What the hell is “mobile?”

Lets put a stop to labeling, shall we? Blame it on politics, the media or pop culture, but as a society we’re obsessed with having a buzz word for everything.

When I started out in design, photoshop could solve all image ills.

Then, for a while there, aol was the Internet.

The Internet became super cool (and O’reilly became super rich) when web 2.0 ruled.

Now we’re off on “mobile.” It’s the “in” thing.

But like the rest of the labels, it’s sadly lacking in both meaning and accuracy. To some extent, every computer you own is mobile. Even the lowly home PC is mobile if you’re ambitious enough, and if you’re not, PCs almost not worth talking about – they’re losing relevancy faster than Paris Hilton.

So when you say mobile what do you mean? It’s not a trick question or a stupid one. Is it a laptop? A netbook? A tablet? A smart phone? A feature phone? An iPod? A watch? Or some combination of the above? Any one of them is quite mobile.

If we have to name them, lets try to be more specific. How about that. Let’s start labeling by capabilities, not portability. Let’s label by interaction type and size. Perhaps we can even imply some behaviors and usage patterns. How about this? Why not use device categories?

When people say “mobile,” don’t most mean “touch?”

Let’s do every senior exec in big business a favor and rid ourselves of at least one ambiguous buzzword. Let’s stop calling it mobile. (They can have html5.)