April 24, 2005
Sometimes you are what others say you are
One of my recent entries received unusual attention from high places. Richard Stastny called it a requiem for SIP. How can it be? It didn’t follow the usual norms; there were no platitudes to the dead; it contained bitter remarks. Instead, my entry was intended to be a cautionary note to Skypers that one day they also can be discarded by using the same sword – “bellheaded”.
More than a year back I have expressed my opinion about Skype and I have not changed my mind. But others may have. For some it has even become "iPod of VoIP". I thought I will make it clear by posting a comment to Richard’s entry. He responded, not with a reply comment but a new entry. He tells us that he knew it all along (but then why call my entry to be a requiem to SIP?) and then goes on to say that he wanted to provoke SIP community to change their wayward direction. No matter, the “requiem” label has stuck. So let me state the following in the clear instead of using allegory:
- Skype has made it clear that it is a business enterprise.
- It is asking us to let it manage our net identity in return for a free software application, the inner workings of which is a secret; equivalent free software can be easily made available, if not already available/
- We are being told by Skype apologists that when Skype has amassed enough identities, it will collect tolls from others who want to connect you. This should alarm a potential subscriber. This means the Skype users will lose their freedom in deciding with whom to connect to; Skype will decide it for you.
- Instead of cautioning us of this, we are told to get over it.
And one more thing. I just plain do not agree that SIP is dead or even need to die, just as surely H.323 need not to have been killed. So please do not call my post to be a requiem.
Posted by aswath at April 24, 2005 06:58 AM
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I agree with you mostly - which is why my anti-Skype stance initally. However, sometimes one cannot argue with numbers and bottomline, this will help to bring VoIP to the masses.
Sure, it still ties down to a single incumbent (just hopping from one to another) but it introduces new technology - it is a step forward. Once they have the taste of that, then it is easier for a next to come along with a more open offering.
One step at a time :)
Sometimes you are what others say you are - how true. And I think we are at cross-purpose, although we may not be so far apart.
And I have learned one thing within my career: It is never the best technology or the technology you prefer that wins, it is decided by the customer and very often for irrational reasons, or at least non-technical reasons (branding, marketing, etc.). We have seen many examples.
Currently VoIP customers prefer Skype. If you like it or not, this is a fact, and you have to live with it. At least until the next hype (or young bull) is born.
Here's something that's puzzled me about Skype's business strategy. They are earning their money on SkypeOut & SkypeIn services, but as the number of skype users grows, the need to use SkypeOut/SkypeIn falls.
So they are in a downward spiral it would seem, as more people become aware of Skype, and Skype extends out to things like mobile devices, the need for SkypeOut/SkypeIn goes away (or is at least lessened.)
Good point. Skype has to remain a free download in order to compete with Microsoft and other free ISP services. They definitely got that right. Skype-to-Skype has limited Skype-Out revenues from day one, but I believe they completely anticipate this in their business model. I always considered the PSTN revenues as a neat draw, but never a real revenue source. (Honestly, I questioned the PSTN move at first. Now I'm aware they need it to be a real telephony provider.) All that said, Skype plans on future features to drive revenues, which IMO is a great business model. People are drawn to the "free" and hooked on a few services. Very creative marketing and genious, which BTW, I really believe Nick is genious.
On another topic, I see Xten becoming a very big player in the softphone market. They have some big customers and enjoy the advantages of SIP. Lucent, Yahoo, Earthlink, Vonage, Belkin, and growing. Can we all see something here?
A pragmatist will say that one has to live with the reality. When an idealist turns pragmatist, it is natural for others to ask what changed. I hope you agree with me that it is cynical to respond that one can make more money this way.
25 years ago IBM offered its computers initially with MSDOS and later with Windows.
It made the fortune of IBM and Bill Gates.
After 25 years we begin to think it was not a great idea.
VoIP is supposed to be the flag of freedom against all the Monopolies of this world, the Telcos' Monopoly.
But what is happening?
A new Monopoly is slowly growing in the place of the old one.
Cheaper, but even worse than its predecessor.
1) Proprietary codecs that need proprietary hardware.
2) Close Networks, the in and out is in the end of the Provider. I wouldn't call this a "free world"
3) The business model is nothing else that the old business model of the old Telecoms.
Cheaper yes, but just because IT IS CHEAPER.
The infrastructures and the hardware are paid by the customer.
He needs a broadband connection, he needs a computer and if he buys an IP phone he doesn't even need the softphone.
The only thing the provider does is addressing the call in the IP to IP and leasing the last mile in the case of the termination.
What does it offer which is so new?
The Network already exists, it is called "Internet", the last mile was built by the Telecoms.
Why doesn't anybody see the big opportunity of VoIP?
Millions of small providers, offering the service of their gatkeepers, with standard codecs and open to all the other gatekeepers..In this case VoIP WOULD REALLY BE FREE.
VoIP is the talking part of the Internet, just that.
We do not need new Netwoks in the Network...
It is like building new roads in the existing ones...for charging new tolls...
Have you seen the write up for a free pbx at http://www.pbxinfo.com
They show you how to create a pbx using a spare computer. Pretty cool!
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