Application stores are here to stay and they are springing like mushrooms after the rain. Andreas Constantinou over at Vision Mobile defines them as the seeds of Web 3.0, and for a good reason. Even Google, “THE cloud company” has recently decided to improve its Google Maps app and rely less on the web to provide more features to it.
The interesting angle for all of this in my view is what happens today in the VoIP market with applications.
Not so long ago, to build a good VoIP solution you had to be standardized. Unless you were Skype, of course. You either went SIP or H.323 (maybe even XMPP) and built your solution on top of it, trying your best to provide a service that can work with different devices and servers and be part of an ecosystem.
And today? Well, to put it nicely – Who cares? You just build an app and you’re done.
Just look at the crop of specialized VoIP apps. Here’s just a few that comes to mind: Fring, Qik, Tango, Viber and a few others out there.
What do they do? They either ask for you to sign in to their own network and dial calls within that network or take advantage of the address book on your phone to build the network out of it.
Do they support a standard? Maybe. Most probably not. Sometimes they do, but only on the network side by gateway-ing to other services.
Does it work? For voice only, you can get around with such things by providing access to PSTN and allowing users to call anyone with a phone number. For video… well… it doesn’t.
But don’t just take my word for it – just read Lisa Pierce’s report on GigaOm Pro:
“Several critical factors retard growth; some pose significant barriers over our entire five-year planning horizon. The most significant of these is lack of complete interoperability of current-generation videoconferencing and related technologies.”
Are we about to trade interoperability for an application that lets us dial people that use the same application? Is that good to our visual communication industry?