March 9th, 2005

VON Exhibits (Part 1)

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Walked a little bit around VON Exhibition in the late afternoon but only managed to half of it before they closed. Anyway, lots of gadgets on displays but a lot of it are just “me too”. But here are also some pretty cool toys.

1) Motorola


They are finally here – GSM + WiFi phone! Not exactly the first in the market (XDA II) but at least MPx is not vapourware. Apparently they are going to be on sale in Asia (including SG) in a few weeks time.

The form factor, while a bit big, are much smaller then XDA II. And it actually looks like a phone rather then a PDA. The most cool part is that it is able to open in two ways, like a clamshell phone or on the side like a Zaurus! 2) Mitel


Beside the typical (boring) VoIP phone, they have two other interesting form factor as above. One is a sleak looking bar-device (which is the IP phone) that you put below your LCD and it uses your LCD as its console display. Another cool one allows you to plugin your PDA and work with your PDA as your IP phone. Too bad they are propiertary entreprise based IP phones and these don’t support SIP.

3) Skype-based Phones


Found a company called voipvoice that makes Skype-based adaptors and phones. The usablity is also very cool – you can type in a phone number which will do a skype-out – or you can press * and wait for IVR to do a skype-to-skype call. Best of all, these devices are really cheap – retail at about US$50!

And finally I get to see the dualphone which I blogged about it before. I never managed to get my hand on one because they refused to sell me one. And I know why now :- the phones run on 1.9Ghz :P

4) Others

I seen a few wifi SIP phones but nothing that sweep me off the floor yet. I suppose it is still a relative new area but I have no doubts we will see a lot more of it in future.

I also feel obligated to talk a little about Popular Telephony whom I slammed in my previous entry two weeks back. Andy was kind enough to arrange an interview with their CEO, Dimitry to explain the technology to me. I didn’t take any pictures because their phone is, erm, pretty normal. Beside, they aren’t really a phone maker – they are a technology company that license their technology to manufacturers.

Okay, time to remove their fluffy marketing talk : it is just a pure peer-to-peer phone system. Think if it like Skype-on-hardware.

Plugin their phone, pick any number (so long it is not used) and it is ready to go. Your company hired a few more staff and need more handsets? Just buy a few more and plug it in. It is (almost) zeroconf with very little maintenance. It also comes with all the usual features expected of a phone system, callerid, voicemail etc, stored in the peer-to-peer database (Peerio).

In the short run, I could see it been a challenge in the entreprise market place because it is really simple to setup and run compared to the system offered by Cisco or Ayava. And it is pretty cheap – just the cost of the handsets, starting from US$100 per seat – as compared to Cisco’s US$200-US$350 per seat + Call Manager.

Dimitry claims the system could scale up to 4B phones so theortically it can replace all the phones system. But I have my doubts of the scaling is at best a claim. Nevertheless, P2P has demostrated to be able to support a few millions peers (altho queries become slower but doable) but let me know when we cross the 1B mark.

And ah, the GNUP mystery is also finally revealed. It is basically a numbering database (but not using ENUM). As the Peerio phones are been deployed, there will be multiple islands of Peerio phones in different organizations. You could then register these numbers with GNUP and thus allows phones from one island to call to another. Carriers can also provide PSTN interconnections for different organization via the GNUP.

Overall, neat idea but sadly proprietary. But that’s not likely to be important so long they can get market share. Well, their phones just got to market now so lets see how they do from now. Good luck ;-)

(See? It isn’t so tough to explain the whole thing without using flowery words like “patent-pending invention” “state-of-the-art, next generation” :-)

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