Phone Number As Relic: "Nothing But Laziness And Hostility To Consumers"

Jun 10, 2011

An entertaining rant against the phone number, via This is my next:

I hate phone numbers. They're a relic of an outmoded system that both wireless and wireline carriers use to keep people trapped on their services — a false technological prison built of nothing but laziness and hostility to consumers.

Why can't I pick up any phone from any carrier, enter my phone service information, and be on my way, just as with email or IM or Skype? Why are we still pretending that phone service is at all different from any other type of data? The answer to almost all of these questions is carrier lock-in — your phone number is a set of handcuffs that prevents you from easily jumping ship, and they know it.

The post has a nice overview of how Google, Apple and Microsoft are all angling to kill the phone number, and everything it represents.

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

Hat tip: Felix Salmon

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit