The successful transition of voice over IP technology from fixed-line phones to the mobile world is expected to encourage spending in the mobile VOIP space to rise to $6 billion by 2015, according to a report from In-Stat. The growth, added the firm, will create "significant opportunity" for equipment suppliers.
While Google and Skype have helped to usher consumers toward the technology, enterprise users have been slower to get on board. However, the analysis firm now expects business mobile VOIP users to increase by tenfold over the next five years."Mobile VOIP has only recently begun being implemented in the business environment," In-Stat Market analyst Amy Cravens said in a Jan. 12 statement. "One of the key benefits of mobile VOIP for enterprises is extending desk phone functionality to mobile devices."In the future, mobile VOIP solutions will enable enterprise users' mobile phones to act as extensions of their desk phones, though with the addition of e-mail and instant messaging for a more "unified communications experience," according to In-Stat.The report adds that mobile VOIP for the enterprise is based on IP PBX and hosted PBX solutions, and that growth in IP PBX mobile VOIP use will mainly be driven by large and medium-size enterprises.Mobile operators, fearing for their bottom lines, have often acted as barriers to adoption. Juniper Research analysts, in a July 1, 2010, report, forecasted that mobile VOIP over WIFi will cost operators $5 billion globally in 2015. Nonetheless, the report states that these same carriers, figuring out how to work with instead of buck the trend, will become significant drivers in the technology's growth.The majority of high-end smartphones now launching feature second, front-facing cameras for video calling-or, more formally, video conferencing-and Skype has said it will make Skype-to-Skype video calling available on a number of 4G smartphones on Verizon Wireless' new 4G LTE (long-term evolution) network by mid year.Despite its nearly 600 million users, Skype, of late, has been working to beat back Google's advances in the space, and marketing its free and low-cost calling service to businesses. Making itself more attractive still, on Jan. 6, Skype announced that it plans to acquire Qik, a start-up that offers mobile video software and services. (Though neither company disclosed the terms of the deal, online reports put the figure at $100 million.)Qik currently has 5 million users, and its software can be used on more than 200 phones, including the Apple iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry handsets. For example, reportedly leaked promotional materials for the Samsung Vibrant 4G Galaxy S phone, said to be headed for T-Mobile, state that the smartphone features video chatting via Qik software.Research company Frost & Sullivan, in a May 2010 report, anticipated that mobile VOIP revenue will reach approximately $30 billion by 2015, up from $605.8 million in 2008 (in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America). It added that use of the technology has been fueled by the success of Apple's iPhone and App Store-which have of course encouraged an entire ecosystem of similar offerings.In its July report, Juniper Research estimated that over the next five years, the number of mobile VOIP minutes used is likely to double each year, rising from 15 billion in 2010 to 470.6 billion by 2015.