Dualmode Duds?

3:35 PM -- Just because vendors put a cool new feature on the phones doesn't mean that people actually have to start using that particular function.

We've seen this over and over again in the fast-paced world of cellphones. Remember the "mobile Internet" back in '99? Dud. I know a few people now browse the Internet on their phones, but they tend to have huge bulky smartphones and -- frankly -- they're nerds.

Remember WAP? Snicker, dud. In 2001 some 50 million phones were sold with WAP browsers installed. Didn't mean that there was a huge jump in usage.

Why? Because even if users realized they had a WAP browser on their phone, it was actually a huge pain in the arse to use and rarely delivered anything of value anyway. [Ed. note: Dan, how soon you forget the green screen WAP porn.]

Vendors and operators would probably do well to remember this. Infonetics Research Inc. is predicting that the WiFi VOIP phone market will be worth $1.9 billion by 2009. (See VOIP Ready to Cut the Cord.) That report, however, just accounts for the phones sold. There's no way to know yet if this will be a useful function or something you'll want to turn off as soon as humanly possible.

I suspect that at the very least there are going to be some bumps in the road. Cellular coverage in my office and my neighborhood isn't great, but it is consistently better than WiFi. I suspect if I were using WiFi for calls there would be plenty of bad connections, dropped calls, and swearing on my end.

Of course, vendors will say that dualmode phones will do away with these issues because the devices will seamlessly move between WiFi and cellular.

Call it cynical, but in my experience, nothing in the WiFi market has ever been that smooth.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

rafer 12/5/2012 | 4:05:58 AM
re: Dualmode Duds? Dan,
All this column note proves is that you're old and not listening to the people that are out there using the mobile web day in and day out.

People browse close to 20 million WAP pages a month on winksite.com, and it's growing like a weed. Obviously, That's nothing in the grand scheme of things, but we're just one medium-sized WAP site.

Similarly, dualmode phones will take years to catch on, but it will take over when they get cheap.

Scott Rafer
CEO, winksite.com and Chairman, WiFinder
bobplunkett 12/5/2012 | 4:05:57 AM
re: Dualmode Duds? Operators have lots of experience with dual mode flops. Cellphones combined with cordless phones that did automatic routing of calls back and forth flopped big time in the early 90's - the latencies in transition caused calls to be missed. CT2 experiments showed that people will give back free phones and free service if the quality doesn't match cellular. How many times has your laptop found a network only to find it cannot browse because of weak signals? WiFi for voice has a really long way to go to compete with a cellular only device.

wlanner 12/5/2012 | 4:05:52 AM
re: Dualmode Duds? This kind of posting why you will never be CEO of a real company.

Another nerd with a web blog.

IPobserver 12/5/2012 | 4:05:51 AM
re: Dualmode Duds? Yeah, but is Dan over the Hill?

I use WAP all the time (well, a quite a bit).
joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:05:49 AM
re: Dualmode Duds? It all depends on how you look it. You say "over the hill", I say suave and sophisicated thirtysomething.

- DJ
knowwi 12/5/2012 | 4:05:47 AM
re: Dualmode Duds? Dan may be over the hill (oh! to be thirtysomething again!) but his point is valid. Even the vaunted Bluetooth is a money-sink for carriers at this point, since many of these transceivers are paid for, but not used (>80% by some accounts), nor even activated and those that are do not necessarily generate revenues for the carriers.

And that's for a SIMPLE, OBVIOUS extension to the phone.

I foresee numerous impediments to profitable implementation of a unified VoFi/Cellular handset business. Integrating the functions into the "box" is the easy part....

A simpler solution (IMO) has been offered by a company called Coffee Telecom (with whom I am NOT affiliated) where low cost voice calls can be accomplished with ZERO added hardware! Sounds straightforward, but their system has yet to be rolled out in the field in a production mode, so they may have hiccups as well.


Mark J.
IPobserver 12/5/2012 | 4:05:44 AM
re: Dualmode Duds? I heard about suave and sophisticated thirtysomethingsGǪ

Do they look something like this: http://www.whymilk.com/ad_down... ?

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