VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol, the "new new thing" in telephony, which promises to make phone calls FREE) is closer than ever: developments are happening at near warp speed. Let's start with this past Sunday's lead article in the New York Times' Money & Business section, headlined "To Whom May I Direct Your Free Call?"
Turns out the two guys who invented Kazaa, which destroyed the music business, have now turned their attention to the phone business, with wonderful prospects for you and moi. From the article:
- They have created a way to allow people to make high-quality phone calls over the Internet without having to pay a penny."
It is 'a real opportunity to do something that is disruptive in a very positive way,' said Niklas Zennstrom. 'We have a big ambition with Skype: it is to make it the global telephone company.'
Skype allows free calls between any two users who have downloaded the software. It is simple to use and provides clear connections to anyone with a broadband connection and a basic headset."
Even Mr. Zennstrom, 37, and his partner, Janus Friis, 27, say they are surprised by how fast Skype is catching on. This winter, Skype plans to introduce a feature that will make it possible for users to call people on regular telephones - for a fee it says will be "substantially lower" than current phone service. That means that Skype wouldn't just allow computer-savvy users to call one another: it would allow them to call anybody with regular phone service."
Already, more than a million people have downloaded Skype's free software." The company has been in existence for one month, by the way.
In a recent report on the telecommunications industry, Daiwa Securities wrote that Skype 'is something to be scared of, and is probably set to become the biggest story of the year' in the telecom sector. 'We think the Skype offering (and whatever may follow it) is akin to a giant meteor hurtling on a collision course toward Earth,' the report said."