Think Payphones Are Dead? Not Max...

One thing my son Max is not... is predictable. For such a tech savvy guy, I was pleasantly surprised by his latest post. He's the last person in the world who would ever use a payphone - when was the last time you saw any teenager using one? And - as I discover to great dismay when I visit the U.S. - is how rapidly they're becoming extinct. It's like watching a movie after a nuclear winter, as you walk by these still-empty stalls and kiosks where the pay phones have simply been removed. Actually, Max used a photo of mine from a recent trip in his post to show what this looks like.

Anyhow, I get the message. Americans are so saturated with their cell phones, the concept of using a payphone is simply ludicrous. Maybe so, but I'll tell you it's not quite like that here in Canada. It reminds of how the big auto makers in the 40's and 50's had enough sway over the economy to see to it that streetcar tracks were ripped up or buried to give commuters more reasons to buy a car. Not very admirable tactics, but they got what they wanted. Sure looks like that's going to be the fate for payphones.

Well, Max has made a good case that marries 2.0 communications with 1.0 technology. His post recounts his discovery of payphones with keypads and the ability send text messages for only 10 cents. Hey, what's wrong with that? If carriers looked at this more creatively, they just might be able to find a host of new uses and services to make payphones worth keeping. I know they haven't had much success turning them into Internet stations, but y'know, Max makes a good point, and his post does a great job showing how this works step-by-step. And they sure have great real estate value to boot.

Have a look at his post for yourself and let him - me too - know if you agree. Sometimes you just have to look at the world a little differently. If the carriers out there want to get their hands on more of this kind of thinking, they should hire this guy - and I wouldn't say no!