According to an In-Stat/MDR research firm report called IP Phones and the Emerging VoIP Markets, as the VoIP market emerges, distinct market segments are taking shape. The study reveals that a wide variety of IP phones and other end point devices are being developed to offer access to current VoIP services and future integrated voice/data/video multimedia applications. We have all seen this segment of the market soar with the creation of hybrid devices that combine the power of cellular and WiFi networks connectivity combined. Analysts believe that as a result, IP phone shipments are expected to experience a 43 percent growth rate in 2004 alone.
"VoIP holds the promise of integrating voice communications with other technologies to create a set of customized and personalized applications," said Keith Nissen, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR. "Where today's services are associated with a connection or a device, VoIP services will be associated with the subscriber, and will be accessible from any device, anywhere, over wireline or wireless access networks."
The study results predict that a multitude of varied IP end points will be created to optimize the multimedia user experience. The analysts see a trend of hybrid devices as I mentioned beforecellular handsets that integrate photographic capabilities combined with video camcorder features, and live television reception. "IP end points, whether they are standard desktop telephones, Wi-Fi phones, PDAs or PCs, hold the key to VoIP market development," said Nissen.
In-Stat/MDR has also found the following:
-- The migration to IP telephony in enterprise markets is happening today. In 2003, more than 5.5 million IP PBX lines were installed worldwide. Hosted services, such as IP Centrex, are still in their infancy, with slightly more than 20,000 seats deployed in 2003. Over the next few years, IP telephony will gain momentum in small business markets, as well.
-- Consumer IP telephony is also growing, but will remain small compared to the PSTN because it is based on long-distance cost savings alone. Best-effort grade VoIP services, such as Packet8 and Free World Dialup, are growing substantially, but still reflect a small fraction of the total market.
-- Mobility will be a key factor in VoIP market development. Dual-network, Wi-Fi/cellular services may be the killer application that will drive VoIP into the consumer mass market.
-- Except for vertical industry applications (such as healthcare) that are driven by mobility requirements, the corporate market for stand-alone wireless handsets will remain small.
I believe hybrid, cellular/WiFi-enabled devices will be really hot next year. The arrival of VoIP is definitely noticeable as developers in the space are creating such devices because VoIP technology has been perfected, and is fully available.
About In-Stat/MDR: www.instat.com
Johanne Torres is contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was assistant editor for EContent magazine in Connecticut. She can be reached by e-mail at