Monday, August 25, 2008

Mobile VoIP - Easier Said Than Done

Wanted to pick up on a few threads here that I think point to a topic we're going to keep hearing about - why isn't mobile VoIP happening?

Of course the answer depends on who you talk to, but it's certainly getting people's attention and giving rise to some interesting questions. I've always been a fan of a mobile user's best friend - such as Truphone, fring, Jajah, Mobivox, Rebtel, etc. Admittedly, since I don't travel much, I don't have much utility for these services, but in the course of my work, I certainly understand the value proposition.

I think about this topic from time to time, but the ball got rolling for me on Friday when Olga Kharif of Business Week interviewed me on this topic. Whenever Olga calls me, there's usually a good story. She hasn't turned this into an article yet, but she prefaced the story with a post about mobile VoIP to her Tech Beat blog on Thursday. I'll update you if she does get an article running on this.

The theme hit me again with a really interesting post by Om Malik that I saw today. It was actually posted on Saturday - y'know, Om never stops...

His post went into very nice detail about how Nokia is no longer supporting mobile VoIP on certain N-Series phones, and concludes that Nokia is off the mark doing this. It's a great read and basically shows how the mobile operators still have the market power and can call the shots with handset vendors as to what services are going to run over their networks. Very interesting stuff.

This topic has come up a number of times on many blogs in recent months, but this post seemed to tie in nicely with what Olga is picking up on. To me, it's a simply a repeat of how landline operators initially responded to VoIP, and the pattern is very predictable. Eventually we'll get our mobile VoIP, but the carriers will only support it when they're good and ready - and they're not ready yet. As usual, Om's post generated loads of comments, and these are another barometer of how well Nokia's actions are going over - not.

Going in reverse motion, I need to bring in Andy Abramson's post from last week that cited a nice Wall Street Journal article about mobile VoIP. It's not really a critical analysis, but it's great mainstream coverage that I'm sure will eventually get more people wondering about this too.

Oh, and for a nice twist how you can do mobile VoIP even when you're not supposed to, Andy's got a great story to tell about what he did the other day. The tools are definitely there, and for those who are tech savvy enough and willing to experiment a little, mobile VoIP is just a few URLs and downloads away. This is a long way from becoming mainstream, but there's no doubt in my mind that mobile VoIP will get there - just not right away.

Am sure with a bit of digging I could find many other recent posts and news items to support my story here, but I'm satisfied that I've seen enough to conclude we've got a trend here. Aren't you?

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