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Harvesting Spring's reward

peppersWe had a light frost over the weekend, which forced me to gather in the remainder of hot peppers from the garden.  It's been an odd season, with the late heat in September allowing some of the slowest peppers to ripen finally.  So we have sweet hungarian banana peppers, fiery habaneros, spicy sweet ripened jalapenos, little firecracker serranos, and bizarrely twisted cayenne all coming from the garden in September.  Hot peppers in September… perhaps one of the few benefits we can ascribe to global warming. 

Autumn is the time when the last of the garden that we planted in May, with such high expectations, is harvested and the plants die off.  We wait for another spring, another planting, and another set of expectations. This year Autumn has also become a time when many in the VoIP industry have reflected on what has been accomplished, and what still needs to be done.  A number of people, including myself, have publicly said that VoIP is boring. Voice packets carried on IP networks means exactly what to consumers?  Right. Who really cares?

Tom Evslin, reflecting on a decade old prediction, says that VoIP won't improve the phone experience we have today… it will replace it.  Jeff Pulver riffs on Tom's themes, including the rise of social networks in the communications fabric, and promises more in his industry perspective talk at Fall VON.  Mike Gotta bemoans the lack of progress on presence, and calls on the industry to stop intellectualizing and start implementing. 

They're all right. 

The most exciting area in communications today is the mashup of the web and communications, and no where is that more evident than in social networks.  As web services APIs have allowed applications to communicate directly with communications servers, and networks have allowed those applications to be distributed across the globe, new forms of communications are starting to take hold.

VoIP hasn't failed.  On the contrary, it's created an environment where the only way that companies can survive in the communications business is by focusing on other parts of the experience.  Commodity transport of voice packets is about as cheap as it's going to get.  What's next?  And will the companies that have given us voice for the last 125 years be the same ones that offer us communications services for the next 125 years?  Or are they in the autumn of their years?

See you at Fall VON.  I'll be spending most of my time in the Innovators track. 

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Peter Childs October 16, 2007, 8:11 am

    I wonder if part of the problem is that we need bridges between application areas and voice developers to drive new uses for VoIP.

    One of the things that VoIP brings is immediacy and because both parties are likely human – a ability to handle complexity – from establishing trust through dialogue, to narrowing complex information gathering processes (I’m reluctant to use search here because dialogue is critical and that’s more than sequential search), to building or enhancing relationships (between people and people & businesses).

    I’ve personally long thought that eCommerce needs VoIP to mimic the social aspects of shopping that motivate many peoples shopping experiences – buying is an opportunity for social engagement.

    The bridges between groups are needed of course to manage the implimentation – which is vital to success.

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