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Will the new iPod Touch unleash VoWiFi? I’ll wait and see.

The rumours have been flying about the iPod Touch equipped with a camera and microphone built-in.  Yesterday Andy Abramson talked about the potential for this device on WiFi networks as a communication product.  Andy’s thesis is that this new iPod device is the disruption that will unleash Voice on WiFi, and as an early adopter points out that he has been doing this for a couple of years now with Truphone on Nokia and Apple devices.  He’s predicting a flurry of SIP applications through the iPhone store when this new iPod Touch comes to market.

Me, I’m not so sure.  After all, wasn’t that the premise of Skype on the Sony Mylo?

Consumers expect always-on connectivity, and WiFi doesn’t deliver.  With ubiquitous inexpensive 3G the norm, WiFi has become a backup network rather than a mainstay data network for many people.  Take me, for example.  I pay for a Boingo subscription each month because when I’m in a hotspot, it’s faster and more responsive than the 3G on my iPhone.  But I also have 6G of service on my iPhone for $30/month, of which I’ve never used more than 400M.

Travelling, however, is a different story.  As Andy notes, you can talk for free on WiFi when you’re travelling, versus whatever the outrageous roaming rate that your carrier might charge.  Savvy travellers use products like Truphone and Skype to avoid roaming charges.

In my opinion, the real value for telephony in WiFi is in fixed mobile convergence – phones that know the cheapest / highest quality networks, and use them seamlessly to give the best overall experience to the customer. My iPhone should (but doesn’t) automatically pass my calls over WiFi when in a hotspot, and seamlessly hand off to cellular when I leave that hotspot.

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Paul Leroux July 23, 2009, 7:06 am

    I agree: devices that seamlessly switch between cellular and WiFi will be the must haves. I love the WiFi capabilities of my iPod touch, but really, WiFi is just a virtual teather. Basically, you're draggging a wire behind you that will snap out of its socket if you walk two steps too far. It just happens to be an exceedingly lightweight and unobstrusive wire.

    – Paul

  • Paul Leroux July 23, 2009, 11:06 am

    I agree: devices that seamlessly switch between cellular and WiFi will be the must haves. I love the WiFi capabilities of my iPod touch, but really, WiFi is just a virtual teather. Basically, you’re draggging a wire behind you that will snap out of its socket if you walk two steps too far. It just happens to be an exceedingly lightweight and unobstrusive wire.

    – Paul

  • danvertising July 23, 2009, 12:29 pm

    “Basically, you’re draggging a wire behind you that will snap out of its socket if you walk two steps too far.”

    Very good point. My BlackBerry fails at connecting to WiFi all the time. Although I think it’s something with BB itself because all I have to do is reset the battery and it’s fine.

    Very annoying

  • danvertising July 23, 2009, 12:29 pm

    “Basically, you’re draggging a wire behind you that will snap out of its socket if you walk two steps too far.”

    Very good point. My BlackBerry fails at connecting to WiFi all the time. Although I think it’s something with BB itself because all I have to do is reset the battery and it’s fine.

    Very annoying

  • Dhane July 24, 2009, 12:58 am

    iPod Touch is the most awaited device due to its Wifi capability which enables him to make VoIP calls. Most of VoIP providers are working on iPod touch cleints in which truphone is on top and Nimbuzz, Vopium and Fring is next.

  • ColtonCat July 24, 2009, 2:52 pm

    Seamlessly switching from WiFi to Cellular, although the holy grail, is something that you will never be able to get for free, as there has to be some form of handshake with your cellular network of choice to negotiate this handover, and hence a point for them to charge you for the privilege.

    Currently a number of cellular that provide UMA (Unlicenced Mobile Access) also known as Generic Access Network (GAN) or GAN standard.

    Rogers/Fido in Canada, and T-Mobile in the USA are among operators who provide this service. They mostly charge a fee of around $10 to $15 a month to access their UMA services. This service does provide seamless handover between the cellular network and the WiFi network.

    I am sure that at some point apple will provide UMA capabilities with the iPhone, however, it would be up to the operator (AT&T) to provide access to it. They may choose not too, as I have noticed that some operators seem to have an unhealthy fear of VOIP scavenging their very lucrative per-minute/second usage billing…

  • Andrew July 28, 2009, 7:38 am

    The Mylo (albeit interesting) was no iPod Touch. The ease of adding telephony to a stellar product like the Touch (Skype, Nimbuzz, Truphone) is a sure fire win, students/parents, frequent travelers will buy it in droves. It is the easiest way to provide a kids line in the house, but most importantly it is a product that kids want anyway, there were no lineups for the Mylo launch @ the Sony Store.

    UMA is fantastic, but restricted on most carriers. For example, Rogers/Fido block non-Canadian IP's for UMA service. They claim they do this as they cannot roam reliably between GSM and Wifi outside of their network, which may very well be true, but for a service I pay for I should have the option of using UMA anywhere wifi is available.

    I have several always on apps., on my Blackberry that prevent iPhone usage for me, but the Touch is a perfect companion to travel with. I am going to bring my iPod anyway, so it might as well act as a travel phone as well.

  • Andrew July 28, 2009, 11:38 am

    The Mylo (albeit interesting) was no iPod Touch. The ease of adding telephony to a stellar product like the Touch (Skype, Nimbuzz, Truphone) is a sure fire win, students/parents, frequent travelers will buy it in droves. It is the easiest way to provide a kids line in the house, but most importantly it is a product that kids want anyway, there were no lineups for the Mylo launch @ the Sony Store.

    UMA is fantastic, but restricted on most carriers. For example, Rogers/Fido block non-Canadian IP’s for UMA service. They claim they do this as they cannot roam reliably between GSM and Wifi outside of their network, which may very well be true, but for a service I pay for I should have the option of using UMA anywhere wifi is available.

    I have several always on apps., on my Blackberry that prevent iPhone usage for me, but the Touch is a perfect companion to travel with. I am going to bring my iPod anyway, so it might as well act as a travel phone as well.

  • Ruben Olsen August 3, 2009, 10:52 am

    There are some speculation going on regarding a new iPod Touch having a built in microphone and some more memory (i.e. 64 GB).

    Ken Camp have written an excellent piece does not believe that the VoIP on iPod Touch will become a VoIP hit with pre-teenagers. This may be true in the US, but on this side of the pond I have more than one indication that Andy Abramson's views are very correct. It is true that youngsters do text a lot – but they still make a lot of phone calls. I take the bus to and from work each day and have the "luxury" of observing how the younger generation uses their mobile phones.

    A lot of texting is going on – but also a lot of talking. The interesting thing is that these conversations are not very short. My bus ride takes around 30 – 35 minutes each way and there is so much blabbering going on that I have to turn up the volume on my iPod Touch to tune out.

    Since the various articles by Ken and Andy (and Mark Evans) I have done some research. I have asked a few teenagers that I know through their parents about the "text vs talk ratio" (all had an iPhone touch or some other kind of iPod). My findings so far indicates that they do text a lot (no surprise) – but also are calling a lot. I will be the first to admit that a few persons is not much of a research group, but it is still a good indication on what is going on.

    The art of vocal conversation is not dead.

    There seems to be an consensus that texting is good for short (status) messages – but not for longer conversations. When asked if they do prefer to use MSN, SMS or a phone conversation to communicate – most of the teens I talked to prefer to use the phone. Most did state that MSN (and text) is excellent for updating more than one person at a time – or for group chats (all of the teens did not know about the ability to have conference calls on their phones).

    A few of the teens spoken to had fixed price plans (i.e. a lot of minutes and a lot of text messages built into their plan) – those where not overly concerned about the cost of talking. All the teens where in fact aware of how cheap actual talk is compared to messages (higher bandwidth), but this was even more apparent for the teens not having a fixed price plan.

    When asked if they would use Skype or similar service (i.e. VoIP) on their iPod, or if this would be a incentive to upgrade to a new iPod everyone was more than positive to this. For fun I asked if they would like to forfeit all their Christmas presents this year for getting a iPod with "free talk", most stated that this could be acceptable.

    But will it really be used as a VoIP device?
    For quite some time now I have been testing out various VoIP clients on my Nokia E71. I have also been testing out several clients on my iPod Touch. For the microphone I use the Apple supplied head set.

    I am one of those people who is not getting an iPhone – I am more than happy with my E71 (which is more or less comparable to a iPhone). For the records the iPhone is extremely expensive in Norway compared to (i.e.) the high end offerings from Nokia.

    I like to have a dedicated, excellent, player for my music and my podcasts.

    Taking a daily look at my fellow, younger, commuters, I notice that very few have a iPhone. The dominant MP3 player is a iPod, then comes the iPod Touch – and then "other players". Most youngsters have a pretty cheap telephone – and a expensive player. My speculation is that this is due to the fact that a lot of younger people choose carrier sponsored cell phones (and these ARE often the cheapest there is). I.e. they force them self into a cheap phone and spend their cash on a high end player.

    If my observations – and speculations – are holding water, VoIP on the iPod Touch (both current and future one) could become a big hit.

    However, I will not eat into the argument that the new iPod Touch will "unleash" or "jump-start" mobile VoIP.

    In my opinion mobile VoIP will be "jump-started" on cell phones. Just listen in on this Fridays VoIP Users Conference for my view on this.

  • Ruben Olsen August 3, 2009, 2:52 pm

    There are some speculation going on regarding a new iPod Touch having a built in microphone and some more memory (i.e. 64 GB).

    Ken Camp have written an excellent piece does not believe that the VoIP on iPod Touch will become a VoIP hit with pre-teenagers. This may be true in the US, but on this side of the pond I have more than one indication that Andy Abramson’s views are very correct. It is true that youngsters do text a lot – but they still make a lot of phone calls. I take the bus to and from work each day and have the “luxury” of observing how the younger generation uses their mobile phones.

    A lot of texting is going on – but also a lot of talking. The interesting thing is that these conversations are not very short. My bus ride takes around 30 – 35 minutes each way and there is so much blabbering going on that I have to turn up the volume on my iPod Touch to tune out.

    Since the various articles by Ken and Andy (and Mark Evans) I have done some research. I have asked a few teenagers that I know through their parents about the “text vs talk ratio” (all had an iPhone touch or some other kind of iPod). My findings so far indicates that they do text a lot (no surprise) – but also are calling a lot. I will be the first to admit that a few persons is not much of a research group, but it is still a good indication on what is going on.

    The art of vocal conversation is not dead.

    There seems to be an consensus that texting is good for short (status) messages – but not for longer conversations. When asked if they do prefer to use MSN, SMS or a phone conversation to communicate – most of the teens I talked to prefer to use the phone. Most did state that MSN (and text) is excellent for updating more than one person at a time – or for group chats (all of the teens did not know about the ability to have conference calls on their phones).

    A few of the teens spoken to had fixed price plans (i.e. a lot of minutes and a lot of text messages built into their plan) – those where not overly concerned about the cost of talking. All the teens where in fact aware of how cheap actual talk is compared to messages (higher bandwidth), but this was even more apparent for the teens not having a fixed price plan.

    When asked if they would use Skype or similar service (i.e. VoIP) on their iPod, or if this would be a incentive to upgrade to a new iPod everyone was more than positive to this. For fun I asked if they would like to forfeit all their Christmas presents this year for getting a iPod with “free talk”, most stated that this could be acceptable.

    But will it really be used as a VoIP device?
    For quite some time now I have been testing out various VoIP clients on my Nokia E71. I have also been testing out several clients on my iPod Touch. For the microphone I use the Apple supplied head set.

    I am one of those people who is not getting an iPhone – I am more than happy with my E71 (which is more or less comparable to a iPhone). For the records the iPhone is extremely expensive in Norway compared to (i.e.) the high end offerings from Nokia.

    I like to have a dedicated, excellent, player for my music and my podcasts.

    Taking a daily look at my fellow, younger, commuters, I notice that very few have a iPhone. The dominant MP3 player is a iPod, then comes the iPod Touch – and then “other players”. Most youngsters have a pretty cheap telephone – and a expensive player. My speculation is that this is due to the fact that a lot of younger people choose carrier sponsored cell phones (and these ARE often the cheapest there is). I.e. they force them self into a cheap phone and spend their cash on a high end player.

    If my observations – and speculations – are holding water, VoIP on the iPod Touch (both current and future one) could become a big hit.

    However, I will not eat into the argument that the new iPod Touch will “unleash” or “jump-start” mobile VoIP.

    In my opinion mobile VoIP will be “jump-started” on cell phones. Just listen in on this Fridays VoIP Users Conference for my view on this.

  • Fran August 12, 2009, 10:20 am

    I have a plan. What do you think? I have my iTouch already.

    1-Download VoWiFi from Skypes, Nimbuzz, Vopium, Fring or whomever has an app, and get a phone number.
    2-Have already downloaded Apples's 3G iPhone software.
    3-Purchase hi-quality bluetooth headset since my iTouch now has bluetooth capabilities. Or I could just plug headset into port.
    4-Purchase MiFi2200 from Verison or Sprint.
    5-I have almost free phone service wherever 3G signals are which is just what cell phones have.

    Of course, both Verison and Sprint charge $60 a month for MiFi service, but I can connect up to five devices at once with it. And I would have been paying for an internet connection anyway.

    Help me. Where is the error in my plan?

  • Fran August 12, 2009, 2:20 pm

    I have a plan. What do you think? I have my iTouch already.

    1-Download VoWiFi from Skypes, Nimbuzz, Vopium, Fring or whomever has an app, and get a phone number.
    2-Have already downloaded Apples’s 3G iPhone software.
    3-Purchase hi-quality bluetooth headset since my iTouch now has bluetooth capabilities. Or I could just plug headset into port.
    4-Purchase MiFi2200 from Verison or Sprint.
    5-I have almost free phone service wherever 3G signals are which is just what cell phones have.

    Of course, both Verison and Sprint charge $60 a month for MiFi service, but I can connect up to five devices at once with it. And I would have been paying for an internet connection anyway.

    Help me. Where is the error in my plan?

  • free ipod touch August 16, 2009, 1:30 pm

    cheers, i like the style of your blog so will be sure to visit again!

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