Today's mobile phones are packed in ever-smaller packaging, with more emphasis on providers to give more focus to e-mail, music playback, and Web surfing than standard phone functions.
Ever call a business after hours, find there's no operator to help, and get prompted to "Dial by name" using the dial by name directory? It sounds easy, assuming you have a standard touch-tone phone, but on the way home today, I found myself in a conundrum, trying to dial by name using my BlackBerry. I was prompted to enter the first three digits of the contact's last name.
Looking down at my BlackBerry, I entered the person's name on the keypad. Of course, the "QWERTY" like keyboard didn't do squat. The computer voice came again: "Please enter the first three letters of the person's last name." I looked down at the BlackBerry again - and had to visualize what letters were on a standard touchtone phone's number keys (2: ABC, 3:DEF and so on). Lucky for me, I got it right.
As more and more consumers turn to BlackBerry and iPhone and other "smart phones", and they get "dumber" at some basic tasks, I'm thinking "Dial By Name" directories and phone numbers that include alphabetical characters. (I.E. 1-800-GOOG-411) are going to get less relevant over time. It certainly wasn't all that relevant for me tonight.