We have been talking VOIP and Converged for a while. We have zoomed past the point where VoIP will save you a lot of money.
Consumers use their cell phone for long distance calls, not that the average consumer had a domestic LD bill greater than $25 in the last 2 years. (International is another story). Consumers have been dropping home landlines in favor of a mobile phone. The cellcos have added unlimited voice plans. So where's this money your saving me? Huh?
There are SOOOO many VoIP apps - Skype, Jaxtr, i2 - what good are they? IM on my phone? Why? Text messaging is easier. VoIP calls? Why? I have Unlimited Calling or at least a bucket of minutes large enough to fix the monthly cost. As I told a prospective client: IMO, there aren't that many folks making that many calls to International on their cell phone. So where's the market? On International, it costs more to call to and from a cell phone depending on the country - so the savings?
It isn't about savings. It's about convenience and efficiency and productivity and ease of use. Unless your product or service or app can Deliver that, don't release it.
VoIP got crowded and then lazy. There was too much "buzz", too much noise. The focus disappeared. It's about Mash-ups like the one Gavin Stark wrote for BarCampTampaBay with RubyonRails and Asterisk whereby you dialed the number, put in the room number, and the session titles were read to you along with session start times. Bingo! Useful voice app.
Medical Scheduling apps that dial out reminder messages to patients about office visits allow for the doctor to have a clearer schedule (efficiency). It can also be co-opted to dial patients to remind them to take meds, get an annual physical, or to collect blood sugar or vitals from the elderly or the sick. This is VoIP at its best -- and we need more of it. This kind of app is useful and productive - and likely can result in lower healthcare costs. Hello!
It's not just the marketing Message, it's the whole product world view. We think VoIP, so we think cheap dial-tone. How about we remember that the new IP Phones (like the Aastra 35iCT sitting on my desk) are computers that happen to run voice apps along with other XML apps. That Voice is just the killer app alongside email - and unified messaging or UC is all about one inbox for voicemail, email, and other messages - on whatever device (IP phone, PC, net appliance or smart phone) you can access it on. It's about Click-to-call not VoIP. What does VoIP enable? When the developers figure that out, the marketing message should be clear.
The discussion on VoIP: dead or Alive resulted in a podcast. Hear it here.