Recently, the man in the Purple Shirt challenged the community to finally come up with compelling real time communication services. I suppose it was spoken during a moment of frustration for Jeff, as this industry has spent a lot of time and energy making these wonderful IP based technologies, but we are still doing pretty much the same old things with them. For those that do make something that turns him on, he might provide some early-early seed capital, and more importantly, he would provide some visibility and friendship. I applaud Jeff's continuous efforts to move voice technology forward, and as I've said before, I'm here to add my efforts to his. To help developers, Aswath pitched in by providing some pointers to how he'd do it. Well, here's what I have to add to the discussion, and it's a single word.
To use voice in a compelling way, recognize that voice is a spice, not a main ingredient. Voice and other real time communications brings out the flavor in some other application, but it isn't the star. A compelling application starts with solving a real customer problem, and unless your customer happens to be a telco, carrying voice probably isn't the issue. The issue is something else. Take any vertical and check to see if I'm right. Here's a classic example: entertainment. American Idol had an innovative idea, which was to make a TV show where the people emotionally enroll in the outcome. If you think about it, it's just like sports: people watch because they care about their team. But how did they deeply involve the audience? They made them vote. How did they make it compelling and unique? They made them vote using text messages, which made the process unique and pandered to their core, young audience in one fell swoop. Brilliant. Compelling.
Why do we have such a voice services focus? My bet is that telephony has been so hard, for so long, that the people involved only know the telecom industry. We don't know the problems faced in other verticals because we've been so focused on the problems in ours. I bet you that if you spent just the smallest amount of time looking at transportation, or financial services or education, you'd find all sorts of places you could sprinkle basic communications into the mix to make it more delicious. Because we haven't done that, Jeff's food is bland and boring. He deserves better, you deserve better, and most importantly, customers deserve better.