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November 29, 2006

The End of Television, Cell Phones, Car Phones?

Today, we will put to rest three outdated technology device names that have to finally be considered outdated: "television," "cell phone," and "car phone."

classic-carphone.gifTake a look at this blog on Funny Business that will bring you back to 1988, when Radio Shack could charge $1,499 for a cellular phone (I can’t remember when I used that name) and watch an ad for a car phone from the same year. If you must refer to a mobile phone that is especially for use in a car, the term to use, in my opinion, is “in-car phone” such as the Motorola M710 or a “handsfree” set - although you really cannot ask somebody to call you on your "handsfree.” has a nice post linking to a recent Business Week article, Time To Rename the Cell Phone?, reminding us that Nokia already refers to their units as “multimedia computers” and Samsung calls them “mobile information terminals.” The name cellphone or cell phone or, most egregiously, cell-phone, is just plain outdated, like the term “icebox.”

classic-radio.gifAt one point, the fridge was a box with ice in it, hence the term icebox. At one point, analog mobile phones used “cells” of coverage in cities, hence the term “cellular phone”, which was shortened to “cell phone.” Those cells are no longer really used in the digital age.

With the advent of WiFi and WiMax and broadband phones, Time magazine has come out and asked its European readers what to do about the “New Wireless Tangle” - you need a glossary just to keep up with what is available. MocoNews points out that Motorola CEO Ed Zander refers to them as “the device formerly known as the cell phone.” And are people out there asking others to call them on their “broadband phone”?

classic-tv.gifThis leaves us with the term “television” and even the term “radio,” both which the BBC thinks are obsolete. The BBC (Britain’s largest TV network) now refers to its video content as “Vision” and the name “radio” has been dropped in favor of “Audio and Music.” This, thinks David Deans, is the beginning of the end for these old, achingly analog terms.

I have to agree. While we in the U.S., the ones who came up with the term “cell phone” in the first place, while the Brits skipped happily to “mobiles”, will probably still stubbornly use the terms “television”, and “radio” for some years to come, their days are now officially numbered.

My prediction is that “television” will go first, and the term “TV” will linger on (think HDTV and 2DTV). “Radio” will also stay just long enough to go out when the last TV is switched off. And you read here first.

What do you think?

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Posted by William Lozito at November 29, 2006 8:19 AM
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No one talks about PDAs (personal digital assistants) anymore either, probably because anything beyond the most basic mobile can now do just about everything a PDA could.

On top of that, many people are now using their mobile phone as their only phone, so I doubt they refer to it as anything other than just "phone".

i hate the words television and cell phone. car phone is not that bad. it would be nice to have a dedicated car phone, actually.

weird to think about... my "phone" has replaced my mp3 player, radio, alarm clock, daily planner, watch, tape recorder, camera, calculater, camcorder, and phone book. i'd say it's like a media information terminal. i agree about the term mobile, bob. i mean, what isn't mobile now?

and soon, it's gonna probably be my medium of choice for IMing, using Google Local and Google Talk, and accessing email on the go.

regarding tv and radio, i'm starting to refer to any sort of video content as just "video" and any audio contect as "audio". it's more descriptive that way. i say the word television is dead within 6 years. radio will be around longer, though. it's a cool word. plus, to me, when i want music, i don't care much whether i get it from satellite radio, itunes radio, or fm radio. radio means something distinct. it means instant, live, and variety. "tv" and "television" aren't as strong.

When I used to work at Orange we called all handsets "Wirefree Devices" which was nice, more relevant today probably than when I was there.

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