What Is the Future of Phone Numbers? Our Thoughts.This week has certainly been eventful in the tech world. All the talk is about the recent Facebook announcements at their F8 conference. Augmented reality, messenger bots, artificial intelligence analytics, a brain-computer interface for typing… With all of these new possible solutions, one cannot help but wonder: what will our life look like in just 10 years? If even half of these plans will become a reality, probably very different from today.
This also got us thinking about the future of the telecommunications. Will phone numbers even still be relevant in the future? Or will there soon come the time we no longer need them?
Arguments for sticking to phone numbers:
- An extra level of security
Your email or username only exist online and is available for anyone to steal. On the contrary, mobile number is linked to your SIM card and is better protected from hackers.
Phone numbers came into existence nearly 140 years ago, and telecom has been developing steadily since then. Nowadays, everyone has at least one phone number. It’s often the only way to reach someone who is not on social media
If you have tried to talk with someone who has a bad internet connection via Skype or Viber, you know the struggle. At least for now, the quality of traditional calls will beat any mobile application on the market.
- No control over your communication
Anyone can reach you by dialing your number, including your boss in the middle of the night. The choice is either to turn it off completely and stop everyone from contacting you or leave it on and hope for the best.
- It’s expensive
Paying for international calls is becoming simply unaffordable for some people. It’s easier to use Skype or just chat with your colleagues or friends online than end up with a huge phone bill at the end of the month.
Your phone number is linked to your identity. It can be useful for your security online, but what about protecting your privacy? In some countries, telecom operators are starting to install fingerprint scanners for registering their users. This is quite controversial and is already sparkling some debates.
When discussing our role in the future of telecom, our CEO & Founder Taïg Khris likes to remind us about the quote by Alan Kay: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” This is exactly what we at onoff are working on: to reinvent the user experience in telecom.
It’s the industry that hasn’t changed at all in almost 30 years and often fails to respond to the fast-paced tech world. So our vision is to challenge its status quo. We want to keep the idea of having a phone number relevant while making it smarter and more convenient for users. This way, we can take the best from phone numbers and finally get rid of the worst. Phone numbers can and should provide better control over user’s communication, be private and have easier access.
Watch the full speech where Taig talks about the onoff values and goals here:
What do onoff team members think about?
Brian, SEM manager
“There are three ways I can see this going. One way is that a phone number will be something more like an IP address that will be linked to different things. The other way could be that our phone number will be the main link to our identity: you have only one number and you do everything through it. The third and the most unfortunate possibility would be that phone numbers might simply not be relevant anymore. onoff Telecom is possibly one of the very few companies that are actually trying to make phone numbers smarter and to challenge status quo.“Juris, VoIP engineer
“I don’t even know if we will have email addresses in the future. I think, it is more probable that phone numbers will stay than that they will go away anytime soon. We can have both, traditional and internet calls. The traditional way has been around for a long time and is more convenient. From my point of view, it’s easier to remember the number than some random names on the internet. People have been using numbers for more than hundred years and they still didn’t disappear. Further in the future, maybe we’ll use a completely different online platform like Instagram for making calls in the future, who knows. Nobody can predict the future. Meanwhile, we at onoff want to be a bridge between the traditional telecom and internet communication by providing phone numbers in the cloud.“Daria, iOS developer
“ I don’t think we’ll have phone numbers in the future. In my opinion, the most convenient way to reach people is via email, and we also have many applications that allow us to talk to a person on the internet. So numbers are not that important anymore. The onoff app already offers the opportunity to split your contacts into personal and professional ones, which is a lot more convenient than just one phone number.“As you can see, even our team has divided opinions on the topic. It is difficult to predict the future, especially when technology is evolving way faster than any science fiction author would have predicted. So instead of predicting it, we work every day on creating the future we believe in. And we are looking forward to seeing how it will turn up.
What are your thoughts on this subjects? Do you believe that phone numbers will vanish from our communication soon or that they are here to stay? Let us know, we’d love for you to join the discussion!
Marta @ onoff