Here is the slide deck for my "Industry Perspective" presentation at VON yesterday, Mutual Disruption: IM/ Presence Meets the Mobile Phone.
When Carl Ford interviewed me for a podcast the week before VON, he was surprised to see I wasn't talking about Layer Zero Competition, my topic at the last two VON conferences. So, before diving into my discussion of communities, contextually-aware communications and mobile phones, I briefly mentioned three of my passions:
- Layer zero competition
- The next 4-5 billion subscribers
- VoIP disruption of telephony
and I didn't even mention video...
VoIP disruption is not a surprising topic. It's been a recurring theme for me. The first time I spoke at a VON conference was in 1996 and my topic was wideband audio. I had organized an IP-PBX panel and used my position as moderator to advocate wideband audio rather than "toll quality speech," i.e. don't struggle to duplicate the PSTN, use IP communications to do better!
Some of the points in this presentation are:
- With a few exceptions, most VoIP service providers are still thinking like telecom engineers, not focusing what the user is trying to do, i.e. connect with another person in a fashion appropriate to what the user is trying to accomplish and what the other party is available for.
- Presence is the wrong word. What we mean is availability, with contextual qualifications. My mobile phone is always with me, always on, but I may not take your call !
- Mobile phones are more important than desk sets. Indeed, mobile has done a better job of addressing user interests than VoIP has so far. (And, mobile has been far more widely adopted than VoIP). Even more significant, in developing countries mobiles far exceed PCs with Internet connections. Finally, Asia leads in mobile innovation, so US & EU folks need to pay attention to Asia.
- Person-to-person communications is the biggest opportunity (bigger than content sales and most other "data applications"), but it's centered around communities. Individuals participate in multiple communities, so there is no way a walled garden operator can serve all their customers' communities.
- Communities in Asia are equally available on Web & WAP. I have some views of my WEB and WAP home pages on 12wap.net (in Singapore).
- Recently the GSM Association announced ubiquitous interoperability for presence on mobile phones. If they succeed with this initiative, it could represent a significant threat to AIM, Yahoo and MSN Messenger.
I closed by suggesting there was an enormous opportunity, in the next 18 months, to create the best combination of communities, availability, Web 2.0 and mobile phones.