When is a phone not a phone?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

3 on iPad

There’s a quite astonishing (to me at least) post on the Three blog today. Phil Sheppard has posted that [97% of the Three network’s traffic is data](http://blog.three.co.uk/2011/10/31/were-built-for-data/). 
That means that this “phone” network is actually just 3% voice traffic – a tiny amount. At those levels, it almost makes sense for the company to just encourage everyone onto [VOIP](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_over_IP "Voice over IP") solutions, and let the voice business go. And, that’s pretty much inevitable in the long term. Modern smartphones, like my iPhone, treat voice calls as just another app. It’s not the central *raison d’être* of the phone as it once was. So far today, I’ve received two phone calls on my “phone”, sent a couple of dozen e-mails, checked into four locations, browsed dozens of sites, sent a few tweets… 
They’re not phones, they’re just ultra-portable computers that can do voice calls. The network operators are just providing me with data access – and that’s clearest on my iPad, where there is no built in phone. The sooner voice and [SMS](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMS "SMS") fade away into the data stream, the better. 
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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.