Telephone as a platform, remixed

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Blogging has been light for past couple of days, mostly because I am doing the whole panel circuit. Four days, four panels. Today was an interesting one: how rise of IP (Internet Protocol) has turned telephone into the new platform. Being the moderator, I couldn’t do blog myself, however, there are folks who have done a brilliant job and I am going to include gems from their posts. Thanks to Jason, we have a whole MP3 of the panel discussion. You can click here to listen to it. Jason’s brilliant weblog is here! Other stuff on Web 2.0 is here.

Photo: Weblogs Inc.
Jeff Jarvis blogs:

Jeffrey Citron, founder of Vonage, said the concepts of distance or locality are, of course, meaningless in VOIP. “Pure talking is probably going to become commoditized,” he says but argues that there are advanced features on VOIP. “We’ve freed voice from the confines of the transmission system.” Hossein Eslambolchi of AT&T says its nothing new to have competitors who push prices down. But he makes a subtle jab at Citron about companies that really make money. Citron infamously said recently that Vonage is profitable if you don’t count marketing. Well, uh, marketing is the cost structure of the company.

Eslambolchi also talks about features — they call it SOIP for services over IP. Man, they sound like airlines trying to argue over who has the better bagel. Mike McCue of Tellme says there has to be an opening of the telephone as a platform so anyone can write any application for any telephone. Yup. “What’s missing right now is the equivalent of HTML for the telephone…

Jeremy Zawodny writes

[Mike McCue, Tell Me Networks] 2.5 billion people have phones. They’re essential, unlike PCs. The stuff people do on phones today has migrated from the PC (getting bits of information, contacts, etc). On phones we need a universal application language like we have on the Web. What is “HTML for the phone”? VoiceXML + VOIP is the combo he sees winning. Voicemail is a killer app. 411 and 1-800 numbers are killer apps. By opening up this platform, we’ll have a flood of great applications. …. AT&T debate going on now. Network this, endpoints that, value of network, endpoint math, blah, blah, blah. 4G wireless coming in 2006? I hope this session ends soon. People look bored.

Marc writes

The Vonage guy blamed Skype for not working with others. I guess Skype must be VC backed.

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Charlie Sierra

…there has to be an opening of the telephone as a platform so anyone can write any application for any telephone.
Once this happens, the phones companies are screwed (not that they’re not screwed already), because they have no experience in doing anything by transmission/distribution.

We’ve gone form Voice being the whole network, to VoIP, where Voice is just another application, to the inevitable conclusion that Voice will be reduced to a (free) feature within a much larger offering.

If the phone companies where smart they’d start acquiring software talent.

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