1896_telephone E-books aren’t the only way to “TeleRead”. Whenever we receive a text message, or an instant message on line, you could say we “TelePhoneRead”—as different a form of communication from the phone calls of old as e-books are from printed books.

I covered a similar article from TechCrunch a couple of weeks ago, but Om Malik of GigaOm has posted a piece on “Why we never talk anymore”—an article about the decline in phone voice communications and the rise in other forms such as text and possibly soon video.

Malik talks about his personal history growing up in Delhi, with his family’s rotary phone being the talk of the neighborhood, then using the landline in his early days as a journalist.

It all changed when I got a cell phone in the late 1990s. Sure enough, I got rid of my landline, and slowly my behavior changed: I started sending text messages more often. Initially, they were cheaper than voice minutes, and soon it became a habit. Today, I cringe at the idea of a phone call. Blame it on poor quality of the cell phone networks, but voice isn’t much fun. Instead, I’ve replaced what was a standard mode of communication — phones and faxes — with newer, Internet-based communications.

Just as cell communication replaced landline voice, so text communication is now replacing cell voice. And as I pointed out earlier today, with Virgin’s new unlimited contract-free $40/mo mobile Internet plan, we may be witnessing the next big replacement, as mobile and Voice Over IP replaces cell. Or perhaps I should quotate “replaces”, in the same way that e-books will “replace” paper books.

On a related note, Google is integrating Google Voice into Gmail, so that within the next few days anyone with a Gmail account and a headset will be able to make free calls to any cell or landline phone in the US or Canada (and cheap ones to other countries). (This is just for US Gmail users; I assume other nations’ will get free calls to their own localities when they roll it out in those areas.)

And Google has also announced it is going to roll out Google Voice phone booths at airports and universities, allowing people to make free domestic and international calls to demonstrate how the quality of Google Voice stacks up to traditional phone lines.

Now if only Apple would approve the Google Voice iPhone app (which recently had the one-year anniversary of Apple’s “we’re still considering it” response to the FCC), Google Voice would be a perfect fit with these new mobile data services. (Of course, those of us who signed up with Gizmo before Google bought it and who downloaded the iPhone Gizmo app have the voice-over-IP part covered already.)


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