Interview With Phil Wolff of Skype Journal

About the future of VoIP and Telephony

Updated: January 12, 2011

CompareBusinessProducts got an opportunity to interview Phil Wolff, the editor of the prestigious (and independent) Skype Journal website. So we asked him a few questions about the present and future of VoIP and telephony. Phil Wolff is a reformed IT architect, software engineer, marketing manager, and startup alumnus of Adecco SA, LSI Logic, Bechtel National, and Compaq. He is an advocate for online user rights and is a director of the DataPortability Project. And Phil tells us that he will be watching the 2010 Winter Olympic curling competitions with glee and a little shame.

CompareBusinessProducts: How do you see the role of your blog?

Phil Wolff: We explain what Skype is and could be. We track the company, its competitors, business and technology trends. And we discover how real people use Skype and other emerging communications at school, at work, and in everyday life.

CBP: What do you see as the defining characteristics that set modern telephony or VoIP companies apart from older telcos and even mobile phone operators?

PW: Incumbent telcos have five hundred lobbyists for each that Skype has. They must. They are very regulated because of a history of creating and abusing monopoly power. So most find it hard to innovate outside the idea of selling minutes to customers.

CBP: What are the most exciting developments in VoIP and telephony that you have seen in the past year in terms of changes that are coming that will benefit businesses?

PW: Increased integration of web sites with talk services. Some of these are simple

CBP: How about changes that you anticipate in the coming year?

PW: The race to talkify the web is heating up. Social networks like MySpace and spaces like Second Life are already offering free conferencing within their worlds. I expect that trend to continue, with voice calling and conferencing to be a standard feature the way text chat is now. Video is coming soon too. Skype's Skype for SIP will make click-to-skype customer service more attractive for global customers.

PW: 2010 will be the year a million web developers learn a communications API. I'm betting Skype, Google, and Microsoft will launch tools for programmers that let them build IM, voice, video, and conferencing into apps and web sites.

CBP: If you could recommend four services or products, what would they be?

PW: iPhone, because you just won't understand the future of the mobile experience without it. Android mobiles, because their community of developers are innovating faster, more creatively, and more openly than Apple's. Skype, because it's still the best value on Earth. And the Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen, because it gives you all the joy and freedom of writing with a nib without any of the mess or hassle.

CBP: What do you see as the major problems facing the voice, VoIP and communications industry in general in the coming year?

PW: 2010 will be tougher for customer loyalty; tough times mean everyone checks their bills twice and we're more willing to switch to save money.

PW: Wireless and mobile operators will continue to have a tough time meeting demand for broadband.

PW: Customers are starting to demand not just phone number portability but portability of their entire communications experience, including our profiles, call histories, IM/text history, address books, photos, app settings, and social group memberships. Phone companies can't imagine giving up that much power to consumers.

CBP: If you could recommend one thing to a startup business that needs to get its first phone service, what would that be?

PW: Get an office phone system with Asterisk inside so you can be sure you always get new and improved features through simple, fast, and free or cheap software upgrades. Get a high end Nokia, Blackberry or iPhone for your mobile. And get Skype to do everything else you need to do on a daily basis.

For more information about office phone systems, take a look at our Comparison Guide, the most thorough and comprehensive independent overview of the market.

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