Evidently, Facebook’s goal of connecting everyone on Earth includes eliminating their reliance on phone numbers for calling each other. If Facebook has its way, phone numbers will be going the way of the dinosaurs – into the dustbin of history.
David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president in charge of instant messaging applications, posted his predictions for 2016 and one of his predictions is the coming demise of phone numbers.
According to Marcus, the rise of smartphones with SMS, texting and other evolving communication tools will mean the end of our reliance on phone numbers for everyday communications.
Obviously, Facebook is hoping that phone numbers as well as the calls they are used for will be replaced by a Facebook technology like their Messenger app.
There are currently almost a billion people worldwide who use Facebook’s Messenger application.
Although phone numbers and phone calls still account for a large amount of cell phone usage, instant messaging apps are taking over. In addition, the use of old school landlines is becoming more uncommon.
A recent government study found that almost 50% of adults in the United States live in households with no landlines. These people rely on cellphones and messaging apps for their daily personal communications.
Instant messaging apps like Facebook’s Messenger are easy, fast and free or inexpensive to use. What’s more, they give people the ability to communicate through multimedia by sending audio files, pictures and video as well as silly but useful things like emojis. Messaging app creators have taken the old saying “a pictures is worth a thousand words” and put it to real use in the latest communication tools.
In addition, in our increasingly mobile world, messaging apps offer ways for people to instantly share their precise location information with other people. This takes the guesswork out of finding a person’s real-time and real-world location for things like business meetings and social gatherings.
However, predicting the demise of phone numbers in the near future is still far fetched. Any future communication tool, no matter how advanced, will require some unique, easy-to-remember identification system for people to contact each other and use. Real names are impractical for this task since people can share the same first and last name. Nicknames and usernames aren’t good either, because they can be too similar, too long or too difficult to communicate without mistakes.
Since the use of digit-based phone numbers as a way to identify and make contact with people we are trying to communicate with is a simple identification system that is already embedded in peoples’ daily routines, it is hard to see how phone numbers, or some closely related identification system, could be easily replaced. After all, letters and words didn’t die off with the changes and advancements in writing technology over the centuries.
So for now, it appears that reports of the phone number’s death are greatly exaggerated. However, we can see how the public’s reliance on the current phone number system is definitely questionable.