Rob Minto

Sport, data, ideas

Tag: mobile

5 reasons why the word ‘phablet’ won’t catch on

Journalists and analysts love a new word. The current favourite is “phablet”, used to describe the new larger-sized smartphones that are nearly tablet-sized, but still a phone.

It’s a ghastly word, but don’t worry – it won’t catch on, despite the pick up in interest (see chart below). Here’s my theory why:

1) “smartphone” hasn’t caught on as a phrase

Smartphone is used in the industry to distinguish between the newer, touchscreen devices and older models termed feature phones that look like this (remember these?). It’s used all the time in articles and research.

But not in common language. No-one says “hey, have you seen my smartphone?” People still talk about their mobile. Or their phone. Because smartphone is both clumsy to say, and sounds pompous.

2) nobody cares about these distinctions in other areas

Like smartphone vs feature phone, we have laptop, netbook, PC – all industry distinctions. People just refer to their computer. And as we move to a world of uniform touchscreens, the only decisions people will care about are the cost, the operating system (Apple vs Android vs maybe Windows), and the size.

3) portmanteau words might be catchy, but don’t often work

Grexit? It’s had it’s day (see chart below). Descriptive words like “onesie” are much better.

4) people prefer to talk about brands

Seen my Kindle? Pass me the iPad?

and the biggest reason of all: 5) your mobile is not your device, it’s your number

Whatever device people call you on, that’s your mobile. As Christopher Mims pointed out on Quartz, we use these things less and less for calls – as little as 10% – but that doesn’t mean phone calls are completely dead. We still need to make and receive calls. And if you are sharing your contact details, no-one will ever ask for your “phablet” number – just as no-one asks for your “smartphone” number. They will ask for your mobile number.

Because you move your number across devices – I’ve had the same number for over 8 phones now, I reckon. Whether I have a phablet, a smartphone, or a something else, when it rings, I’ll answer it – and I’m on my mobile.


The crazy cost of Switzerland

I’ve just got back from a long weekend in Geneva. Lovely place, beautiful lake, painful exchange rate. Switzerland was always quite expensive, but with the Swiss Franc a safe haven for investors, hanging out in Geneva suddenly looks like a small fortune.

But leave aside the cost of normal stuff like food and hotels for a second. We were staying with friends for part of the trip who live very near the border with France, so I got text messages alerting me to what mobile services would cost from my telco (T-Mobile) in either country.

[easychart type=”vertbar” height=”200″ width=”350″ title=”Mobile prices, price(£)” axis=”both” groupnames=”France, Switzerland” valuenames=”Make call, Receive call, Text, Data per mb, Picture msg” group1values=”0.366, 0.115, 0.115, 0.333, 0.2″ group2values=”1,1,0.4,7.5,0.2″]

And what a difference half a kilometer makes – over in France, it was 36p per call, and 11p to receive a call, compared to £1 in Switzerland. A text in Switzerland was 40p to 11p in France. Weirdly, picture messages were the same on both (20p).

But it was data where the greatest difference lay. In France, I was offered £1 per 3mb. In Switzerland, it was £7.50 for 1mb – over 22 times more expensive.

Now I know that EU regulations are bringing down the cost of call and data roaming in Europe, which Switzerland is free to ignore. And this is a sample of one, rather than a proper survey. But data should never, ever cost 22 times more just by walking 500m across a border.

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