WebCon 2.0 Voice as Platform session a disaster

I just sat in on the ‘Voice as a Platform’ session at WebCon 2.0. What a disaster.

The panel, which was supposed to be about the next generation of VoIP, included Vonage, AT&T, Covad, and TellMe.

So I paid a not insignificant amount of money to hear marketing pitches from AT&T and Vonage, telling me how they are open and building open platforms. Open platforms that you and I can use after our snowball fight in hell. These are independent closed platforms that operate on a model like that of putting my own apps in my car, only after GM approves it and I make a business deal with GM.

Mike McCue of TellMe was the only reasonable person on the panel. He tried to bring the discussion back to the intended topic, but the moderator (Om Malik) let it drift back to telcom discussions about RBOCs and last mile technologies, and 4G wireless, and …slap!, wake up.

Mike McCue said some great stuff, e.g. “What we want is the ability of anyone to write any application for the telephone.”

As attendees asked about APIs and real web services platforms, like those being offered by Ebay, Amazon, Google, and others, we heard the Phone-over-IP (PoIP) folks (to steal a term from Stuart Henshall) first tell us they were already open (by their definition) and besides they will build all the applications we will ever need, so there is no need for a web services model. Example quote: “None of our customers are asking for a better 411 service.” Well nobody in 1990 was asking for a better web browser either.

The first audience question (from Marc Cantor) was about interoperability (duh) to a rousing round of applause. Sadly, the PoIP folks were allowed to respond. They explained how they were open and interoperable because you can place a call to anyone on the PSTN and users don’t care how the call gets there. They tell us that whether their PoIP systems interconnect via the PSTN or the Internet, it’s the same. Users don’t care today because they don’t understand the benefits of phone as data because these companies have not yet given them that option.

5 comments for “WebCon 2.0 Voice as Platform session a disaster

  1. ”’Tell me how a man is PAID and I will tell you how he beleives”’——–were you expecting anything from Vonage or anyone else about their PLATFORM???

  2. You’re right. I guess I would never expect it from Vonage et al, and that’s why I thought O’Reilly had actually pulled something off. So I guess I expected a bit more from Tim O’Reilly. I mean why did he even let those guys on the panel if they weren’t going to talk about Voice as a Platform and instead were just going to conduct an on-stage Neener Neener Neener session. And I was also a little disappointed in the audience for letting them get away with it.

  3. David, something similar happened to me at a VoIP event at the Haas Business School in Berkeley.

    Representatives for Vonage (actually from one of their investors, 3i), 8×8/Packet8 and Skype were present.

    When I asked about their thoughts on SIP and interoperability, the Vonage guy obviously had never heard of SIP before.

    The 8×8 CEO impressed with his knowledge, but Packet8 is also a PoIP play, so all their engineering prowess has to take a backseat to the marketing folks.

    The comment from the Skype investor was along the before heard lines "SIP wasn’t considered good enough". We’ll see what they say in 6 months. Looking forward to a nice, ubiquitous SIP client called Skype 😉

  4. Hello to everyone, I know this may not be relevant to your topic buy I am doing a case study for E-Commerce on Covad which requires a 200 word length breif describing why Covad’s recent strategy of selling Internet access directly rather than through ISPs has been successful. Also about his competitiors in the cable industry the strengths and weaknesses that Covad has with respect to each of their competitiors. Finally Covad and it competitors in the telephone company and national wireless industries. What ar the strengths and weaknesses that Covad has with respect to each of their competitors also it has to be in APA stlye. Any assistance is greatly appreciated. Thanks everyone

  5. The class you aretaking is at Peirce college and your instructor is Prof Chu? Am I correct? Also we only have to answer question 1, that’s all folk’s!

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