15 years ago, if we wanted communicate with anyone outside of our sight, we would simply call them by phone. Since then, there has been a phenomenal development of the Web beyond our imagination. This has given us new ways to communicate, share and collaborate with others. This includes sending deferred or real time messages, talking 1-to-1 or 1-to-many, doing so with video or even interactively sharing or collaborating using online media.
While most people still agree that talking is still fundamental for communicating with others, the way most people pay for and use such services has been slow to change. At the same time traditional telecom service providers have a vested interest in maintaining their tried-and-tested models for selling voice communications, and milking their existing assets. However, this will start to change more rapidly as new technology and services becomes more affordable, and the general public becomes increasingly comfortable with its adoptions and usage.
Mobile broadband usage is expected to grow worldwide from 0.3 to 1.4 B users by 2014 (www.economist.com) and ready-to-use Mobile Internet devices, like the iPhone or the Skype-enabled Nokia N900 smartphone (www.gigaom.com) or even affordable netbooks, are only going to accelerate this phenomenon.
Generally speaking, we will see more attractive alternatives to existing phone services throughout markets worldwide (ex. low-cost or unlimited calling), as well as newer services that include voice and offer further benefits and greater value for some users (ex. Integrated web-to-voice calling, HD conferencing, or virtual online meetings and collaboration). In each of these cases voice will most likely continue to play a key, but non-exclusive role for communicating with others.
Such changes are pushing service providers to recognize voice service as part of greater, more varied, value propositions. If they don’t, new players will continue to do so.