Are Internet apps killing the telephone number?

A promotional Vonage phone.

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Internet telephone company Vonage has a new Facebook application. Using an iPhone or an Android phone, users can make free calls to Facebook friends without dialing. Hmmm, is technology killing the telephone number? We asked reporter Jill Barshay to look it up.


Jill Barshay: There are more and more ways for us to talk to each other without dialing a telephone number. There's Skype, Google Voice and now Vonage Facebook. Rudolf Van Der Berg is a telecommunications consultant at Logica. He says e-mail addresses will increasingly be used for talking.

Rudolf Van Der Berg: I think the phone number will move gradually into the back.

But is keeping our brains free from dozens of telephone numbers a good thing? Harry Lorayne has written 16 books on memory training. In his youth, he became famous for reciting whole phone books.

Harry Lorayne: If you let your right arm dangle and don't use it for six months, it'll atrophy and you'll never be able to use it properly again. And if you don't use your mind for the same amount of time, you'll never be able to use that again. You have to exercise your mind just as you exercise anything else.

Van Der Berg says not to worry: There will always be a need for telephone numbers as long as all 7 billion people in the world are not on the same Internet site. Plus, we need a way to contact a guy we've met at a bar, who we're not ready to friend on Facebook yet.

I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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