IDC is forecasting an astronomical growth in the number of Web talk service providers (WSPs) over the next four years, as demand for live voice communication over the Internet skyrockets.
According to its latest report, people have had enough of talking about the Internet and are becoming more interested in talking over it. What's more, advanced communications and messaging services, combined with improved Internet performance and the declining cost of bandwidth is allowing it to become a reality.
IDC forecasts revenues for WSPs to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 200 per cent annually, raising profits from $208 million in 2000 to a staggering $16.5 billion by the end of 2004.
"Demand for Web talk capabilities is increasing from both Web sites and end users," said Mark Winther, of IDC's Worldwide Telecommunications res-earch.
"Individuals want to use Web talk to communicate with their friends and families, and companies with economic sites want to apply Web talk to improve poor customer service that is often caused by a lack of human interaction."WSPs, which use a free business model, can make their money through advertising, up selling to premium services, hosted services, and e-commerce fees. This year IDC predicts that the bulk of revenue will be generated from premium services, accounting for $96.3 million, or 46 per cent of the market.
However, through 2004, revenues from hosted services and advertising will increase the fastest.
IDC believes WSPs current objective should be to increase their user base. Last year, more than 25 Web talk service providers launched commercial offerings, but IDC says more aggressive marketing techniques will be required to secure the market for the long term.