Video conferencing was a lot more interesting to watch in 2011 than was VoIP. It wasn't that nothing happened in VoIP during the year. It was just that a lot more happened in video conferencing. This was especially true in the SMB space. Early summer saw a slew of significant announcements from vendors and providers. These announcements figured prominently in the VoIP Evolution report "SMB Video Conferencing: Getting Beyond Clouds & Interoperability."
More than eight years after signing up its first residential phone customer, Vonage is finally becoming a real VoIP company. Despite being the name most associated in the public mind with VoIP, Vonage actually has spent most of its time pretending to be a conventional phone company. It offered little that AT&T didn't, except a slightly lower price. Recently, however, it has belatedly begun adding other ways to use its service which take advantage of VoIP's unique capabilities. The latest additions are applications for iPhone and BlackBerry phones.
One of the more elusive dreams of emerging VoIP services is integration with social networks. The idea is compelling: if tens or hundreds of millions of people make calls to their social network "friends," someone will be able make a lot of money from it. So far, though, no one has had much success in appealing to such users. A startup that presented at the recent DEMO conference is trying to change that. OrganIP, run by France-based Digitrad, is trying to turn social networks into giant phone books.
Vonage's newly announced iPhone application is a great money maker even before its launch. Simply announcing that the application had won App Store approval sent the Internet telephony pioneer's stock up 36 percent. The problem is, no one knows what the app will do. The company is saying nothing about it "for competitive reasons." But whatever it ends up doing, it will likely be far from earthshaking.