Let's Just Skip To The Super-Duper-Phone

Google introduced the term “superphone” to the world yesterday when they unveiled the Nexus One Google phone. Right from the beginning of the hour+ presentation, Google execs were referring to the Nexus One as the first “superphone,” a term not previously widely used (of note – GigaOm has a reference to the term last summer).

So what’s a superphone? It’s a marketing term and nothing else. Google VP and Android founder Andy Rubin talked about the term at length in the Q&A session, and we’ve grabbed the relevant parts of the video from the ustream archive and embed it below.

Here’s part of the transcript (bolding added):

The definition of a superphone…the difference between superphone & smartphone…the evolution of the platform is such that the openness, coupled with these marketplaces and these app stores, that makes it really easy for people to download 3rd party content; an ecosystem by which 3rd party developers can participate in the ecosystem; the Ghz processors; the more memory; the gigabyte storage…. these are all things that didn’t exist 2 years ago. So we thought that the industry needed another term to refer to these innovations. And again, this is as powerful as your laptop was 4 years go. If anything, you’re carrying these around in your pocket, they’re with you all the time they’re always on… these are all new. So we wanted to refer to it by something and we think that “superphone” is the right way to refer to it.

The bar is raising…These superphones are getting more and more sophisticated…everybody knows about Moore’s law…today’s superphone is tomorrow’s smartphone…

“Today’s superphone is tomorrow’s smartphone,” says Rubin. I immediately thought of Highlander and the “there can be only one” quote (the immortals in the movie had to kill eachother until there was just one left). As soon as a new superphone comes out, any previous superphone is relegated to being a mere smartphone. There can be only one superphone.

But what Google is really doing is making a not-so-subtle jab at the iPhone and other competitors. The Nexus One, he implies, is as powerful as laptops were four years ago. All those smartphones from two years ago (iPhone) aren’t superphones. Presumably even the iPhone 3GS, which may have been a superphone last summer when it launched, is a mere smartphone today. Only the Nexus One is a superphone. And soon, it will only be a smartphone as new devices are launched.

It all makes my head spin. But that’s ok. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s phone. The Super-Duper-Phone (too late, I already registered it). It’s tomorrow’s superphone, when today’s superphone has become a mere smartphone. And today’s smartphones are something icky and untouchable.