Friday, April 20, 2007

N95 with SIP

There has been a flurry of articles about Nokia’s new N95 unit and the subsequent removal of the SIP client by operators supporting the device.

Then finally, as if through devines intervention, word is out that there is a work-around to this tragedy. See the article titled “VoIP Resurrected on the Nokia N95”).

All this leads one to wonder, is it all that surprising? Is it surprising that an operator who supports and likely subsidizes the device isn’t that excited to have a client which can be used to bypass their core service? And just as bizarre, did operators really think they could keep SIP off the N95?

But I think the real interesting story has yet to be written.

The follow on story I’m interested to read is the results of all this fervor 6 months from now. How much use does that SIP client actually receive? Do consumers really want/use two services on their phones?

Presumably some number of these subscribers will hack their N95s and load up a shiny new SIP client. Now subscribers will be able to place SIP/VoIP calls when on Wi-Fi. Fantastic! At this point, the device does not support UMA, so those calls will drop when the user walks out the door of the home/office. Excellent.

As an additional benefit, the Wi-Fi radio will have to be turned on manually and the user will have to start/launch the SIP client. I can’t comment on whether the SIP client can access the phone’s existing address book, I would hope so, but it’s not clear yet.

The final advantage is that when in Wi-Fi, the GSM/3G radio needs to stay on (or calls to your GSM number go to voicemail). Excellent, both Wi-Fi and 3G (or GSM) radios drawing power. Don’t walk too far from a power source.

Is this really what users want? Do they want two services on a phone (SIP/VoIP and standard 3G/GSM) with two phone numbers? Do they want Wi-Fi to be something they need to consciously enable to use, or do they want the phone to stay always best connected?

So perhaps we can set up a follow-on article. We can talk to N95 users and see how much use that SIP client receives. Or how often Wi-Fi actually gets turned on, or how the performance is impacted by having two radios on simultaneously?

It’s unfortunate the N95 doesn’t support UMA (yet?!?!), it could really take advantage of Wi-Fi in a way that’s useful for consumers and operators alike.


Ritz said...

Can you confirm that N95 can become UMA compatible by software/firmware upgrade, and there lies no hardware limitation...

UMAer said...

Yes, the N95 can become UMA-enabled. But as you may already know, the UMA client is not an application that can be downloaded. It is embedded into the device OS.

Nokia has a UMA client for the N80. I'm certain it can be applied to the N95 is an operator asked for it.

It's always good to ask your operator if/when they are planning to support dual-mode service with UMA.