Sprinting beyond telephone numbers with app-enabled voice communication

Mar 30, 2011
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Skype to a startup, can make an app that will become your phone number for your handset and everything else you use to connect to the web.

Google and other tech companies are likely to invest in making voice communication apps more interesting. Today you can find voice apps that translate words into other languages, or let you dictate Twitter feeds that get posted as text. Apple (AAPL) is expected to build more voice control into the next iPhone.

It’s not hard to imagine these capabilities getting integrated. We could wind up with a voice app that lets you speak into your phone to take control of your laptop back home, or automatically translate voice messages left in another language.

Dialing into a new era

The shift will change the way people think about a phone number. A generation ago, a phone number was linked to a place – you called home or called the office. Cell phones ushered in the concept of a phone number linked to a device – you call your mom’s cell. Now a phone number will be in the cloud, accessible anywhere and through anything. The number will be tied to a person, who can configure the app to make it a business number at some times, a personal number at others, all depending on who is calling and when.

Voice communication has been moving this way for a decade, pushed by Skype and other VoIP companies. The Sprint-Google deal throws it over the tipping point. Before long, big players like Verizon Wireless (VZ) and AT&T are going to have to think the same way.

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