July 31, 2010

SOME OF US WERE JUST AHEAD OF OUR TIME:

Clive Thompson on the Death of the Phone Call (Clive Thompson, July 28, 2010, Wired)

My phone bills are shrinking. Not, unfortunately, in cost. I mean they’re getting shorter. I recently found an old bill from a decade ago; it was fully 15 pages long, because back then I was making a ton of calls—about 20 long-distance ones a day. Today my bills are a meager two or three pages, at most.

Odds are this has happened to you, too. According to Nielsen, the average number of mobile phone calls we make is dropping every year, after hitting a peak in 2007. And our calls are getting shorter: In 2005 they averaged three minutes in length; now they’re almost half that.

We’re moving, in other words, toward a fascinating cultural transition: the death of the telephone call. This shift is particularly stark among the young. Some college students I know go days without talking into their smartphones at all. I was recently hanging out with a twentysomething entrepreneur who fumbled around for 30 seconds trying to find the option that actually let him dial someone.

This generation doesn’t make phone calls, because everyone is in constant, lightweight contact in so many other ways: texting, chatting, and social-network messaging. And we don’t just have more options than we used to. We have better ones: These new forms of communication have exposed the fact that the voice call is badly designed. It deserves to die.


The Wife often tells the spawn that I her husband was the worst long-distance boyfriend ever. Now we have definitive proof that it was the phone's fault--a loathsome device.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 31, 2010 7:06 AM
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