There is not a disruptive technology Michael Robertson does not love. MP3, Linux, VoIP/SIP and WiFi. The founder of MP3.com, Lindows…ooops, Linspire, and SIPphone stopped by my office today. It was a delightful meeting. I have been in touch with him for months, but never really had a chance to meet him. I spent the entire session needling him about how he was too early with his ventures. His response while more sophisticated could be summed up by these words: “I just might be the only man to make $100 million in the digital download music business.”
And to top everything off, Robertson did a big smack-down on Skype. He thinks Skype’s proprietary architecture and protocols are going to become its biggest problem. He believes SIP is the answer. “Everyone from D-Link to Linksys is adding SIP ports to their routers,” he says, “which means consumers can simply plug their phones into those ports and dial.” And that is inherently a better solution than Skype which is basically mimicking a PSTN network. He told me that SIPphone had just done a test project for UC San Diego, where everyone on campus could call to and from any SIP Phone to any number – PSTN or SIP.
While talking about his Linspire venture he pointed out that Staples.com has started stocking machines that ran Linspire Linux. Robertson says that Linspire will succeed because its cheap and a lot of countries like Mexico where people are not addicted to Windows, this is a really good option. (Microsoft made them change their name to Linspire, by the way!) “It is the #1 selling PC at Elektra, which is like Circuit City of Mexico,” he said. If generic soda makers can survive despite Coke and Pepsi, Linspire can stick around and make money despite Microsoft and Apple. True…French sold a lot of those funny looking Citroens. Talking about Linspire, the company’s old logo (from its offices) is for sale on Ebay and the bid is up to $510.