Increasingly our phones are not phones at all. There's the old saw about the iPhone being the Swiss Army knife of phones, good for everything but making calls (though lately, there have been murmurings that it doesn't make a very good alarm clock either). With open-source Android being installed on everything from car dashboards to toasters (OK, not quite yet on the latter, but the former is happening), the line becomes further blurred than it had been with talk of a Facebook phone. Now we have another "phone" on the way: the so-called Playstation Phone from Sony.
These branded phones, from this Playstation Phone to Apple's iPhone to Google phones to a potential Facebook Phone, go far beyond oddly branded items we've known in the past, such as the Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer (which amounts to a color scheme). These speak to functionality. Presumably a Facebook Phone would rely on the network's social graph, and presumably the Playstation Phone will be ideal gaming hardware (it certainly has the keypad for it). In fact, at first blush you'd be forgiven for thinking images of the Playstation Phone are photo manipulations (done on a Photoshop Phone, no doubt).
So what is a phone, if not something used for making phone calls (which is something many people now do via Skype and Google with their laptops -- so maybe we should call those phones)?
It used to be a dating litmus test if a guy didn't have a landline (i.e. "he's obviously afraid of commitment"), now whole companies are ditching their landlines (MediaPost did so in late 2010 when we moved our office). And people keep their Swiss Army phones on them at all times, and, as Endgadget points out, they freak out like Burroughs fiending for junk when they can't text and instant-message.
So are we entering an age where people's phones are personalized to their most-specialized use? And when can we stop calling them phones? And when will someone come up with something better than the awkward "mobile device"?
I would like to submit the name: Brain v2.0 ... or is that already passe?