20 thoughts on “Long Term Impact of Voice over IM”

  1. The reason that Skype is getting “meaningful” voice traffic has little to do with the fact that Skype is a voice service with IM features, rather than the other way around. Users aren’t that stupid.

    It has everything to do with the fact that Skype offers PSTN connectivity, which gives Skype users access to more than the isolated island of other Skype users. The value (and the use) of a communications system is proportional to the number of people you can talk to. It was the PSTN connectivity infrastructure Microsoft was buying when they bought Teleo.

  2. Is my memory going or did Yahoo have voice in their IM *way* before Skype ever existed. That’s why I thought Skype was nothing much when it first launched. It seemed like a minor feature that Yahoo already had… However, now everyone seems to suggest that Skype was first. Is my memory screwed up?

  3. Your memory is correct. Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL all had client to client voice in their IM clients long before Skype existed.

    From a user’s perspective, Skype made two major improvements: they added security so all voice and IM are secure and they added the use of wideband codecs and the high quality Global IP Sound (GIPS) VoiceEngine. Whereas the prior voice implementations seemed to use the traditional ITU (G.x) codecs and emphasized bandwidth conservation, Skype eschewed that for quality over broadband.

    Many of the prior implementations did work with home routers and NATs, though Skype may have made some incremental improvements there. I’m assuming that most users don’t really care how much infrastructure Skype may or may not have.

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  5. Om, can you please provide an updated link to your original Microsoft and Voip article. It appears to be out of date and I can’t get to it. Thanks.

  6. For the record — AIM and AOL Chat (previously seperate) have both had VoIP capability starting with trials at least as early as 1998….

    It’s hard to call that “keeping up.” It was more likely waiting for consumer adoption — acceptance…


  7. Om, is it commoditization of voice OR commoditization of the “network” itself? voice is the only application that (via PSTN), has ‘intelligence’ in the network and not the end-devices and allows the carriers to continue making money as the gatekeepers of the PSTN. if i could get to everyone i wanted via their SIP-locator (URI), there is no need to go through the PSTN-gate anymore. infact, that happens for every other application online today. if i spend $100 at amazon or ebay or any other web/net based service provider, the carriers don’t make any additional cent from me on the bits i sent/received to/from amazon. i.e. DUMB pipes. so in a way, Services-over-IP already behave in a way that commoditizes the network because the end-points (clients, webservers) contain the required inteliigence. SIP/XMPP and IPv6 (eventually) don’t need the network to provide any inteliigence other than interfacing to the PSTN because a vast majority of the population has PSTN-locators (phone numbers).

    skype unfortunately has chosen to emulate the carrier model by making their service a proprietary take on SIP. weirdly enough, only Microsoft, the supposedly evil one, and Google, on its way to doing some evil according to some media, are the only two big ones sticking to standards (SIP/SIMPLE and XMPP respectively). Yahoo and AOL’s VoIM is proprietary as well. if these were open, or were to become open/standards based, there will be faster commoditization of network-pipes which is great for the user/consumer in the long run. it is the applications that need to get smarter, the network can/will stay dumb for everything but voice/PSTN.


  8. Aren’t these exciting times? I still remember growing up in a household that had to rent a rotary-dial phone from MaBel — back then a touch-tone phone was the big deal. Bring on the IP voice-enabled applications!

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  10. There may be potential for contextual advertising for VoIP and pay-per-call modeling. Instead of paying flat rates, users may get relevant ads to subsidize the decreasing cost of bandwidth. It would blow the cost per minute model Vonage and Skype currently take.

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