VoIP Predictions 2006

Reprinted from the January 2006 issue of Internet Telephony Magazine.

Here are some predictions for the future of VoIP:

Two Tiered Internet

The FCC will continue to make life difficult for VoIP providers. In addition they will side with the LECs on a two-tiered Internet system meaning LECs will be able to block competitive content. For this, the Federal government will come down hard on Kevin Martin and in so doing reduce his ability to get anything accomplished in the FCC.

TV Wars
Cable companies and LECs will have brutal wars with one another about what rules the ILECs must follow to provide TV in areas where cable companies are dominant. Bribes and government wooing will take place on both sides of this conflict and 90 percent of the effort will be on killing off each other and 10 percent will be on providing services consumers actually want.

In the meantime Yahoo!, Apple, and others will become TV stations providing broadband television to consumers at such a rapid clip that everyone will be forced to rethink their Internet TV strategy

Finally a VoIP Phone Our Kids WANT To Use
I have been asking the VoIP community to come up with the iPod of VoIP phones for some time now. No one has listened. I asked for SMS and other next-gen features to be built in. No one listened. Now Hasbro (yes the people that make the Nerf football) has a device that is part walkie-talkie and part IM device. The “toy” is aptly named ChatNow and is selling in record numbers. On eBay it is currently selling at more than twice the list price of $80. I now predict someone will listen and develop a VoIP phone with SMS/IM built-in. Hopefully it will look good too.

Designer Phones Will Take Over
In true all or nothing fashion we will not only get really cool wireless VoIP phones but we will see more designer phones from the likes of companies like Bang & Olufsen and others. The telephone will go the way of the iPod and have to look stylish to be considered by ever-snobbier (more demanding) consumers.

More FCC Mess
The FCC will force all phone providers to pay into the Universal Service Fund and as a result Skype, Google, and others will see a massive upswing in their subscriptions as people sprint as fast as possible away from telephone numbers.

FCC Enforcement
Starting in Q1 expect enforcement of 911 rules. The FCC will get very tough with service providers that aren’t providing adequate 911 service. For the record, I am 100 percent behind them on this.

Blackberry Loses Large Amounts Of Device Share
A slew of new devices from companies like Motorola will eat into Blackberry share of market and devastate the company. These devices will be VoIP and presence enabled, will allow seamless browsing, and look sleek and new-age.

More importantly, the mobile device market will really take off as processors get faster, wireless networks speed up and applications take advantage of small screen size. It will finally be almost redundant to have a laptop unless you need access to large graphics.

Web 2.0 and VoIP 2.0 Finally Merge
The opening up of the GoogleTalk API creates a slew of new products and services leveraging Google’s open API to allow developers to voice enable everything on the Internet. Every Web site now can easily take advantage of the amazing potential of adding voice.

Google Launches GoogleTalk “Out”
On the heels of the “GoogleTalk Out” announcement, eBay/Skype will sue Google to get them to change the name to something else. Google changes the name but gets so annoyed they vow internally to take eBay out. Google subsequently begins to integrate tighter with Amazon and eBay makes nice with Yahoo!

Regardless of what the name becomes, GoogleTalk Out allows any Web application to be connected with any and every phone. Overnight, new business models appear on specialized Web sites allowing these sites to send phone calls to retail establishments on a paid per call basis.

Google will get involved in this market allowing the pay per call ads to be placed on a variety of Web sites like Google ads are distributed today. Google will get a cut of every call as will the owner of all the specialty sites.

VoIP Continues Growth
VoIP, IMS, and SIP continue growing rapidly and blaze past many of the most optimistic market forecasts.

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