I got up yesterday morning to the announcement that Janice was going to paint the family room. My typically male response was, "Why? I like the paint in the family room." After all, there was no structural or mechanical reason to change the paint… Within a very short time it was clear that I wasn't going to dissuade her. She was tired of the old paint job, and by late in the afternoon our walls were sporting a new blue hue.
This morning my feed reader surfaced a piece from Omfut's Latest Geek Stuff titled Mobile VoIP, Who Will Win. He's speculating about operator reaction to VoIP on 3G and WiFi. My first thought? For most people, isn't VoIP just the "new blue hue" on mobile? On POTS, VoIP was a major disruptor, shaking up moribund incumbents grown fat on comfortable monopoly profits. VoIP did what regulators couldn't do, which was to bring competition and new services to the landline space. Vonage, for instance, is the reason that today I can buy a $25/month unlimited calling plan from Bell Canada. On mobile, however, most jurisdictions have multiple competing service providers. Prices are already falling in most of the world (even Canada, it seems), and innovative services and devices are being delivered on a constant basis. Becuase of a competitive market, VoIP on mobile is different from VoIP on POTS.
Omfut cites Mig33, Truphone, and Fring in his piece, to which I will add TalkPlus and MobiVox. None of these are pure VoIP plays. Mig33, for example, is a social network with VoIP. MobiVox is a voice activated personal assistant, plus VoIP. The value is in the application, and tellingly none of these are implementing VoIP on 3G. It's all VoIP on the back end. With the exception of Truphone, which consumes no minutes on the handset when used in WiFi mode, all of these applications work in concert with the carrier, rather than against the carrier.
As a consumer, I'm not so sure I care about VoIP on the handset. What I do care about, however, is new services. That's where mobile VoIP will have an impact. That's where the mobile carriers and mobile VoIP players are getting it right, and where Vonage and the now defunct SunRocket got it so horribly wrong.