Rip Harris is Director of Product Marketing for Dialogic. A 20-year veteran of the high-tech industry, Harris gave an interesting keynote on Sept. 12 at ITEXPO (News - Alert) West in Los Angeles, discussing the telecom industry and elaborating on what he called “Dialogic 2.0,” the new Dialogic, no longer part of Intel Corporation. (Dialogic was originally independent, then part of Intel as the Media and Signaling division, and then Montreal-based Eicon Networks (News - Alert) purchased it from Intel in 2006 and merged into it to form a new, private Dialogic.)
In terms of accelerating network innovation, Harris first looked at the service provider world. Most people think of Dialogic as being the “enterprise hardware guys” that enable your friendly local doctor’s office to have a phone and IVR
(Interactive Voice Response) system, but it so happens that 50 percent of Dialogic’s current deployed port revenue is in the service provider network, where Dialogic equipment drives large-scale applications from developers such as mobile prepaid, voice SMS, mobile roaming
“There are really two sets of challenges faced by service providers,” said Harris. “One is network and business-induced. The second is generated by the demands of consumers. As we know, the voice fixed-line revenues are declining; the Gartner (News - Alert) Group projects that to be down another 22 percent over the next five years. But the good news is that data revenue is starting to pick up. The latest numbers seen comprise the high watermark for companies such as T-Mobile.”
“Many competitors are entering the market,” said Harris. “It’s no surprise that the MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) are projected to achieve around 25 percent of the wireless market. Virgin Mobile just hit $1.1 billion in revenue in its most recent fiscal year. But as we know, things are not all peaches and cream. For example, on June 1st, 2007, Amp'd Mobile Inc. filed for protection under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws in order to restructure the business. Ironically, they were actually on track to double their data revenue.”
“But what really makes things interesting is the abundance of new players,” said Harris. “Google is the 800-pound gorilla in the corner, Microsoft (News - Alert) is certainly a player in the enterprise space, and we’re beginning to see the ripples generated by their ballet. But what doesn’t get quite as much play is what they’re doing with their Microsoft TV and their service provider push. You can expect that Microsoft will throw a lot of engineering resources at that area in the near future, and they’ll really shake things up.”
“We’ve also seen NBC recently decline to maintain their contract with iTunes,” said Harris. “They decided that perhaps they need a different outlet to get to end users and deliver that content, because we know that content is really one of the key reasons that a user adopts a new platform, cell phone, or springs for a new service plan.”
“Another player, Nokia, has stepped back and said that it isn’t going to just sell hardware anymore,” said Harris. “They’re now going to offer services directly to the end user. They don’t just want to be the ‘hardware guys’, they want to get a slice of more lucrative, exciting revenue. So things will get very competitive.”
“On the customer side of things, we see that customers are quite fickle,” said Harris. “If you’re talking about a voice service, one bad experience can send a user packing off to somebody else’s calling plan that may also be saving them five dollars a month. There’s very little loyalty out there. Who would have thought five years ago that you could lose a data or phone customer just because you have the wrong sports offering on your TV channel? The triple play
experience is really starting to pull people in different directions for reasons unrelated to the actual service delivered.”
“Inside the network, one of the first things that’s changing is the breadth of endpoints,” said Harris. “It used to be that you had three choices: You could have a black desktop phone, a wireless device and a PC. Pretty simple. Things didn’t cross over into each other’s domain, and you expected a different type of user experience each time you connected, depending on the device. Now things are starting to ‘blend’. We now have multimode phones and ultra-mobile devices that aren’t quite a laptop and are lot more than a 3G
phone, so they’re somewhere in between the two. Customers are beginning to demand the same customer experience regardless of the platform they’re using. You can take that idea right up to the gaming platform they use. It used to be in the days of old we would plug in our Atari and play a little Space Invaders, and that was a neat, self-contained environment. But now it’s a matter of connecting to other players, both through the game and through audioconferencing. You can now not just yell at the person in the room but also at a guy across the world who’s attempting to frag you in a drop-dead game of HALO.”
Harris also spoke about open systems. “Vendors and providers have to reduce the cycle time, reduce the cost, increase price/performance, and really depend on people like us and you folks in the audience to deliver products. Dialogic’s strategy is in alignment with this. Our engineering efforts are about driving innovative mobile applications, making the transition to IP
very smooth for our customers, whether that’s done with a gateway or hybrid platform or consulting services to help them move an application over to IP. Finally, we’re also about supporting rich multimedia-based applications. Video will drive much of the innovation in the next round of big investments.”
“Dialogic is committed to delivering the innovative components that are necessary for the system integrators and developers to deliver the best customer experience,” concluded Harris.
Richard Grigonis is an internationally-known technology editor and writer. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert) as Executive Editor of its IP Communications Group, he was the Editor-in-Chief of VON Magazine from its founding in 2003 to August 2006. He also served as the Chief Technical Editor of CMP Media’s Computer Telephony magazine, later called CommunicationsConvergence, from its first year of operation in 1994 until 2003. In addition, he has written five books on computers and telecom (including the Computer Telephony Encyclopedia and Dictionary of IP Communications). To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.