As smartphones continue to dominate the market, and already fierce competition escalates between top players Apple (News - Alert) and Blackberry, many of us are watching closely to see who will emerge as the winner.
Yet for Maksym Sobolev, president of Sippy Software, Inc., the future does not name one winner in this space –instead, it will be shared by two or three competing platforms. The key will be in the openness for third-party applications. At the same time, high-definition voice – through wideband audio technology – is expected to have a slow uptake in the market due to substandard quality.
Skype for SIP is one exciting product to anticipate in 2010 and other evolving technologies will continue to be in demand among the customer base, Sobolev told TMC (News - Alert) CEO Rich Tehrani in an interview printed in full below. One anticipated change in the new year will be consumers’ increased ability to pay for those products they want. Sobolev also anticipates we will see more and more innovative value-added applications based on VoIP technology coming in the next few years, especially as quality improves.
Sobolev shares his insight on the current market and expectations for 2010. Perhaps his most interesting insights include his speculations on the presidency and his outrageous predictions. If a Sobolev were to take the helm in the White House, state tax could be the first thing to be abolished to ease commerce for businesses and consumers alike. His outrageous prediction is the elimination of per-minute changes for all domestic calls. Perhaps this prediction isn’t too far from reality.
Their conversation follows.
Rich Tehrani (News - Alert): Smartphones continue to rise, find their ways into offices and homes alike. Who will dominate that market and why?
Maksym Sobolev (pictured left): I don’t believe there will be just one smartphone platform dominating the market. It’s more likely that we will see two or three competing platforms dividing the consumer base between them. The ways they differ could be the business model and the underlying architecture. The key, however, would be openness for third-party applications. Regarding current platforms, those with the best chance of staying on top are Android (News - Alert), iPhone and Windows Mobile. Platforms from “traditional” phone vendors, such as Nokia for example, are closed in nature, so it would take some serious work for their respective vendors to catch up and stay on the market.
RT: We hear more and more about high-definition voice features in IP communications products and services. What is going to drive wideband audio and HD VoIP into the mainstream market? How long will it take?
MS: Personally, I don’t see much momentum for HD/wideband audio on the market yet, especially considering that the quality of even narrow-band VoIP communications is still substandard in many cases, and the codec is hardly the limiting factor so far. Having said that, I see that monitoring and sustaining audio quality is becoming more and more of a pressing issue for our customers, and we have some new products and features to address this need. Therefore, eventually I’d expect the industry to start moving towards wideband audio. I don’t see that happening in the next 1-2 years until all quality issues have been ironed out, though.
RT: What’s the most innovative product that’s going to hit the market in 2010, from a company other than your own?
MS: Skype for SIP is one product we are waiting to see in 2010.
RT: We entered 2009 in a recession and now we’re seeing signs of the economy picking up. How did the slow economy affect demand for your products and services and what are you anticipating in 2010?
MS: The economy had only a minor effect on demand per se; however, what we’ve clearly seen in 2009 is a decline in the ability of customers and prospects to pay for products and services. We hope this trend will reverse in 2010 and we can see some promising signs of that happening now. However, this situation has also had certain positive effects on our company, forcing us to re-think our business model to make our products more accessible for customers on tight budgets. As a result, we now offer SAAS-type “pay-as-you-go” licensing models in addition to the traditional “pay-once” approach.
RT: President Barack Obama has been in office for nearly a year. What has surprised you, whether a pleasant surprise or disappointment, about his presidency, policies and administration?
MS: We are a Canadian company, so we are only marginally interested in President Obama’s policies and administration. From watching TV and speaking to our U.S. customers and partners, I couldtell that health reform did not go as well as many had expected. People say he and his administration should have been more tough on their political opponents when pursuing their goals. On the bright side, however, we can see the climate of international relations has warmed up a little since he took office. There is less hostility toward the United States in the world than there was a year ago.
RT: If you were president of the United States, what tech-friendly policies would you enact?
MS: Again, as a Canadian company we are not in the best position to suggest something. However, in my view, abolishing state sales tax or at least making an exception for online businesses would make a lot of things easier for business owners and consumers alike. This tax is a relic from the past and has no meaning in the current, increasingly global, economy. In general, deregulating communication/e-commerce space as much as possible would be key.
RT: What are some of the areas of market growth in the next few years?
MS: We see hosted IP PBX business growing fast right now. In general, we expect to see more and more innovative value-added applications based on VoIP technology coming in the next few years. There is not much money left in the call-switching business in the U.S. anymore. Video conferencing and IPTV/video-on-demand are the two other areas we are expecting to grow substantially very soon.
RT: I understand you are exhibiting Jan. 20 to 22 at ITEXPO East 2010 in Miami. What will you show there? Describe the companies or people who should come to your exhibit.
MS: We will be showing our package of products for Internet telephony service providers based on our Sippy Softswitch platform. That package includes a retail/wholesale billing module, calling-card application, call-shop application, callback/click-to-call application, VPN concentrator and web phone, among others. We also plan to announce some new products and services such as hosted IP PBX and an audio-quality monitoring service.
Our natural audience is VoIP service providers and carriers but we would also like to see system integrators, hosting partners and resellers at our booth. As you might know, we also have several open-source products under our belt, such as Sippy B2BUA, RTPproxy and NAT helper module for SER/Kamalio/OpenSIPS, so if you happen to use any of them we invite you to stop by and say hello.
RT: Why should customers choose your company’s solutions? How do they justify the expense to management?
MS: We think we have a proven track record of making robust and scalable VoIP solutions. As a small company, we also tend to be closer to our customers, we better understand their challenges and needs and address those needs faster. For them, working with us means that they could take a lot of their VoIP-related issues off their list and concentrate on growing their business.
RT: Please give me one outrageous prediction pertaining to our markets for 2010.
MS: All domestic phone calls within the continental United States will become free of per-minute charges for end-users.
To find out more about Sippy Software, Inc., visit the company at ITEXPO East 2010. To be held Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami, ITEXPO (News - Alert) is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit Sippy Software, Inc. in booth #125. Don’t wait. Register now.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan