly, the promotional neurons weren’t firing when bright marketers at Samsung and Sprint nicknamed mobile phones smartphone device. Even naming sophisticated cell phones “mobile devices” wasn’t very creative. Can you imagine an ad agency rep for HP, Dell or Lenovo racing into a marketing meeting to announce a new computer “device?” I don’t think so. Such brilliance goes unrewarded.
“Getting Started” Manuals: Full of “Device”
This short, Apple-sized document starts out well. Its first page proclaims how Sprint is “…developing technologies that give you the ability to get what you want when you want it, faster than ever before.” I’m all for that. But on the opposite page at the top is “Your Device.” Honk… The page shows a colorful, expensive smartphone’s button locations and features.
Flip the page and you immediately see “Get Your Device Ready” beginning with inserting the battery. Yet the booklet doesn’t tell you how to remove the phone’s back plate. (Do you remember when cell phone manuals had a page telling you how to remove the phone’s backplate?) Years ago, it frequently required a mechanical engineer to to get the darn thing off. So much for your razzle-dazzle smartphone device.
Devices Belong in the Laboratory – Not in People’s Hands
Here are a few dictionary definitions from the dictionary:
- “…a thing made or adapted for a particular purpose, esp. a mechanical or electronic contrivance : a measuring device”
- “…an explosive contrivance; a bomb : an incendiary device”
- “…a plan, scheme, or trick with a particular aim : writing a public letter is a traditional device for signaling dissent”
- “…a turn of phrase intended to produce a particular effect in speech or a literary work: a rhetorical device”
- “…a drawing or design : the decorative device on the invitations
I don’t think any of the definitions fit a smartphone device.
PDA’s, PEA’s and PNA’s
In lieu of smartphone device, I propose that smartphone manufacturers refer to their products as PDA’s, PEA’s or PNA’s. That’s “D” for digital, “E” for entertainment and “N” for navigation. I know, you could go hog-wild with “PMA’s for music and “PSA’s” for social media, but those are subsets of entertainment.
If you’re over 30, you probably remember the days of “PDA’s” or personal digital assistants (still available, by the way). Made popular by Palm, now the laggard in the smartphone market, having a PDA was hot stuff, especially in the business world. Palm Pilots even had “tap” screens (technologically quite a feat at that time).
You used a stylus, not your finger, to create notes and memos, check your calendar and maintain your address book. Later, you synced the Palm PDA to your personal computer. Before smartphone device, PDA’s made it easy for business folks and individuals to store information digitally. So instead of a “smartphone device,” you would have a PDA.” Cool, eh?
Personal Entertainment Assistants (or PEA’s) are music, photo, video or social network-oriented phones for mobile users who love to entertain themselves. I realize that “PEA” could cause some concern. If you lost your phone, for example, you might sound strange yelling out “has anyone seen my PEA?” But it beats exclaiming “Has anyone seen my smartphone device?” I don’t take credit for the name because a blogger in 2006 referred to the Nokia N91 as his “personal entertainment assistant.”
Finally, PNA’s are for people on the go who love navigating and geo-locating themselves and their friends. And the branding is perfect: “Now where did I put my Smartphone Personal Navigation Assistant?” Clearly superior to “device.”
As you can see, handset product managers should replace smartphone device with smartphone names that fit each user. Ah, I just thought of one more–the “PTA” or personal teacher’s assistant.” That model should sell well with teachers and parents because they already have PTA meetings.