I used to think that wifi phone will be a real threat to cellphone providers in urban areas as we see things such as urban wifi networks take off. For a fixed fee you could get a phone number from a company such as Vonage or Skype and make all the calls you want. Wifi also gives you added functions such as location-based services and all the features of browser-based internet access such as access to your RSS feeds, a podcast client, shared address books and calendars, etc.
Then it occured to me that the form factor of wifi phones have a major hurdle to overcome. If they’re ever going to be a threat, they’ll need to make it dead easy to connect to wifi networks. Wifi networks all feature WEP encryption or some other sort of access control. Because there is no standard and unless you have a T-Mobile account and are standing in a Starbucks, there is no real nationwide wifi network so you’ll need to enter a new key depending upon where your wifi access point is located.
So the challenge is simply this. How do you enter a 128-bit encrypted WEP key on phone keypad without going crazy?