Voice over Instant Messenger is something that is being used as secondary voice service by most consumers and business users. VoIM is already playing a huge role in the voice communication arena. This is something the operators are always wary about. Imagine the impact skype has on the operator’s revenue. Skype is one of my favorite voip applications. Despite the major shutdown couple of days back, I can’t stop admiring these guys for the revolutionary application. Without doubt in my mind, voip stands, where it is today, because of skype’s phenomenal success. Typical voice over instant messenger is something that has been used between PC-to-PC types of application. Most of the IM vendors( skype, MSN,yahoo,aol,gtalk etc) support this kind of voice communications. These applications also support contacts,groups,presence and audio/video conferencing capability.
Extending the voice calling capability of Instant Messengers to the mobile is called “Mobile VoIM “. So, consumers or business users can now call their IM buddies/groups from their mobile. This gives consumers a seamless migration from PC VoIM to handset, good value added service.
Some of the advantages of Mobile IM integration are:
• Seamless voice calling from Mobile to IM buddies.
• Unifying Mobile and PC-based communication through VoIM service.
• Access to both phone community and the PC based community from handset.
• Ability to check the presence status of IM buddies from mobile.
• Chat with online buddies from mobile. Option to convert the conversation to voice call.
• Call people on their PC’s from mobile. It’s like pulling all your skype, yahoo or any other IM contacts to your handset and with click of a button, have two way conversation
• Reduce national and international call rates by terminating the call to IM buddy running on PC.
• Add or delete IM contacts from the mobile. Same user experience as desktop.
• Initiate IM group or private conference call from mobile. (Depends on the type of IM vendor. Some of them don’t support group or conference calls )
• All those PC-to-PC calling minutes can be diverted to operator’s voice network, increasing the usage of mobile voice minutes.
These features, in itself, is arguably enough to entice huge population to make VoIM their “communication choice,” which can be accessed from any of the device (PC or Mobile).
Currently, most of the operators support Mobile Instant Messaging, extending the feature to support voice should be something we can expect in future.
3, the 3G mobile operator was the first to embrace Mobile VoIM. They launched the X series applications, which had iskoot client to support skype. Using iskoot client, 3 users could access their skype contacts, check presence status and make a voice call with a skype contact using the handset.
Worthy of mention is a Forrester report about VoIM
"Teens have added Voice over IM (VoIM) to their arsenal of tools that help them stay connected to their social networks. Many teens that use VoIM today are at the center of large and active networks"
Check out my previous post on Mobile VOIP for some explanation on voice calling from handset. This applies to VoIM to, except that the IP core is replaced by a third party IM server. For quick glance, check the picture below.
From a technology standpoint, its still a long way to go before mobile VoIM could reach every handset on the planet.Though Mobile VoIM is at its infant stage, I see a great potential and future in this product.
Currently there are many startups that are filling the gap to provide mobile VoIM; I don’t think we have a single client that can run on every handset on the planet. This is partly due to IM vendor partnership issues, Telco walled garden, expensive mobile data plan and different protocols used by IM vendors.
Some companies to watch in Mobile VoIM space: