I had an unusual experience yesterday. A friend and colleague IMed me using Google Talk. His wife׳s computer was on the fritz (I told him to get her a Mac!). We trouble-shot the issue for a while.
So what was so unusual about this? Until recently he would have picked up the phone and called me but instead, he IMed. Moreover, we never actually talked. The entire “conversation” was through chat. Sure picking up the phone and speaking would be more personal but this was far more.. convenient.
For better or for worse IM has replaced voices calls in so many aspects of my work and my life. When Elana and I want to leave messages for one another we either email or IM. No more voicemail tag for us. And now that she has a BlackBerry she and her best friend tend to IM throughout the day. When my assistant wants to get a message to me she rarely tries to “reach out and touch someone” anymore. Nope. Email or IM works better because she can get the message to me clearly regardless of whether or not I can speak at that moment. And I’m not alone.
On so many levels connecting through some sort of messenging service has replaced the voice calls of old and my experience yesterday puts Verizon’s decision to allow Skype over 3G in perspective. They don’t WANT to make the change they HAVE to make the change.
Why? Because the way people use their networks is changing… Quickly. Many of us are using more and more of their data pipes and making fewer and fewer traditional calls. And when we DO make calls it is increasingly over Skype, TruPhone etc or using a data connected ooma phone system at home that bypasses any traditional network entirely.
So why is Verizon allowing Skype calls? I suspect it is because they see the writing on the wall. People will use more and more of their data network and less and less of their calling minutes. Their business model was originally built around voice with data as an add-on. With the rapid change that is taking place voice is NOT the business for them to be centered on if they want to stay in business.
I’m curious… have you seen your use of “voice calling” decline while your use of email and chat has grown? Are you happy about the change?