In an article on Gigaom, Kevin Tofel is proposing that tablets will one day replace smartphones. His main argument is that tablets can do anything that smartphones can. I’m inclined to agree with him, but for a different reason.
The way we communicate is changing. Telephone calls aren’t as common as they once were, replaced by email, SMS, Instant Messaging, and audio and video chat. We’re seeing a transition away from the need for phone plans and towards reliance on data plans. Services like Google Voice and Skype begin to blur the line between a phone call and an audio chat. Once you rely only on a data connection, and drop your phone service, as Kevin suggested he’s tested, can you really call your device a phone anymore?
When you boil it down, the only difference between a tablet and a smartphone is the voice plan, and the screen size. Disregard the voice plan, and the 5-inch Galaxy Note and 7-inch Nexus 7 become very similar. So, if we start doing all our communication via data, and in a few years smartphones stop including cellular voice capabilities, will they still be called phones? Maybe we’ll just call them tablets at that point, and Kevin will be right, tablets will have replaced smartphones. What do you think?