Milestone: cellphones now used more for data than voice

We don't talk anymore.... instead, we text, browse, watch videos, and play games. Voice calls are but one of many applications on today's phones.

We recently reported that there are now at least five billion cellphones in the world.

Now, it appears that the main purpose of these phones is something other than talking. According to a report in the New York Times, the wireless industry association CTIA calculates that for the first time in the United States, the amount of data in text, e-mail messages, streaming video, music and other services in 2009 surpassed the amount of voice data in cellphone calls.

In fact, we also talk a lot less -- on cellphones, that is. CTIA estimates that the average length of a local call was 1.81 minutes in 2009, down from 2.27 minutes in 2008.

Not surprisingly, then, numeric keypads -- you know, where the number "1" doesn't equate to any letter  -- are out. In are touch screens and full “qwerty” keyboards. Voice calls are but one of many applications on today's phones.

As a result, observes one telecom executive: “Handset design has become far less cheek-friendly.”

I can remember back when I came of age, there was a lot of fretting about writing becoming a dying art as electronic communications took over. Ironically, the rise of PCs, email, and now cellphones has made written communication the primary way we connect to each other.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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