Frankly, I don’t understand why there isn’t more hype about this. As an expat living far away from friends and family, I rely on Skype at home to make and recieve calls. Local calls. Cheap local calls. Lots of them. When I spend two hours talking to American Airlines, trying to get my Christmas return tickets sorted, it saves me hundreds of dollars.
I use a Belkin Skype phone (which is awesome in every way except battery life). I use Skype over Fring on my Nokia N95 which is simply amazing – especially over 3G. I use the MacOSX Skype client both at home and while at work. But I’d sure love to use an iPod or iPhone for this. It is just the perfectly natural fit. The hardware can handle this. As of today we have proof.
Now I am not saying it is Skype or bust. I am perfectly happy to switch to any SIP or Vonage phone or whatever. Just give me a US number and a reasonable price. Better yet, give me a few choices, make some competition. Turn this into a positive for consumers. Apple, so far, has not made any movements at all on this, either on the desktop or on the portables. A few possible scenarios exist:
- Apple could be building its own VOIP network and planning to integrate it into iChat both on the desktop and on the iPhone. Hopefully, they use the open SIP platform that allows it to communicate with many of the other phone systems in the world. Perhaps it partners with Cisco on this – part of the "iPhone" naming deal.
- Apple could be partnering with Google and using its GoogleTalk/Jabber platform and plan integration across its line of products. Google is likely looking to expand its Google Talk service so users can receive incoming calls. This, in turn, could be connected with other google account services like email, calendar, contact list, etc.
- Same thing as above but instead with Yahoo!.
- Apple opens up iPod/iPhone for applications. Vonage, Skype, Fring. SIP, etc. jump on board.
- Apple buys Skype from Ebay and turns it into a defacto communications platform. While it has the legacy phone number/SMS system, it also includes chatting and claims over 100 million users currently. Skype is undervalued and not being developed properly by Ebay. Apple has $15 billion in the bank. Oh and *cough* 700Mhz Spectrum is also for sale. *cough*
- Apple does nothing. Waits for phones to die and instant messaging to take over in a few years. Puts $15 billion in pork bellies and frozen concentrated orange juice.
Will we see a VOIP service at Macworld? I certainly hope so – but if I had to bet on it, I’d say no. Apple has kinda missed the whole VOIP boat so far. I hope I am wrong and we see some big announcements – just about any of the above scenarios would be really exciting. But, until Apple opens their eyes / rolls out their VOIP application, go hackers!