Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cell Phones That Double As Internet Phones

It's amazing that the blending of technologies are happening faster than most would have ever expected them to...


Quote from ZDNet:

Distributed by Dubai-based developer i-Mate, the $850 PDA2K and PDA2 cell phones come equipped with voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a software that shifts phone services from the highly regulated and taxed traditional local phone networks onto the unregulated Internet. The VoIP software comes from Skype, a popular Europe-based Net phone provider.

The i-Mate phones are based on a Microsoft operating system and contain radios capable of using both cell and Wi-Fi networks--the latter inexpensively distribute Internet access over short distances and are commonly found in cafes, transportation hubs, hotels and retail outlets. When you're in a Wi-Fi "hot spot," the Internet phone software lets you dial other Skype users for free, or pay 2 cents a minute for calling traditional phones.

Analysts have long suggested that the Net/cell phone tandem could prove a potent weapon that Net phone, cell and broadband providers could use to steal customers from the nation's major local phone companies.


I can see where a Net/cell phone could be the final fatal challenge to the traditional analog and even digital phones in the market place. Not at current prices, but in another couple of years when volume and competition bring the pricing down to around $100.

Industry standards versus proprietary approaches might not be necessary. Putting multiple protocol stacks in place is now more of a licensing issue than a technical constraint, and the courts have been ruling against companies whose licensing policies constrain competition. Microsoft, and both US and EU court rulings against it, is the prime example of this.

As for where the customer's end up getting service, I don't see it. The majority of customers get their local phone service from the same companies that provide the bulk of the Net access, Net backbone, and cellular service. Reseller margins are so thin now that many are having difficulty remaining in business, which means few have the capital resources to unseat the incumbents. A more likely scenario is a shift in service within the same major providers.

Of course, the major carriers could look at costs versus revenue and decide that stepping out of end user services in favor of bulk carrier services is the better approach from a shareholder perspective. After all, the support costs increase the closer to the customer a provided service is. Using Microsoft and Cisco as examples, the "competitors" become the equivalent of MS Partners or hardware VARs. Or perhaps the future for customers will mean shopping at Wal-Mart or Sam's Clubs for all their personal telecommunications requirements.

While this plays out you can search for what cellular products, services, accessories, and plans are currently available all from one online location:

Cell Phone Products, Plans, and More


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