What to make of VOIP?
Babak Nivi, the primary blogger on Weekly Read, wrote recently that the next “killer app” will be written on OSX and one of his reasons was the excellent integration of VOIP and Video-OIP into the Apple OS.
While I don’t disagree with Babak’s assertion, I am not sure that the platform that the next killer app is built on is particularly relevant anymore.
And I think VOIP is a great example. Sure OSX has a great VOIP implementation, but as one of Babak’s readers points out, so does Windows CE. And there’s got to be some great open source libraries for VOIP that make it pretty simple to implement VOIP on any other platform that a developer might want to build on.
The reality is that core technologies like VOIP are getting commoditized more and more every day and the primary drivers of value in the technology marketplace are now applications of technology that solve real problems.
So I would not look at VOIP as an investment opportunity per se. But I would look hard for entrepreneurs who are using VOIP technologies to solve problems for businesses and consumers. If it costs almost nothing to allow two or more people who are connected via IP (wired, wireless, whatever) to talk to each other or even videoconference with each other, then what business problems does this solve? Are there problems in the healthcare system that can be solved with an elegant VOIP solution, are there problems in the financial services business that can be solved with VOIP, does my brother-in-law have a problem that VOIP will solve?
That’s how I am going to think about VOIP oppportunities. If they are built on OSX, great. But it won’t take much to port them to any other platform that matters. Look at iTunes.