Is it a bird, a plane, a PC, or a phone? Let’s call the whole thing off

Posted on December 14, 2010


You like potato and I like potahto,
You like tomato and I like tomahto.
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto,
Let’s call the whole thing off.

Last week a friend and I were going back and forth discussing something that had been said by Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook. To quote Mark Zuckerberg, 

“iPad’s not mobile…its a computer.”

My friend Bill agreed with Zuckerberg because he feels the iPad is WIFI driven. To that I responded that the iPad comes with an optional 3G flavor. Putting friendly debates aside, it led to an interesting conversation. Is a device not classified as mobile if it only has WIFI?  To help resolve this issue, I have turned to a few online sources that arrived at the following mobile device definitions:

  • A mobile device (also known as cellphone device, handheld device, handheld computer, “Palmtop” or simply handheld) is a pocket-sized computing device, typically having a display screen with touch input or a miniature keyboard. Wikipedia
  • A portable electronic device which allows to process, receive and send data without the need to maintain a wired connection with the internet. Gemius ranking
  • Typically a handheld or forklift device that can read RFID tags or scan barcodes, either with embedded modules or attachments. Mobile devices can run business logic, store data, perform network communication and present a rich UI to users.  Sybase
  • Any computing or communications device intended to frequently move location while maintaining function and operation. Auditor
  • A small computing device that is easily portable and can be used in various environments.  MSDN

So what does that all this mean?  Perhaps we can agree that mobile devices are not easily definable? It goes even deeper.

We live in a day when all sorts of devices do more; they multitask in ways that their names no longer apply.  Remember when in order to take photos only cameras were used? Similarly, not long ago, phones were used to receive and initiate phone calls. Even more recently, books were read either in hard or paperback. Moreover, Apple comes along and creates a new class of devices known as iPad. Is it an e-Reader, social media communicator, computer, or all of the above? 

Instead of spending many cycles trying to determine how to classify these devices, it seems time is better spent relaxing and enjoying what these devices do to enhance our lives. 

On that note, I’m going to check email, publish a blog post, communicate with a client, write a proposal, and share an article. One guarantee…it will all occur on some modern day form factor.

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