The first telephone call was demonstrated by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Since then many important innovations happened to the telephone. Internet was invented almost 100 years later. The two intersected when in 1994 by Alon Cohen and Lior Haramaty – from VoicalTec invented the VoIP. It took additional 12 years (2006) for another pioneer, Skype to reach 100M users and a mass market acceptance. So it was natural that Cloud and Telephony will interact to create “Cloud Communication”. In short these are services that allow effective communication (voice / video / text /data) using cloud based technologies. This approach has significant impact on industries such as call center, voice and web conferences, long distance dialing and more. It is not only reduces cost but creates set of new capabilities, for sharing and optimizing calls.
Now with introduction of smartphone we are experiencing yet another fundamental change -The “Mobile Cloud Communication”. So what is new here?
1. Text Messaging – Since the early 1980’s SMS has become a key short text communication tool. In parallel to this in the Internet world, Instant messaging and later social messaging developed for the same purpose. In the mobile cloud world, these two overlap. Two competing technologies with large install base collide to create wealth of new communication capabilities. Not only that Skype, Twitter and others can send SMS messages or SMS users can send messages to Internet applications. But as more and more people use smartphone for communications, the boundaries between these services disappear. Traditional “telephony” services such as televoting and polling will merge with Internet polling services. Internet messaging service will be able to communicate with anyone who owns a phone, leveraging mobile presence and application capabilities. We are just at the beginning of this revolution. There are still more to come.
2. Picture Messaging – Since the introduction of the first Camera phone in 1997 by Philippe Kahn, the Picture messaging industry boomed. Devices got better cameras – up to 41Mega pixels on Nokia 808. Recently Facebook acquired Instagram for $1B reminding us all that Mobile cloud based Picture sharing is not only here to stay, but will replace much of the traditional personal photography. The value of Instagram is in sharp contrast with Eastman Kodak, the photography pioneer, that filed for bankruptcy protection in January this year.
3. Voice Messaging – Voicemail was introduced in the early 1980’s as a voice communication solution for individuals and corporations. For the next 30 years incremental changes in the technology made voicemail more accessible and standard part of the mobile telephony services. Here as well, the introduction of cloud based/smartpone UI created new opportunities for services such as visual voicemail, automatic transcription, voice messaging. These days voicemail is offered by Google, Skype and others. Visual voicemail interface is part of every smartphone. So here as well, cloud based voice mail offering using smartphones is undergoing major change including tight integration with email, social media and other “traditional” web services.
4. Mobile Email – Email was not invented to be a mobile service. RIM took mobile email to new level, with their BlackBerry devices in early 2000’s. It became the standard device for corporate executives, sales and mobile professionals, just because the clever implementation of the cloud based email service. It is a mature cloud based mobile communication service today, but even here there are major improvements, related to integration with camera and location, that make the email experience more complete on these devices.
5. Mobile Conferencing – Conferencing as well, takes new look with mobile smart pones. Now participants can initiate/review manage multimedia presentation from any location on any device. Natural addition to Conferencing is the ability to use phone’s camera as part of the experience, or display presentations on the smartphone.
6. Speech Driven communication – Since “Open the pod bay doors, Hal” was featured in the famous 1968 film, 2001: Space Odyssey , many improvements happened in the field of speech recognition and natural language processing. Apple’s Siri is the latest attempt to bridge this gap. In it ‘s nature this is a mobile cloud communication service that has enormous potential. While Siri as service is still in Beta, it is featured as the key feature for iPhone 4S. It is not hard to imagine that Siri like interface will be offered in commerce and enterprise setting to improve on communication between customers and retailers or internal communication in any organization.
I believe there much more to discover in this domain, but it is clear that communication would be big part of the future mobile cloud offering and overall mobile experience.