Even before VOIP makes 100% of telephone calls in the world completely free (which may take many years), it utterly ruins the pricing models of the telecoms industry. Factors such as the distance between the callers or the duration of a call, the key determinants of cost today, are simply irrelevant with VOIP. Vonage already lets its customers choose telephone numbers in San Francisco, New York or London, no matter where they live. A Londoner calling the London number is making a local call, even if the Vonage subscriber is picking up the phone in Shanghai. As when checking e-mail on, say, Hotmail, the only thing needed is a broadband-internet connection, but it can be anywhere in the world. Sooner or later, people will discard their unwieldy phone numbers altogether and use names, just as they do with their e-mail addresses, predicts Mr Zennstrom. [via The Economist]
One of the cool things about Office Communicator is that it acts kind of like Trillian, in that you can access SIP, MSN, Yahoo, and AIM users all within the same tool. It also supports integrated voice and video, so that I can call up another user’s computer. And it is entirely too cool to get a voice mail message delivered to my e-mail Inbox. Now, if we just had VOIP at the PBX in the Atlanta office so that we could have the same type of jaw-dropping experience that Don had… I can still start up video sessions with my friend Derek on a Saturday morning, he in Limerick, Ireland and I in Atlanta via MSN Messenger, I am just looking forward to the convergence between my home phone and my computer or mobile device without paying per minute for it.
This is why the Communications Sector is one of the best groups at Microsoft to work with in the field. Our telco customers are transforming themselves from the Plain Old Telephone System, having 80% of revenues based on voice calls, to being broadband providers. And we also work with the cable companies, who are trying to do the reverse…. go from being broadband providers to the triple-threat of voice, video, and data. And we also cover the Media and Entertainment space, covering studios, broadcasters, and print media as well.
Besides having really cool business problems (let’s face it, how interesting is it really to work with mortgage calculators or medical patient records?), our customers are buying each other and continually trying to integrate. It is an XML and web service geek’s dream.