Several times in the past 20 years, the death of the humble business card has been reported. Quite prematurely, as it turns out.
First, we would beam contact information between our Palm Pilots (Palms, then Palm Pilots again).
Then smart phones replaced the dedicated PDA; some services tried to make information transfer by email or text.
Last year, "bumping" iPhones got some press. The service works for Androids as well, but my BlackBerry remains left out.
I have found a program, Business Card Reader ($9.99 in App World), that allows you to photograph a card with your BlackBerry's camera. It virtually "scans" the photo, and assigns the text to the various fields of a contact database. It is not perfect, but it will save hours of typing if you get a bunch of cards.
Now we also have "addresses" not included in the standard address book. Twitter names, blog addresses, facebook sites, and other social media information just does not have a good spot to go.
Enter the Poken.
Pokens hang on a keychain or lanyard, and all feature a four-fingered "hand." These hands can "high-four" to exchange all pertinent data between the owners. The Poken hub online is where all data is entered. Anytime I update my data, everyone I have exchanged data with via Poken gets updated. The exchanges also get organized in the hub by time; if I am trying to remember who I "high-foured" at a meeting last month, it is easy to figure out.
And they are adorable. Sure, there are corporate types you can brand that include a 2Gb USB drive; they look like black sticks of gum. But who wants those when you can purchase terminally charming critters that stop just shy of "Hello, Kitty" saccharin cuteness? They even have bride-and-groom packs for weddings; your guests can exchange information at the reception and see all of the photos on facebook!
Only one problem so far with this Poken craze; I can't find it. I mean, I found Pokens and bought one (pink alien with visible BRAINZ). But I have never met another Poken owner with whom to do the "high-four." Pinky hangs out in my purse, looking cute, but doing little else...
I suspect the humble business card will hang around for awhile. They don't depend on a specific platform. Whatever replaces smart phones will remain "backward compatible" with cardboard. Cards are incredibly cheap; even if the "new contact" tosses it in the next recycling bin, nothing is really lost.
Someday we will have flying cars and personal jet packs. Star Trek transporters? Probably not- but even if we do get to beam to work every day, I bet we will still be exchanging printed business cards.