The title might seem rather yawn-inspiring to anyone who knows about the issue, but I’m not talking metaphorically. They are literally numbered: there was an estimated 625 days of them left on January 7th, representing 10.2% of the possible numbers. Just twelve days later, on the 19th, a second report said that was down to less than 10%.
What does this mean? Well, the Internet isn’t going to immediately stop working once the IPv4 addresses are gone. My take on it is that it will become harder (i.e. more expensive) for ISPs and hosting companies to obtain them, which means fewer new ISPs and hosting companies, which inevitably translates to higher prices (from all providers) for consumers.
Should you care about it? Probably. Is there a solution? Yes, the IPv6 standard (with, I’ve heard, enough address space to cover every square foot of the Earth with several of them) has been around for years. Can you do anything about it? Not much, other than demanding that consumer electronics manufacturers provide IPv6-enabled machines, and that ISPs offer IPv6 service. Any OS that has been updated in the last few years already does, it’s just the hardware (and the ISP willingness to buy and install it) that’s missing at this point.