VoWiFi is Hot Or Not

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It depends on who you ask, when you ask, and what you ask – the answer will be VoWiFi is hot or not. Erik Lagerway, the guy behind lovely XTen Networks, the real makers of Vonage Softphone is not so thrilled at the prospect of VoWiFi devices.

Hmm, you have to wonder if these stand alone VoWLAN phones will grow the legs required before 3G hits. If we are getting 200-400 Kbps on a mobile phone, PDA and alike who will want to cart around yet another device to get the same service?

C/Net News.com’s Ben Charny after talking to a lot of analysts (aka one) has come to a conclusion, that the VoWiFi phones are not going to be big time up until 2009. Can I hear someone saying — oops!

After years in development, the much-anticipated devices were supposed to take off in 2004. But with just 113,000 such handsets sold last year, or $45m in total sales, it’s apparent the prognosticators were wrong. Rather, the sales “represent a market at its birth”, as Infonetics analysts put it.

Guys over at TheVoIPWeblog see this as a glass half-full situation, when they say, WiFi VoIP handset market on the rise. So what do I think? Well, its the same ole story – too many expectations, not enough focus on consumer ease of use, and total geek-out. And then people ask why IPod sells so much!

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Bill Ives

Not sure I agree with the sentiments here.I have a feeling that VoWi/Fi is set to take off, and by early next year, if not late this year.

I spend a lot of time investigating this industry, and it seems to me a ;arge number of suppliers are about to hit the market with a large number of devices….!

If you think of home, then you can say the voice is free, as the broadband has already been purchased to browse the Internet. If you then look at how people actually use mobile phones, (believe it or not the highest % is static – in your office, home, or shopping centre. Only rarely is it actually used on the move) then it is possible to see that these devices are needed AS WELL AS mobile phones, but potentially replacements.

Several items need to happen for this to become reality, not least being able to call such a device even if you are not part of its community (as far as I am aware you cannot call into Skype for instance), for deeper pener\tration of hotspots, for sensible tarrifing, and for roaming from one provider to another without the need to log onto the network.

All these things are being addressed. I thnk 3G has a real problem on its hands – but only time will tell who is right or wrong.


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