In a stunning reversal of the trend to add more features, functionality and cost to smartphones virtually day by day, the largest players in the device space today announced the removal of a quaint application once considered the cornerstone of the business.

“We were a little nervous, but market testing told us consumers are totally ready for this,” a spokesperson for one company said. “Henry Ford once said the American people could have a car of any color as long as it was black. Well, we’ve been too much like that – too legacy-centric, too inside-the-box – in saying people could have any phone they want as long as it’s a phone.”

News of the phoneless phone sent tech stocks surging.

“The real-time human interface inherent in phone conversations is not where people are,” the spokesperson said. “It’s just a damn hassle. People want to be free to tweet, text, Instagram, YouTube, Candy Crush and whatever foolishness they are chasing on Facebook without the fuss and bother of incoming phone calls.”

Asked how people with phoneless phones would get by in an era in which virtually everyone has cut the landline, the spokesperson said, “Well, I guess that’s kind of the point.”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “You’ve still got a generous 280 characters in a tweet, though it does have the known drawback of being written communication. But we’re holding the line on that for now.”

One sociologist said, looking back, this was probably inevitable.

“People,” she said, “are cantankerous, contradictory, fussy, inconstant and cranky. Many are immune to facts. They can be unpleasant. And they say ‘uh’ and ‘like’ a lot. It’s not very efficient communication. Who needs it?”

Asked about the value of listening and learning, of reason, of the give-and-take that once was considered part of normal everyday conversation that leads to insight and moderation, the sociologist said research strongly suggests that people feel the species has evolved beyond that. Dueling GIFs and emojis are about as much as we can expect.

“The market,” she said, “has spoken.”

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or jeff.fox@examiner.net. He's on Twitter at @FoxEJC.