Goodbye Windows Mobile, Hello Windows Phone?

By  |  Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Windows PhoneThe Inquirer is reporting (in its usually snarky manner*) that the operating system currently known as Windows Mobile will be redubbed Windows Phone, apparently when version 6.5 comes out. Could be, although it seems kind of limiting, and I wonder if it’s a garbled misunderstanding of news that Microsoft announced back at Mobile World Congress in February–that Windows Mobile based phones would be known as Windows Phones, but that the OS would still be called Windows Mobile. (When Steve Ballmer announced this bifurcation, he looked a bit guilty, as if he knew it was lame even as he was explaining it.)

Whether the name change is happening or not, it does bring up an interesting question: Are we going to call these things phones forever? More and more, making voice calls is but one feature of devices that do a ton of stuff, and not necessarily the most important one. I’m prepared to believe that we’ll still refer to the descendants of today’s smartphones as phones decades from now. And as a traditionalist, I’d be okay with that–if Alexander Graham Bell is up there watching all this, he’d be pleased.

But I could also see that name going away in favor of something that more accurately describes all that these gadgets can do. How about PC? Maybe we can claim it stands for Personal Communicator…


*I’m not sure if the whole “vole” thing was ever funny, but wouldn’t it be cool if the Inquirer quietly retired it?


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Simon Says:

    It was over twenty years ago that computing ceased to be most users’ main use for a “computer”- and we haven’t changed that word at any stage despite the various dramatic shifts that have happened since then so I’d say that phone’s as good a word as any.
    Also, I’ve noticed a couple of attempts to define the post-iPhone generation of smartphones as “superphones” ( GigaOM’s really pushing that one) or “app phones”. I don’t really see the need.

  2. DaveZatz Says:

    Windows Mobile is tired. However, it’s a familiar brand to many of us. What we need is for them to speed of development of v7 and sensibly merge the fun of their Danger/Hiptop acquisition and media playback power with UI of the Zune into that product. They went from pretty much a top player in the mobile OS space to a has been and are quickly being lapped. HTC’s new focus on Android doesn’t bode well as they produced the best WinMo hardware (including stuff for Palm and Sony) and some useful skins to improve the OS until Microsoft gets around to it…

  3. Evan Says:

    As tech geeks, I don’t think we’re representative of the general population of smart phone users. My sister thinks it is cool that she can do other things with her iPhone, but I suspect 95% of her use is still as a phone. I did write about the divide between us geeks and “normal” people a while ago on my site, coming to the conclusion that we’re almost like the world’s beta testers. While I think the average users will dictate what smartphones are called in the daily vernacular, we will have some influence over the average user, as we lead the way. It will take time, though, as we wait for the rest of the world to follow.

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  1. What’s In a Name? Maybe a New Break | Says:

    […] to change the name of Windows Mobile to Windows Phone once 6.5 rolls out. I’m sort of with Harry McCracken in that I’m not sure if this will really be the case or not, but many publications are now […]