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Where is VoIP 2.0?
[September 15, 2005]

Where is VoIP 2.0?

By RICH TEHRANI
TMCnet Technology Analysis Columnist

I am blown away by how many people are registering for
Internet Telephony Conference & Expo from overseas. We had more international attendance in our Miami show than any other domestic VoIP event. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to do the same in California next month. It seems the interest level is very high overseas and many of our conferees – service providers, enterprises and resellers are registering from around the world.

I suppose the whole Skype/eBay acquisition is part of the reason. This one acquisition has really raised the prominence of VoIP to such an extent that people are beginning to understand that VoIP is not just about cheap minutes.

Many Skype users live overseas and Skype itself is in Europe so this acquisition has really woken Europe and the rest of the world up to the possibilities of VoIP.


What really excites me is that at first many analysts didn’t understand why eBay would want to buy Skype and then a few days later, they got it. It is all about the services. Well, some of them are still scratching their heads. At least for now.

We are really on the threshold of
VoIP 2.0. eBay’s purchase of Skype proves this point. Sure, eBay will continue to make money from SkypeOut and SkypeIn, but the serious revenue is going to come from applications such as pay per call, allowing conferencing between buyers and sellers and a host of voice-enabled e-commerce applications we can’t imagine today.

The whole concept of voice-enabling voice communities is in its infancy. There are hundreds of thousands of communities on the web from information sites to dating services to blog sites. The next phase of growth in these communities will be voice enablement. We will see the ability to click to call other people in a community as a service that many communities allow.

In the online dating world we are already starting to see this happen, as in this application people are usually not willing to give a phone number to someone they don’t know but are willing to engage them in a conversation. I am told these conversations will last for a while – at least until one of the people says something really stupid. Of course, this is what my single friends tell me. The obvious next step for dating services is to allow video, as all my friends also tell me dating sites always seem to feature pictures of people that don’t actually look like the people when you meet them. Video should solve this problem and I expect many people to ask to have a video conversation before they get together. Note to self, now is the time to buy stock in video camera and make-up companies.

There is revenue to be generated in this model beyond dating as a site that allows you to sell cars can now allow links to have potential buyers call a seller with a single click. These sites can now charge to add voice capability. They can charge a voice fee of $5 a month or a dollar per call. Of course these numbers are just ideas, please don’t price your service based on my off-the-top-of-my-head numbers.

This week I wrote about how
Amazon.com is adding a new call center, and I went on to mention that Jeff Bezos is credited with saying that the web would kill the call center. It turns out that e-commerce actually fuels the need to speak with people. In the 1999-2000 timeframe there was a surge in call center equipment sales due to the growth of e-commerce.

I predict we will soon see the same thing happen with VoIP equipment starting today. There will be a mad dash to voice enable communities. Newspapers, websites, blogs, classified sites, sports sites, every site. If you have a decent-sized community of interest expect that you will have to figure out how to voice-enable it.

Voice is the next phase of the Internet. We will voice-enable anything and everything. We will do this because voice is the most natural interface we have and we will do this because there is money to be made by doing it. Most importantly, after eBay voice-enables every product and service they have we will do it to be competitive and to meet customer demand.

The voice-enabled Internet is here. I hope to see you at ITEXPO in October, where we will educate you on how to voice enable your company, your website and your life. The future is VoIP 2.0 and you can see it live at
TMC’s VoIP Conference.
 
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Rich Tehrani is President and Editor in Chief at TMC and looks forward to the day when we will have a truly voice-enabled Internet and every web-based community will have vibrant conversations going on at all times. Some of these conversations will be recorded and will be worth listening to by others at a later date. I expect many of the conversations to be archived and eventually podcasts to be made from them. Rich Tehrani also looks forward to eventually purchasing an iPOD Nano so he has something to download podcasts onto.


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