Operators not doomed by Microsoft's VOIP plans

A mobile voice over IP (VOIP) client from Microsoft will kill mobile operators, according to blogs and news sites -- but analysts say the product is no big deal.

Cell phone operators' share prices remained steady, despite blogs that screamed Sell Vodafone. Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer had indeed announced a mobile version of his company's voice-capable business IM system, Microsoft Office Communicator, one week ago, at 3GSM, but visitors were apparently too bamboozled by what The Business described as Ballmer's "eccentric and effusive delivery" to realize the significance.

The voice-ready version of Communicator will allow users of the IM service, who have Wi-Fi capable phones, to sidestep the mobile networks and call each other over the Internet using Wi-Fi for access -- a feature Ballmer demonstrated at 3GSM.

"Is there a Symbian version?" asked an unimpressed analyst, Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis. "Are they doing it over 3G? Skype is doing 3G with Hutchison, and has a Symbian version. Before we get too excited about this, it looks like Microsoft is behind the curve."

"Microsoft now has a mobile VOIP client -- to join the thirty-seven other Windows VOIP clients, from vendors like SipQuest, PCTel, Cicero and Skype," said Bubley. "And these are ones that can switch between Wi-Fi and ordinary cellular services."

The main importance of the announcement is to show that mobile VOIP is now important enough for a sluggish brute like Microsoft to lurch aboard, said Bubley: "The history of Microsoft has been to leave it up to third party developers, and then move in when it is important enough. It's institutionalized mobile VOIP."

Vodafone remained unmoved: "A thousand things are already factored into Vodafone's share price and this is one of them," said Bubley. Indeed, with IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) already appearing in mobile operators' networks, Vodafone and the operators have an opportunity to take the lead on VOIP and other IP services, he said.

The interesting thing will be whether Microsoft attempts to pre-empt or oppose IP cellular services or, like Skype, works with the cellular operators.

"It will be interesting to see whether Microsoft waits for a proper cellular solution to do voice over IP over 3G, or tries to pre-empt it," he said. "Will Microsoft see VOIP as something that should be done inside an operator controlled environment, or on top of naked SIP outside operator control?"

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Judge

Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?