Om in a long post talks about commodity voice and the declining ARPU. I say what I have been saying all along. The money is in the APPS, not the minutes. People have already demonstrated they will pay for features that give them benefits. That's the real future of VoIP.
Let's look at how we got here:
First it was price. Then it was IM. The upstarts like Vonage, Packet8 and Broadvoice all offered VoIP based on price as the big differentiator. Then came AT&T CallVantage which combined price with new features and services. Along came AOL, the cable MSOs and a host of others and we have what we have today, PSTN replacement for less money.
Stage Two of the VoIP revolution came via SKYPE, even though AOL via ICQ, Yahoo with Messenger and MSN and Microsoft with Messenger were already in the space with voice capabilities (does anyone recall when h.323 worked with Windows Messenger?). But Skype timed it right, and road the broadband, more connected wave when the other guys missed the boat and had to jump back in.
Now lets look at stage three-->
I'm personally getting more intrigued with the next generation of Voice over the Internet which is application based.. Companies like TelEvolution with their PhoneGnome and Popular Telephony have forged into new territories. SiPPhone, a company I hear is in play and may be bought soon, also has looked at how to make telephony different, less costly and more useful. The big challenge right now is how the legacy carriers react and what they do. Yahoo is already working with Verizon and SBC here in the USA (likely meaning AT&T's CallVantage gets sold as part of a Yahoo/SBC dsl bundle as an upsell).
The use of price will still attract some, but the real money will be made with the invention and deployment of the next Voice Mail, three way calling and call waiting types of apps hit the market. They will have to work with my landline, my VoIP phone, softphone, cellphone and anything that lets me talk to someone.