VoIP Developer Wars

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VoIP Developer Wars

A while back I wrote about comments from fellow blogger Skibare and his theory that Google may purchase Skype and it would be just about game over for everyone else. I have been thinking about these comments subconsciously for a whole and I have to admit that whether or not Google decides to buy Skype it seems only a matter of time before they launch Gphone.

I can see it now:

What is Gphone?

As part of Google's mission to increase shareholder value (marketing: strike that out -- we need to make it sound warmer and fuzzier).

Take Two:

As part of Google's mission to make the web more useful we have decided to launch Gphone short for Google Phone. Gphone is a free PC to PC program that allows you to make unlimited calls to other Gphone users...

What happens next of course is that Microsoft needs to become a phone company and launches Mphone and of course then there is IBM, SUN, etc.

Interestingly I keep hearing how handset manufacturers are considering adding the Skype protocol to their devices. Skype has become that popular. Is this a barrier to entry for Google? Perhaps but when you have access to just about every web user out there by simply adding some text to your search page you have to wonder if anything is beyond your reach.

I have been thinking a great deal about developer programs and VoIP ecosystems since TMC's VoIP Developer Conference. I saw with my own eyes how developers were so attracted to companies that are pushing ecosystems like Avaya.

Skype realizes this and last year, right around the time that Niklas Zennstrom made his first US speech at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo, they launched a developer program. I realized this was pure genius immediately.

You see the future of VoIP and telecom for that matter is going to be in building ecosystems where many companies can make money. Think of this as a platform business. In other words the future of VoIP is going to depend on interconnected parts and pieces to make large-scale solutions possible.

Skype gets this and is helping to further push their brand by making others rich in the process. Avaya also understands this and their developer program is mission-critical to them. Inter-Tel also gets this but doesn't have the resources to be Avaya -- yet.

One thing is for sure, the company that wins the PBX war is going to be the one with the most developers. Cisco knows this and Nortel does as well but Avaya is winning the race for the hearts and minds of new developers according to my informal polling at recent industry events.

This is important because the future of the PBX may be similar to that of the PC. The company with the largest developer program wins. What sorts of development are we talking about? Legal applications, real-estate applications, hospitality applications and so on. You see a company in a certain niche in the market will always want a phone system customized to what they do. It is that simple. This brings us back to the size of the developer program.

The result of the VoIP developer wars as I call them is more choice for companies looking for solutions. Everyone wants to feel special. Everyone wants to think their software and in fact all products they purchase are designed to best suit their needs. The companies that get this are the ones that will win tomorrow's VoIP wars for sure.



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