Right now, how many companies can develop voice services? 1,000? Maybe 2,000, if you include every little VoIP startup?
What do you think about millions? This will be the effect of the HTML5 revolution – every web developer out there will have the ability to embed voice connections in their pages, mobile or otherwise.
This will, obviously, change the context of how we use voice, as we continue on our journey from fixed to mobile to VoIP to integrated communication on web sites.
It will, in effect, expose communication, instead of restricting it. No longer will we have communication by invitation – with 25 clicks to talk to someone new on Skype. We will have communication with one click – and Skype on Facebook, which allows users to connect directly to online Facebook friends through Skype, is only the first step in that.
In the context of The Voice on Telecom, we see three primary groups affected by this change: consumers, developers and operators.
How will HTML5 impact each of them?
It is the most clear cut for consumers. On the plus side, they will get free voice, innovative services and real-time engagement, which could mean a healthy increase in direct human engagement and less texting or writing (which will always have their uses, of course).
On the minus side, every service could have a different look and feel, which is confusing; there will be no way for a user to manage reachability; and developers could face a lack of consumer trust in billing if they do manage to build a voice service people will pay for.
This trust issue is the key. Developers will love having the voice option, but
they need to build trust with consumers in terms of both billing and reachability.
Operators ostensibly have the trust of their customers but will have a tough time acting alone in a fast-moving developer world. And standardization of the HTML5 sphere in terms of connection – what the telecom industry is historically good at – would take too much time for such a diffuse, fast-moving world.
But if operators can share their revenue fairly with developers, if they can embrace web services, they will gain a new channel, not just for ads but for all kinds of communication. Google did not attack the advertising industry, even as it revolutionized it. Instead, it worked with it.
So operators need to create new ecosytems around voice. This will be a challenge, but the opportunity is there, and if they don’t take it, someone else will.