As I'd posted this poll a week or so back, general direct-dialed telephony, a/k/a PSTN (public switched telephone networks) seem to be in trouble. I think we could be within five years of their total collapse. And no, not just land lines (already about 25% of their peak in much of the US), but _all_ direct-dialed phones: mobile and VOIP included.
The problem, as I'd written before, is paradoxically the _low_ cost of calls. This is inducing tremendous volumes of junk calls, with one ...
... though I think I've got some sense of the terrain ahead and useful lessons from the past.
@dredmorbius now for real thoughts.
I expect the phone to die a slow but sure death, first landlines and then mobile.
WRT. trends in history, my somewhat unsophisticated observation is that any piece of infrastructure technology that enters private market becomes first a battleground of morally bankrupt companies trying to become _the_ platform / _the_ provider, followed by stabilization on minimum viable set of common features; that stabilization happens when competition between morally bankrupt
as tech, but then again, it's highly regulated).
I'm worried that whatever it is that replaces telephones will be worse in its usability, as dominant players each try to extract maximum value from their networks. It's what happened to IM space now; it used to work OK in IRC/ICQ days; now everything is shinier and more accessible, but I have to run 5 IMs just to talk with all my friends and co-workers.
It's sad because, taking a global view, we could do it right from the get-go, instead
of having to suffer decades of war for market domination, only to later pick the pieces and try to live with a minimum viable base infrastructure until it gets so uncompetitive against fresh new battleground that it gets scrapped entirely - like phones are about to.
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