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December 14, 2007

Tech GP: Ads likely coming to cell phone near you

One ringy-dingy.

Two ringy-dingies.

Remember Ernestine? She may be making a comeback. Or at least her attitude may be making a comeback.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's a shame you missed "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" on TV in the '60s and '70s. Rent a DVD and enjoy it.

Anyway, Ernestine was the bra-trap-tugging, pucker-mouthed, nasal-talking telephone operator brought to life by Lily Tomlin. Everybody loved those sketches. Often she would go through a session where she devastatingly annoyed some poor phone customer and capped it off with my favorite line: ``We don't care. We don't have to care. We're the phone company.''

That line always hit a home run for me. It just seemed to fit the phone companies' monopoly situation perfectly.

Well, that was before they broke up Ma Bell, and a lot of telephone conversations have gone over the wires since then. Some competition did actually spring up in the telephony market, and I'd have to say it did make things a little better.

Of course, that was all before the next big thing in communications: the cell phone.

Just the other day an interesting milestone zipped by. According to research firm Informa, cell phone subscriptions reached 3.3 billion on Thursday, Nov. 29. That's half the number of people living on Earth.

I would think it's no wonder then, that AT&T announced a few days later that it was getting out of the pay-phone business. When was the last time you went into a phone booth? I know I can't remember my last time.

If you dwell a little on the thought, that's an awful lot of cell phones. Also, a lot of people with cell phones, although some people have more than one.

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