Jun 10, 2011

The death of the phone number

So that’s the landscape: Google’s hacking the existing telephone system, Microsoft’s betting on the upstart proprietary network, and Apple appears to be quietly trying to pull the rug out from everyone. But it’s clear that all three are committed to the idea of voice calling and texting as just another type of data stream to be managed and accessed across multiple devices, and I can’t imagine they won’t succeed in pulling the industry along with them. What’s funny is that the carriers are themselves trying to move voice traffic to IP internally — Verizon wants to do voice over LTE as soon as 2012 — but by the time they get there, it could be too late: the phone number may well have taken its place alongside its true contemporaries like the punchcard and rotary dial. It’s about time.

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