Tom Vanderbilt

Talk Versus Text

Now that data transmission far exceeds conversation, what is the future of the telephone? “Siri, what is the future of the telephone?” I asked my iPhone.

“I found 20 astrologers. Tap on the one you want to call,” Siri responded.

That’s not a bad answer to a somewhat complicated question about an old technology posing some challenging decisions to communications managers. What is the role of “talk” versus “text” in the marketing communications mix?

Siri is the persona given to the iPhone’s search function — a telephonic concierge. If Siri’s answer doesn’t work for you, try a thoughtful article entitled “The Call of the Future,” by Tom Vanderbilt, published in the spring quarter edition for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“In 2009, the United States crossed a digital Rubicon: For the first time, the amount of data sent with mobile devices exceeded the sum of transmitted voice data,” Vanderbilt’s article begins, the opening scene of a paradox about a tool that has been around since 1876.

Your age may dictate your views on the telephone’s future.