Six hundred million people will use cell phones this year, according to Bank of America Securities.
That number may be a little high. I know because I am using about a million of those phones myself.
OK, maybe only four, so far. But I am accumulating cell phones and phone numbers faster than Microsoft is accumulating lawsuits. The good news: We just tested a new service that solves the problem.
In my "Jesse Jetson" series, you may recall, we showcase the coolest next-generation products.
Today, I've got the spotlight on Simulring, which gives you one phone number that rings all your phones at the same time.
The idea is so simple I don't understand why somebody hasn't done it already. Simulring buys a batch of numbers from a phone company. When you sign up, they assign you one. When somebody calls that number, all your phones ring at once. Whichever phone you answer takes the call.
The cost of the service is $10 per month, more if you want a premium phone number, such as one ending in two zeros.
WHAT YOU'LL LIKE ABOUT IT
It's easy to set up. Many powerful technologies force users to endure lengthy learning curves. Simulring takes a few minutes at most. Score one for simplicity.
It rings all your phones. One reason I have multiple cell phones is because I travel a lot. Some have good coverage in one part of the globe, some in others. Simulring rings them all. That way, I'm never out of range.
It's easy to adjust. The company's Web site allows you to instantly change which numbers your Simulring number rings through to. This is great for people who spend a lot of time in hotels, want to rent cell phones abroad or want to take calls at the cabin in the mountains. All it takes is a few clicks to get the Simulring number to ring through to another line, and a few clicks to undo it later.
It makes you look like a hero. Give out your Simulring number on your business cards. Then program it to ring your office phone, your cell phone and your home phone. You can be sitting poolside when clients call, but as far as they're concerned, you're in the office.
Ends phone-number proliferation. Ever have this conversation? "Call me at the office until 4 p.m. at 206-555-1212. Then from 4 to 6 I'll be on my cell at 425-555-3456. If you call after 6, try my home phone at ..." Simulring ends this confusion forever.
WHAT YOU WON'T LIKE
Not available everywhere. Simulring is only available with Seattle phone numbers right now. You can use it from anywhere, but callers will have to pay the long-distance charges from their city to Seattle. The company has plans to roll it out in San Francisco in August, followed by New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and D.C.
Cost. Ten dollars isn't much, but it may not be worth it for people who only get occasional use out of their cell phone. I suspect it will get the most mileage from people who can't predict very well where their job will be taking them on any given day, and from salespeople and other mobile professionals.
Nobody else offers true simultaneous ringing, although several companies have sophisticated call forwarding that will ring several numbers in a row until it finds you. For instance:
Accessline supplies voice mail and call forwarding to businesses. Your callers suffer though, as they wait through ring after ring. Click for more.
As long as I have more than one cell phone and such a crazy schedule, I'm going to keep using Simulring. But of course I would, because I'm Jesse Jetson, and I have to use all the cool stuff.