How will Email, VoIP, Social media effect the Telephone thing?

Yesterday, I called a colleague of mine demanding for a three hours overdue status update on a project I had tasked her last week. Under the impression that we were connected on Facebook, she had been providing the status updates on the social networking site and assumed that I was reading them. So, she told me she didn’t feel any need to discuss it over the phone.  Satisfied with her Facebook Status update, The incident got me thinking about how our mode of communications is changing from the telephone to other means, such as Facebook, etc. in the US, Europe, and other regions with pretty advanced internet network infrastructure  like Japanese and South Korean markets.

Since, the launch of Awesome DC in December of last year, I have been extensively covering social media, Google Voice, skype and recently email. What are these have in common? A new way people and corporate have been communicating since early 90s starting with email, then skype in late 90s, then social media in mid 2000, and recently Google voice.  How are all these going to effect our phone communications in five to ten years? Have you thought about it?

Don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. This isn’t the demise of phone calls.  Far from it.  People will still talk on their phones.  They just want the service to be simple and fun, which won’t entail punching digits into a device to start a conversation.

Before you start thinking, here are several reminders about the telephone and social media:


– Anyone can dial your 10 digits, including the spammers, promoters and other  solicitors.  Unlisted numbers, Caller ID and do-not-call lists all tried to solve this problem, but these solutions still don’t prevent unwanted calls.

Everyone has multiple numbers, yet your home line is shared, leaving callers guessing the best way to reach you.

The phone was designed as a utility—dial a number, have a conversation. It’s remained this way since its inception.  It’s not optimized for other experiences, which is why voicemail and conference calls are tedious, and why checking flight status is worse than a root canal.

Social Media:

– You have control over who accesses your information;

– You have one username and profile that you use at all times; and applications fill in the holes and extend the network’s capabilities to communicate, play games and meet people on your own terms.

– On any Facebook page, we can “send a message”, even if we aren’t friends. And I can choose to receive messages from non-friends. The key thing is the network sets up a policy, and I as a user can change this. We don’t have this choice on the phone network today. Anyone can dial my number, and I can’t control it—but I do control my interaction on a social network.

Although, Google, Skype, and others have been trying to resolve telephony problems by stuffing the phone system into the web, but their progress has not been fast enough.

One thing for sure, until there is a standard widely adopted by all VoIP providers, that would allow services to share profiles, calls anywhere in the world, you may be pretty sure that traditional phone calls won’t go anywhere.

Other fact you may consider while thinking about such a phenomena, just a couple of months ago, total number of GSM connections worldwide exceeds 4 billion mark. Now it is 4,546,499,642 and counting. Basically what Facebook achieves in their whole lifetime, the GSM operators around the world achieves in two months. Not really a very convincing fact for you.

So, here is the question: How will Email, VoIP, Social media effect Telephone in 10 or 20 years from today?

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @

4 Responses to How will Email, VoIP, Social media effect the Telephone thing?

  1. Kennan Clark says:

    Elias, I have a “communication” based concept that I am about to launch and I wanted to hear your opinion on it. Also, if you or anyone you know may be interested in coming on board in some capacity then we will entertain Angel Investment proposals. Let me know if you are interested…

  2. Dennis Depp says:

    First Email is dead! Ok, not really, but today’s youth don’t use email and may never. They are much likely to send SMS messages directed at their friends. I’m not sure how much twitter has penetrated into today’s youth. Facebook is king. Cell phones are only a means for texting and to access Facebook. Landlines and even VoIP are irrelevant to this generation. As this generation enters the job market, to some extent they will be forced to conform and possibly even utilize email. However for their childern email will become as obsolute as rotary phones.

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