Here’s a fun exercise. Do a search for analyst, smartphone, forecast. What you get back will likely be a wide mix of numbers with a huge variance. Now, analyst firms often will vary on numbers but usually not but such a wide margin. The reason I suspect is that not everyone seems to be counting the same things. Some firms insist current Palm OS devices are still really PDAs not smartphones. Others exclude RIM and Blackberry. In short, a term that used to be meaningful has really become useless as a measure. The reason is simple. Before you can count and forecast, you need to classify.
There’s simply no good definition of a Smartphone. Any definition is either going to exclude devices that clearly are part of the category or include devices that should be left off. In my last forecast at Jupiter Research I did not use the term at all and instead used a set of overlapping categories with hierarchal super-set of features. Smartphone, however is an industry term, so once again, I’m taking a crack at a definition. So dear reader, i’ll ask you, what’s your definition of a smartphone circa 2009-2010? Careful, it’s not a easy as you might think
(side note, as I’ve said before, the whole phone thing is a euphemism anyhow. let’s face it, an iPhone, G1 or Blackberry is really just a pocket sized computer that happens to have the ability to do telephony. hardly what I’d have called a phone in days gone by)