Oh hi, Obihai!

So, you know how I’m no great fan of Google Voice, and I say things like what price free and that people should pay for what they need?


Nutshell? Google’s dumping XMPP interoperability. They’re abandoning the open standards that let GV users use the service with the Obihai ATA devices without paying for a third party VoIP provider. It’ll be interesting to see how this news impacts Talkatone-based GV users as well, which I’m sure it will.

I don’t want to say I told you so, but…

Now, imagine if Obihai had sold their ATA devices solely as a one trick pony: a Google Voice bridge. What if they hadn’t opened the hardware up to handle open, industry standard SIP services in the first place? If not for Obihai’s open standards support (and honestly, it was through open standards that GV support was even possible on the devices in the first place – but GV never used industry standards for VoIP communication) the Obi100’s that I know a lot of you had purchased solely to use with Google Voice would be paperweights after May 15th next year. This is the same problem I speak towards with stuff like Ooma, MagicJack, NetTalk, Republic Wireless, TextNow and their ilk… or other “free” VoIP+SMS smartphone apps.

This is why I place such a fine point on carrier/provider unlocked, open standards hardware and providers that support bringing your own device, and provide a service that has to answer to some form of government regulation. It’s why I skew towards SIP based VoIP providers that offer e911 support and GSM cellular providers instead of some mega-corp looking for lock-in, and I recommend staying away from “free” or subsidized services supported through datamining. In the long run, which is cheaper: re-investing in equipment every time you have to pull up stakes with a service provider for whatever reason(s) and starting over, or just changing the configuration settings on your equipment to another provider that uses the same technology?

The Obihai ATA+Google Voice users got lucky here, there’s time and opportunity to pay to port the GV number out here if desired, and the hardware can still be used with another VoIP provider. Most others aren’t this lucky when things go south. Spend your money where it counts, and support businesses for your communications needs (where you can) that provides no restrictions to their service other than paying for what you need.

Open standards matter, and as the technology industry continues to fragment between platforms and operating systems and hardware and software and interfaces with these companies riding off into their own ecosystems more and more, all to try and corner as much of a consumer’s spending and data management needs for datamining purposes for their own financial benefit, open standards matter all that much more.

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