Will Dean's Ideas Factory: Tracking phone call lengths

 

It is, once mused an actor of east-endish origins, good to talk. Since mobile phones tipped into the mainstream in the late Nineties, we've had voice contact with everyone from loved ones to the local pizza delivery place a pocket's distance away.

But, according to the CTIA, the trade group representing the US wireless industry, the average length of our mobile phone calls has dropped drastically in the last six years. In 2006 the average call was 3.03 minutes long. By the end of 2011 they were down to 1.78 minutes. Why have we stopped talking? (Or, at least, paying to talk.)

The answer, at least according to a lengthy report in The Wall Street Journal, is – like so many things – down to Apple and its 2007 release of the iPhone, which allowed users to communicate via numerous non-call routes including voice-over-internet protocol, email and, latterly (the fee-free) iMessage. The other smartphones that followed Apple only furthered this troublesome development for the phone networks (who will counter it with increased unlimited-call packages).

It's not just smartphones, though. Since 2006, Facebook has gained as many users as there were on the entire web at its inception in 2004. Twitter has no doubt eaten into the SMS market, too. Do we need to ring cousin Dave to see how his newborn is doing, when we can see pictures of the baby on Facebook and get instant updates from the delivery room? Possibly not. But we won't stop chatting. This week sees the launch of Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning's peer-to-peer chat network Airtime, which hopes to do to the phone industry what their Napster did to music. Which could be great news, unless you own shares in 02 or AT&T.

More: on.wsj.com/M7yFlA

A Napoleonic approach to brands

There was much amusement this week after a blogger Philip Howard (the author of a genteel account of life on a North Carolina island) noted that his e-reader – Barnes and Noble's popular own-brand Nook – had replace Leo Tolstoy's various mention of the word "kindled" in War and Peace to "Nookd" as a riposte to its Amazonian rival, the Kindle.

The error was a mistake by the manufacturers, obviously. But it points to an interesting juncture where corporations try to get users to make their products verbs – ie, "let me google that".

Indeed, the recent TV remake of Hawaii Five-0 may never recover from one its characters proclaiming: "Don't believe me? Bing it!" But owning a verb can be dangerous ground. As The Independent's Rhodri Marsden wrote last year (ind.pn/genbrands), if a brand name became generic – if we referred to having read an e-book as having "Nookd" it– the branding could potentially lose all its value. Which is why Larry and Sergey rarely "google" anything. And not only that, it might ruin one of the greatest pieces of 19th-century literature.

Bring out your dead... sports shoes

If you're anything like me, the bottom of your wardrobe is likely filled with old trainers that are too healthy to bin, but too knackered to wear outside.

Not many retailers offer a chance to return worn old goods, but sportswear brand Puma has recently added "Bring Me Back" bins into its stores so it can recycle and repurpose old pairs of King football boots and whatnot. (Other clothing brands are also accepted). Of course many local councils will gladly recycle old clothes, but if the cool of a global brand encourages more people to do it it's no bad thing.

Indeed, Puma has quite decent form for its environmental work. In 2010, it became one of the first companies to put a monetary value on its environmental impact and list it on an environmental profit and loss sheet.

More: bit.ly/pumashare

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    PHP Web Developer (HTML5, CSS3, Jenkins, Vagrant, MySQL)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: PHP Web Develo...

    JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?