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Summary:

The media gives credit to Google for coining the phrase “superphone,” but that is factually not correct. The phrase has been in use since 2007. In 2008, a GigaOM guest columnist described the superphone at our Mobilize conference and we have often used the term as a descriptor.

There has been a lot of talk about “superphones” this week, thanks to a mobile conference being hosted by VentureBeat. CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt gives credit to Google for coining the phrase “superphone” as she goes on to outline what is a superphone. Unfortunately, that is not correct. Dolcourt is not alone, as there are other outlets that credit Google for coining the phrase “superphone.”

A little Google search for “superphone” would show that it popped up in 2006 and 2007. A blogger used the phrase (“super phone”) to describe an iMate phoneEngadget used it on November 14, 2007 to describe a Sony Ericsson phone. However, the phrase in current context of web-enabled computer-like phones was first used by John SanGiovanni, co-founder and VP of product design at Zumobi. In a column he wrote for us back in September 2008, he outlined and defined the onset of the superphone. He later used the same phrase in a panel at our Mobilize 08 conference. That was two years ago.

John even walked through some specifications for what adds up to be a superphone. Today at MobileBeat, Samsung’s chief strategy officer, Omar Khan, offered up his specs for a superphone – they mirrored a list of John’s specifications. The irony is, that at the time he wrote the column and used the term superphone, SanGiovanni took a lot of flack from our readers in the comments section. Since then, we have used the phrase superphone as a way to describe the newer web-centric phones in pieces such as “The Summer of Superphone”.

Google got into the superphone game in January 2010, when it used the term at its Nexus One launch. Since then, many others have started using it as part of the vernacular. I just wanted to set the record straight and give a little hat tip to the man who helped catalyze the use of the term superphone: thanks, SanGiovanni.

  1. Where’s your promised Gigaom Android app? It’s weeks since you launched your iPhone app! Dont make others write that your bias towards the defective Apple phone is showing up again!

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  2. Who cares?

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    1. Actually since I wrote the piece, I clearly do.

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  3. Was kind of thinking the same although if I had used it first, I would probably also highlight it.
    They’re all MIDs to me anyway ! ;-)

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    1. Funny :-)

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  4. Om, thanks for setting the record straight. He took some heat then, now ever major player uses the term to describe their “super” devices and conferences are being dedicated to superphones.

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    1. It is convenient for people to hate on a new phrase I guess. :-D

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  5. Odd, I’d never heard the term “superphone” until this post. I guess I hang out in the wrong tech circles…

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  6. Should I close giga and join techcrunch? Only 7 comments?

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    1. Om,
      don’t blame your readers, blame your comments moderator. I left a comment earlier — brilliant, naturally, about how both smartphone and superphone make it seem like phone is preeminent when it’s really just become a feature. Jean-Louis Gassee said this better than I on his MondayNote site.

      However, my earlier comment seems to have vanished. There were no links, no swear words (I dont think), so maybe you’re losing comments.

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  7. Now we need to define the term “supernetwork”, which I hope to be doing shortly…

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