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Day 1 at VON: We arrived yesterday for the first day of VON.  Saw Jeffrey Citron’s opening keynote address.  Citron is obviously Vonage’s stump speaker.  It wasn’t so much an industry vision speech, but a recap of Vonage’s success after success.  You could have gotten the same information by reading the press releases on their web site.  A bit of a disappointment. 

Also managed to stroll about 1/3 of the exhibits last night.  There’s a lot to see. 

The most interesting thing I saw all night was Microsoft’s Istanbul client.  Naturally, with the volume of breathless hype in the press, I was interested in seeing first hand what this product is.  I can summarize quickly as:

  • A better instant messaging client with voice, video and text integration.
  • Better presence integration.  It knows when various things happen on your PC (inactivity, locked, etc) that you’re not their to take a message, and LCS will route it somewhere else.
  • A softphone.  They’ve done a bunch of work in LCS to build a PBX gateway, and there are now telephony features added in.

I also asked about a bunch of the other features I had been reading about in the press, and the answer was pretty illuminating “We have x or y API, and you could build that feature this way”.  The Microsoft booth was small, but stuffed with telephony guys showing their great integration with LCS.

It seems clear that the evolution of the softphone is going to be into a platform component on the desktop.  If you want to add screen pops to your application, build a call center etc then grab a softphone vendor’s product, and build your app around it.

What that means is that a goodly number of the companies I saw on the show floor last night are already the walking dead.  There will be room for two or three vendors in the market, including Microsoft, and not more.

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