The New York Times this week had a great article
about the computer chip manufacturers coming into the telecom industry. The article had lots of good references but I think it missed the major part of the story. Phones, even smart phones, are carrier specific controlled solutions. Even in the GSM world the carriers have a tendency to put a customization on their phones.
In the computing industry, the consumer actually has less selection than in the phone industry. However in the phone industry you end up obligated for a while.
The real story with the iPhone is the standardization of single device that is resold by the service providers without the customization. This is more important as we evolve to the wireless broadband.
As the ability to provide applications in the cloud of networks, the device that internetworks is going to be the story.
So why call this a smartphone?
Candidly, on the phone side, David Isenberg's dumb network is being matched like for like. The features of so called smart phones are not the phone side.
Mobile Internet Devices is a term that does not seem to have captured the public vision, but netbooks is a term that has caught on.
To my consumer (untrained eye), a netbook is a retro laptop that gives me the access I want. The price point is under many of the smartphones and if it had a data plan with it, I would be happy.
Maybe we should be looking to blend the terms. Netphones, perhaps.
I like this as a generic term since it does not give me the false expectation that the phone is smart. It also speaks to where we should expect the innovation to occur the blending of the net with the phone.
It also helps put the emphasis on what a network operator should be concentrating on enabling the broadband and blending the web.
It also changes the expectation of the device, since its no longer about the subtlety of a carrier's specifications, but a manufacturer's standardization.
This is also changes the game for manufacturing. A well known cell phone manufacturer makes over 3,000 types of cellphones.
I don't believe this is netphone future. All the peripheral casings you see at kiosk's may have a life, but consumers choices will be based more on their own taste, then the carrier's projection of their choice.
And that's what will be smart about phones in the future.