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Mobile VoIP Plans its Escape from Captivity

Innovation isn't a typical event at mobile phone service providers. If the Apple iPhone hadn't introduced the concept of "visual" voice mail, then it's unlikely that this capability would ever have been introduced by any SP.

Likewise, the benefits gained from Skype and Google Voice will drive Voice over IP (VoIP) service evolution.

In-Stat estimates the total number of mobile VoIP users will reach 288 million by the end of 2013. Of these, well over half will be associated with online mobile VoIP providers, under one-third will utilize mobile VoIP with traditional 3G MVNOs or mobile operators, and 11 percent with WiMAX/LTE operators.

On a geographic basis, mobile VoIP will be heavily biased towards the more progressive Asia-Pacific region, particularly among the online mobile VoIP services.

"The near-term opportunity for mobile VoIP is closely linked with the growing success of dual-mode phones and other Wi-Fi connected devices," says Frank Dickson, In-Stat analyst. "However, mobile VoIP still poses a direct threat to operator voice revenue and operators are navigating how to balance new opportunity with the threat."

What do subscribers want from a mobile VoIP service? Are those needs even a design criteria for mobile phone operators that are typically more concerned with their own vested interests? Which mobile provider is the leader in applying user needs market research for service development? We don't know the answer -- it's an unsolved mystery.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- In-Stat projects that by 2013 mobile VoIP applications will generate annual revenues of $35.2 billion.

- While the EMEA region has more mobile VoIP related revenue currently, Asia-Pacific will be the largest regional market in revenue terms by 2013.

- Dual-mode handsets (Wi-Fi + Cellular) will be well over 400 million units shipped in 2013.

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