Cliff notes: Near the end of the article, PocketPC and PalmOne are mentioned. What's aggravating is that Palm is behind the pack when it comes to r&D for VoIP. PocketPC has a leg up, according to the article. When I read the summation from the PalmOne spokesperson, it makes me want to cry in my beer...
By Sam Diaz, Mercury News
July 19, 2004

The ability to make phone calls over the Internet -- instead of via traditional phone lines or cellular signals -- is a technology that's just starting to catch on.

And already there are companies pushing the technology toward the next big thing -- Internet phone calls from a mobile device.

But don't expect to be able to just whip out a PDA and place a free Internet call to a business associate in Japan or an old friend in Boston.
The technology isn't quite there yet.

Sure, there are some customers downloading the PDA versions of Voice over such Internet Protocol applications as Skype, Stanaphone and TerraCall. That allows them to make Internet calls over handheld computers while sipping cappuccino and using the WiFi connection at the corner Starbucks.

But the numbers aren't massive, said Kelly Larabee, a spokeswoman for London-based Skype.

"It's nowhere near the PC version,'' Larabee said. "We think it's a future-type application so we wanted to have it out there and be able to put a serious contender in the marketplace early.''

There are still plenty of obstacles to overcome.

"Most likely, what has to take place before having meaningful discussions about WiFi phones and VoIP phones is roaming between hot spots,'' said Michael Greeson, president of the Diffusion Group, a Dallas consumer technology research firm.

"It's not at all different from the early days of cell phones.''

Then, phone calls would drop because of dead spots for the cellular signal. The same could happen with Internet connections as a traveler moves from one WiFi hot spot to another, he said. And until the infrastructure sees some upgrades, the technology won't reach beyond early adopters.

"There are ways to do it but it takes special knowledge to set it up,'' said Ed Romanov, spokesman for Mountain View's, the parent company of Stanaphone.

"There are online forums to tell you how to do it but we're not really pushing it yet. What we're trying to do now is make it easy to use the Internet phone'' through a personal computer.

It's pretty much the same story at TechTerra Communications in Round Rock, Texas, where the company's TerraCall software is allowing people to use their computers -- both Mac and PCs -- to call people around the world over the Internet.

TerraCall offers support for WiFi-enabled iPaqs, the handhelds from Hewlett-Packard. But TerraCall marketing director Adella Almazan said Mobile VoIP remains a product for the early adopter, those who know how to configure the settings of their PDAs.

Eventually, she said, PDA users will be able to call any Internet-connected device. But even now, the service is mostly limited to users of the PocketPC handhelds, such as the iPaq.

PalmOne has had discussions with VoIP providers in the past but isn't focused on the technology, for now, a company spokesperson said.

But once the networks are built out and WiFi connections are as easy to pick up as cell phone signals are today, the mobile VoIP market has the potential to skyrocket.

"If they can deliver on that promise, you'll have one hell of a network,'' Greeson said.