VoIP's got a problem... though, it might not be the problem you thought it had. It's not the fact that three of the biggest VoIP providers all had massive outages in the past four days. It's the fact that most people still don't see the point of VoIP. In fact, while many people say they know about VoIP, they still think it has something to do with talking via your computer, rather than a basic telephone replacement. So, here's the tricky part. If VoIP providers stopped pitching what they do as VoIP, and just pitched as super cheap phone service with a lot more features -- it might get more attention. However, that also opens them up to accusations of lower service levels when things like the outages from the past few days get attention. Either way, the one place where VoIP providers are still missing the boat by a wide margin is the fact that they have not opened up their networks to outside developers. The fact that it's VoIP, and 3rd party developers could easily plug in and offer many more features that will make the service much more valuable is constantly ignored by VoIP providers who (just like many wireless operators) believe in the walled garden approach. They figure that the more control they have over applications, the more they'll be able to charge. There's a wide open opportunity, though, for one of these firms to really court a developer community which will give them much more to offer users who will suddenly realize why VoIP is worthwhile... even if it is just cheap phone service with lots of cool features.
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