Somewhere around the year 2001 I became familiar with a company called Global IP Sound (GIPS). I can't remember the exact date but I do remember what I first thought when I saw the company's application, which allowed truly amazing VoIP voice quality on a wireless-enabled PDA.
After I saw this demo, I realized how big the
WiFi (News - Alert)
telephony space would become. What I didn’t realize though is how GIPS would become a company that is famous for allowing other companies to rapidly build VoIP products and services of their own.
Think of the company as an engine manufacturer across the VoIP industry. Much the same way that Porsche engines show up in a line of Porsche cars as well as airplanes, the GIPS voice engine powers software as well as hardware.
One of the most recent applications of their technology is a futuristic speakerphone from a company called LifeSize. And, among the company's client list is the world's best known VoIP name:
Skype (News - Alert)
. Clearly this is a major account that legitimizes the company's dominance in the market.
The company's CEO is Gary Hermansen. GIPS' solution allows other companies to rapidly get into the VoIP market without having to go through the heavy lifting of dealing with the basics of quality VoIP transmission over a variety of connection types be they wireline or wireless.
I spoke with Gary regarding the future of IP communications. The results of that conversation appear here.
RT: How has your business changed as a result of supplying solutions to Skype?
GH: It is not so much ‘how has our business changed?’ but rather “how has the market changed?’ Before Skype, the majority of revenue or dollars being exchanged for VoIP was focused on equipment providers to large telcos. What I would call the “Skype phenomenon” is that people actually see peer-to-peer and presence, along with voice, as an acceptable communication method. In turn, our engine strategy has allowed developers to come to market quickly with the highest quality voice. We see not only “Skype wannabes” but people who are taking peer-to-peer into many directions. That's one of the main reasons that we've launched our developer community. It allows the next Skypes to create innovative communication solutions that we can't even imagine today.
RT: Can you comment on what products we can see from your company soon?
GH: We see ourselves continuing to be the engines that drive the voice communications market. With that said, we've made recent announcements regarding video and mobile. I would expect that we'll continue to add value in those market segments.
RT: Please give us more information on your recent patents and what they do for you.
GH: IP (Intellectual Property) is the thing we develop and license. We hold more patents than any other company in the VoIP speech processing space. To date, we have received six patents, and six more are still pending. These patents are a validation of that IP and the value they provide to the market. We will continue to innovate and create value in this area as well.
RT: Where is the VoIP market headed?
GH: VoIP is headed to a place where the term VoIP will no longer be used to define it. There is always talk about the "killer app" and when you look at the market, voice is the killer app. With the expansion of voice into areas such as gaming, social networking and embedded into applications voice, and the availability of voice, will be ubiquitous. In the next few years the idea of communication will not require the use of your phone or a specific location — it will just be.
RT: Describe your business outlook from 2001 till now. When did you realize that things were definitely getting better?
GH: We've always been a focused organization and continue to be focused on the opportunities at hand. People often ask what our customer sale cycles are and we can comfortably say they are six months to six years. Meaning, there are companies that we worked with in 2001 and continue to do so today.
RT: How long do you think this phenomenal VoIP growth will last?
GH: We don't think the real market has presented itself yet. If you consider issues like broadband penetration, naked broadband,
e911 (News - Alert)
, CALEA, and wireless network strategies, the market has yet to arrive. We believe that we are at the very beginning of the market and that there is no phenomenon.
RT: Do you have any thought on VoIP being used to build voice communities?
GH: We totally agree with the concept of voice communities in that with the development of all these communication means you'll see voice at the center of them. Looking at the IM world a few years ago it was considered a youth community and now every enterprise utilizes the capability. Adding voice to this area alone will build voice communities.
RT: What do you think about the future of WiFi telephony? What can we expect?
GH: WiFi is just another IP network to us. We think that WiFi in the home, WiFi in the enterprise, and wide-area WiFi will all be in the market at some point. Some sooner than later. Voice will be a major driver to the success of WiFi. You'll see cordless phones be replaced by WiFi for consumers. You'll see WiFi phones in enterprise replacing and supplementing desktop systems. You'll also have dual mode mobile phones in the next two to four years.
RT: How does this tie into your mobile phone strategy?
GH: We see ourselves as the driver for this area as high quality and ease of development will be an absolute requirement.
RT: Are you working in the video market currently?
GH: Yes our VoiceEngine MultiMedia offers the ability to deploy H.263, H.264, or On2 Technologies’ VP7 technology. Our VoiceEngine utilizes our NetEq packet management capabilities to deliver high-quality voice and video. It also allows developers the freedom of integration.
RT: Describe how your business will change the world.
GH: We believe that it already has, as there are now so many ways that people utilize our technology. There are approximately 400 million downloads of our customers’ software using GIPS technology in the market today. In the future there will be so many ways that we'll communicate and GIPS technology will drive the majority of them.
Perhaps most striking is that Gary thinks that the VoIP market is just starting to get going. If this is true — and he should know — then we can expect perhaps more companies like Skype that will change the way the world communicates.
So hats off to the developers out there that have embraced IP communications and are looking for ways to become the next Skype, the next
Linksys (News - Alert)
, or the next
Google (News - Alert)
. I will certainly keep in touch with the folks at GIPS so I can get a sneak peek of the VoIP leaders of tomorrow.
Rich Tehrani is President and Editor in Chief at TMC.
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