What it will take to win the Home IP Phone market
Andy points out an article on the Home IP Phone market. And while there’s not a lot of entrants in this market, it’s only a matter of time. Here’s what I think it will take to win this market.
The Phone Must Act Like A Phone
It’s gotta be like a normal PSTN line phone. It’s gotta be about the same size. It’s gotta feel and act like it. My wife has to be able to pick it up and not know it’s an IP phone. Or care.
The Phone Must Support WiFi
At least as an option. Not like a conventional WiFi phone, but between the base station and the WiFi Access Point. The phone itself, if cordless, should run on 900Mhz or 5.8 Ghz to avoid any potential WiFi interferrence problems.
Configuration Must Be Simple, Yet Work With Lots of Service Providers
I envision something where the end user is able to, from the telephone handset itself, select from a long list of providers the phone will work with. Because this list of providers could change, the phone should automatically connect out and make sure it has the correct list. The phone then “configures” the phone to look for a config file on the select provider. It then gives them the information they need to give to the service provider (e.g. Serial # and MAC address). They sing up with the selected service provider, and within moments, they are activated. The device configuration is totally maintained by the service provider.
For the early adopters like myself, it would also support an “Open Access” model where you could connect to the phone’s IP address via a web browser and configure the phone with whatever service provider you choose.
The Phone Must Extend to the Rest of the House
You should be able to plug the phone into your house wiring and just have it work. Except there’s that little thing about disconnecting your house from the PSTN. The device should be smart enough to go “hey wait a minute, there’s PSTN current there” and not fry as a result. Simple instructions could be provided for ensuring you are disconnected from the PSTN.
The Phone Must Also Work with a regular PSTN line for failover or specific conditions
People aren’t going to want to give up their PSTN line right away. You must provide a way to connect into that, accept calls from it, and potentially route either local and/or 911 calls to it, or all calls in case of an Internet failure. This kind of functionality would give people the confidence to try VoIP.
Who do I think the players are here
Since a lot of providers like Sipuras, any of the major telephone handset manufacturers could potentially license Sipura’s technology and instantly gain access to lots of providers (or at least make it easier). Linksys, D-Link, and Netgear could all be contenders here. Or we could see someone completely different.