Call me crazy or call me at 262-KCTOFEL. It’s your choice and I’ll only know which you chose if my phone rings. Some early morning web browsing alerted me to the news that Google (s GOOG) is offering Google Voice phone number changes for $10. Boy Genius Report called out the Google blog post that provides the details and I’m thinking that a fair number of original Grand Central account owners will search the new batch of numbers.
Searching is easy: Enter an area code or zip code and then any combination of numbers or letters you want in a phone number. If Google has any that match, you can grab them for the one-time fee. I searched around for at least 20 minutes in the four area codes local to me, thinking I might get a more personal number than what I have. Then I realized: You can leave the area code blank to widen the scope of your search. That’s how I ended up with a number that spells my name, but the area code and exchange are in Hartland, Wis. Since I live in southeastern Pennsylvania, I felt immediate disappointment. But then I reconsidered.
After thinking it through, I bought the number. Ideally, I’m still hoping for number portability, so the local cell phone number I’ve had for nine years can become my Google Voice number. It’s the number that well over 1,000 people have for business and personal use. But while I’m waiting, I decided that a more personalized number goes with my branding and my identity. Earlier in the week, I talked about this at great length in a GigaOM< Pro post (subscription required). I’m envisioning a “DNS for people” type of system where phone numbers simply don’t matter on the surface. Much like IP addresses, you don’t remember the IP address of every web site. Instead, you type an easy to remember name and DNS translates that to the appropriate IP address for your destination.
Anyway, I decided that most people who call me really don’t care where they’re calling. PR folks and tech companies are generally national or global, so it shouldn’t matter to them. And very few of my friends and family call me from a landline these days. They all call from cell phones where long-distance charges don’t exist on their modern plans. Minutes are minutes for the most part, unless you’re talking about international calls. Even if my family and friends run into a long-distance stumbling block, they have the local phone numbers tied to my handsets, so it’s essentially a non-issue for them. In fact, as consumers cut the landline cord and move to digital voice or mobile handsets, the term “long distance” loses more and more meaning. How long will it be before nobody pays a “long distance” charge when calling a area code far, far away?
So yes, I live in Pennsylvania and you can call me in Wisconsin. In a way, I think this was meant to be. My new number could have been in any city in the U.S., but my name was available in Hartland. That just happens to be where the central character grew up in Terry Goodkind’s “Sword of Truth” series: Hartland. It’s one of my favorite fantasy series. Must be magic that got me this number. Oh and if you own a Palm Pre (s PALM) and we’re Facebook friends, my new number should already be in your phone. I just cast a Synergy spell of my own. ;)