Traditional Cellphone Usage Dying A Long, Painful Death (For Carriers, Anyway)

Whether you blame it on Twitter, texts, or the inability to make a phone call on a touchscreen phone, the US is moving away from voice calls, with the average length of a call falling dramatically in the last year.

According to the CTIA, between 2009 and 2008 the length of phone calls dropped from 2.27 minutes in 2008 to 1.81 minutes in 2009 in the US, and almost 50 per cent more text messages were sent in 2009 compared to the previous year. The NY Times has explored why this is, talking to several people claiming their iPhones provide enough alternatives to calling that their free monthly minutes are mounting up. Or, perhaps they're all on AT&T and have simply given up hope of ever hearing someone's voice over the phone again.

An analyst at the NPD Group, Ross Rubin, echoed to the NY Times what I've thought all along: that "handset design has become far less cheek-friendly," with the crop of touchscreen devices doing the rounds just not being as comfortable to use as a non-touch phone. If you're a woman you'll know what I'm talking about—smeared foundation down the LCD—but often the screens don't lock properly and the virtual numberpad gets pushed by your cheek.

It's worrying news for carriers, who make a fair buck from pricey phone plans, but already we can see they're trying to cater to the non-callers amongst us. Virgin Mobile has launched a new plan for heavy texters, with unlimited data and text messages each month, but just 300 minutes of calls. Sprint and Walmart are pretending that a minute of voice calls is actually 119 seconds long, and even the rise of phones with forward-facing cameras for video chat can be credited as a way to pique people's interest in hearing others' voices again.

So tell me, Gizmodo readers—when do you take to your phone and use it for voice calling? To talk to someone who's not on Twitter or email, like your parents? To phone someone when you're in a rush and don't have time to tap out a text? Or is it to call your phone provider, pay a bill, or do those other chores that are sometimes impossible via the web? [NY Times]

Image credit: Emersunn