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 […]

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.

By Om Malik

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  1. Exactly! Living in Silicon Valley, you have to make sure you are not just listening to an echo chamber…

  2. it’s not just sv…it’s all of tech, it’s one big mutual admiration society…sounds like your party was a grand wakeup call, hopefully it will prompt you to think about how everything that you and other writers discuss in tech matters to about 1 tenth of one percent of the population…not to say it isn’t interesting (hey, i’m back here every day om), just saying that the industry seems to forget this stuff…

  3. Its smart to do stuff now that involved tagging, but not call it tagging (43things, et-al). Don’t draw attention to AJAX, stay away from the buzzwords (Myspace, Craigs List).

    Lets face it, ordinary (but heavy) everyday users of tech don’t know what many of the 2.0 features are outside of the web tech field.

  4. yes, yes and yes … to all three of you. i agree – time to step out and get a reality check, come back and be a tad more realistic, even if i make a living by writing about the future. thanks guys for coming back…

    i think tech companies make it big when david letterman cracks a joke about you, or conan o’brien riffs on your product.

  5. Just like SNL did of YouTube this week!

    As an entreprenuer, that puts some perspective out there. I am worried more about widgets and cool features these days then swift and realiable functionality.

    Systems check…Great post.

  6. first and foremost, happy 40th! i agree, a great place to celebrate such a seminal birthday; i vaguely remember mine … ;-)

    yes, our industry is frequently detached from the day-to-day reality of the world and to an extent i believe this is fostered by a VC community often seeking the ‘next-big-thing’ that embodies all the buzz-words and zeitgeist of our owm somewhat insular world, regardless of objective product and profitability assessment.

  7. Jeremy Pepper Monday, October 2, 2006

    It’s why I still try to think like a Michigander.

  8. Panayotis Vryonis Monday, October 2, 2006

    This reminds me of a Seth Godin post I keep handy.

  9. Mathew Ingram Monday, October 2, 2006

    Dude, you buried the lede — you turned 40? Congratulations, my friend.


  10. Happy birthday! Glad to read your post, as its topic (well, the first paragraph or so…) is one I find myself mulling regularly. Not totally sure I agree with Dave, though, that it’s all tech. I’m from just outside Boston, but spent ’98-’02 in San Francisco and I can tell you, there’s a big difference (even though the Boston area is a major tech center).

    As I dive into this Web 2.0 stuff, I find my conversations are generally of the cross-country variety. The Valley is way out ahead (a good and bad thing), there’s no two ways around that.

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