Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Is mobile VoIP finally here? n95

Nokia's brought wi-fi capability with new phone releases. Nitzan mentioned that he expects a significant number of phones (upwards of 50m?) to have wi-fi by end of 2007. This seems like a game changing play but there might still be some obstacles.

Mobile Business Magazine reports that VoIP functionality has been disabled on network-sold n95's in the UK. The phones are probably subsidized by the networks, so don't expect them to subsidize their own cannabalization (and shift away from tariff-based revenues). If history is any indication (as we have seen with the digitization of music), companies that embrace new shifts in technology tend to fare better. And those that resist miss key opportunities. iTunes is an excellent example.

So what's going to happen in this scenario? Hard to say ... my guess is that if one network allows VoIP calls, the others will have to follow suit. In the US, we might see this happen with t-mobile with their "The only phone you need" campaign", where t-mobile is testing out VoIP services.

I wonder if it makes sense to buy an unlocked n95 (at $750), and go with a prepaid plan. I hardly use my minutes and spend 98% of my time near a wi-fi hotspot. How quickly could I recoup the phone costs? Stay tuned.

Mobile Business article:
Mobile Business Magazine - N95 VoIP Disabled

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