Microsoft is working with Philips on the development of a wireless household phone.
The phone will be able to make VoIP calls using Microsoft's Instant Messenger and its "Windows Live Call" service.
No more specifics @ this point, but I am at the Consumer Electronics Show, in the words of the former Cat Stevens, "on the road to find out."
But even though deets remain elusive at this juncture, I have to think this is pretty big news. Once more, we're seeing evidence of an under-reported but simply undeniable trend toward IM utilities shedding their legacy limitations and becoming softphones.
Now here's where I contradict some of my silicon and dead-tree media colleagues. Every time a big portal eases their IM utility closer to VoIP functionality, they all say "Skype-killer."
No. Initiatives such as the Microsoft-Philips wireless household phone is a competitive strike against full-fledged VoIP services from the traditional telcos as well as the VoIP specialists such as Vonage and Packet 8. And since the traditional telcos have quadruple-play options at their disposal - as well as the perception of an FCC not willing to stand up right now and tell these companies they cannot impose surcharges on pure-play VoIP, it is the pure-plays that are being hit from both sides.
And the fact that the pure play VoIPs are going portable as well, further underscores my contention who Microsoft-Philips is really going after here.