Apple has not taken a stand on VOIP. Sure, they let Skype run on their desktop platform, but a long term strategy hasn't been announced. What will they do about this must-have technology?
A few possible scenarios exist:
- Apple could be building its own VOIP network and planning to integrate it into iChat both on the desktop and on the iPhone. Hopefully, they use the open SIP platform that allows it to communicate with many of the other phone systems in the world. Perhaps it partners with Cisco on this - part of the "iPhone" naming deal.
- Apple could be partnering with Google and using its GoogleTalk/Jabber platform (which already is integrated into iChat) and plan integration across its line of products. Google is likely looking to expand its Google Talk service so users can receive incoming calls. This, in turn, could be connected with other Google account services like email, calendar, contact list, etc.
- Same thing as Google above but instead with Yahoo!.
- Apple opens up iPod/iPhone to third-party applications in February. Vonage, Skype, Fring. SIP, etc. jump on board.
- Apple buys Skype from Ebay and turns it into a defacto communications platform. While it has the legacy phone number/SMS system, it also includes chatting and claims over 100 million users today. Skype is undervalued and not being utilized properly by Ebay. Apple has $15 billion in the bank. Oh and *cough* 700Mhz Spectrum is also for sale. *cough*
- Apple does nothing. Waits for traditional phones and phone numbers to die and instant messaging to take over in a few years. In the meantime, it takes a few dollars out of your mobile bill and puts that $15 billion and change in pork bellies and frozen concentrated orange juice.
Will we see a VOIP announcement at Macworld? Just FYI, the 700MHZ Spectrum auction hits on Jan 17th, the 3rd day of Macworld.