Phone versus computer

22 11 2009

So I tried out another technological innovation this weekend: I bought a USB headphone for my computer, and installed Skype, which is a service that enables you to make phone calls over the Internet. For $2.95 a month, they offer free calls to any landline or cellphone in North America.

I tried it out this morning using my parents as guinea pigs, and it seems to work pretty well. They had no problem hearing me, nor I hearing them, and I didn’t burn up cellphone minutes talking with them. I did burn up bandwidth usage, but I have more of that than I have cellphone minutes, so it’s all good. So it looks like one of the primary uses of my computer is to serve as a phone. At the very least, it will serve as a backup if my cellphone gets lost or something happens to it.

Yesterday, I was at a party, and I got someone there to show off her iPhone, which she was totally in love with. It has all sorts of interesting applications, including the ability to use Google Maps to pinpoint exactly where you are right now – which would be very handy for me, since I like to walk all over Toronto. It’ll only be a matter of time before I get one – especially since all the major cellphone providers now offer it.

To summarize: the iPhone’s features mean that you can use your phone as if it was a computer. Skype makes your computer more like a phone. I suppose, eventually, there will be no real difference between a computer and a phone.

By the way: somebody at work discontinued her Bell phone service, and got the same sales pitch I did: the claim that landlines provide more reliable 911 service than cellphones do. That seems like the only advantage to having a landline these days. And it’s not much of an advantage.

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2 responses

22 11 2009
Rob

“the claim that landlines provide more reliable 911 service than cellphones do”

I’ve called 911 once: it was from a cellphone, I gave my address, and they were there within 10 minutes. Small sample size, sure, but how would it have been different had I phoned from the landline (and given the address)?

I guess if you call but can’t speak, they can trace it through the landline, but can’t they trace cellphones just as well?

22 11 2009
Rob

Also, yes, computer vs. phone will eventually yield one device for both. When Bill Gates was at UW in 2005 or 2006, he said (paraphrasing) “one day, we’ll laugh at the days we had phone numbers.”

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