Where do you think voice as an application is headed?
If you look at the recent developments you have cellular companies offering unlimited voice for $99 per month. And as we move more towards IP-at-the-core there is no justification for a particular packet to be billed higher than other packets on the network. Just like the wireline operators are moving towards a flat rental of the broadband pipe, the cell operators will be moving towards a flat rental of spectrum. How you utilize your rented asset in terms of the applications mix will be up to you.
What sort of role do you think web will play in transforming voice?
These web based voice startups have not done anything significant so far. Their impact is marginal at best. There is no true innovation yet. Usage has not ramped up either. AT&T probably handles more traffic each minute than what these startups manage for an entire month. The biggest impact on voice comes from IP itself and not necessarily the web in the sense that volumes of traffic keep growing with the increasing use of IP backbones.
But there seems to be a lot of money being pumped into the web based VoIP startups.
Let us not confuse investment with rationality and market reality. VCs believe that this is going to be a huge market but you are up against 120 years of user behaviour with the plain old phone. Even among the younger generation, you donâ€™t see them replacing web for their cell phones.
Your blog posts on Voice 2.0 companies over the last few months suggest that you do not fancy such entities anymore.
There is no reality in these businesses. These startups are doing things that do not make sense.
You started a site recently dedicated to open source technology. For a web developer what do you think makes sense: Use Asterisk type platforms and go direct to the consumer or team up with established service providers or telecom vendors?
I think Asterisk is a very powerful platform and we are beginning to see the emergence of this platform extended, where the companies are offering even more refined and developer friendly APIs. I think we will see that gain more momentum as compared to other developer options.
Flash is also making way into VoIP through options like Ribbit and Adobeâ€™s Pacifica. How about those options for developers?
We are going to see Flash Communications Server interact with Asterisk. We are seeing some of that already. I think for web developers, Asterisk is the best way to move forward. Ribbit is using its own Class 5 softswitch. But we will also see others come in and build their extension layer on top of Asterisk type platforms and build a developer community.
Will these developers make money?
They are having a tough time making money now. I donâ€™t see how anything is going to change. The economics is just not there.
Will Mobile VoIP companies make money?
In the US we still have certain restrictions. In Europe and parts of Asia, there could be potential for mobile VoIP.