Why VoIP 2.0 companies are suddenly in play

We’re still in the realm of the rumor mill, but speculation that Google has a deal in hand to acquire Gizmo5 and another rumor today that VoIP widget and backbone player Jajah is mulling through $400 million (!) offers from O2, Cisco and Microsoft seem to point to a coming run on VoIP start-ups.

It remains to be seen if these rumors, let alone this purported trend, come through. But as we’ve reflected in the past (back in September when eBay sold off Skype to investors for $2 billion), the success of mobile apps as a distribution mechanism for mobile VoIP client software, among other developments, seems to have given the VoIP market the push into the mainstream it’s long been hoping for.

The key, of course, is the realization that voice is becoming just another (data) application that can run over IP networks.

That’s the same technical reality that is pushing next-generation wireless technologies like LTE into the network as well.

Of course what is really driving 4G into the network is the need for additional capacity to help operators deliver new IP-based applications — including mobile VoIP.

In a more open mobile network environment,the battle to deliver voice services gets cracked wide open. Phones like the Droid are able to integrate services like Google Voice directly into the phone’s built-in dialer. Choosing to make a mobile VoIP call versus a traditional wireless network call is as easy as changing the phone settings.

We’re in the early stages here, so it’s difficult to say how this shakes out. But it is interesting to see how voice — so often relegated to second-tier status in the age of text messaging and mobile browsing — is emerging (albeit in altogether new forms) as one of the primary IP apps running on open mobile networks.

More than a bit of irony in that, to be sure.

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