Well, not quite, but we’ve been there with both Fax numbers and email addresses.
Bill Reid gave another presentation at the EPIC technology day today on VoIP and the Asterisk PBX. Between the presentation and an earlier discussion with him, he brought up the notion of Fax as a change in how we communicate, and why it was successful…
A big reason Fax caught on quickly was because it made use of an infrastructure that was already in place. Phone lines were easy to get, and all you needed was a fax machine. The advantages that faxes gave you (rapid transfer of any paper document across the world) made it spread quickly.
Eventually the Internet came around, and with it, email. However, with few people on the Internet, and how slow it was (ie modems), it didn’t replace the fax machine. Fast forward a couple of years, everyone has access to the Internet, and it’s rare to ask someone for their fax number. Whenever a vendor calls me and wants to send me information, it’s always “What’s your email address?”. Today, almost everyone has email, at which point Bill said (somewhat tongue in cheek) “If you don’t have email, you’re not worth talking to”
This led to a discussion of SIP addresses and legacy phone numbers. SIP addresses look more like email addresses than phone numbers, ie I’m sip:firstname.lastname@example.org. When the idea becomes popular enough, I’ll be able to use my ertw.com email address to point to my SIP server. Given how easily people have adapted to email addresses, how much longer will we need phone numbers? It’s far easier to put the address of a SIP server in DNS, and to transform user@host into an IP endppoint than it is to connect to the global SS7 network and get phone numbers to the right place.
So, the prediction then became “Either you’ve got a SIP address or you’re not worth talking to.” While that’s a while off, I do believe it will come true.