VoIM Use Grows, But Must Overcome Hurdles
"Just as its underlying technology—VoIP—has done, VoIM promises to change the way in which people communicate," says Denise Culver, research analyst for Light Reading's Enterprise VoIP Insider and author of the report, named "Voice Over IM: the Next VoIP Disrupter." "Not only does it bring down the price of calling, especially for international calls, but it enables people to integrate the time that they spend on video, IM, and voice chat. VoIM also provides new, interactive options that [public switched telephone network] services simply can't, which makes it even more attractive to users."
But despite significant use already—the services are used by 100 million people in Europe, 98 million in Asia and the Pacific, 79.9 million in North America, and 34.6 million in Latin America— there are still significant barriers to adoption. They include a lack of interoperability between service providers and the fact that most PCs are not equipped to operate as full-fledged voice devices.
"For VoIM to succeed, service providers must work together to overcome the walled gardens they have built around their services and create true interoperability within the industry. The widespread adoption of VoIM will only suffer as service providers refuse to adopt an industry operating standard for the service while they try to develop customer relationships," Culver says.
Other key findings of the report include:
- VoIM is poised to become a mainstream application that could have serious revenue repercussions for VoIP providers.
- VoIM users want one all-inclusive communications experience, spanning voice, video, messaging, and more.
- There are scores of VoIM service providers in the market today, offering services in tremendously varied ways. Among them are AOL, Apple, Cerulean Studios, EarthLink, Google, ICQ, IMVU, Jabber, Meebo, Microsoft, Paltalk, SIPphone, Skype Technologies, Talkster, VoxLib, and Yahoo!
- Certain features have emerged as must-haves, and VoIM service providers are scrambling to differentiate themselves by developing new features, including multiperson audio and video conferencing, find-me/follow-me, and VoIM-capable dual-mode cordless phones.
- Although most VoIM providers are focused on the consumer market, the business market holds tremendous promise.