IP Telephony & Voice 2.0?

Meg Whitman, Chair and CEO of eBay, made an interesting prediction about the futrure of Internet telephony recently. In an interview with financial analysts discussing eBay’s purchase of Skype, Whitman said:

“In the end, the price that anyone can provide for voice transmission on the ‘Net will trend toward zero…”

This raises questions about what is next for the world of telephony and voice applications. There is an interesting post on the Simply Relevant blog describing the concept of “Voice 2.0.” The concept and term (which appears to be derived from the notion of Web 2.0) are, in the words of the author:

“…the marriage of IP Telephony to the Web.”

There is a good discussion in this post about the confluence of certain factors that will drive the development of Voice 2.0 – things like meterless calling (via Skype or a similar service), development tools for building web applications like PHPVoice (a project to which I am a contributor) and presence.

While I agree with the author, I’d add another recent technology to the mix – podcasting. One of the key differences between the visual web and the voice web (or Voice 2.0 if you want to think of it that way) is permanence. A voice conversation or interaction happens in real time while the visual web has more permanence – value can be “stored up” as text or images and reread, reviewed and referenced for an indefinite period of time.

Podcasting is a recent trend that seeks to do something similar with voice – to store the value of a conversation in the form of an MP3 file that can be referenced at a later time. Its still pretty new, but so is this whole concept of Voice 2.0 (or Web 2.0 for that matter).

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