VoIP is pants.

2005/12/09 18:04:00

So we are all doing VoIP, Skype is the new GPO and everybody wants to be a telco but what is really changing?

The reason that Skype was such a resounding success has a lot to do with it’s ease of use. Sending audio over an IP network has been around for decades but until Skype made it simple for everybody to use nobody really bothered. There were a few people who used it to save on international calls but mostly people said, “I have a phone and it’s not really that expensive so I will just use that”. Skype’s big win was it brought VoIP down to a simple install and login, no firewalls, no IP addresses, no incompatible protocols, just one simple solution.

Why then do I see it as being pants? Well already people are diving into the market with real phones for for VoIP. “Place our widget between your regular phone and your broadband router and you have cheap calls” they all cry. But in the end all you have is the same thing but with more chance of your call not getting through. Where are the wizzy new interfaces, the personal number or address that follows me to my mobile, to work, on the train? Where is the same address for my email or my video calls. When somebody calls me on the train, using my one address, can I send them an mp3 from my home computer or a link to a podcast that I am listening to? I want it all and I want it now, as I believe Freddy Mercury once said,

We have solutions for all of the technical problems involved, single address, have been around for years, and with newer ideas like OpenID and LID they would be simpler to do than ever. VoIP, IM, it all there. IPv6 brings virtual IP addresses that follow you about and the likes of iFolder for sharing files.

I can only see one problem with all of this and that is profit. Big companies like vodafone and BT have yet to work out the best way to make a profit, to tie their users into their service and generally limit peoples choice. The trouble with the current standards is just that they are to standard people have to much choice. The large companies want to lock you into their solution and make you stick with only that one and with any luck bring your friends. But just look back through history how many people use AOL keywords, Microsoft Netmail, individual bulletin boards, flash based websites? Not many. The same will happen with Skype, well done to them for starting things off but in the end we will all be using an open standard and we will not even think about it.

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