Your phone number is already the key to your business voice communications. Now an Australian company wants to make it the key to your Web communications as well.
Nascomms introduced its "numeric addressing system" late last year as an enhancement to regular .com domains. It works like this: Users download Nascomms' software, which operates in conjunction with their browsers. Instead of typing in a URL, they can then enter a company's phone number, which pulls up the associated Web site. The software is free to download and use, but businesses must subscribe to the service (at about $29 annually) to have their phone numbers enabled.
Nascomms' general manager Siobhan Dooley explains the appeal: "A phone number is a tool that businesses already use effectively every day. It's on office stationery and your business card. A customer simply inputs your phone number, and they are on your site."
The system's success or failure relies heavily on adoption. Will masses of Web surfers bother to install the software? Will businesses find the concept compelling enough to subscribe? Phone numbers aren't easier to remember than domains but could be a handy reference point for local customers with access to the Yellow Pages. Still, the ingrained use of domain names to get where you're going remains a significant obstacle for this system.
Eric S. Brown, a regular contributor to PCWorld.com, is a freelance writer living in the Boston area.