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Over the last two weeks we have heard from almost every corner of the VoIP industry. The executives we have interviewed are pioneers, thought leaders and visionaries that are truly shaping the future of this industry.

Then there is Andy Abramson – a guy who is all three rolled into one. From his position as CEO of Comunicano, a boutique asymmetrical communications consultancy geared to providing clients with Senior Advising, Marketing Communications, Corporate Communications and Marketer-In-Residence services, Andy has/had his hands in some of the VoIP industry’s most influential – and successful – companies.

If hearing “what’s next” from the guy who has worked on the inside of companies like TalkPlus, Truphone, SightSpeed, Nokia, VAPPS amongst others doesn’t make your mouth water – then maybe a quick read of Andy’s award winning blog VoIP Watch might change your mind. Seriously – Andy knows what he’s talking about.

Let’s see what he has to say. Oh and there is no penalty for taking notes…

Andy Mobile VoIP – a sector you are very close to – really took off in 2008. What sector(s) do you think will take off or see tremendous growth in 2009?

Mobile VoIP will keep growing, especially with WiMax. One key feature we’ll see more of is Location Based Services being integrated with Mobile VoIP and more IVR and speech driven integration. WiFi VoIP in the enterprise will be hot. Keep an eye on Agito Networks here. No need for FemtoCells when you can have FMC (Fixed Mobile Convergence) for the enterprise done right.

It sounds like to you, 2009 is all about innovation. Who then are the VoIP companies to watch over the next six to twelve months? Who will have the hottest products and or will be releasing the most innovative or game changing services?

Companies like Truphone will keep innovating, but the real hot stuff will be coming from companies just getting birthed for 2009. As open platforms and as more API’s become available to use, the 3.0 world will be very mobile. I also expect that a lot of new things will start to appear on Google’s Android, the new Sony Ericsson Experia and many of the next generation Nokia handsets. RIM and Apple will continue to drive the innovation curve. Lastly I think softphones will emerge finally with better sound quality.

All of this sort of makes you wish you were a programmer. So what consumer and or business market segments or verticals are looking the most attractive for VoIP companies over the next six months to a year?

Mobile VOIP and WiMax based VoIP will be hot, so anyone in those sectors should see growth. Add in LBS/GPS related applications beyond simply directions and you’ll have a few players emerge. I think the enterprise space will also become more hot for VoIP. More hosted VoIP from the cBeyonds, Junction Networks, PhoneFusion and M5’s of the world will begin to cut into the sacred ground of the ILEC.

Do you think these companies will be catering to a new type of customer in 2009? Or are they the same as this year?

The SMB, SOHO and small to mid size enterprise companies will go VoIP. Municipalities with lots of support from the cable industry will begin to use fiber connectivity so VoIP is a natural there.

It would be cool if Municipalities got their stuff together and delivered a Wireless VoIP offering. One can dream.

Moving on…Some feel the VoIP industry will actually benefit from a recession, since people will look for low cost alternatives, while others feel the industry will sag as people look to put off technology and infrastructure improvements until more certain times, what’s your take?

The industry has to look past price as the only reason to switch. The 3.0 world of applications and full suites will be what drives change. Companies that can “mash up” will begin to get more positive growth by integrating with Oracle, SAP, BEA and SalesForce.com. That means look more at CRM and web driven mashups from folks like Jaduka, Voxeo, Thomas Howe and Ifbyphone who are each already down that road as is Ribbit which is now a BT owned division.

You’re right. It does need to be about more then price. What advice you offer to companies looking to move beyond price in the VoIP industry for the next year? What are you doing to make sure that your company continues to grow?

Get beyond simply selling on low price. Start selling on the added value you bring to a business and what you can enable them to do which makes them more money faster.

Speaking of cost Andy – with the number of open source telephony platforms continuing to grow each month it seems, will open source telephony continue to grow in importance and prominence during 2009?

The open source aspect of telephony will grow with companies like FreeSwitch and Asterisk leading the way. Also Adhearson will be a big player in this space. Open source, based on open APIs and Open Standards will be a hot topic, as long as the security and the upkeep can be assured to the corporate and government IT or Telecom decision makers.

I think 2009 will be a big year for FreeSwitch. Lots of people other raving about the platform. Since we are on the topic of big years, will 2009 finally be the year that Unified Communications sees that “big” adoption rate increase?

We’re already seeing that almost every VoIP player offers some form of UC. From AT&T’s CallVantage to GrandCentral to PhoneFusion to CommuniKate each offers Unified Communications. So does VoiceWing from Verizon. Candidly, if the carrier isn’t playing in the UC space, or the IP-PBX supplier isn’t there’s another company that is whose ready for your business.

Give us a couple more from your crystal ball.

We’ll start to see more consolidation. IP-PBX companies will be grabbed for their ability to sell in multiple states, you’ll see more VoIP in the business market from bigger players including the cable guys, AT&T will push VoIP with UVERSE, Skype will have a new client, Mobile VoIP services like Gizmo Project, Truphone and others will cut into the roaming revenue more and more.

Garrett Smith

Garrett Smith is an author, consultant, and marketer with almost 20 years of experience selling and marketing VoIP solutions. Garrett has helped thousands of businesses select the right VoIP system over his career, in addition to helping hundreds of vendors, and dozens of service providers with their go to market strategies. This experience gives him a unique position in industry that allows him to cut through all the noise. Garrett has been named one of the most influential people in the VoIP, and has written over 3,000 articles about VoIP since 2004.

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