|It hardly seems possible that another year has passed us by. 2001 will forever be remembered not just as a year of unimaginable tragedy, but also a year in which people of widely varying backgrounds found cause to stand together in the face of common adversity.
It was also a year in which the fortunes of many telecom vendors took a turn for the worse. Layoffs, missed financials, or worse ? the wholesale shuttering of doors ? became an all too common story as 2001 waned. According to various sources online, the number of layoffs since the beginning of the recent decline on Wall Street neared a total of a million people. Lucent, Nortel, Cisco, and all the rest of the “poster children” for the heady days of “irrational exuberance” all experienced precipitous drops in their stock prices as the overall markets tanked. As we write these words, Dialpad Communications, one of the darlings of last year’s Product of the Year list, is awash in rumors of impending demise.
But there was still much to be optimistic about in 2001. Growing pains notwithstanding, the Internet telephony industry seemed suddenly mature, and shed ? once and for all ? its hobbyist image. Marketing types stopped hyping the tired “technology wars” (IP versus ATM; H.323 versus SIP; etc…) and focused instead on the truly encouraging message of 2001: Customer success stories. Vendors of all stripes went from limited beta trials to general availability of a tremendous number of products. Market research studies declared the share of international phone-to-phone traffic sent over IP networks increased to an estimated six percent of the world’s total in 2001. Internet telephony service providers now talk in terms of billons of billable minutes annually.
And so, the editors of INTERNET TELEPHONY® are proud to present the best of 2001. This list should be construed as a starting place for those of you looking to take the plunge into the world of next-generation packet telephony. While hardly exhaustive, this list is a great place to begin your search for the solution that will ultimately serve to fill your unique needs. We remind everyone to do their homework, research these companies thoroughly, follow up, and most importantly: Check out those customer references!