* Update: Interesting poll. The voting is pretty close to split, but I like where the comments are going with this. Maybe RIM doesn't need to change the word smartphone to anything else but rather they just need to drop an additional word altogether. It's a BlackBerry. Period. Everybody knows what a BlackBerry is - heck, it's one of the world's most popular brands. So let's just call it a BlackBerry and skip categorizing it into a larger group at all. It's not a smartphone, it's not a handheld wireless device, it is a B L A C K B E R R Y. *
When I got my first BlackBerry and first launched CrackBerry.com, Research in Motion didn't refer to the BlackBerry as a BlackBerry Smartphone as they do these days. Instead, they called it a BlackBerry handset or BlackBerry handheld wireless device. As the Pearl and Curve hit the market, RIM quickly changed it up to be a BlackBerry Smartphone, as smartphone became the industry term that separated crappy feature phones from devices that combined the more powerful functionality of a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant - ex. Palm Pilot) with a phone. Think Handspring Visor, Palm Treo and the old school BlackBerrys.
The reason for this poll? In recent months, I've noticed that while RIM might refer to the BlackBerry as the BlackBerry Smartphone, whenever I see carrier ads around where I live it almost seems they do everything they can not to refer to the term smartphone. In many cases the BlackBerry is grouped into ads featuring other non-BlackBerry devices, but the terms they're using are name like webphones, qwerty phones and I even heard an ad earlier this week that referred to is as the BlackBerry communicator. In the tech blogsphere this notion of the term smartphone being a bit out of date now has come up a few times. I think it was a sometime last year that David Pogue put forth the term app phone as being more proper for a device like the iPhone and generation of smartphones that put such a focus on apps. And if you think about the convergence of web browsing, apps, media player and pda along with all of the communiction stuff, it really is much more than just a smartphone. The term superphone has even come up recently in reference to Google's new device - I sure hope that name disappears fast from use.
I'm not sure what word makes the most sense to tack on after BlackBerry, but as the devices get better and better I think at some they may need to change things up yet again. I don't dislike the smartphone term - though I do think it doesn't really paint much of a picture of what the device is about when you think of it from a consumer branding standpoint. I've always felt smartphone to be more of an industry term that some consumers may also use, rather than a term all consumers know.
If you have any brilliant naming ideas or thoughts, be sure to post a comment. We had feature phones, and smartphones.. do you think there's one new term that everybody will agree upon/start using? Or are we going to see a mix of names moving forward?