Where are the Voice 2.0 developers?

January 31, 2007

PhoneGnome has offered a free API for almost a year now. But where are the innovators? We even offered to provide a free PhoneGnome box to those publishing apps to the User Contributed Library.

People say they want this stuff. They can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk?

PhoneGnome has offered an open platform for any PSTN termination service or origination service since day one (since July 2005!). But so far, who plays? PhoneGnome has one excellent partner offering unlimited plans, Vocal-net, but where are rest? Why do none of the PSTN termination providers out there want to actually sell their services? What do they have to lose in adding another distribution channel for their service? There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of SIP PSTN termination services out there and yet none of them are interested in partnering with PhoneGnome to offer their service to the quickly growing base of PhoneGnome subscribers (both web-based and those with the PhoneGnome box). Many of these services have actively refused to participate. What are they thinking? What are they afraid of? You don’t get a rational answer when you ask them. It’s like they run their businesses with their heart and ego instead of their head.

Furthermore, PhoneGnome offers a platform for introducing thrid-party innovations to any phone subscriber in the world with a broadband Internet connection. Quoting Simon Torrence of STL in the UK, publisher of Telco2.0: “PhoneGnome is to fixed lines what WiFi handsets are to mobile…. For much less than the cost of an IMS deployment, you can hand out PhoneGnomes, and build a platform business with far more features than could ever be deployed in IMS, and deploy them within weeks, not years.”

The iotum folks were the first to embrace this platform. As a result, an enhanced call-screening service based on their “relevance engine” technology is available to anyone in North America with phone service and broadband Internet. Tellme Networks have come to the table with a very cool and innovative “Tellme DialTone 2.0” Technology Trial. But where are the rest? You could be selling your Voice 2.0 service worldwide today.

We keep hearing that it’s time to sell on features rather than price but we see little evidence that anybody is really doing that. That link, by the way, references an article that only deals with boring Voice 1.0 “features” like call waiting and such. Admittedly, even PhoneGnome messaging (the generic retail product, at least) is still focused on price (“Free worldwide calling, your way”). But if we really believe the future is in the service innovations, and I do believe that, then it’s time to put our actions where our words are.

So don’t complain that these platforms don’t exist. It’s here, available now, and open to anyone with the ideas. The platform for Voice 2.0 innovation is here. Now, where are all the service providers?

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