The Internet phone calling capability that we know as VoIP has already taken two quantum leaps forward this month in the names of iPod Touch and iPhone. These milestones further validate VoIP as the future of voice communications.
As most know, Apple has been able to grow its family of hot products through the help of others – independent “app” (application) developers. Now, through a new VoIP app offered by Sprint called the ZTE Peel, Apple’s iPod Touch has been given permission to act like its its big brother, the iPhone. Functioning as an iPod Touch case, the Peel has a built-in 3G-to-WiFi hotspot, giving your iPod Touch the same calling capability as an iPhone and, at the same time, enabling your lap top (PC or Mac) to connect to the Web through it. And when compared to other major rate plans, the economics are reportedly great.
The Apple family made yet another stride this month in the VoIP app world, this one taking a long time to birth. Following over a year of issues on competitive feature duplication which included FCC involvement, Apple finally sanctioned the Google Voice app as one of its 300,000 apps available to iPhone users. Through this VoIP app, you can now make calls and send text messages through a phone number from Google. The Google number will be displayed by the receiving devices when phone calls or text messages are made. According to the New York Times, users will have access to “free text messages on their Google Voice phone number, and to voice mails that can be transcribed and emailed.” Additionally, the Times reports that the “service is especially beneficial to people who use the Google Voice service in a web browser, making it simple to bounce between a desktop and mobile phone, and have communications remain in the cloud.” (NYT, “Apple Approves Google iPhone App,” Nov. 16, 2010).
Both of these moves by Apple point to the flexibility, interoperability and economics of VoIP in mobile consumer applications. They also reflect a dynamic that has been incubating for over a decade – mass market adoption of VoIP. And for the same reasons that VoIP benefits consumer applications, VoIP is working its way into business phone applications as well, particularly in hosted “cloud” services, once again reinforcing its long-touted promise.