I moderated the session entitled Trends in Dual Mode, but for all the preparation, I can only lay claim to managing the time. The speakers were all so well prepared and so thoroughly professional; I had only to help field and direct questions from the audience.
The speakers were Alan Johnson, vice president of business development at HelloSoft; Shahadat Khan, CTO of Eyeball Networks; and Peter Thornycroft, VoWLAN Product Director, at Aruba Networks.
Alan Johnson began by listing his David Letterman-style Top 5 list of trends in dual mode.
Number 5: “Retiring the Holster” — this trend is all about the shrinking of the handset and the changing ergonomics of handheld devices.
Number 4: FMC Deployment — major operators are increasingly offering dual mode services. Handset choices have increased, just look to new offerings from Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, LG, HTC, and others. There’s a long list of major trials completed.
Number 4B: Enterprise is the first deployment arena. The business case for enterprise is sound. The real driver behind enterprise FMC is taking off is not price, or having one address book, but extensive new functionality, such as four-digit dialing, full PBX features, Unified Communications + contextual intelligence surrounding ones calls).
Number 3: Applications Explosion. See iPhone; open development platforms inviting application developers to write many new solutions.
Number 2: Price/Performance. Handset prices are dropping while we’re seeing significant performance enhancements. Battery life problems are being solved and still better performance is on its way.
Number 1: Volume and variety of handsets shipping today presages the future success of the market. The WiFi alliance certified over 100 handsets at beginning of 2007, with another 100 handsets set for certification this year. iPhone sold 1million units within 74 days of launch.
Shahadat Khan spoke about some more trends driving the market.
- Dual mode handset reference design has reached a sub 100 dollar price point
- Growth rate is exploding (1,300 % — WiFi handsets; 198% dual mode handsets; 26% mobile handset annual, for four years)
IP brings better availability quality, and satisfaction, he said. Coupled with the aforementioned growth rates, the future of dual mode is definitely bright. Phone calls should just work, but one of the biggest challenges to using a WiFi-based phone is the NAT Traversal issue. At home you connect through a WiFi access point. From work or at a hotspot you need to get through a firewall.
The challenge, according to Khan, you need to make VoIP plug and play.
In summing up his thoughts, Khan laid out the following:
- Dual mode and single mode VoIP phones are high growth engines;
- NAT and firewall traversal is a critical barrier to widespread adoption; and
- The industry needs to work together to develop a comprehensive solution.
Peter Thornycroft brought a different point of view to the panel. His company, Aruba Networks, builds WiFi infrastructure for the enterprise, and he believes that user-centric networks foster mobility. Mobility is an irreversible trend, he told the audience.
The amount of new multimedia devices connecting to enterprise networks signals a significant market disruption. “At Aruba,” Thornycroft said, “the question is how do we build a system around these trends and help users do something useful around it?”
The panel then fielded a number of questions from the audience.
I’d like to thank Alan, Shahadat, and Peter for taking time out of their respective schedules to help educate the Internet Telephony Conference and EXPO attendees.