Long term impact of Voice over IM
Om Malik has some really interesting thoughts over on his Broadband Blog (which I happen to agree with, by the way) on the long-term impact of Voice over IM, and other so-called "thin clients":
If you took things at face value, then the recent fad of adding voice to the “instant messaging” clients is nothing but Silicon Valley’s version of keeping up with Jones. Yahoo (via DialPad acquisition), Microsoft (via Teleo acquisition), AIM, Google Talk and Apple’s iChat are taking a cue from Skype and giving their users to have free PC-to-PC calls.
Over a long term, these announcements add to what is continuing trend that is commoditization of voice. If Vonage introduced the phone world to flat rate plans, then Skype was largely responsible for micro-slicing the phone revenues. Voice over IM takes it one step further. Makes voice free! Yahoo and MSN hope this translates into consumer stickiness, while Google, one day hopes to attack contextual advertising to their voice. (And some day they want the voice IP stream to be searchable just like text.)