We’ve seen a raft of new VOIP (also known as Voice over IP) based technology arrive on the market in the last few months, with the O2 based Tu Me service being one of the most high profile.
O2 or Telefonica, one of the biggest networks in Europe released their own Skype rival recently. Of course, it follows the trend of RIM offering a similar service to BlackBerry customers, as well as Facebook getting in on the act with their social call service. Here users can connect via Wi-Fi and make a call from the desktop or phone version of the app. So, will the VOIP calling mean the end of the traditional call?
Studies do suggest that it could most certainly go that way. There have been numerous complaints that Instant Messaging services are eating into the revenue mobile phone operators used to garner from SMS messages. According to a study by Ovum, social messaging apps have cost networks around £8.6Bn or $13.9Bn in lost SMS costs in 2011. Since then the apps have become more prominent, so we can imagine more recent figures would be higher. This may suggest why O2 has taken the ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ attitude to the whole process and come out with the Tu Me service.
By integrating an app into a phone that allows for VOIP calls and IM the company will be able to take money from data allowances. Unlike RIMs and other efforts the app will be able to be used via the company’s network and therefore allows them to make some hay from an otherwise threat.
Of course, all messages are set to be encrypted and the network user can only call those with the app installed for it to work. Calls to fixed lines however are not available. The service has been designed and will be available on both IOS and Android operating systems when it arrives. Users with the app will receive notification when someone tries to get in contact and can open the app to answer or send a message back.
Skype is currently the largest medium for international phone calls – something that has gradually increased in the last decade. Of course, add to this social network Facebook’s commonness, the fact most people already have it installed in phones and the fact it has over 1Bn subscribers and you get an idea of the potential it has to change the way we use phones.
The rise of free Wi-Fi hotspots also has meant that being limited by Wi-Fi only services is not nearly as much of an issue as it has been. Go to any city in Europe and you’ll quite easily find a hotspot for connection (this post is currently being written in London Kings Cross station!).
Looking at these changes, the signs could be there that VOIP is on its way to replacing the traditional voice call. Of course, it makes sense – it’s cheaper for the consumer, while it also allows the network company a chance to monetise an otherwise partially missed opportunity.
At Pinpoint Designs, we use Gradwell systems for our VoIP lines. They’ve saved us a tremendous amount of money over the years and we’ll continue using them in the future. It would be interesting to hear what our clients use!