May 14, 2010
Texting Significance: Beyond the Cell Phone
The New York Times reports that cell phones are now used more often for data than for phone calls. And when they do call, the calls are getting significantly shorter. This revelation that phones are used more for data communication than for calls makes the United States Supreme Court’s recent hearing of City of Ontario v. Quon, which considers privacy rights regarding text messages, even more significant.
But what is behind this change? Is this because of new technology or simply the market at work? I suspect it’s probably a little bit of both.
There are a variety of reasons people are using more data services. First is the fact that people have the option: iPhones, Blackberrys, etc., offer a lot more features than your basic flip phone. Second, sending texts and e-mails is usually cheaper than speaking on the phone, so it makes sense to use the cheaper medium when feasible. Third, and not unrelated, texts and e-mails tend to be less intrusive and quicker than phone calls. Often the formalities of a call can be avoided in a simple text, which can prove especially efficient, if less personal. Plus, it doesn't matter where you are when sending a text or e-mail – texting is a lot easier than making a quick phone call from a sold out concert or baseball game, for example.
According to the report, Sprint and other companies think
that over the next few years, people will be charged by the amount of data
used, not the amount of voice minutes used (as is the current norm). Perhaps so. I suspect, though, that if the
companies are overzealous with their data pricing, while keeping their new
lower voice rates, they’ll find many people go back to the phone call rather
May 14, 2010 | Permalink