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Summary:

Microsoft has banned VoIP applications from its upcoming Windows Mobile Marketplace, according to PCWorld.  The blocking move is part of a 12-point restriction on applications sold in the Redmond giant’s online marketplace, the opening timed to coincide with the introduction of Windows Mobile 6.5. But is […]

microsoft-logoMicrosoft has banned VoIP applications from its upcoming Windows Mobile Marketplace, according to PCWorld.  The blocking move is part of a 12-point restriction on applications sold in the Redmond giant’s online marketplace, the opening timed to coincide with the introduction of Windows Mobile 6.5. But is the software giant fighting a rear-guard action against an inevitable future?

Microsoft’s decision means VoIP applications, such as Skype, will sell to Windows Mobile users with only Wi-Fi calling available; the action may also head off a confrontation carriers faced when the VoIP application began selling to iPhone users through Apple’s App Store. In that case, hackers found a way around AT&T, the iPhone carrier that blocked Skype from its 3G network.

But is Microsoft waging a futile battle? The same day the mobile software maker reportedly decided to ban VoIP from its Windows Mobile marketplace, research firm Gartner said end-to-end mobile IP may account for over half of wireless calls within a decade. Indeed, Gartner researchers see VoIP as “a huge and direct challenge to the $692.6 billion global mobile voice market.”

The key to VoIP’s advance is upcoming 4G networks, including WiMAX and LTE. While the economy adds a question mark to the eventual size of the 4G landscape, Gartner believes carriers will embrace 4G out of necessity. With declining voice average revenue per user prompting a search for greater efficiencies, 4G will benefit carriers through reduced network operating costs. Earlier this week, we learned Sprint was mulling the idea of outsourcing its 3G network to save 20 percent on operating expenses.

Although carriers currently have leverage against VoIP on mobile phones, it may not stay that way for long. Google, Yahoo and other portals could account for a third of mobile calls within 10 years, according to Gartner, a trend that recent moves on the part of carriers seems to confirm. Sprint, for example, reportedly wants to refocus on building applications, not maintaining the pipe. Along with an upswing in applications, such as Skype, to make calls, companies not known as telecoms are encroaching on the space once the sole domain of carriers. Apple, for instance, has transformed itself from a computer company to a consumer electronics player with iPhone, an unconventionally designed mobile phone.

Can Microsoft hold back the rising waters threatening to sweep away the familiar carriers? The short-term answer is likely “yes.” However, Skype and other VoIP applications are unlikely to stand still. As we saw with the App Store and RIM, the freely available Skype has tasted telecom blood and Windows Mobile may still be swept aside by a flood of mobile VoIP demand.

  1. This ban is self-serving, no doubt about it…but Karma can be a real b**ch sometimes.

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  2. 400 million skype subs want otherwise. Redmond, are you listening ?

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  3. Skype is already available for Windows Mobile. Since Microsoft won’t be shutting out 3rd-parties by requiring that apps be installed through their Marketplace (as Apple has done), Skype will be free to continue to distribute their own installer.

    So really, this “ban” just means that Microsoft can continue to pretend to play nice with the carriers. Meanwhile, Skype users will still be allowed to make free phone calls over the data network. (Also, you’ll still be able to get free tethering with internet-connection sharing in Windows Mobile.)

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  4. I think this could be more self serving. Ms has a mobile office communicator client essentially a softphone… why allow another?

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    1. Krishna Baidya Wednesday, May 6, 2009

      good point, paul. however, i think this so called ‘ban’ is not to offend the mobile operators. i strongly believe that its a matter of time when voice will be carried on the same network which otherwise was meant for data traffic (mobile VoIP become a mainstream even on a mobile network). it is just a business model issue. that is where all the stake holders (most importantly the carriers) need to come to the drawing board and re-evaluate the revenue model/ charging mechanism in a changed scenario.

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    2. good point, paul. however, i think this so called ‘ban’ is not to offend the mobile operators. i strongly believe that its a matter of time when voice will be carried on the same network which otherwise was meant for data traffic (mobile VoIP become a mainstream even on a mobile network). it is just a business model issue. that is where all the stake holders (most importantly the carriers) need to come to the drawing board and re-evaluate the revenue model/ charging mechanism in a changed scenario.

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  5. [...] rest is here: Microsoft Bans VoIP From Its Mobile Marketplace Thank you for reading this post. You can now Leave A Comment (0) or Leave A [...]

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  6. Well, they can ban mobile VoIP applications, but can’t ban services that rely on standard telephone numers like Mani-Sky: it lets you assign phone numbers to Skype contacts, so you can reach Skype buddies when away from your PC / Internet connection, using any telephone.

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  7. I don’t really understand this deciison by Mircrosoft. In the long run I don’t think it will be in their interest to fail to embrace new technolody. Especially something that could become pretty significant like VoIP.

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  9. [...] App Store and equivalents from RIM, Nokia and Palm. Earlier this week, PCWorld reported that Micorsoft was banning VoIP applications from its Windows Marketplace for Mobile store. The move was seen as preempting a Windows Mobile 6.5 Skype application similar to that already [...]

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  10. [...] Microsoft Bans VoIP From Its Mobile Marketplace – Gigaom.comMicrosoft has banned VoIP applications from its upcoming Windows Mobile Marketplace, according to PCWorld . The blocking move is part of a 12-point restriction on applications sold in the Redmond giant s online marketplace, the opening timed to [...]

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