Normob is ‘ugly word’, use ‘people’ instead

Matt Edgar isn’t impressed with the term I coined a while back to describe normal mobile users: Normob.

He’s really deeply unimpressed:

But before you’re tempted to drop this particular neologism into your zeitgeisty telecoms discourse, just stop for a moment and listen to yourself. This must surely be one of the ugliest words not yet to enter our language. I am not alone in my unease.

Let’s begin with the sound it makes, from the drawn out drone of the “nor” to the lumpen ending “ob” and with little to improve matters in between. Just to hear this word is an aural assault, like travelling on a defective Tube train.

He’s even done a wicked diagram in his post highlighting the failings of the term.

What to do?

Well Matt has a radical suggestion:

What to use instead, you may ask. Well if you need to make a general point about normal mobile users, given that there are now getting on for 4 billion of them, I have a suggestion. It’s a simple term, one of the 159 highest frequency English words taught to Year 1 primary pupils, no less. It’s a human term, and it carries no baggage. For “normob”, just say “people”.

I understand and recognise your perspective Matt.

The challenge I’ve got in regular conversation with other mobilistas is that if you say ‘People like Nokias’ or ‘People can’t use Nokia UI’ or ‘A person wouldn’t get that function’ — you typically get skewered because you’ve made a sweeping statement about the whole planet.

I needed a term that described your man-on-the-street or 55-year-old-mother-of-three. Robert Scoble is NOT a normob. He’ll take the time to sit down and play around with a Nokia N95 and work out how to use QIK on it. My mother, on the other hand, IS a normob. She does not care how her device works. She just wants to make a call, send a text… and (until she got her iPhone) little else. The ability to make a quick distinction with the term ‘normob’ is really, really useful to me.

I used to say ‘normal mobile users’. That got a bit too much of a mouthful. So I knocked the words together.

Normob, … yeah… I do see what you mean.

But I think it still has a place in mobile centric conversations when you’re trying to differentiate between those who care — the first-movers — and the followers, the people who just want it to work.

‘People’ just doesn’t cut it!

What do you think? Any other suggestions for a replacement for the term ‘normob’ (and Promob, while we’re at it)

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