As the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) market moves to maturity from its early-adopter phase, mass- market consumers need to be convinced of the service benefits of VoIP. New and enhanced services that are likely to leverage the public's strong interest in broadband and PC usage are replacing traditional circuit-switched telephony. At the same time, these services need to be user friendly in order to attract non-technical users.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (www.frost.com/communicationsservices
), North American Residential VoIP Services Markets reveals that revenues in this industry totaled $1.22 billion in 2005 and estimate to reach $13.2 billion in 2012.
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"The residential VoIP market is moving to mass-market consumers who are not interested in technology and novelty; they are looking at VoIP-based services based on convenience, control, and cost," explains Frost & Sullivan Senior Analyst Lynda Starr. "These consumers want the convenience of a bundle of integrated services, control over their communication as in the ability to select when, how, and by whom one can be contacted; and value for one's money rather than just low price."
Service providers are responding with bundles of services that leverage their core competencies with enhanced services. This includes the entry of Internet service providers (ISPs) with softphones that leverage their customer bases and existing features. Softphones have two primary user segments, namely, those who use an analog terminal adapter (ATA)-based VoIP-based calling service from their fixed location and will use the softphone when traveling, loaded onto a laptop, personal digital assistant (PDA), or wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi). The second group is younger and more mass market and in a move to cater to them, service providers have extended its instant messaging to include voice.
It is necessary for VoIP providers to overcome the hesitation of consumers outside this demographic regarding using a PC-based service for offering applications that are not available over a telephone. These features include presence, click to talk and multimedia sessions. In general, consumers tend to express satisfaction with landline telephony service and limited calling in VoIP as reasons for their lack of interest. The mass market may even be suspicious of lower priced services and may consider them as lacking in quality. It is the role of the service provider to overcome these challenges with a demonstration of the service to show ease of use and call quality.
"VoIP-based calling is becoming user-friendly and is moving toward a convergence of services in conjunction with the television and PC and also with mobile applications," explains Starr. "The applications and the many uses of VoIP-based services, rather than the technology itself, will drive their adoption and in order to attract the mass-market consumer to them, they must be easy to use and the service providers are making the effort to achieve that goal."
As the VoIP market moves to the mainstream, there need to be ways to attract non-tech savvy consumers. These consumers may be reluctant to use VoIP, which they perceive as PC-based and complicated. Many solutions capitalize on VoIP technology thereby affording ease of use. The goal is to improve upon current services and to evolve them into new, enhanced offerings.
North American Residential VoIP Services Markets is part of the Communications Services subscription and it evaluates the drivers and challenges associated with moving the consumer market for IP telephony into the mass-market adoption phase. This study also examines the various technologies associated with VoIP such as: broadband, instant messaging and wireless. It also provides trends such as the use of softphones and new enhanced services. Interviews with the press are available.
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