I've been involved with VoIP technology since 1996. I've been a public advocate for wideband audio at least since 1997. And I've admired and supported a variety of companies using VoIP to provide innovative services and new user interfaces. But reflecting on the past decade, the only globally significant impact of VoIP has been on prices (by fostering arbitrage). Most VoIP telephony services are just digital POTS.
Indeed, the most significant change in telephony in the past decade has been the global spread of mobile phones.
But we may be on the cusp of a real change due to the merger of VoIP and mobile as I discussed in my monthly column, entitled Beyond Digital POTS, in the April issue of Internet Telephony magazine. Check the article for further info, but I concluded with:
The remaining impediments are walled gardens or expensive data plans, and handset diversity that means most applications won’t run on most handsets. Mobile competition, WiFi hotspots and ever increasing 3G capabilities should put an end to walled gardens within two to five years. Handset diversity will be with us, perhaps indefinitely, but a few powerful frameworks are gaining ground at different levels of abstraction, e.g.Symbian and Windows Mobile at a base level, J2ME as middleware and Flash Lite and Opera & Safari browsers with AJAX. There won’t be a single API to write to (like Windows for the PC), but it should be possible to produce slick user interfaces across a wide variety of phones with a proxy server and five or six downloadable modules.
VoIP and mobile — now there’s an opportunity for innovation!