When it comes to the world of communications, the development world used to revolve around Dialogic. Ten years ago you virtually had to buy a DSP resource board from this company or one of its smaller competitors if you wanted to develop an application such as unified messaging, voicemail, IVR, speech, recognition, ACD or just anything else.
In fact for a number of years VoIP gateways were sold almost exclusively based on DSP resource boards. Larger telecom equipment providers would repackage systems with these boards through an integrator and claim the resulting gateways as their own.
I have taken many plant tours at industrial computer companies where I had to promise not to disclose the logos I saw throughout the plant. These were typically gateways under construction with boards from NMS or Dialogic.
In the late nineties while Dialogic was enjoying a nice time atop the enabling technology perch, the company received an offer from Intel it just couldn’t refuse. The processor king had the hope of integrating Dialogic’s core technology with Intel processors allowing HMP solutions which were optimized for Intel’s chips. In addition, Dialogic played a nice role as part of a growing communications division within Intel.
Last summer Dialogic was spun back out of Intel and was purchased by Eicon Networks who subsequently changed the name of the combined company to Dialogic.
The announcement was a source of major buzz at TMC’s VoIP Developer Conference – now called Communications Developer. I was in a standing room only session as the news was presented to the anxious developers.
A great deal has changed over the years and perhaps most importantly you can now develop applications without the need for DSP resource boards.
VoIP has changed the way the communications development market works and now you can build voice applications without DSP resource boards or even HMP-based solutions.
But while voice development has become somewhat easier and less expensive to accomplish, video is still a different world and video developers still have to grapple with processor intensive applications which benefit from fixed function hardware and DSP resource boards.
It may be for this reason Dialogic’s CEO Nick Jensen is so passionate about video. In my frequent conversations with Nick, he exudes excitement as he talks about the opportunity in video. It isn’t TV over the Internet that excites Nick but bidirectional video streaming.
For this reason I decided to set up a formal conference call with Dialogic’s charismatic leader about his passion and while he spoke I took copious notes so I could share them with you. Nick tell me 2G phones were used to send videos and pictures but 3G will take advantage of live video for gaming, video gaming and ringtones. He goes on to say that Singapore and Japan are way ahead in these areas and Europe is catching up. The US is behind this curve still but will catch up eventually.
The way Nick sees it, video ringback tones will be hosted by a company for a fee and the videos will play based on the Caller ID of a caller. He sees the teen and consumer markets as the drivers for this sort of service.
From there his vision is that video greetings will become popular. He sees a world where a person – let’s say a high-value customer – will be greeted with a customized voice or video greeting when they call. This is a way to make customers feel more welcome and indeed this is similar in concept to having a gracious host or hostess seat you at a restaurant.
He also sees video playing an important role in the future of dating and social networking sites. Moreover in the video space he sees the need for certain games such as poker, bridge and chess to have video support as people playing these games want to see each other.
He also sees a potential for video rooms on auction sites where you can see other bidders. In online virtual auction houses you will be able to simulate a live auction experience. Obviously there was some discussion here about the Skype acquisition by eBay.
Nick also believes the enterprise space will see video adoption and voice and speech applications will be upgraded to support video.
From there we went off on a tangent focusing on standards and how they need to be there to allow video calls to be seamlessly transferred across networks. We talked about demand and what the drivers will be for video technology.
In the US, carriers seem to wait to see what is popular in Asia and Europe before they start to roll it our here. SMS and ringtones are huge moneymakers which the US adopted after seeing the rest of the world eat these services up.
Nick wonders if we will once again let Asia take the lead and catch up at some point in the future. This would really be a shame as so much of the technology enabling next generation calling is developed in the US.
Nick gave an example of video in a typical office application… Taking the video minutes of a meeting where you can go back and see who was assigned what and why and by whom and when. Certainly this makes sense from an accountability standpoint. The argument against such technology is probably that no one wants to be recorded. Then again, no one wants to have their presence tracked or work on e-mail at night or on weekends – but this is another story.
Another note on video – Nick thinks people will want to work for companies who use video in this fashion and throw out the notion of synchronizing meeting minutes with one another. So he even sees video as a way to attract and retain talent!
Now I am not sure if Jensen is a betting man but he did wager $1,000 that enterprise video adoption as outlined above will be happen in the next two years – especially in financial firms. So far, I haven’t taken the bet but you can contact him directly if you are of the wagering type.
He thinks video can be a big driver of communications technology for the next five to ten years and suggested there needs to be a new ecosystem where his current competitors will work together with Dialogic to enable a new wave of industry growth like we saw during the days of CTI.
Jensen mentioned the industry hasn’t been too receptive to this idea and he thinks it is a shame. I mentioned the “bad blood” from years past in this market.
Nick makes the point he is not part of the old history and he thinks it is in the best interest of all the building block companies to work with one another. He says if companies do not work together then each solution becomes proprietary. He further points out companies need multiple suppliers – so no one company can’t do it all themselves.
So is Nick right? The answer is probably. For the past six years or more I have been writing and speaking about the fact that video conferencing will take off when mobile devices can do it seamlessly.
In this Internet Telephony Magazine Publisher’s Outlook back in May 2003 I said:
Let’s face it, video conferencing has been “right around the corner” for 15 years. But we may finally really be there. IP telephony reduces the cost of video conferencing and better yet, cameras are being embedded in tablets and PDAs. Finally, most of what we want to show others isn’t at our desks anyway so it makes sense that mobile computing will be the driver for video conferencing. I firmly believe that we will see a merging of consumer electronic video equipment with WiFi networks resulting in video conferences on-the-fly from theme parks and other WiFi-enabled locations. You will eventually be able to broadcast to your family members live from Disneyland.
The point is, when you are mobile you have things worth showing. A foreign airport, a theme park, a skyline, sunset, sunrise, animals, everything and anything. In fact I wrote a bit more about mobile video opportunities a few weeks back. In this past article I touched on video touring as another area of potential growth.
Nick thinks in about six months, Dialogic will be even further along in video – he even used the term “major player” in providing video building blocks to companies who in turn will be building tomorrow’s leading edge video applications. It just so happens Nick will be keynoting Internet Telephony Conference & Expo in Los Angeles in about five months. I invite you to register now for this event which takes place Sept 10-12 and make sure you are there to listen to Nick’s evolving vision of the video opportunity in communications.