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August 10, 2010

Why do the English call it by what it does but the Americans call it by what it is?

We're talking about a phone.

In the U.K. we call the object that you carry with you everywhere, couldn't live without a "mobile phone" and yet in America they call it a "Cell".

On one hand it' referred to by what it does and on the other it's referred to by what it is! At this point we could go into a diatribe of the difference between the countries but that's not my intention. On the contrary my point is "ipad-ivity". I'll get to that in a minute.


Arguably in 1822 Charles Babbage invented what today is regarded as a computer. Back then he called it a "difference engine" but its primary function was to calculate and take out "human error".

Since then Allan Turin and Tommy Flowers built "Colossus" (during WW2) and the rest is history via IBM, Microsoft, Apple etc - but to a point.

One thing is for sure, and this applies to all the "devices" above, the action of using such a device means this - you have to go and sit in front of it. As a rule, most of these devices are chained to a wall (so to speak) and to use one you have to stop what you are doing and go to it. It does not come to you.

You could argue that a laptop changes this, but in reality it is still a cumbersome device that on one hand is portable but on the other is really just a smaller version of the same computer that sits on your desk.

I'm not sure I have seen many people mountain-biking whilst carrying a laptop!

A Personal Computer, by it's very nature and title, is exactly that - a device that computes your personal data. It's yours - it's a hard drive (amongst other things) that holds your data. So in that respect it's still (by design and function) the same as Babbage's, and because it was a hard drive it didn't really need to change design and function (albeit it has got smarter and faster).


However, today we have the web and this has changed the way that we interact with "the machine".

Humans love to communicate. That's what makes us different, and since that advent of web 2.0 this "desire" has designed the way we consume and use technology.

Now we have "devices" that are merely "portals" to the web and that is why,I would argue, that the iPhone was the most important device to be invented this century. Not because it's from Apple but because of what it is and does.

No longer are we chained to a computer that sits in the corner or have to carry large bags around with us. We now have the freedom to "communicate" and "organise" our lives in a manner that is "free".


It's a natural progression really. 20 years ago we stopped being chained to the wall when we wanted to make a phone call - the phone came with us.

Now we have the iPad or Android tablet (it does not matter which).   This means that not only can we communicate via voice or screen but we can read books and magazines, we can watch TV, listen to music and still do the "mundane" tasks that kept us "chained to a desk" whilst we used a traditional computer.

Suddenly we don't need to "go to" the TV, Phone, Computer, Newspaper stand, Magazine stand, Music store, Bank, Shop's, etc.  Instead they all come with us - and I can take them all with me whilst on my mountainbike.

This is a fundamental shift in the way we consume. It is changing the method of society and making it smarter.

This is iPadivity. 

Whether we call it a Cell or a Mobile is now irrelevant - what it truly is, is Mobile by function and that will transgress countries.

Star Trek was ahead of its time: we have a communicator!  


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