Nilay Patel asked the above question in a great article on This is my next. He’s right, it does seem crazy that phone numbers still restrict us unnecessarily to a particular carrier while we can access and transmit data for free via Skype and IM from nearly any platform. A sizable group of heavyweights providing free and non-restrictive telecom services are emerging right now, and it’s hard to imagine that they will not spell the downfall of the conventional phone number fixed to a single provider.
In the current state, phone numbers are still an effective tool to prevent customers from moving between service providers. Nonetheless, a few main players are helping us break out of those handcuffs. Through Google Voice, Google is taking steps against traditional phone numbers by allowing people to make and receive VoIP phone calls from Google Voice numbers using Google Talk on desktops. After buying Skype, the single largest provider of VIOP calling tools, Microsoft also has a great opportunity to control the way movement away from traditional phone numbers occurs. Apple is in the game as well; The company recently unveiled iMessage, a free messaging system (BBM killer) that will be used between iOS 5 devices, and has the seeds of a “data-use only” voice calling system already in their facetime program. In Patel’s words: “Google’s hacking the existing telephone system, Microsoft’s betting on the upstart proprietary network, and Apple appears to be quietly trying to pull the rug out from everyone.”
It’s clear that these services will likely replace phone numbers with a type of calling that is no different from any other form of data stream. All of these developments are important to us at LUA, because we will be harnessing these free and flexible communication options to save film makers and producers time and money on set. We are extremely excited to see how cheap and universal modes of communication will grow.