Thursday, June 01, 2006

The telephone directory

I recently came upon this notice of a telephone directory exchange by BSNL here in Bangalore. There are distribution centers where one can go and get their old directories exchanged for new ones. I am surprised that a telephone directory exists. I dont recall referring to a directory ever in the last few years. I did pick up a Yellow pages once, but I usually prefer to visit a website or call up one of the dial up directory services like Just dial.

The argument can go that the directory still caters to those who have landlines - which is precisely the problem. The directory only gives you an update of only the landline subscribers of BSNL - which is not a majority. Mobile phone owners combined, exceed the total of the landline owners in India (as in a few other countries like Korea, Singapore, Indonesia). And then again directories are organized by cities which makes it all the more cumbersome.

And when was the last time you saw a cellphone directory? Especially with prepaid services, there cannot ever be a paper directory and online directories in these days of crank marketing calls.

All in all, I think that the telephone directory is a dinosaur and perhaps these phone companies will save a few millions if they stop printing a directory and concentrate only on their 197 (free dial up directory) service or on bringing it entirely online or accessible via mobile phones in a user friendly manner.


Kaps said...

apart from yellow pages, there are lot of uses for the traditional telephone directory. one can search for names, addresses, phone numbers of companies etc. not everyone has internet access and an online directory can only supplement the offline version.

the traditional directory might lose its relevance as more people migrate to other fxd line operators and get mobile connections.

i don't think they spend a lot on the directories. it is either recovered indirectly from the customer or they make up for it by the ad revenue from the telephone directory.

Neelakantan said...

Oh, I was referring to the total saved if no directory was printed anywhere. The other thing is that it is waste of paper too, apart from the fact that it represents only about 50% of subscribers.

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