Staying connected

August 4, 2009: 6:00 PM ET

Let's face it, landlines are out.

The sale of home phones is expected to fall again this year and next — just like it has for the past four years. In 2005, more than 55,000 home phone units were sold, totaling about $1.14 billion. Compare that to next year's projected sales of a measly $369 million, according to the Consumer Electronic Association.

Consumers have been dropping their landline for years now — in 2007, a government survey found that one out of every six American homes relied solely on cellphones. It was a shocker back then, but makes sense now. "It came down to a question of cost and benefit for the consumer," says Shawn DuBravac, the director of research at Consumer Electronic Association.

And now these customers are up for grabs, and practically every telecommunications company is trying to figure out the best way to help future consumers simply have a conversation — whether it be on a landline, cellphone, over the web or all three.

Start-up TelCentris and telephone manufacturing company Siemens Gigaset, a licensee of electronics powerhouse Siemens, recently stopped by FORTUNE to demo their new products that aim to address this very issue. More

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