I’m reviewing a paper and the question of defining “smartphone” has come up.
As it so happens, the question is particularly germane today when Dataquest released Q2 2009 global market share data. For all phones, the top 5 are Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, while for “smartphones” the ranking is:
- Nokia: 45%
- RIM: 18.7%
- Apple: 13.3%
- HTC: 6%
- Fujitsu: 3%
- Other: 13.9%
Here is what a simple Google search shows:
Definitions of smartphone on the WebThis suggests at least three possible ways to define “smartphone”:
- A smartphone is a mobile phone offering advanced capabilities, often with PC-like functionality. There is no industry standard definition of a ..
- Electronic handheld device that integrates the functionality of a mobile phone, personal digital assistant (PDA) or other information appliance
- A generic name for voice centric mobile phones with information capability. The Ericsson R380 Smartphone is an example of such a Symbian OS phone.
- A telephone that provides additional information accessing features. Any mobile telephone that combines voice services with e-mail, fax, pager or ...
- One word, not smart phone. However, this term is now deprecated - prefer simply mobile, device or phone.
- smartphones - are cell phones that are no longer limited to making voice calls. This category includes devices such as the BlackBerry, the Razr, the iPhone and ...
- Give up on the term. Features that were previously “smart” (such as web surfing) are now standard in most phones and thus the distinction is meaningless.
- Mobile platform. A phone that is programmable by users or third party using native APIs. (Contrast to the Phone Scoop definition of a “feature phone”).
- Smarter than average. A phone that has more “smart” features than the norm or typical phone
The #2 definition was one being used to call the iPhone a non-smartphone back in 2007 — perhaps an answer without much face validity, but a moot point now that Apple has released its SDK and opened its iPhone App Store. Even without the iPhone 1.0, the definition also potentially has a problem with the BlackBerry — where the native APIs are Java-based APIs.
The #3 definition would continue indefinitely, but would raise the question of where to draw the line — and how to change that line over time. If a web browser was necessary last year, what is necessary this year or next? An AJAX web browser? A web browser with Flash?
A possible fourth definition is a phone running a recognized smartphone OS, e.g. Symbian, BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile or webOS. Of course, that raises the question of “what is a smartphone OS”, i.e. the infamous Potter Stewart problem that applies to other areas like enterprise software.
3. (Extra credit) Which of the following is an oxymoron?
- Razr smartphone
- LG smartphone
- Palm smartphone