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