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10 Years On: Walking Among Giants

By Greg Galitzine


Avaya recently made headlines when it announced it was marking the 10-year anniversary of its first enterprise Internet Protocol (IP) telephony product. Ten years may not seem like much at first glance, but when one considers how far our industry has come in that short span of a decade, it makes for some interesting perspective.

Despite some slow, post-Internet bubble, �the-industry�s-out-of-business� years, VoIP has steadily crept forward, surpassing the waves of early hype, taking its place as the technology to watch going forward. IP Telephony is real, and the fact that the technology is increasingly being deployed in office after office across the United States and indeed the world, is not to be taken lightly. As I said in the very first issue of Internet Telephony� Magazine, VoIP is more of an evolution, not a revolution. Today, VoIP continues to evolve and there is no doubt in my mind that VoIP is fast becoming THE way we will all communicate in the not too distant future.

Recently, I wrote online how Microsoft and Yahoo! announced that they will make their instant-messaging programs work together, a partnership ostensibly designed to give the combined companies more heft to compete against AOL. The partnership, which would allow users of the two services to exchange messages seamlessly, gives the companies almost as many users (combined) as AOL has on their own. AOL�s AIM, has over 50 million unique users, compared to about 27 million for MSN Messenger and 22 million for Yahoo�s Messenger.

Suddenly you have 50 million people able to see each others� presence, able to IM each other, and able to speak to each other utilizing VoIP. That�s just the Microsoft/Yahoo! camp. Now add 50 million AOL users, and let�s not forget about the 50 million+ Skype users plus the estimated 135 million registered eBay users.

That�s a lot of VoIP.

eBay�s Meg Whitman recently opined that, in a few short years, users should expect to make free voice calls as part of a larger package of services supported by advertising or transaction fees.

�In the end, the price that anyone can provide for voice transmission on the �Net will trend toward zero,� she said.

�Our belief is that the winners in this space will be those that have the largest ecosystem,� Whitman said, meaning ��the largest number of registered users, the largest number of voice minutes, the largest number of developers who develop the platform, the best product that users are willing and want to pay for.�

And there�s only one place to learn about the future of ecosystems the likes of which Meg Whitman envisions. Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO EAST, taking place this January 24-27, 2006 in Ft. Lauderdale is proud to host the first-ever Voice Communities Summit. We have developed a conference program light years beyond any other educational offering out there, one that includes a full day dedicated to learning about voice-enabled communities. I urge you to check out and see for yourself. As nice as it will be to find yourself in Ft. Lauderdale in January, imagine how much nicer it will be to learn all about the hottest trends in the hottest industry. It�s the very first VoIP event of 2006. I can�t wait. See you there!

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