Om Malik has a guest column by Angus Davis:
I believe IP-powered telecommunications will usher in a new range of enhanced voice services, changing the way people and businesses use the telephone. While standards like SIP enable innovation at the network transport layer, VoiceXML opens new possibilities at the application layer. Calls will get a range of new voice features; two-party voice calling will shift towards multimodal and multi-party communication as isolated applications give way to integrated services. Smart carriers will use these new voice services to differentiate and provide more value just as cable providers used ESPN and HBO to sustain growth in adoption and revenue per subscriber in the television business.
Drawing on the same technologies as the Web applications before them, next-generation phone applications created with VoiceXML can include ringback tones or call soundtracks from a record label, or sports scores and entertainment information from a content provider. Basic calls will be easier thanks to a smart networked address book, fast voice-activated dialing, and a simpler, better voice mail service designed for everyday people. One-on-one voice calls to friends and colleagues (Call Mom) will grow to include new forms of ad-hoc multiparty calls (Call my whole family or Add my brother to this call). The phone will be more fun and more valuable thanks to integration of premium content like music, entertainment and sports that make it possible for teenagers to share favorite music with friends on every call or for sports fans to discuss the plays from premium voice chat rooms. These applications, designed for broad adoption, allow carriers to differentiate and drive value on the basis of core voice services instead of niche gimmicks.
Ross Mayfield has more on the same theme.