Sunday, December 9, 2007

Flash based VoiP, Adobe please wakeup!

Flash based VoiP is becoming one of the hot technologies. Looking at the number of startups that are supporting flash based VoiP; it makes me wonder where does adobe stand in terms of supporting flash based VoiP. Is Pacifica the answer for this? It’s been almost more than a year since Om and other’s talked about adobe’s flash VoiP support. Some interesting insight from Om and Ashwath about flash based voip.

Flash based VoiP support makes a great read only for the geeks and application developers that want to support browser based calling without any installs. I don’t think consumers care about all these technologies, all they care about is- ease of
calling from a browser with good voice quality.
Here is a list of companies supporting flash based VoiP
FlashPhone
GoRibbit
PuddingMedia
TringMe

All these guys have come up with flash based voice calling that requires no local installation of plug-ins or soft client. No plug-in install or downloads is definitely a huge selling point. Having said that, you need to have a solid business plan to leverage this technology. Just supporting flash based VoiP by itself is not a killer app. You need to build a community or have tones of users that like your product to be really successful. So, end of the day, it’s your product that needs to stand out rather than the under lying technology. The reason why I’m saying this is- Adobe with its own project Pacifica
can support all these technology with in the flash, and open up some API’s for other third party developers to build VoiP apps for browser. So with this support, building voice apps should be as simple as writing HTML/JavaScript code. So this might trump all these startups that claim to have a workaround to support VoiP from flash without any local installs. From a technology standpoint, you could migrate/embrace pacificia at a later point when it becomes available, but you need to have a good product and strategy to sustain. Bottom line- technology might help you break the initial barrier to success, but it’s the good product and vision that will eventually make it successful. Though being a geek, off late, I look at things from a user perspective. Oh boy! It’s hard and sometimes painful to see a great feature not accepted by the user. In a consumer world, users are the king. Period! We just need to listen to them.

Tom Keating of TMC has an article talking about ribbit launch plan. I guess ribbit is doing something what adobe should have supported themselves. So they fit the bill very well here. Good strategy. Off course, their success depends on the number of flash developers and startups that embrace their platform for building voice apps using flash.
Another interesting startup, pudding media has been getting certain things right with the product. I don’t think they had a good launch reception from blogosphere. Nonetheless, great teams always produce something more than ordinary and I’m sure they will prove the critics wrong.
I need to mention about TringMe here- Looks like these guys are still in that early mode of startup where u tend to digress your focus based on the market and user feedback. I guess it shows their flexibility to adapt, not very rigid and quite open. My observation is based on the number of products they are trying to churn out. Despite the fact that I’m a little skeptical about the VoiP widgets arena, I have to admit, these guys have some stuff in them and a good company to watch for. Not sure if they have any funding in place.

Here is some snippet of adobe Pacifica
• Pacifica is built on top of the open standard SIP protocol.
• Our first mission is to maintain the highest quality voice experience possible, pushing the boundaries of the Flash Platform.
• Right now, Pacifica enables point-to-point (P2P) transmission of the media channel once the connection is established via our servers.
• We are dedicated to a complete P2P solution going forward, to eliminate the complex server back end and configuration needed with most VoIP technologies.

Pacifica’s future plan
• Enable Video over IP
• Enable support for AIR applications
• Enable connections to traditional phone networks (aka PSTN termination)
• Provide support for text messaging
• Improve our model for Presence and availability
• Bake in some advanced firewall and NAT traversal techniques

Looks like adobe has lined up some important features like PSTN connectivity and NAT traversal techniques. Well, future looks primising for flash voip. Question still remains, if adobe will wakeup and when?

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