VoIP's March Towards Divergence

from the seems-sorta-useless dept

There’s been a lot of coverage concerning the deal that Skype and Netgear struck to offer mobile Skype phones that work over WiFi. In fact, the deal seems to really excite some VoIP watchers, but we can’t figure out why. This is a marginal step forward from the Skype-Linksys device that was announced a few months ago, but which still has almost all of the same problems. It’s not about convergence — but divergence, mainly because it’s yet another “VoIP silo” that can only work with one provider. It’s exactly the thing that people have made clear they hate about the mobile phone industry. People don’t like that they have to buy a separate phone if they want to switch providers — and having a phone that only works using Skype and only when connected to a WiFi router is even less exciting because you’re quite limited in where you can actually use it. It makes for an okay replacement for a cordless phone at home, since you know you have WiFi there, but otherwise, you’re totally at the mercy of where other WiFi hotspots are. So, if it’s ubiquity you’re interested in, then you’re still going to carry a cellular mobile phone — which probably comes bundled with so many free minutes that using the Skype phone for real calls is an added cost. So, it’s yet another device to carry around that doesn’t offer many real benefits over an existing mobile phone plan, and is completely limited to one single service. How is that exciting?

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