I want to clarify a comment I made Wednesday, regarding the Grand Central / Gizmo mashup. What I wrote said:
I wouldn’t want you to think I’m singling out Grand Central and Gizmo for special treatment, by the way. They’re simply guilty of being locked into the same full-on Carrier 1.0 tunnel vision view of the world that is true of virtually every other carrier and VoIP player on the planet, from Verizon all the way to Vonage. Very few companies, excepting Skype and AOL, understand that there is an opportunity in leveraging the creativity of 3rd party developers to bring new capabilities to the telephony platform.
We had a conversation around innovation versus integration some time ago in our shop. The net of it? iotum can interoperate with other IM networks, and other carrier networks until the cows come home. All that will accomplish is to chew up cycles that we could be putting into creating a great customer experience.
Craig Walker and the Grand Central team have built a compelling service which I would use myself if there were phone numbers available here in Canada. The promise of Grand Central is not realizable, however, within the strictures of the industry which we work in today, and the Grand Central / Gizmo mashup is tangible evidence of that. No carrier will hand a call off to a third party to provide services, nor will they integrate a third party directly into their network. Not even the "innovative" carriers like Michael Robertson’s SIPPhone will do this. In this regard, they are no different from the railroad barons at the turn of the last century advantaging their own freight at the expense of their competitors.
That forces innovative third parties like Grand Central, or iotum for that matter, to build their own networks or find other means to market. The world doesn’t need more networks, though. Moreover, it’s totally unnecessary from a technical point of view. SIP allows redirection to application servers to occur from within a network. SIPPhone could, if they wished, simply hand the call off to Grand Central for processing. Grand Central, in turn, could hand the call back to SIPPhone for termination. Grand Central wouldn’t need to build a network or issue phone number. SIPPhone would gain innovative new services for their customers. Most importantly, the customer experience would be of one seamless network, with new services available from a variety of third parties. You wouldn’t need separate phone numbers, or redirection from one phone number to another, and it would be a way better experience than wiring networks together through phone number hacks.
What the world needs is network operators that don’t constrain innovation. Until that happens, the future we all want to build around VoIP is not much more than an onanistic fantasy.
And me? Well, I owe an apology to Craig and his team. They were on the end of a grumpy rant that they didn’t deserve. Sorry guys.