Mobile Phones Kill More Than Brain Cells

by Dave Michels

I recently posted my opinion that if the (VoIP) PBX doesn’t move away from its voice focus, it will die.

The mobile phone was a voice centric device, but has expanded to include many other functions, and now voice is a minor part of its feature set. My frustration with the VoIP PBX is these powerful and expensive phones are still primarily used and designed only for voice – which to me spells doom in our highly connected data world. To be fair, most VoIP phones have a micro browser and are “capable” for other applications, but the reality is they are not friendly enough from a user or development perspective to gain any real traction outside their core purpose.

It got me thinking more about the How the Cell Phone Kills. It is a silent killer, as its value proposition continues to broaden (and its following gets stronger and cultish), that it silently and swiftly kills entire industries.

I got thinking about its wake of death. I came up with the following.


  • Pagers
  • PDA
  • Walkie-Talkies (including FRS)
  • CB Radios?
  • Answering Machines?
  • Pay Phones

IN PROCESS – Not particularly a bad thing

  • Land Lines
  • Meaning of Area Codes
  • 1+ dialing for long distance
  • 2-way radio/dispatch
  • Call Boxes along highways
  • Control over charges

SOME INDICATORS OF POSSIBLE FUTURE KILLINGS – Some limited offerings, not a clear industry initiative.

  • Portable Music/Video Devices (Ipod?)
  • GPS/Navigation Systems
  • Portable Game Systems
  • Paper Calendars (ie Franklin)
  • Alarm Clock/Watches
  • TV Remote
  • Voice Recorders
  • Digital Cameras
  • Home Automation keypads

WHAT THEY MIGHT GO AFTER IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS – requires new features/efforts.

  • Cash or Credit Card
  • Car Key Fobs
  • PBX
  • WiMAX

Can you think of anything else that belongs on these lists. (Added since orig published)

What makes the cell phone so powerful a killer is how much we (yes we) love them, and depend on them. Take a look at a busy pedestrian area and look at the cell junkies. Take a look how many ads you see for them in your favorite magazine or airport terminal. Notice the broad range of ages addicted to them. Try someplace like a supermarket or restaurant how many people you have to count until you find someone using their handset. Reminds me of Hitchhikers Guide, how humans were so intrigued by digital watches. A different time. Great mobile phone parody in the Onion: New Mobile-Device Purchase Makes Asshole More Versatile.

Meanwhile our IP Desktop Phones remain so very voice focused. Most of them are capable of doing simple web apps, but not for the typical user. With some specialized programming and usually new servers, we can get the phones to do simple things like a stock symbol look-up.

I believe the PBX industry should make their phones less voice centric and instead a more multi-purposed device desktop appliance.