OK, so we stole that line from Dave Barry, who said it once to make fun of people who had Beta video recorders (“The AZTECS had Beta!” — or something very much like that; we can’t seem to find a link to it), which is made extra ironic because the triumphant VHS technology is now SO last century…
But you get our point. Landlines are rapidly going the way of buggy whips and, well, TV sets — at least in consumer’s minds.
TV sets? you say. Yes, TV sets. This from the Pew Center for Media Research:
Landlines And Television Sets Losing Importance
According to a new nationwide survey from the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project, reported by Paul Taylor and Wendy Wang with Lee Rainie and Aaron Smith, only 42% of Americans say they consider the television set to be a necessity. Last year, this figure was 52%, and in 2006, it was 64%.
After occupying center stage in the American household for much of the 20th century, says the report, two of the grand old luminaries of consumer technology, the television set and the landline telephone, are suffering from a sharp decline in public perception that they are necessities of life.
The drop-off has been less severe for the landline telephone. 62% of Americans say it’s a necessity of life, down from 68% last year, but 47% of the public now say that the cell phone is a necessity of life…
Note, first, that Pew, or at least the respondents, are using “need” and “necessity” in ways that would have puzzled our hardy pioneer ancestors. Note also that while fewer people see TVs as a necessity, they’re still buying them like crazy:
Even as fewer Americans say they consider the TV set to be a necessity of life, more Americans than ever are stocking up on them. In 2009, the average American home had more television sets than people, 2.86, according to a Nielsen report. In 2000, this figure was 2.43; in 1990, it was 2.0; and in 1975, it was 1.57.
The disconnect between attitudes and behaviors, opines the report, may be that the TV set hasn’t had to deal with competition from new technology that can fully replace all of its functions. If a person wants real-time access to the wide spectrum of entertainment, sports and news programming available on television, there’s still nothing (at least not yet) that can compete with the television set itself…
So don’t write the obit yet. But as for landlines — exactly why DO we still have one? So we won’t miss the telemarketing calls?