Monday, August 11, 2008

iPhone Now Using GIPS to Support VoIP

On Friday I was apprised of a newsworthy item that crossed the wires this morning, and I'm just getting a chance to post about it now.

This item involves GIPS and Apple, and the main idea is that their market leading VoiceEngine Mobile application is now being used in the iPhone. GIPS has made its name as the standard-setter for voice codecs and this news is a great validation for what their technology can do for mobility.

I've long felt that cell phones were one of the biggest cons going, and could never understand why people would pay so much for such crappy voice quality. I'm being a bit of a lug-head here, but we all know how inferior cell phone quality is to everyday PSTN, whether it's dropped calls, crackly voice or no 911. Of course mobility is all about convenience, and obviously people are willing to compromise voice quality for walking and talking. I've also long wondered why mobile carriers don't offer a premium cell service where you can approximate PSTN quality. I'm sure there are lots of reasons why not, but let's get back to the story here.

VoIP, of course, is the last thing most people would think about for improving the mobile voice experience. It's had such a bad rap historically, but people like me have followed it long enough to know that under the right conditions, not only is VoIP on par with PSTN, but when it's end-to-end IP, it's a superior experience. Who wouldn't want this in their cell phone?

That's where GIPS comes in. They know voice and they know VoIP, and there's nothing hotter today than the iPhone. I don't hesitate to state that making a phone call is the last thing people use the iPhone for. To me, it's incidental to what the iPhone is all about - it's first and foremost a mobile broadband device, and if you don't want to talk with it, just buy the equally popular iTouch.

I could go on about this point of view, but would rather build up to the big question that makes this news so interesting. Let me tear down my own argument and say if you think the iPhone is popular now, can you imagine how popular it will be when it can deliver a really great voice experience??? Talk about a great way to differentiate yourself from the pack.

Well, that's what I think Apple may have on its hands here. Mobile VoIP faces a lot of obstacles from the carriers - understandably - but as with landline VoIP, it will eventually become mainstream. Being an industry outsider, it's totally in character for Apple to support this, and they see a much bigger picture than just making VoIP calls to your friends.

As the press release explains, the GIPS VoiceEngine will enable a great experience for all kinds of things that the iPhone is very well built for - multi-player gaming and of course, social networking. Apple delivers a great multi-media experience, and with VoiceEngine, this stands to be even better, making the iPhone that much more of a must-have device for the 2.0 crowd.

Aside from the merits of this news on its own, I have to say that the timing is pretty savvy. You don't have to look far today to see how the App Store is quickly becoming Apple's newest money machine. Steve Jobs is happy to tell us how downloads for iPhone applications are already a $1 million dollar a day business. Voice is the stickiest application of them all, and bringing GIPS into the picture, I'm sure it won't take long for savvy iPhone users to figure out how VoIP makes so many of their experiences that much better. I'm not seeing much talk about this yet today in Apple-land, but that should change once people start connecting the dots here.

Finally, I can't help but mention that I still call GIPS by its original name - Global IP Sound. For those of you keeping score, the company did a re-branding last year, which included the name change to Global IP Solutions. With today's Apple news, this shift seems all that more fitting. To me, VoiceEngine is much more about solving the problem of crappy voice quality and enabling a better multimedia experience than simply making things sound better.

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