Yesterday, LiveJournal and Gizmo launched their new services allowing the use of voice in LiveJournal sessions.Â TMCNet’s Patrick Barnard wrote an extensive feature on the topic.Â Coincidentally, ZDNet’s Russell Shaw wrote a critique of Friendster, concluding that adding VoIP wouldn’t have helped.Â And, on Monday, Martin Geddes’ opening speech at Voice 2.0 opined that VoIP without social networking was of no value.
They’re all right.
Russel’s argument that Friendster was broken, and VoIP wouldn’t have made a difference is correct. I drive an aging Ford Escort station wagon with cracked rear springs. Expecting VoIP to fix Friendster is a bit like hoping that by adding a roof rack to my car, I’ll be able to improve the ride.
Martin’s argument is that conversations are social.Â Social networks are designed to facilitate conversations, and indeed, may become the directories of the future.Â Social networks and voice are a natural pair.Â
And Barnard takes that one step further with this simple question:Â what does the world look like if the majority of conversations are facilitated through social networking tools?
If Web sites start putting free â€œclick to callâ€ services all over the Internet and consumers start getting used to making calls on their PCs, what impact will that have on the major carriers (who already have their own VoIP woes, as they ravage their traditional phone service customer base by switching people over to low-cost VoIP services)? And what about the hundreds of smaller-sized VoIP service providers who are looking to get a piece of the consumer VoIP pie? Will only the ones which have signed deals with the major Web sites prevail?