Jeff Pulver has made some very valid points about the blogosphere being a bit less enthusiastic about companies like RebTel (which I like) and Jajah where I just aired my views below.
I completely agree with Jeff that lots of very smart people are behind some of these ventures, but my concern is not about the validity or need for the the technology, which we all know is there, but rests more with the likelihood for success beyond simply user growth without carrier cooperation (and possible retaliation) as my concerns start from there because none of the mobile operators seem to be breaking ranks to quickly.
To draw some comparisons when you look at the recent San Jose State Skype issue, or look at how hard it is for new applications to be used on the Verizon Wireless network, how tight RIM is with their API's or how T-Mobile in the UK is making it a violation of the Terms of Service agreement to allow VoIP calls and IM sessions on their UK 3G Data networks, you have to see the writing on the wall that these technologies will run up against the same type of resistance unless something is in it for them. That resistance is not always logical, nor does it makes sense, but yet at many turns lots of great new technologies seem to not ever receive the warm welcome they should.
I also don't disagree that each of the newcomers have technology that is not brilliant in approach, nor do a disagree that they have their place today and more importantly tomorrow in the world of personal and group communications. Quite the contrary, I do. What I question is how they plan to overcome the resistance of the carriers, both mobile and data, who seem to continually want to keep forward looking technology in the dark rooms and just make money based upon their roots of being 1.0 telcos first.
For that reason I tend to be more excited about ideas which have the ability to enhance a carriers offerings, not detract from how they make money, and allow the true concept of 2.0 and beyond to take hold. Cooperative technology, that is both breakthrough and disruptive, is what moves me, not just a reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, or in some cases, simply the moving money from one side of the company (i.e. Voice over to Data) to the other to accomplish the same thing.
But for these new 2.0 ideas to advance, at the end of the day they have to be favorable to the insider forces in power that really run the world of mobile telephony around the globe. Those groups are far broader in reach than the VC's and have more to do with what happens when, and are really at the heart of the key issues we all are aware of like the net neutrality issue, as well as these new advanced services offers, because both transcend economics, politics, finance, legislation, regulation and technology.