Dual mode phones – convergence of cellular and wifi

I have seen the future of VOIP and it is not about making calls from a headset on my computer or buying a new VOIP phone to carry around with me - it is seamless integration of VOIP with your existing cell phone, it is one device which gives you the flexibility to make calls on either network depending on coverage,reception, and cost, it is the new Nokia N80 dual mode phoneNokian80about I just got a demo phone last week from my portfolio company, Sipphone (developers of Gizmo Project), who happens to be the VOIP service provider for these devices.  Sure, there are some kinks to work out, but what is great is that the Internet calling is seamlessly integrated into the user experience.  Take a look - when I dial a number I have the opportunity to either make a regular cell call or internet call.  I don't have to go to a separate application on my phone, I just make a call - it is that simple.  Scr27sm_3 Even better is the integration of the service with my existing Gizmo Project desktop client.  When a contact makes a Gizmo-Gizmo call and if I am logged into the existing wifi network on my Nokia N80, my phone rings. I can choose to take the call on my device instead of being locked at my desk.  I have my regular cell number and my online identity all on one device.  This is truly disruptive technology and is just the beginning of what I believe is going to be a myriad of devices offered by manufacturers which will integrate cellular and wifi.  While TMobile's annoucement last week is a great step in this direction, it is still based on only using TMobile's special router and their existing hotspots and cellular service.  In other words, it is closed and not an open opportunity for customers to use whatever VOIP service or wifi network.  As we all know our handsets are minicomputers so why not be able to make regular cellular calls but also take our music, pictures, video, and even our online identity with us all the time?  As wifi networks proliferate and as more features get built into the N80 and other new devices like presence and VOIP over wifi people will truly have no boundaries to reach their friends and colleagues anytime and anywhere at minimal cost. By the way, notice the VIdeo Call icon on the screen shot above - that is going to happen sooner than you think, especially for wifi-to-wifi but also depending on the 3G bandwidth of your current cellular carrier. 

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5 Responses to “Dual mode phones – convergence of cellular and wifi”

  1. David Oct 30, 2006 at 5:20 pm #

    And when those phones tie into your existing PBX, it will be nirvana within the enterprise.

  2. Matt Oct 31, 2006 at 6:21 am #

    “As we all know our handsets are minicomputers so why not be able to make regular cellular calls but also take our music, pictures, video, and even our online identity with us all the time?”

    Because the cellular providers are too fond of lock-in. They don’t trust open technologies (because open technology gives users too much flexibility to lock them in and charge for everything), and so they’ll drag their feet for half an eternity on letting phones that support truly innovative stuff into the market.

  3. Ed Sim Oct 31, 2006 at 10:34 am #

    Matt-you are absolutely correct which is why cell phone manufacturers are taking matters into their own hands. Believe it or not, a majority of phones are sold without carrier subsidies. it is only in the US where almost all phones are sold via carriers

  4. Michael Nov 1, 2006 at 5:55 pm #

    Ed, I agree that the N80 is extremely convenient. I guess my question is: When will this be a reality for most users out there in the U.S.? As you mentioned, the carriers still control the distribution of handsets. So when do you see adoption of dual mode phones hitting penetration of, say, 5%? I am hard pressed to believe this will happen any earlier than the next 3 years. How about you?

  5. Ed Sim Nov 2, 2006 at 10:27 am #

    you are probably right on your thoughts with carriers – the international market will lead the way as it always does in mobile-we are a couple years behind in the US

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