Monday, February 20, 2006

Name your 1200-pound gorilla

Apparently much of the audience at Steve Ballmer's 3GSM keynote last week was preoccupied with concerns of having to dodge furniture at some point, and thus missed a key statement on VoIP strategy. Add this to the fact that the mainstream financial press seems to have gotten on board the VoIP train decisively now, and we're back to a world of EuroTelco pain following a couple of weeks of M&A-led rally. Meanwhile, a Titanium Class mega-uber value reader writes in with a response to my post on IBM:

"IBM doesn't get mentioned because not many bloggers have a direct connection to the company. Skype, Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc., bloggers touch every day. IBM simply isn't a consumer-facing company. IBM learned (and it took them a looooong time) that they are not good with the consumer. Everything they do now is focused on corporates, something most bloggers don't really care about. IBM will be a force in corporate VoIP, but they will have a much smaller impact on the consumer. Their offerings, as your reader pointed out, are focused around business communication needs. And this is where IBM is so dangerous to other VoIP providers looking at getting into business VoIP - IBM is a trusted company within the corporate space. The old adage "Never get fired for buying IBM" still holds. Corporations, even those without IBM equipment or services, have an innate trust of IBM. Not to say IBM doesn't sometimes miss the boat (MSDOS, Ethernet to name two). But I can't remember of hearing of a case when IBM has screwed up an outsourcing contract. Unlike so many other outsourcers. Skype, et al, will face not only an uphill battle for acceptability in the corporate world but also will be facing a 1200 pound gorilla with a firm grip on corporate communications already. IBM is the only company that can give legitimacy to VoIP in the corporate world in a very, very short time. Look what happened with Linux. Had IBM not given Linux their blessing it would not have penetrated as far and as officially into the corporate world as it has. Simply put, IBM is a force for change in the corporate world. When IBM comes out in favour of VoIP particular as it rolls out its VoIP platform, particularly through the IBM Global Services arm, the current hemorrhaging of the telcos is going to seem like a minor cut. IBM blessing plus the savings of VoIP (or more accurately a converged IP network) will convince many corporations to jump whole heartedly into the converged IP camp."

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