Old UK red phone boxes: public utility or public lavatory?

The noble phone box: public utility or public lavatory?Photo: Redvers

Written at The Institute of Directors, Pall Mall, London, and dispatched to silicon.com via a free wi-fi service.

Sometimes you see a single iconic scene that says everything about an industry that is simply not getting it.

Occasionally, I feel I should create www.notgettingit.org to act as a repository and historical record of those companies that are really not getting it – or IT – and for all the concepts that are way past their sell-by date.

It’s not that they are not getting it in a small way. It’s on a mega scale. And it’s as if they have stopped watching what their customers do and asking what they actually want.

This week I came across several scenes that deny the arrival of mobile technology. The first is the noble telephone box or kiosk, now used variously as a lavatory and a place for people to advertise assorted questionable services. Can you imagine wanting to risk your health by standing in one of these smelly boxes using a decades-old handset previously used by thousands of other people?

Some people actually see these old red phone boxes as a national icon but I think they have become a national disgrace and an embarrassing reminder of a backward-looking industry.

A phone box and an internet kiosk demonstrate outstandingly poor design

The juxtapositioning of a phone box and an internet kiosk demonstrates outstandingly poor designPhoto: Iv