I’ve been looking for a post to sum up what I think was the biggest set of announcements at this year’s CES, and the best I was able to come up with is Jeff Pulver’s post:
The Jeff Pulver Blog: Skype Announcements @ CES 2006: A Year Too Late?
Personally, I believe the Skype Hype was in full-effect at CES this year, and its nothing but good news.
Read on for my analysis …
I was around in the early days of VoIP while at Intel in Oregon. We developed the first standard H.323 stack and a pretty cool Internet phone that was a “ride-along” applicaiton that clipped to the bottom of your web browser.
I even had opportunities to work with the venerable Jeff Pulver, father of VoIP, and watched him form the early VoIP community that has since grown into one of the most prominent technologies of the “new” Internet.
While I respect Jeff immensely, I have a different opinion on the value of these Skype “accessories”. They represent a way for casual users to take a foray into VoIP, with no real strings attached (other than requiring access to WiFi).
I also believe that Skype’s (err…eBay’s) mobile extension of their service do NOT necessarily lead to all-out-war with traditional carriers, but rather, a way for carriers to subvert POTS systems and bring more services to the home or business campuses through another wireless technology. If carriers actually embrace LAN access, this may extend their ability to deliver their services and technologies beyond just WAN access to a higher speed and into a burgeoning “social” network of WiFi access areas (like your home, office or cafe).
Take T-Mobile as a use case. They have WiFi access points dotting the country, and it provides a way for them to make revenue on LAN as well as WAN access. Its “faster” than their mobile networks, and likely will always be as people go from WiFi to WiMax and beyond. It gives them a way to sell products and services to PDA and laptop users that likely have a mobile phone already (and either service on T-Mobile or not).
I’m just waiting for the first company to do a successful VoIP phone that combines cellular WAN access for use in-between WiFi “lillypads” and LAN acccess with popular services, in an attractive package. The closest are the Win Mobile 5 devices by HP and Samsung. However, the integration needs to be there from the second you turn on the device and it identifies the right network, your location, and provides services to make you more effective in the situation you’re in.