Truphone has announced that it's now supporting the iPod Touch as a platform for its VoIP client. Andy Abramson's got an analysis of his view of the impact here.
It seems cool (although Fring has also been on the platform for a while), but I'm wondering who it's aimed at. The pitch seems to be around kids & college students. But most of them don't actually use voice these days - just SMS. A few use mobile IM, but that's definitely a minority sport in comparison, and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
I'm not sure how many Touch's have shipped so far - I certainly don't see that many around in London on the Tube, but I guess it may have had more traction in the US. And I'm curious about user experience - what happens when you get an inbound call: is there a loud ringtone or vibrate? What about if you're listening to music at the time? (Can the Touch handle multi-tasking of the music player & background apps?)
So, I'm a bit skeptical about all this, as my 2005 predictions of WiFi-only VoIP devices have turned out to be over-optimistic. I was expecting to see lots of single-mode VoWLAN devices start to replace DECT and other cordless phones. But even with the advent of Skype-integrated WiFi handsets, there's been little traction, despite some decent brands like Netgear getting involved. Various DECT phones can now hook into Skype or SIP VoIP services via terminal adapters, but that's not exactly set the world on fire either.
Having VoIP as a secondary application on an iPod or a personal media player or a handheld navigation device is all very well, but I'm just not convinced that many people will want to use it, when they've got a mobile phone in their other pocket, with their main address book & SMS. As Andy points out, various VoIP applications have been usable on Nokia tablets, Sony PSP and other devices for some time. They don't appear to have made a huge impact, though.
Yes, the VoIP/iPod combination is probably quite convenient for people wanting to make international or long-distance VoIP calls away from their PC, if they haven't got an unlocked dual-mode smartphone.
Also, it's possible that in the US there are still kids & students who actually speak to each other on the phone rather than text, so maybe I'm looking at this through Euro-centric eyes.
Actually, I still think the most important non-handset platform for 'mobile' VoIP is the laptop - I often see people in airports or hotel lobbies with headset attached to their PC, and it's certainly my own main use case for VoWLAN. I often do conference calls using Skype-over-WiFi from my notebook, as it means I can take notes into a Word document and look at a website or slide deck simultaneously.
So, where's the Truphone client for Windows?