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Voice is an application

Over the last few years I’ve been fascinated by how telecommunication services have changed. Skype and Google Voice have revolutionized how people communicate. On Saturday morning I was doing Skype video calls to partners in the USA from New Zealand. With my Fibre to the Home connection it was just like being down the road. This morning I used Skype Out to call a DDI in New York. I don’t even need an office phone anymore.

The rise of smart phones have also seen new ways for people to communicate. When I changed to an iPhone last year I bought my wife an iPhone 4 as well so that I can say goodnight to the kids when I’m traveling using FaceTime. The iPhone seamlessly blurs telephony over the traditional mobile networks and wifi. A growing list of the places I spend time in have wifi. Sky high international data roaming charges encourage users to seek out ways to save money on call costs.

I’m getting numerous invites per day to use Viber, which is simply a phone that works over wifi.

Four years ago, when the iPhone came out there was an effort to lift telephony with smart new services like Visual Voice Mail. This is available on some networks around the world – but not in New Zealand unfortunately. Demo of VVM.

How many minutes would you save a day with VVM?

The latest application I’ve been using is HeyTell. Rather than typing in text messages you can simply drop voice messages to friends, family or colleagues. This is 90% of the communications I need to do. Leave a message, move on.

The UI on HeyTell isn’t as polished as some applications. It would be great to have tiles of frequent contacts that you could simply push on to leave a message – but I’ve found HeyTell has already changed how I’ve used the phone.

To me this ‘push to message’ application seems completely obvious now and it’s amazing there haven’t been applications like this before. And in most situations you are connecting over wifi so they are free to use.

Lack of innovation from the carriers has meant that communications really hasn’t changed much for years but with smart phones gaining market share quickly and developers not needing to involve the carriers anymore I think we’re poised to see many more innovations in how we work with each other.

Voice calling is no longer a separate service. It’s just an application.

 

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4 comments

Rowan
3 May 2011 #

As Mark Pilgrim tweeted today… “Phone is my least favorite app” http://twitter.com/#!/diveintomark/status/65181886066073601

Adam
3 May 2011 #

Yes, well Voice is the dirty little secret of mobile phone carriers isn’t it? They’ve known this for a long time. It’s an illusion that’s beneficial for them to maintain.

Voice is really just another data channel (with some QoS), so carrier-internal calls are practically a nil cost for the telco.

From my understanding the thing that’s held back voice has been the interconnection charges between carriers. So every time you place call from your O2 account to your friend’s Vodafone account, connection charges are exchanged… From discussions with some industry insiders it sounds like this is something that’s going to be removed within the next few years in the UK.

That will be an interesting time. You’d expect voice call costs to plummet and a ton of innovative new offerings appearing (what will telco’s do to keep customers?). The mobile phone becomes nothing more than a modem.

Miki Szikszai
6 May 2011 #

You should ask Rushy about the text message replacement that Telecom had back in the day when they couldn’t do 2 way text. VoiceNote from memory. Just the same as HeyTell but with a clunky interface

mobile budgeting
6 May 2011 #

Really now the mobile application have revolutionized so much. It’ll cut down calling cost.

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