The iPhone has arrived, not coincidentally, at a time when the very meaning of telephony is being reinvented on all fronts. Telephone service is an utter commodity; it is already available domestically for flat fees and its cost is rapidly approaching zero. Mobile phones have all but eliminated the pay phone and are on their way to completely replacing terrestrial lines, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has joined in to help finish the job. Now, relatively inexpensive all-you-can-eat cellular plans are increasing in popularity. Quickly, telephony is approaching the cost scalability of the Web.
In this interesting time for telephony, a number of new “Telephony 2.0” startups—too many to count, really—have sprung up. Following the successful patterns of their web counterparts, these companies give away interesting voice-based services for free in hopes of accumulating enough users to spur some large corporation to buy them out.
There’s a lot you can do with a web page and nearly free inbound and outbound voice capability. You can create clever new voicemail services. You can create conference calls on the fly. You can give out additional phone numbers that dial your cell phone and home phone at the same time. And with Voice over IP, you can ignore your mobile phone minutes plan altogether and call anywhere on earth cheaply. You can block calls you don’t want, and deliver custom greetings depending on who calls.
This chapter will cover some of these interesting ...