Millennials might have a hard time believing this, but there was a time when an actual cassette tape-recorded phone messages. And what was this cassette tape recording device connected to? Yes, it was a landline phone. Ahh the memories.
Today, however, these landline phones are going the way of dinosaurs, and will likely be totally extinct in the not so distant future. With their sleek designs, convenience and functionality, smartphones have become a constant companion for most people.
As smartphone use continues to surge, landline phones are indeed becoming an afterthought. Just in 2004, over 90 percent of households in the U.S. had an operational landline phone, according to data provided by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Today, that figure has plummeted drastically to about 40 percent.
In another recent study, only 6.5 percent of U.S. households had a landline only, while 3.2 percent somehow have remained untethered to any type of phone. And over half of U.S. households utilized only wireless service.
This, though, really shouldn’t come as any surprise. Like the VCRs of the past, something better will come along and make that particular device obsolete. There is nothing wrong with that. What some cash-tight families might have to overcome are the expensive phone plans for each family member. Though family and friend bundles do exist, these plans are still far more expensive than having a single landline phone for the entire family.
What matters now is how modern society will grapple with the pros and cons of smartphones. There is no question that smartphones -- and their seemingly incredible advances in technology each successive year -- have changed how everyday people live.
Download certain apps, and you don’t even have to go to the bank or the grocery store anymore. Just push a few buttons and your check is cashed remotely and your ground beef and lettuce will be delivered right to your door. It’s indeed convenience at its finest.
However, what remains to be seen is how society will come to terms with this type of communication. Long gone are the days of actually picking up a phone to call a friend. Instead, you’ll send a text message with a cute emoji here and there. Yes, in some tangible sense, landline phones did give you a more “real” connection.
There is, though, no use shedding tears over the eventual death of the landline phone. Human beings will just have to adjust and find ways to take communication to new and exciting levels with these amazing devices.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV.