Daiwa EuroTelcoblog No. 46: Thursday 10th June, 2004 - Disrupting the disruptors
Well, two days ago I stood in front of the audience at VON Europe 2004 and said that one major concern for traditional voice service providers (and newcomers as well) was that innovation was being driven by small companies or individuals way, way below the radar, which makes knowing what's around the corner even more difficult. Little did I suspect that I (and apparently a lot of other people) had missed announcements of two pretty interesting applications just recently. On the one hand, it's a bit galling, but on the other, it probably illustrates my point perfectly. So, who are the newcomers?
One is a listed US company called LitFiber (OTC: LTBI), which on Monday publicly launched a service called iTalk2U (http://www.litfiber.com/italk/), and has so far seen 10,800 downloads. Interestingly, this application claims to be P2P, but is based on H.323, which opens up some interesting questions, given this standard's large installed user base in the enterprise arena. Features claimed in the press release include IM, file sharing and video. We are looking forward to downloading it and trying it out, and are trying to establish contact with company management to find out more.
The other is Peerio444 (http://www.peerio.com/index.html) from Popular Telephony Inc. The beta release of this application was made two weeks ago, but is available only on a very limited test basis. The site states that the trial is currently closed to new members, but a "further 'window of opportunity' for additional 900 downloads will be open within a week or so." An enterprise version should be unveiled at the upcoming Supercomm event 22nd - 24th June. Peerio444 claims to work in a narrowband environment, to offer voicemail and PSTN breakout from day one, and also to be compatible with both H.323 and SIP protocols. The current pre-release version is available only in Windows, but Linux versions are forthcoming and there are references to a Mac version in the pipeline for later this year. The website is a bit short on detail as to exactly what lies behind its "groundbreaking" technology, as it is patent-pending, but the developers have an open API for third-party developers, with two caveats: 1) the source code will not be released; and 2) the application will not function in embedded systems without purchasing a commercial license.
The rhetoric in the Peerio444 site seems to be pretty clearly setting the application up as the P2P player in the white hat: "Built on open standards and inspired by the principles of true peer-to-peer computing, we expect the enabling technology behind Peerio444 to become a basic platform for peer-to-peer telecommunications. Peerio444 will be forever free to consumers and is phase one of Popular Telephony’s plan to become the leader in peer-to-peer telephony...Unlike existing peer-to-peer VoIP technology, Peerio444 is not monitored by switchboards or Spyware, does not contain Adware or other backdoor profit tools and does not restrict users to call only other standard VoIP applications." We are also trying to establish contact with the developers of this application and find out more ahead of the Supercomm announcement.
Subject to what they announce in Chicago at Supercomm in two weeks' time, and how the media campaign (assuming there is one) shapes up, we may now be in store for a torrent of press coverage prematurely predicting the demise of Skype.