Image via WikipediaI don’t particularly like using the telephone.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s nothing against the concept of talking to someone who’s not there – I do that all the time online. It’s not the fact that it’s voice-based instead of text-based. (Actually it kind of is, but that’s not the point of this post.)
One of the biggest reasons I don’t like telephones is that it’s sometimes impossible to know who’s on the other end of the line. Caller ID is considered a premium feature and carries a charge somewhere in the area of $5/month per line. (This doesn’t apply to cell phones, which have it built in. I’m strictly discussing landlines here.) Since when is knowing who’s trying to contact you a privilege, not a right?
I know, I know; it takes resources, it’s relatively new. Telephones have been around in concept since the mid-1800s; Caller ID was conceived in the late 1960s. But let me tell you something: Flash memory was first presented at the IEEE conference in 1984 by a Japanese employee of Toshiba, who invented the technology in 1980. Prices for that technology have fallen steeply in just ten years.
How about some perspective? For as long as I can remember (five years or so, in this case), Caller ID has been a good $5-$10 per month. It hasn’t changed, either, as far as I know. By comparison, flash memory prices started at a good $100 or more for a few megabytes when my mother got her first digital camera (which took the no-longer-developed SmartMedia memory card) and are now down to $100-$150 for 16GB. That hardly seems fair, considering that both prices are for technological innovations that usually depreciate very rapidly.
Perhaps the lack of price decrease for Caller ID is caused by similar factors to those which create the sky-high fees on SMS messages. That is to say, carrier greed. (I also notice that landline telcos don’t include long-distance calling as part of the phone line price, but that’s a whole ‘nother subject; I won’t go there.)
So what if Caller ID was standard? Sure it might raise the basic price of a phone line a dollar or two, but that would be better than paying the ridiculous rates currently charged to have it as an add-on feature. (I’m taking a page from my economic experience that says package deals are always cheaper than a la carte options. Not saying that’s always true; it’s just a good rule of thumb.)
If I had Caller ID on every phone, I could look at it and answer or not answer based on who’s calling, without paying extra, and gain more confidence in answering landline phones. (It’s debatable whether landlines are even still useful what with prepaid cell phones and all that, but sometimes they’re required for alarm systems. In which case being able to use them as intended is a nice bonus.)
And all this because I hate listening to telemarketers and recorded messages. Huh. Fancy that: Marketing makes me hate the medium on which it is delivered. Same as commercial television and radio (I spy a future post idea…) – but not the Internet; I can block ads on the Internet faster than you can say, “I hate advertisements.”