When a product ceases to be luxury
and begins to be a need, then the mass market is ready. The product can enter
60% of consumers' lives, reach easily a good upgrade in the percentage and
become " The New Product of the year 200....".
Let's consider the VoIP market.
Prior to recent theoretical
work on social needs, the usual purpose of a product invoked individual (social)
behaviours. We now know that these assumptions are not completely wrong.
Wrong would be NON considering
In systems where many people
are free to choose between many options, a small subset of the whole offer will
get a disproportionate amount of traffic (or attention, or income), even if no
one of the system actively work towards such an outcome. This has nothing to do
with moral weakness, selling out, or any other psychological explanation. The
very act of choosing, spread widely enough and freely enough, creates a power
Now, thanks to a series of
breakthroughs in network theory by researchers we know that power law
distributions tend to arise in social systems where many people express their
preferences among many options. We also know that as the number of options rise,
the curve becomes more extreme. This is a counter-intuitive finding - most of us
would expect a rising number of choices to flatten the curve, but in fact,
increasing the size of the system increases the gap between the #1 spot and the
In other words: give to the
people the choice among desktop phones and mobile phones and the majority will
choose what they think more convenient, in spite of the cost of the service.
In a way the cost of the
service is the only left advantage in favour of the fixed telephony.
If the price was the same the
desktop phones would disappear from the life of the average consumer (mass
To see how freedom of choice
could create such unequal distributions, consider a hypothetical population of a
thousand people, each picking their favourite way of telecommunication. One way
to model such a system is simply to assume that each person has an equal chance
of liking each kind of telephony. This distribution would be basically flat -
most kind of telephony will have the same number of people listing it as a
favourite. A few will be more popular than average and a few less, of course,
but that will be statistical noise. The bulk of the telephony will be of average
popularity, and the highs and lows will not be too far different from this
average. In this model, neither the quality of the voice, the availability, the
design of the device nor other people's choices have any effect; there are no
shared tastes, no preferred genres, no effects from marketing or recommendations
This is the mass market of VoIP
as dreamed and forecasted by most hardware producers.
People would choose VoIP in
spite of the fact that the systems are not intercommunicating, the available
phones are just desktop phones, most of the population doesn't have a "Flat rate
DSL" and some do not even have a decent connection, (just one " UP to...) and
just because VoIP means cutting cost.
They have a few wrong
- Most of the people want to
save calling internationally
- Most of the people will use a
cheap Flat rate connection
- Most of the people know how to
handle a computer or a network, and so solve all the eventual problems that
But they do not consider that:
- Most people call locally and
just a few once in a while internationally.
- Most of the people do not have
a cheap flat rate Internet
- Most of the people are not IT
Besides people's choices do
affect one another. If we assume that any kind of telephony chosen by one user
is more likely, by even a fractional amount, to be chosen by another user, the
system changes dramatically.
If Robert (our average mass
market consumer) likes to have a phone in his pocket, available mostly anywhere,
it is very likely that Mary would like the same.
Is VoIp ready for the "Mass
The answer could be No and Yes.
What would VoIP offer more than
the existing several choices?
- Price. Telephone calls would
be completely free of charge among two IP phones ( and that believe me is a
GREEEEAT THING when you try it)
- The never enough considered
satisfaction to be able to ref..ck who f..cked us for many years...
What would VoIP telephony need
to be #1 spot in the curve?
- A reliable PORTABLE Phone that
doesn't need millions of Hot Spot's to work.
- A reliable, cheap flat rate
internet connection anywhere for everybody.
If ONE could put these patterns
together, THEN VoIP would really have the chance to be #1.