I recently had the opportunity to ask Allan Johnson, vice president of business development in the wireless group at HelloSoft, about the evolution of SIP communications, wireless mobility and the direction his company is taking.
HelloSoft is a provider of VoIP technologies for wireline and wireless devices. The company enables mass deployment of low-cost, power-efficient, fully-featured multi-mode wireline and wireless devices by providing highly optimized RISC-based VoIP products.
To learn more about the company, read this article published on TMCnet from earlier this year. Be sure to read to the bottom as there is an interesting prediction.
RT: How is IP communications changing your company’s strategy?
AJ: HelloSoft invested in VoIP many years ago. This has expanded in recent years to Voice over WLAN single mode and dual-mode cellular handsets and now other media such as audio streaming and video teleconferencing and video broadcast wirelessly using IP over WLAN and wide area networks. IP has successfully unified a plethora of communications devices from PC’s to desk phones and cellular phones to cordless phones to a diversified set of media from voice to interactive video.
RT: How has SIP changed communications?
AJ: SIP has gained a universal footing in everything from voice to multimedia and has become almost ubiquitous as the protocol unifying devices and media. Some say it is unfortunate, because from the point of view of technical protocol design, SIP is far from optimal for any of these cases, but its universality has made it the most influential IP protocol of today.
RT: What is the biggest request coming from your customer base?
AJ: Usability. Simplicity of user interfaces, quality and reliability of service, power and resource efficiency and implementation on mobile handheld devices.
RT: How are you answering their demands?
AJ: HelloSoft has provided innovation for much better solutions in all three of the above areas. In user interface design, we’ve integrated with existing mobile device interfaces such as Nokia call dialer on Nokia cellular phones. To improve VoIP quality over wireless connections, HelloSoft has innovated algorithms that adapt the media to the wireless channel and improve end user quality significantly. HelloSoft is absolutely the market leader in power and resource efficient implementations of VoIP on mobile devices with technology that extends real usage battery life from 40 percent to 400 percent.
RT: What do you think the future of the market is?
AJ: Interactive voice, video and multimedia on wireless mobile devices. And throw in location awareness as well.
RT: How does the growth rate in the U.S. compare to the rest of the world?
AJ: The growth rate in the U.S. varies by sector and geography, but remains one of the highest in the world in key technology areas such as biotech and in innovative applications of IP. Certainly there is tremendous growth in powerhouses like India and China, and the days where India is service industry based and China is manufacturing based are long gone. The U.S. must maintain a leadership position by engaging fully with these powerhouses while continuing to create an environment where world-leading innovation and growth occur spontaneously.
RT: What do you think of Google and Apple entering the telecom market?
AJ: Apple has renewed emphasis on innovation in the mobile device market and Google is sure to do the same. The so-called shift in power toward device makers and the unbundling of innovative applications from tightly controlled “home decks” is good for consumers and the industry.
RT: How about Microsoft?
AJ: Regardless of what anyone says, Microsoft remains a strong innovator with growing numbers of Windows Mobile and WinCE devices in the market, Windows Live on mobile devices and many new capabilities enabled by Unified Communications Server. The telecom market can benefit tremendously from these. The trick is to ensure that these standardized platforms are complemented by cutting edge innovation from many other companies.
RT: How will wireless technologies change our market?
AJ: How will it not change our market? Consumers value convenience and accessibility, and wireless brings both to an unlimited set of applications. With location awareness, it also brings much greater relevance in the moment, not just to searches but to all applications. Location and time relevance, fully integrated with anytime, anywhere connectivity and voice, video and interactive multimedia, enable more than enough new capabilities for the next 10 generations of applications!
RT: How will communications evolve over the next five years?
AJ: Some say voice will become free, but in some form or another, end users will pay for quality of service, especially in the wireless environment. WLAN spectrum may be free, as with personal area networking and wireless home distribution of video and other media, but the “share of wallet” consumers spend on wide area connectivity such as the cell phone bill will continue to move upwards, because of the value it provides.
The greatest innovation, will of course be in the next 10 generations of wireless mobile applications. Some of the many emerging technologies from near-field-communication and banking from your cell phone, to location awareness and relevance such as the nearest restaurant with the kind of cuisine you feel like at that moment instantly appearing on your phone to advertising supported “free” communication will catch on. The next five years of communications evolution will be a very fun ride.
RT: What sorts of things will we be hearing about during your presentation at ITEXPO?
AJ: I’ll be talking about the key technologies combining the benefits of “free” high-bandwidth WLAN connectivity with ubiquitous wide area cellular technology. Dual-mode Wi-Fi cellular phones are here now and are forecasted to grow to hundreds of millions in the next few years and enable a wide range of new applications, some IMS client applications on the mobile device, and some simple dual-mode packet based applications.
RT: Why is your presentation a “Can’t Miss?”
AJ: Dual mode phones are set to takeoff this year. Over 100 dual-mode phones will be on the market by the end of this year and volumes are projected at 100 million units by 2009. The cost of handsets is coming down rapidly and many applications are already available. Seamless voice call handoff between Wi-Fi and cellular is in many early deployments and trials in both enterprise and consumer markets. Many other applications are around the corner. The stage is set for disruptive change.
RT: What do you want the industry to know about your company?
AJ: HelloSoft is the world leader in highly optimized VoIP and IMS client solutions for mobile devices. HelloSoft has been developing VoIP solutions since 1999 and its products are in over 70 production handsets. HelloSoft’s voice call continuity solution has been through interoperability testing with many of the world’s leading carriers and with most of the leading infrastructure deployed in the market.
RT: Please make one surprising prediction we will see in five years.
AJ: The iPhone will work using VoIP over WLAN on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.