While there are several vendors waiting in the wings with hopes of capturing the strong position Apple (News - Alert) holds in the smartphone market, it’s likely the iPhone will retain its top spot, one official with a Dallas-based managed VoIP services provider told TMCnet.
While Research in Motion’s BlackBerry (News - Alert) is the current leader, industry observers will carefully watch the dynamic between Apple and other service providers as the company’s contract with AT&T is set to expire this year, according to David Byrd, vice president of marketing and sales, Broadvox, an IP Communications provider.
“That opens the door for another major provider (Verizon or T-Mobile) to jump into the Apple iPhone (News - Alert) market therefore creating the opportunity to have the Apple iPhone be the dominant player in the market, Byrd, told TMC CEO Rich Tehrani in an interview, printed in full below. But, Byrd said, “There are still conflicting reports on if Apple even wants to expand its market share outside of the AT&T boundaries. Unless a similar agreement is in place with other providers, Apple may choose not to expand and renew with AT&T.”
Byrd - who will be speaking at ITEXPO East 2010 this month at a session called “HD vs. SD: Can you please spell that phonetically?” Jan 20 – also said beyond smartphones, the company will also pay close attention to HD voice, monitoring the demand for the product. Similar to HD TV, HD Voice will eventually become the norm, he added.
Rich Tehrani: Smartphones continue to rise, find their ways into offices and homes alike. Who will dominate that market and why?
David Byrd (pictured below): The current leader is the BlackBerry because it is available to be used with more providers than the Apple iPhone. However; Apple’s exclusive contract with AT&T is expected to expire in mid 2010. That opens the door for another major provider (Verizon or T-Mobile) to jump into the Apple iPhone market therefore creating the opportunity to have the Apple iPhone be the dominant player in the market.
There are still conflicting reports on if Apple even wants to expand its market share outside of the AT&T boundaries because Apple will not go after market share and sacrifice its device profitability. With AT&T, it is believed that Apple is benefiting greatly from AT&T paying subsidies for the equipment, which makes the phone itself inexpensive to the consumer, but profitable for Apple. Unless a similar agreement is in place with other providers, Apple may choose not to expand and renew with AT&T.
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?
DB: This is very tricky. On one hand, you want to be the industry leader, but with HD voice, like any other new technology, rushing to market may not be the best option. On the other hand, if we sit on our hands, then we will be followers and that does not represent Broadvox. We are paying very close attention to HD voice and we are monitoring the want and need for the product. In fact we use HD phones in our business and can support HD voice calls that are made within the boundaries of our network.
I believe that eventually like HD TV, HD Voice will be the norm, but we have not seen the demand that you would expect for the newer technology. The course could be due to the state of the economy as businesses are looking to reduce costs and cannot validate extra spending for a luxury item such as an HD voice phone or it can be that businesses look at perfection different than the consumer. There will always be a consumer market for the individuals that always have to have the latest and greatest and price is not an issue, where as a business would need to see more value than just a want.
RT: What’s the most innovative product that’s going to hit the market in 2010, from a company other than your own?
DB: Sixth Sense Technology, and in particular, the paper laptop. This is amazing new technology where the human becomes the computer or smart phone through a simple wearable device. The product demonstration is startling in its level of innovation. Imagine the technology with the ability to produce sound and its impact on mobility and IP communications.
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?
DB: Initially, like all other organizations, we planned for a negative impact. However, the negative aspects did not materialize. Instead, record breaking sales and growth required an increase in staffing and improvement in our backend systems. Moreover, we will be launching an all new order and quoting system in 1Q10. 2010 will be the year that Broadvox takes the next significant step forward as a carrier and as a business devoted to IP communication, launching an array of new products and services.
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?
DB: What surprises me are the unrealistic expectations of the American public that are placed on the President regardless of who it is. We are expected to change a process that has been in place for over 200 years in which “true” change can only come in an expedient manner when all parties are working together. I believe that his changes to the FCC will be good if his chairman, Genachowski, can contain himself and avoid over-reaching as he addresses USF and Net Neutrality. I, also, cogitate about the real impact of the stimulus money on broadband deployments, and I remain disheartened by the slow pace of new employment. The final word on President Obama will be given in four or eight years by the American voter. Regardless, he and his young administration must find solutions to the problems they inherited. He must address the wars that he did not start and he must determine what actions will best position America for the future.
RT: If you were president of the United States, what tech-friendly policies would you enact?
DB: The policy that I am most interested in is regarding the ISP’s and their relationship with Privacy Laws. Should the government be able to tap a SIP enabled customer or track an IP fax? Where do we draw the line between government and the private individual? This topic has been documented as the top priority for new head of the FTC, Jon Leibowitz (News - Alert).
I am also interested in “Net Neutrality” and in particular the rights of individuals to control what content they view or use on the internet. For the SIP industry that relies on full packet delivery for voice over the internet, this is a major concern that we are keeping a close eye on as it could have some major impact on the business. Our stance is that broadband companies should not be able to use their position to control content over the internet.
RT: What are some of the areas of market growth in the next few years?
DB: 1) Faster and more affordable broadband will be the main focus of many of the providers as more and more people move away from the traditional telecom companies to cost efficient technologies like SIP. Even in the consumer market, speed is king and everything is built to be faster, bigger and efficient. 2) Internet and desktop security will be a premium as more sophisticated hackers continue to exploit innocent people, government intervention could be necessary in addition to a huge spike in the need for security products.
RT: I understand you are speaking during ITEXPO East 2010 in Miami, to be held Jan. 20 to 22. Talk to us about your session or sessions. Who should attend and why?
DB: I will be discussing HD Voice, the market and the role of service providers. We have been using HD Voice internally for some time, but only recently has there been general market interest from VARs and dealers to position their products and service offerings in advance of the growing demand.
RT: Please give me one outrageous prediction pertaining to our markets for 2010.
DB: In the past, we have allowed the traditional LEC powers to dictate not only the telephony products that are sold, but virtually every business telecommunications product and services used by corporations today. I believe that as more and more businesses switch their services to SIP Trunking, the smaller companies will gain market share in such products and services like Security, Web hosting, email, and domain name services. The next wave for our market is the complete business solution. Instead of specializing in one or two products, telecom will offer a complete business solution that will meet every need of the customer from one provider on one bill.
To find out more about David Byrd and Broadvox, visit the company in booth #519 at ITEXPO East 2010. To be held Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami, ITEXPO (News - Alert) is the world’s premier IP communications event. Byrd will speak during “HD vs. SD: Can you please spell that phonetically?” Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. Don’t wait. Register now.
Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering business communications Her areas of focus include conferencing, SIP, Fax over IP, unified communications and telepresence. Amy also writes about education and healthcare technology, overseeing production of e-Newsletters on those topics as well as communications solutions and UC. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Amy Tierney