Voice 2.0 and Bouillabaisse

by alec on February 4, 2007

At 2:52 this afternoon I had just finished my workout and was headed out the door to fetch the ingredients for dinner this evening.  Bouillabaisse.  It’s a heady mixture of fish, shellfish, tomatoes, fennel and garlic, all topped with a zippy rouille of garlic and cayenne.  It’s one of my favorites, and I don’t do have bad job of it either.  Not that there’s a right way and a wrong way to make bouillabaisse. It’s accepted that the ingredients change, depending on what fish is fresh and seasonal today.

At 7:00 we indulged in an orgy of garlic soaked bivalves accompanied by a primo bottle of Ontario pinot noir, and crusty baguette.  Ecstasy.  It might have been the best bouillabaisse I’ve ever made.

The blogosphere is like a bouillabaisse.  There’s no “right way” to make it.  No recipe.  Whatever the freshest fish, or in the case of the blogosphere, newest ideas you can find go into it. You can count on it to be good everytime. Just let it stew, and gobble it up with a french loaf.

At 2:52 this afternoon, Tom Evslin punched the send button on Voice 2.0 — Fuggedabout It!.  While not exactly a broadside on the Voice 2.0 concepts, Tom points out that consumers don’t seem to have an appetite for advanced voice applications.  Tom was riffing off my good friend Jeff Pulver’s piece When will service providers offer innovative services?  Jeff says they won’t, unless forced to.

Amen.

Eh?

Yup. You heard me say it.  They aren’t going to do it.  And I’ve never believed that they would.

The Voice 2.0 Manifesto is about a world where consumers buy the services that they want from the provider that they want.  Toward the end it reads:

Fundamentally, this turns the service provider value network on it’s head.  In today’s world, the network operator aggregates services from a number of vendors, and then delivers them to the customer.  Tomorrow, the customer will buy the services they want from whomever they want, and the service provider will deliver a portion of that revenue to the owner of the platform component.  Voice will be monetized through the long tail of high value applications targeted at specific communities of users. 

I wasn’t completely right when I wrote that 18 months ago.  The model which is emerging is one where the service vendor is responsible for the billing, and renders a portion of that revenue to the network operator, rather than the other. That’s a bad customer experience, and it will change.  Nevertheless, new services are emerging.  I had a conversation with Rogers last week about applications.  They feel that the applications market is early, but it will come.  For an incumbent to make that statement is pretty remarkable.

Most important, though, is that Rogers isn’t going to do this on their own.  They’re relying on third parties.

We’re going to make mistakes on this path.  Jeff Pulver talks about uploading call control scripts as a failed model.  It’s a lousy customer experience, first and foremost.  In fact, and this is hanging out iotum’s dirty laundry (so please don’t tell anyone who matters…), we made the same mistake in the early going on Voice 2.0.  We assumed that we’d be able to build call control applications that operated outside the carrier network.  Wrong.  The carriers have a huge lock on those networks.  But we made an even larger mistake, which was believing that ordinary people would recognize the value of call filtering features.  It’s the same mistake Jeff Pulver made.   It turned out that people view call filtering features as features for very busy people, and almost universally don’t seem themselves as being “that busy”.  When you turn that proposition on its head, allowing people to view the availability of others, rather than filtering on their own availability, it’s universally valued. And so that’s what we did with iotum Talk-Now.

The me-centric communications revolution of Voice 2.0 is here.  Yes, it’s unevenly distributed.  Yes, as Andy Abramson points out, in the beginning some very geeky applications are going to emerge as engineers crank out features without any grounding in user experience.  And yes, it’s going to be tough to make money from them in the beginning.  But ultimately, that vision will prevail, because ultimately it’s what people want and value.  The world of multiple email addresses, overloaded voice mail boxes, and the complexity of not where and how to reach people must give way to a simplified communications model that we can all use, and gain benefit from, without having to have a PhD in communications theory.  And carriers will buy these services.

Now, who ate two lobster tails, ’cause I didn’t get any…

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Sweeney February 5, 2007 at 6:56 am

Great Post. And Interesting to hear about the "availability of self" and "availability of others" from a presence perspective. Maybe that's because we unconsciously order our calling and interactions on the basis that we are de facto available (to ourselves) and we "allocate" our effort in trying to communicate with others.

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Alec February 5, 2007 at 1:15 pm

Indeed. I was very surprised by the result.

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Moshe Maeir February 5, 2007 at 3:11 pm

IMHO there is no such thing as Voice 2.0. Saying so assumes that one we are building on Voice 1.0 and two, voice communications differ from other kinds of communications. We actually should use the term CoIP (Communications or Collaborations over IP) which expresses our future communications better. I elaborate on this in my blog athttp://flatplanetphone.com/wordpress/?p=38

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