Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mixed Busy Signals

A couple of related news items today raise some interesting questions about the future of the home phone. I misplaced my cell phone for more than 24 hours last weekend, and it catalyzed some interesting experiences and feelings. I'll most likely write about that at greater length in the future.

One thing that I can say with some certainty right now is that getting my phone back would've been easier had I had a landline at home. I do not. All I have is my cell phone. And it turns out that I'm not alone.

According to recent research from Telephia, more and more households are abandoning their landlines. It's not critical mass yet -- the largest wireless substitution rate is only 19% in Detroit, but the signs are there.

Meanwhile Boost Mobile plans to launch a new service called Text to Landline. For your normal SMS price -- 10 cents a message -- you can send a short text message to someone's home phone. It'll be translated from text to voice, and you'll be informed whether the message reached a person -- or an answering machine.

While the service is positioned as a way for people who prefer to SMS to be able to communicate with people who don't -- or don't have a cell phone -- it stinks of communication avoidance to me. Shades of voice SMS, by which you can send a voice message to someone's in box, I'm not sure Text to Landline will further or foster human interaction all that much.

What think you?

1 comment:

noah lamson said...

Verizon is doing txt-to-landline. I got a text from them last week after accidently sendign SMS to a landline if I would like to pay .25 to deliver it as voicemail.

Cellphone only homes are creating a bit of a frenzy in regards to ratings for radio. Due to laws against digital dialing phones for marketing, Arbitron can not call cell phone only users to participate in their sample. I'd imagine it's a similar problem with Neilsen for television. "Typically" the cell phone only demographic is that highly desirable younger skewing male demo. That said, ratings are potentially skewed as a result to cellphone-only.