I am getting started on the theme â€˜Public Mobile VoIP Clientsâ€™. Let me define the segment: these would be the likes of Fring, Barablu, Nimbuzz, Mig33, Jajah, Skype etc i.e. public mobile softclients that have VoIP capability. First off, a question pops up whether these services will impact cell operator revenues?
It seems logical to assume that a subscriber can potentially substitute calls of his/her cell operator with the help of these clients. However, right now, there are two issues. The bandwidth available for wireless internet connections is not adequate just yet. The other issue is the overall context in which these softclients reside on a mobile handset.
If we take a look at clients like Fring, Nimbuzz, and soonR, telephony functionality is just one of the features. The focus of these companies is to facilitate a bundle of services. It seems therefore that call substitution is something they are not pushing. And if they are not pushing it, then it must not be such a large opportunity as people make it out to be.
And let me pick up the first issue now, that of bandwidth. The only form of widely available wireless internet connectivity where voice calls can make through without much resistance is WiFi. But the user would need to be in the vicinity of a WiFi hotspot in order to use the service. In addition the user will need a WiFi handset. That takes us over to the FMC domain. A Wi-Fi/Cellular service could result in some call substitution, but that remains to be seen. FMC has not picked up just yet. There is another factor playing here: the emphasis on FMC could go away as wireless broadband becomes ubiquitous. In that scenario, public mobile VoIP clients will impact FMC itself.