A number of sources have picked up the news that VoIP pioneer Fonality has named a new CEO. He is David Scult, former general manager of Microsoft Office 365. The reports also typically noted that Fonality gave no reason for the departure of the former CEO. That would be Dean Mansfield, who replaced founding CEO Chris Lyman in early 2010. What most of the reports missed was that Mansfield actually left the company long ago.
After starting as the year of HD voice, 2010 ended as the year of video communication. Video in fact became so prominent that it earned a place in the title of this list. Announcements about new video communication products and services were so numerous they became routine. As the year progressed, it became clear that video conferencing/calling was no longer a luxury for the corporate and government elite, but was well on the way to becoming a commodity for the masses. Ordinary individuals will soon be making video calls with little more thought than they now give to picking up a telephone. Making that happen, however, will be a complex challenge for vendors and service providers.
A variety of other factors shaped voice and visual communication during the year. Chief among these were developments in mobile VoIP and video calling, along with an acceleration of the move to cloud-based voice services. Politics and the weather played unusually high-profile roles as well. So did the negative: Unlike last year, not all the important developments were advances – some were downright problematic. But even the negative developments had some constructive aspects. Skype of course figured prominently in many of the developments. So pervasive was the influence of the Internet VoIP pioneer that it seemed that the corporate slogan of "Skype Everywhere" applied to its appearances in headlines as well.
One of the key characteristics of the VoIP business is competition between dissimilar companies with vastly different business models and logic. A leading example, though far from the only one, is the competition between premises IP PBX vendors and hosted VoIP providers. Their products are very different – one is hardware, one is a service. But they are trying to sell them to the exact same customers: SMBs (small to medium-size businesses) looking for advanced telephony features. Open-source IP PBX maker Fonality from the start focused on the vendor approach, but its unique hybrid hosted architecture also put it partly in the services camp. Now, in a remarkable transformation, it has become solely a cloud communications provider, though with a crucial hardware component.