In-Stat expects mobile VOIP to reach 139 million users by 2014. Integration in social-networking services, along with cheap international calls, is spurring growth.
Mobile voice over IP use is expected to rise to nearly 139 million
users by 2014, according to a new report from In-Stat.
Thanks to companies such as Skype, Fring
and Google, mobile VOIP (voice over IP) technology
has been gaining popularity over the last five years, as an inexpensive option for
placing international calls. Now, the
research firm said in a Jan. 31 statement, it's becoming an integrated
component of unified social-networking services.
"Mobile VOIP is gaining real market presence with usage
rates climbing rapidly," In-Stat market analyst Amy Cravens said in the statement. "As it
becomes further incorporated into other mobile apps, specifically social
networking apps, the real of potential use is expected to broaden."
Earlier this year, in a Jan. 12 statement, In-Stat forecast
that the transition of VOIP from fixed-line phones to more mobile phones will
encourage spending in the space to rise to $6 billion by 2015, creating a
"significant opportunity" for equipment suppliers. Also encouraging such growth
will be enterprise users, whose mobile phones will increasingly be able to act
as extensions of their office desk phones.
Skype, despite its 600-million-plus users, is feeling the
heat of Google's aggressive entry in the space, and on Jan. 6 officially
acquired Qik for $100 million. The software enables users on an Apple iPhone,
RIM BlackBerry device or other smartphones, to conduct two-way video calls, as
well as record and share video via email, various messaging platforms and
social-networking sites such as Facebook.
In-Stat's Jan. 12 report added that mobile operators-which have
feared for their bottom lines as they watch traffic diverted from
their networks-will find new ways to embrace the technology and become
significant contributors to the technology's growth.
The firm's latest report seconded this idea, adding that
operators will nonetheless "remain guarded" in how mobile VOIP usages are
introduced. It also found, in a consumer survey, that T-Mobile subscribers used
mobile VOIP more than other mobile subscribers-"nearly twice that of total responders," the report said.
The EMEA (Europe, the
Middle East and Africa) region will account
for the largest portion of mobile VOIP revenues in 2014 (39 percent), followed
by Asia/Pacific, at 32 percent, and North America, accounting for 21 percent.
Mobile VOIP's move into new applications, particularly
social-networking apps, said Cravens, has "created a great deal of jockeying
among mobile VOIP players trying to develop market share and mobile operators
trying to determine the best response to this potentially disruptive service