Do they know 2.0?

How many of you remember Paul Young and his smash hit – Come Back & Stay? The song is playing on the stereo, as I wistfully remember my week in New York, or as I like to call it home away from home. There was no place better to turn 40, in company of friends who have no connection to technology (with a couple of exceptions.) These are not technophobes, but folks who couldn’t care less about technology, and this whole 2.0 thing.

Funny, none of them knew about Digg, Web 2.0 or all these cool things we seem to be building in Silicon Valley. It was a big reality check, for most of them have not used Skype or Vonage and frankly didn’t care about these offerings. And here we are already talking about VoIP 2.0 – the cool mash-ups of web, mobile and voice. (We discuss these topics in our latest PodSession which is available for download here.)

Some new apps have inspired a big yawn, while others like GrandCentral got enthusiastic thumbs up from me, but others remain skeptical. I see it as a voice mail aggregator; others want it to be more than that, thus the difference of opinion.

Jeff Pulver, the grand daddy of VoIP is miffed at the negativity, and does a smack down of the naysayer brigade, led by yours truly. He says customers decide the future, not bloggers. True enough! Polls suggest that nearly 50% are not really all that keen on some of these new apps. More apps are waiting in the wings. Watch out for reviews of Truphone and Fring later this week.

Jennifer Simpson of Yankee Group thinks that the “new and unique contextual applications for voice that will be a draw for the technologically advanced consumer over the next five years and challenge telecom, mobile and cable companies to provide comparable voice services.” VoIP in gaming and shopping should be hot, she predicts.

PS: An abridged version of this post was sent as the GigaOM Weekly email newsletter, that is published every Sunday.

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