Once upon a time in 2001, when cell phones still had antennas, and “tweeting” was still something only birds did, phone companies decided to marry Internet technology with mobile phone technology. A few years later, in 2005, mobile VoIP (also called mobile Internet calling) emerged. Now in 2013, Internet telephony options continue to assume the dominant place in the world of telecom.
According to the latest analysis from research firm IDC, there were more smartphone sales than traditional phone sales (affectionately called “dumb phones”) in this past economic quarter for the first time in telecom history.
Smartphones on a Global Scale
Smartphones have chipped away at the traditional phone market for years, but this is the first time that smartphones have outpaced the sales of traditional phones on the global scale.
IDC found that manufacturers shipped 216 million smartphones worldwide in the first three months of 2013. That’s compared with the 189 million traditional cell phones that were sold in the same time period. That means that smartphones made up 51.6% of all of the mobile phones shipped around the world in the first three months of the year.
Smartphones in the US
Smartphones already outsell traditional phones in the US. Smartphone sales first passed traditional phone sales two years ago, in 2011. According to a survey done by comScore, over 55% of Americans own a smartphone as of 2012.
Only the fittest survive the jungle of phone technology, and smartphones with Internet capabilities are the clear winners. Thus, it is no great surprise that smartphones with access to mobile VoIP calling represent the next significant trend in mobile telephony.
The Rise of Mobile VoIP
VoIP service allows users to make Internet calls from their smartphones, and mobile VoIP apps are among the most popular applications of VoIP. According to a study done by PEW:
- 1 in 4 Americans have used VoIP technology.
- About 1 in 7 Americans use VoIP on their mobile devices.
- That number is even higher in some other countries. In Japan, for instance, 2 in 3 users have a VoIP mobile app on their smartphones.
Both businesses and individuals can use mobile VoIP, as many business and residential VoIP providers offer mobile apps. Users like mobile VoIP since it’s cheaper to use than traditional phone service, and it allows them to use their cheap calling plan on the go.
How to Get Mobile VoIP
The most popular method of using mobile VoIP is by downloading a VoIP app from a VoIP provider. Most users download the mobile app to their smartphone, though users can download and use VoIP from their tablets and laptops as well.
Mobile VoIP makes it easy for companies to utilize remote workers. These workers can use their smartphone as their main office line, and can stay connected to the company by telephone, even if they’re not connected to a desk and chair inside of the office. In fact, using VoIP, some companies can get rid of their brick and mortar building entirely and just use remote workers.
Mobile VoIP in the News
Last month, Facebook and Android released the next big stride in mobile VoIP: Facebook Home. Facebook Home is an integrated app for Android phones. Facebook Home makes it easy for users to make free VoIP calls to their friends using Facebook Messenger. Apps like Facebook Home make using VoIP with a smartphone a little more seamless.
When phones first started incorporating the Internet 12 years ago, no one could have predicted the global boom of smartphones. As Internet-capable smartphones continue to grow in popularity, the availability of cheap mobile Internet calling will become more accessible to users all over the world.
This article is a guest post from Jennifer Cuellar. Jennifer is a writer based out of San Diego, California. She covers the latest news on VoIP, smartphones, and IP consumer solutions.