About 3 years ago, I wrote how phone numbers might be an important part of mobile identity. I started to change my mind on this last year. Now I am thinking that phone numbers may in fact much more rapidly be approaching the end of their useful life.
Why? Because of my recent experience in London with a data only SIM card. Having tired of crazy international roaming charges, I picked up a 1 GB data onlyl SIM card from a vending machine at Heathrow for 20 pounds and popped it into my phone.
I happily used foursquare, Twitter, kik and email all day long. But I was wondering how others would reach me who are not yet connected to me. I had a couple of different options. I could run Skype for voice. I could publicize my kik handle. Fortunately, I am “albertwenger” on both services so people could also just guess.
I believe that there are a bunch of ways this could go. There could a dominant global provider of a unified namespace for people if one of the existing big guys like Facebook or Twitter or one of the up and comers like kik becomes ubiquitous. Or there could be one or more providers of proprietary “phonebooks” that make it possible for people to let themselves be found on the services they want to. Or a new standard could emerge that is the equivalent of DNS but just for individuals.
Would love to know what others are thinking about this. How do you think of your mobile identity? Still phone number first or some handle? And how would you feel about a phone book approach that lets you register multiple handles? Should that be an open standard?