Technologists have always been drawn to bright and shiny objects. That's why mobile development has focused on geolocation, streaming video, biometrics and impressive app gymnastics. But the core of the mobile phone — at it's heart, it is a telephone, capable of making voice calls — has generally been ignored. As Zappos has discovered, that can be very bad for business.

What the retailer figured out is that texts, emails and other customer communications are far less effective at closing sales than what Alexander Graham Bell thought up. This is one of those surprising conclusions that, if you think about, shouldn't be surprising at all. Texting and email force the customer to type everything they are saying, instead of just talking about it.

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