Having written about telecom for years, I must say I was excited about the opportunity to step into the voice-activated phone booth of the future. This is Belkin's (Belkin news, Belkin VoIP news, alert) idea of what it will look like and it is a high-tech wonder. Sure, they probably know that phone booths will never again have a place in our future due to the advent of the cell phone but hey, at a trade show, you need to do what you can to get attention.
The idea worked. At our ITEXPO show in
Belkin also has a retail product named CallEverywhere which has some pretty interesting features. Aside from being a VoIP service it also acts as an e-mail client and a briefcase. The briefcase allows you to have public folders and an added feature allows you to e-mail pictures that can be accessed via public folders.
So you could take pictures with a camera phone and send them to this CallEverywhere account where they will be available for viewing. The default e-mail storage is 10 megabytes. The wholesale service allows service providers to upsell the storage amount add fax, eliminate the showing of ads, etc. The ad-free product can be a good SMB solution and you can even bundle a Belkin access point as part of the solution. Belkin has a dizzying array of access point options. Some with DSL modems built in, others with WiFi... you get the idea. For about $250-$300 you can get an 8-port device along with the service and Belkin execs tell me the device is actually a mini-PBX.
Somehow I get the feeling that the Belkin entry into our space really legitimizes it. After all, Belkin is into everything from iPOD accessories (they tell me they sell more of these than any other company), and mice, cables, etc. Such a company entering the wholesale and retail VoIP markets speaks volumes about what they feel the future of the voice over IP market will be.