VoIP is witnessing furious growth in both the consumer and enterprise markets though individuals are adopting VoIP at higher rates. With major technology companies like Apple and Google entering the market with their own offerings, the sector is witnessing interest from both telecommunication giants and Internet startups.
The VoIP sector’s incredibly competitive terrain doesn’t appear to deter startups from competing with established players. It almost feels like some new VoIP app is launching every other week. Just a few days ago, Wire – a VoIP service that is coming first on mobile – was unveiled by Janus Friis was one of the original cofounders of Skype.
Wire is certainly attractive looking with a dark themed interface and customizable color options. It provides the basic features that users look for in a VoIP app including voice and video calls, beautifully displayed in-line pictures and integration for YouTube videos as well as SoundCloud audio clips. Any videos that people share with their friends show up in-line although Soundcloud clips currently only show a link that opens in a browser.
However the launch of yet another VoIP app highlights the growing problem of data silos within the industry. Many of these startups are backed by venture capital and have no viable business model for generating revenue, much less profits. Apart from privacy and security concerns on the part of users, proprietary apps makes it difficult for individuals to carry over their contact list or friends network if they want to switch between applications.
There are hundreds of VoIP apps that litter the mobile and desktop landscape only some of which are international in scope. Many VoIP apps are popular only in a particular geographic region and practically unknown elsewhere. What they all have in common is that users cannot take their data with them if they wish to leave the service. Instead of moving towards a future where everyone implements standard protocols like SIP or WebRTC, it appears that companies are determined to lock in users by holding their data hostage.
True data portability means that consumers should have the ability to choose what user experience they prefer without having to completely switch networks as well. In fact, in the current situation any VoIP app that combines privacy, security and data portability will have something unique to help it stand out against its rivals. We can only hope that such an app is just around the corner since WebRTC is finally on its way.