Friday, July 27, 2007

My answer to Jeff Pulver's "Call for More Innovation in Voice Services"

Jeff Pulver and Ken Camp are bored from what they've seen in VoIP lately. That's why Jeff startet a "challenge for innovative disruptors with regards to the voice applications industry":
Think about presence and voice and instant messaging, take a look at the APIs of twitter and Facebook and pitch me on the service that you want to create. Those who get my attention might end up with the early-early seed capital needed to turn their dream into a reality.
So what could that be? Jeff doesn’t want to hear about a service that's simply a variation on Call Forwarding and/or Voicemail. It has to be something really different. Something cool. Something that truly helps to redefine communications.

I am really courious to see the winner of this competition. I don't know why Jeff is so excited about Twitter and Facebook. To me these applications are mostly a waste of time. But what I would love to have is a "Hosted Fring with Grandcentral's filter rules and international mobile callforward over GSM".

What does that mean?

I like Fring because it connects me with just one program to my contacts at Skype, MSN messenger and Google Talk. Lately it also works as a VoIP client. But only on my Nokia mobile phone!

Why isn't there a website that does the same like Fring? Why isn't Fring a hosted service? I would love to leave my login data for all these services on their website and connect to it over SIP from my ATA. A kind of Voxalot, but extended with Skype, MSN messenger and Google Talk.

Whenever somebody contacts me, my phone should ring. Outgoing calls to Skype, MSN, Google or phone numbers should also be made with my normal phone. The server would decide automatically how to connect the call, because it has call rules for that - like Voxalot has.

Incoming calls would be filtered like at Grandcentral. Annoying people could only leave a voicemail and good friends could ring my phone day and night.

This service should of course not only work over an ATA but also over the mobile phone network. Internationally! There are more and more international MVNOs slashing roaming charges and giving local fixed line numbers to mobile phones. This means they already have an own SIP infrastructure and GSM gateways in every country. If they can give me a local fixed line number in a country, they can also deliver cheaply the described calls from Skype, MSN, Google and my home VoIP providers over GSM.

Outgoing calls should be done the Nimbuzz way:
Call your IM buddies on their mobile or on their PC. At the cost of a local call, worldwide. No credits needed.
A small application on my mobile phone would always know which cheap number to call in every country to connect to the described network.

I am sure, that the despicted layout is possible. The guys at Fring, Grandcentral, Gtalk2VoIP, Skip2PBX and Roam4Free have already pieces of it in their hands.

More coverage about the challenge:

Andy Abramson, Jon Arnold, Pat Phelan, Aswath Rao, Alec Saunders, Russell Shaw and TIA Communities.


  1. The setup is definitly possible and one step in the mashup of your cellphone with your online, internet presence.

    However, I feel that with the emergence of free wifi everywhere, and the accessability of high speed internet connections there's even more that we could do. Connected it in with easy direct publishing of content and the whole UGC wave, recieving all sorts of messages (not only textual) but also photos, videos that your friends have published etc.


  2. >I don't know why Jeff is so excited about Twitter and Facebook. To me these applications are mostly a waste of time.<

    They are changing the way that people communicate. In the US for example, college kids do not use email - they use platforms like Facebook.

    Think about concepts of communication and platforms, and not just about tools or services. Don't be afraid to break with tradition.

  3. I am not afraid and recently became a Facebook member. I love the groups there.

    But I try to become member of strictly VoIP topic related groups to stay focused. Nevertheless Facebook already became a time sucker, because it is so interesting and there is always the chance to miss an interesting discussion. It takes a lot of discipline not to waste too much time in the web 2.0.

    The twitter messages from many people seem just gaga to me. Too short and too personal. Who really wants to know that?


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