Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is about to take off. This is one of the first times I had a business prediction that was right on the mark. Three years ago, few people knew what VoIP was. Those Kazaa guys were working on something called Skype and no one really took it seriously. At the time, I thought to myself – man, VoIP is going to be big – it’s going to be disruptive and it’s going to seriously threaten traditional land line telecommunications. For my business planning class a year and a half ago, my idea was to create VoIP phone equipment and strategically partner with services like Skype. The idea was not received well because VoIP was just considered too new. Instead we did our project on mass customization of women’s handbags which turned out well (won an award and some money). Mass customization of retail products is an emerging trend too but I digress.
Now look at it, every telco and cable provider offers VoIP or “digital phone” or “broadband phone” or whatever they call it. Companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, AOL are enhancing voice capabilities in their instant messaging clients. Vonage is moving towards an IPO. Skype just got bought out by Ebay for about $2.5 billion even though it generates little revenue (for now). Even web hosting companies are gearing up for hosted VoIP services. VoIP is on the horizon, people.
It’s already happening but my prediction was that everything would converge towards digital distribution. Entertainment, telecommunications – basically information and media of any kind will be delivered over the Internet, over all-digital networks. Universal, high-bandwidth direct-to-home broadband lines and cities blanketed with high speed wireless access are going to truely bring us into the “Information Age.” It will change the way we work, play, learn, and communicate. We’ve just begun scratching the surface.