A few days ago, David Beckemeyer asked where all the Web 2.0 developers were. David's the founder of Phone Gnome, which provides a web API for making next generation telephony applications. Since the API was released, only a few companies have taken advantage of it. In a response to comments, David clarifies his position:
My point was more to the whining by the pundits, experts, analysts, bloggers, and other net know-it-alls about the telcos not opening their platforms, about net neutrality issues holding them back, and such, when the platform for offering these apps exists here and now and requires no more capital than putting up your average Wordpress or MT blog. So now what’s their excuse?
Well, seeing as I'm a member of at least two of the whining groups that David mentions, I'd like to offer an excuse, since David's asking for one. Let me be clear that I actually INTEND to use Phone Gnome soon, and the only reason I haven't yet is that I'm busy working with a bunch of other Web 2.0 APIs right now, and there's only so much time. I like what they have. I like what they've done. It's good. Save me some, please.
We have made a big mistake in our industry by thinking that adding these additional features will revolutionize our phone experience, and if we could just find the right mix, the world would beat a path to our door. Sell on features, they say, not on price. Frankly, we better, as the price is going to zero. To the point - if you could make the best phone application in the world, I firmly believe it would not be enough to guarantee wide-scale adoption and success for the company that developed it. Why? Forrester Research answered it for the mobile market in a recent report: education. People don't use services they don't know about. If you don't know a service exists, then you won't use it. But it's worse, even if people DO know about a service, it must become habituated. Habituation is hard to do with anything that doesn't involve caffeine, heroin or redheads. It better be good. Habituated services can become viral, but you've got to get hooked first.
Look at Iotum for God's sake - you might be able to come up with a better set of Voice 2.0 applications, but I doubt it. If you listen to their pitch, or use their service, you get it. You have the problem they are solving. You really do. And they solve it. They really do. Why aren't the carriers getting it, and deploying it like mad? Well, I think it's been such a long time since there was anything of that caliber available to them that they don't believe they can get over the education and habituation hurdle. For their sake, and Iotum's, I hope they shake it off and get that service widely deployed.
If it's true that you need home runs like Iotum to get voice 2.0 applications written, then will there ever be more than ten applications written for Phone Gnome? I say it's an unqualified yes. That's because I believe that the real game for Voice 2.0 is the integration of voice into the business process. Businesses want to do it because it saves them money with a more efficient process and fewer staffing requirements. Customers want to do it because it means better customer service. There's no education requirements for the customer. No habituation. All the customer sees is that text message on their cell phone saying the plane at 4PM is canceled, and when they press the send button, the operator answers the phone saying "I've booked a seat on the 5 PM flight, Mr. Howe, if that's OK with you." And that would be OK with me. And the people who write the web sites for Jet Blue will use Phone Gnome, and that's where the Web 2.0 developers are.
There and in the Comfort Inn in Sanford, Florida.