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I just watched Apple shoot a cruise missile across the side of every telephone operator in the world. 

VOIP.
Its been the elephant in the room that companies like AT&T and Verizon have been trying to keep drugged and sedated for a long time.

Voice over IP, is what it stands for.
In short, simplifying the systems that enable you to talk to someone else, with out having to use the old fashioned PBX system of dialing in a 10 digit number on a device that is bound and controlled by a larger carrier.

All you need, is some sort of indexing service so you can easily “click” on a name to establish a connection.

Historically, thats what the phone company did. They set it up so that (once you paid your bill), you could plug a device in to a hole in your wall, and it “just worked”. Dial tone… push some buttons, and you’re talking to mom.

In the world since the advent of major VOIP carriers like Vonage, Skype, and even Voice over IM systems, like having video chat/audio chat with AOL IM, Gtalk, etc… You either had to use a separate system of addresses, like someones buddy name, skype name… etc. *OR* carriers like Vonage, or Skype tied in to the old fashioned PBX based system to dial out to a conventional phone number.

And that all worked, well enough..
Savvy people were probably going to try Vonage or Skype anyway, and could deal with the extra setup of having to pay something and then login to a website, and then use your computer to be a voice recording/broadcasting device to talk to someone on a phone.

Today, Apple just announced how their video chat system is going to work… and they’re claiming “zero setup”…

Scratching my head, I had to think about it for a second, until I realized that … apple is going to figure out how to tell if the names in your phone book, are behind an iphone4… and use that to usurp the use of the phone carrier to work over wifi->broadband->internet as a hole ->broadband->wifi between your iphone, and your friends iphone.

Apple made it so you don’t have to use AT&T to make a phone call.
Next step, they start matching your “phone number” against a “serial number” on the phone, and you’ll never have to use a carrier for iphone communications at all. (assuming your on a network)

They stepped in and did what Vongage / Skype couldn’t do, give you a very well designed device to use.
Skype and Vonage had a buddy list type thing, or at least Skype did, I never bothered with Vonage… so you could talk to other skype people, or you could dial a regular phone number. But that still relied on you transferring data out of another device in to skype.

Now for $299 on June 25th, I can buy a device, that once I sync it, will have all of my numbers, so it can act like a boring old AT&T powered phone (ick)… but somehow, if by apple-magic, it will require zero set up to do video chat over wifi.

If you are a major carrier.
Apple just one upped you, by using the network, and smarts to beat you to the punch.

To me its an exciting advent of the chance that carriers stop being monolithic entities, and free market forces have a better say of how things work. I’ll gladly pay a monthly fee just for BANDWIDTH, if it does everything I want. No need to have a separate bill for TV/Phone/Data… when they’re already just 1’s and 0’s flying over a network to begin with.

Change is good, glad to see it being driven forward.