It can be a little frustrating at times to see how much of the conversation around voice mashups centers on enterprise applications. This is not because there is no place for voice mashups in the enterprise – quite the opposite. But focusing all of our collective attention on this particular kind of deployment misses the range of consumer-facing mashups that are now possible. As both technology and potential revenue streams align to make it possible for individual developers without a drop of telephony blood running through their veins to build apps that mash the phone right in with everything else, consumer-facing mashups are going to be where most of the action takes place, simply because that’s what individual developers like to build.
We have to remember that a huge part of the world of mashups (I’m really talking about Web mashups here, where we have a couple years of experience and data to draw on) is simple concepts executed in the spirit of fun and experimentation, thrown out into the consumer world, with the occasional app sticking and growing. Just look at a directory of Google Maps mashups, or those at ProgrammableWeb, to see. We saw this overemphasis on the enterprise play out again a couple of week’s ago in Dameon Welch-Abernathy’s article “Is There Money in Voice APIs” – or, more specifically, in the nice line of commentary that the article produced. You can see here how many people are thinking about voice mashups, and see value in the space, but how few are considering the consumer space. I believe this is a real mistake.
So it was a pleasant surprise this week to see the alpha launch of Phweet, a service that uses Twitter to invite friends, colleagues, and other watchers of your Twitter to join you on in-browser VoIP phone calls. While the basic principle has been seen before (Calliflower offers a related service for Facebook, oriented around conference calls, and we at MyVox built something very similar for IM-based invitations to calls a couple of years ago), Phweet may really have hit on something in the use of Twitter as the invite and notification medium du jour. They’ve had pretty good traffic in their first week for a service that’s spread through word-of-mouth, and many telephony bloggers have taken notice. And Phweet is truly a voice mashup, combining the Twitter API with TringMe (for the Flash-based VoIP piece) and Televolution’s in order to build something fundamentally new and cool – for consumers.
What’s been particularly enjoyable is seeing how conscious the Phweet guys are of how exciting it is to be able to build a service like theirs, and how much credit they give to the existence of the APIs on which they depend. And then there’s this observation from their blog:
Phweet proves both as a reference service and in terms of potential that web/voice/social-media mashups are the future…We believe that Phweet and others can sit at the intersection of the web and telephony.
Couldn’t have said it any better.