WiFI VoIP Phone from Jeff Pulver

The VON conference just finished, so there should be lots of little interesting VoIP tidbits like this one trickling in. Forbes.com talks a bit about the Pulver/Free World Dialup phone that uses WiFi:<blockquote>The wireless phone costs $250 and only works when you’re in a Wi-Fi hotspot, which means it’s even less reliable than your present mobile phone–which you’re already constantly cursing at as it goes in and out of coverage. Sure, if you have a Wi-Fi network in your home and you’re a FWD user, you can make free calls from home. Also, you can whip out your Wi-Fi phone and makes calls in a cafe that has Wi-Fi coverage–a move that is sure to impress the ladies, at least if they’re ladies who think it’s cool to carry multiple phones and PDAs on your belt. “OK, it’s aimed at geeks and early adopters, people who want to play,” Pulver concedes.</blockquote> Wonder of wonders, Nortel actually gets quoted in the article. More specifically, Al Safarikas. I’m not too impressed:<blockquote>“This ‘free’ stuff isn’t really free, first of all. And you’re talking about hobbyists making person-to-person calls over the Internet. It’s not a big deal,” he says.</blockquote> Yes, for Nortel, a couple of people making free calls is no big deal. And yes, deploying it in enterprises where they eliminate all their toll calls makes for a great business case.

But I worry for Nortel’s customers. These kind of quotes again make me think that there are very few people at Nortel that are actively looking ahead, thinking of what the consequences of these things are. Enterprises are a drop in the bucket compared to mass-market applications. Yesterday the Internet was just “hobbyists”…what will today’s VoIP hobbyists turn into?