I’ve been playing around with Google Voice for some time now.
It’s not perfect by any means and it certainly isn’t perfect on my iPhone (which I had to jailbreak to support GV Mobile)
But it’s good enough for my needs and as a result I changed my number yesterday.
The next step was to communicate my new number to my family, friends and business associates. So, I went through my entire address book, selected each person that should have my new number and added them to the bcc line. Then, I sent out an email with my new number. This was painful on my end. Even worse, i’m sure it wasn’t a great experience for the folks on the receiving end of that email broadcast.
First, there is a reasonable chance that my email ended up in their junk folder because they are on the bcc line in a mass mailing. And if it shows up in their inbox it’s just yet another email in that sea of noise. Finally, it then requires the recipient to copy that number into their address book manually.
(I did make the change to my facebook profile but I keep my friend list quite small on that service).
There has to be a better way.
I vented my frustration yesterday and my friend Rich Miner (cofounder of Wildfire & Android) replied:
@bijan phone numbers should be as necessary for day2day comms as IP addresses. lets work on that.
Rich is so right. I like thinking about phone numbers as IP addresses which are in the background. Others can reach me on my computer in various ways without knowing my IP address. My Mac can communicate on any network and gets a new IP address to do that. My Mac doesn’t care, apps don’t care and neither do I.
Phone numbers don’t work like that. They are limited to one device and one network and just two apps (voice & txt). And apps have to explicitly know the phone number or they don’t work.
Getting rid of phone numbers means that we can just connect with someone by a unique ID. And that ID should be able to float on top of various networks, applications & services and protocols.
Google Voice is clearly working on this and they are off to an interesting start. But it’s still tied to a phone number at the end of the day. It will be fun to watch what comes next.