Product Design – When we will stop calling them phones?


A few days ago I stumbled on a Luke Wroblewski’s infographic (Fig 1.1) showing mobile phones usage evolution. The graph shows that the main device feature (voice calls) is almost unused. In fact, the title of his post was “When will we stop calling them phones?”

mobile phones usage phone calls vs data
Fig 1.1 Mobile phones usage phone calls vs data

Drawing on this assumption – which I find correct, by the way – I had a look at my personal Whatsapp usage statistics. I got confirmation that I use the “phone” essentially to exchange data (text, images, audio and video).

The applications burst that facilitates and increases our experiences as users, has irrevocably changed the way we choose and use our mobile devices. Mobile phones have undergone a radical change if compared to the initial use cases. It is clear that data traffic has significantly outclassed voice traffic.

OK, what does it means “mobile phones”?

How we use our mobile phones
Fig 1.2 How we use our mobile phones
  1. It means that we use our mobile phones especially for to access the network and work through apps which are dedicated to individual use cases (eg instant messaging, use of audio and video)
  2. It means that we use the device features that are not directly connected with the concept of “phone” (e.g. the light of the camera, the alarm)
  3. It means that we exploit the potential of the phone through applications that subvert the use of the phone itself (eg. Radio control a drone)


These findings will have a significant impact on the next device generations. Mobile phones will be able to satisfy all these use cases both in terms of hardware and software.

On the other side of the mobile application, developers will be able to extend its “range” to provide its users with a more engaging and satisfying experience.


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