July 16, 2009
| by Ruth Seigel
Get ready to add the IP multimedia phone to your shopping list. The technology is being touted to become the “fourth screen” in your home due to its ability to marry the Internet and social media applications with voice calling and real-time IP video conferencing.
You may have thought that the PC was going to become the primary method of video teleconferencing. Not according to market researcher In-Stat, which calls the IP phone the “fourth screen” in the home to complement the PC, TV and mobile handset. In-Stat estimates that consumer multimedia phones will generate between $4 billion and $8 billion in annual revenue, worldwide, by 2013.
Driving the influence of multimedia phones is consumers’ desires for the ability to deliver “visual communications.”
Each year, as typical broadband speeds get faster, it makes it easier to deliver real-time applications and real-time video calling.
So an application that was once reserved only for big businesses that could afford the exorbitant equipment and network access costs to support this alternative to corporate business travel, is now ready for the residential market.
Broadband Enables IP Phones More Easily
According to Pew Internet & American Life Project, it is estimated that as of December 2008, 57 percent of adults in the U.S. had broadband access at home, compared with 42 percent in March 2006 and to 30 percent in March 2005.
Products on the market like Grandstream Networks’ GXV3140 IP multimedia phones (suggested retail price $299) enable users to communicate for free right out of the box using plug-and-play, peer-to-peer technology. By plugging the phone into the broadband router at home, within minutes the phone is ready to make video calls with zero configuration.
The key benefits of IP phones are:
- The media phone combines the power of a PC with the always-on functionality of the home telephone.
- Allows you to make free voice and video calls worldwide upon simple plug-in installation.
- Integrated Web browser lets users access personalized RSS feeds of real time online information services, such as news updates, stock updates, weather forecasts, recipes and directory searches.
- One-touch access to Internet radio stations and online music networks such as Last.fm, Yahoo Flickr Web photo album, video and social networks.
- Allows for IM capability with Yahoo/MSN/Google.
- Offers always-on, one-touch access to Internet activities including accessing entertainment content (YouTube videos, movie clips, and music).
- Access to Yahoo! Flickr web photo album, alarm clock, calendar, games, music ring tones.
- Other capabilities include the ability to act as a digital photo frame, calendar and alarm clock, along with multiple language support and the ability to an plug into computer or TV for larger picture display.