I see you already smiling at my silly question: What is a smartphone? Everybody knows it! It is a phone with advanced capabilities like browsing the internet or push email etc… But where would you categorize the INQ mobiles with their social networking features? Is a Nokia N96 a smartphone?
The answer depends to who you are talking to.
A commonly accepted definition was that a smartphone is a device running an Open OS. And the definition of an Open OS is an OS which can run on different platform and is independent from a manufacturer like Windows Mobile or Symbian. So if you consider this definition strictly, an iPhone is not a smartphone and a BlackBerry neither. A bit tricky isn’t it?
GfK, the sell-out survey company, has a very restrictive definition of smartphones. A smartphone is a device which has a touch screen or full QWERTY keyboard for input and an advanced OS.
If you apply the GfK definition you miss nearly half of the market as you are excluding all the 12-key Symbian devices from Nokia. And they are definitely smartphones! If you apply this definition the smartphone market is around 12M devices for Western Europe.
A more accurate definition, in my views, should be a smartphone is a device running an OS which provides a Software Development Kit (SDK) and an Application Store. Then you find in the smartphone category devices running Windows Mobile, Symbian, or Android or manufactured by RIM, Apple or Palm for the new Pre. Hence you get the full market of ‘intelligent’ device which is around 20M devices in Western Europe and growing steadily. INQ mobile devices will still be in the feature mobile segment even though they are offering advanced social networking features.
It is high time to share such a definition across the industry, just to avoid spending hours in explaining how you count smartphones 😉 and find out where the discrepancies with your colleagues are coming from.