Cheap Minutes is a Dead End Business
Last night a friend of mine sent me an article about Jahah and how they are giving people the benefits of VoIP–namely cheap minutes–without having to talk on a computer. The call has to be set up on a computer, though they are looking at ways of doing this over a mobile phone. What do they offer in the end? Cheap phone calls, or as I am calling them right now, cheap minutes. Oh, by the way, I had this functionality with Broadvox Direct two years ago.
Today I got an offer from Vonage to rejoin their service–giving me three free months of service and no signup fee. The “extra fees” (namely the regulatory recovery fee) would still apply. After that, I’d have to pay $30 a month or so for unlimited calling. What do they offer? Cheap minutes.
Pretty much everyone offers cheap minutes these days. Unles you buy minutes from a local exchange carrier, cheap minutes are basically a given these days. I currently have a cache of cheap minutes from Voxee, MutualPhone, Gizmo Project, and Skype. Skype made it harder for me to use that cache by making US and Canada minutes free until the end of the year (at least if you live in the US or Canada). How do you choose which provider gets your cheap minutes? By the value they bring. Voxee and Mutual Phone? Because they are can use them with any SIP-compliant device. Gizmo and Skype? Because they also do IM, have people on them I want to talk to, and provide other useful services.
What do Jajah and Vonage provide? Cheap minutes. Anything else? Not that I can see. Is there any wonder why Vonage’s stock is in the toilet and Vonage is scrambling to keep their customers? How about giving me some value, Vonage? Why should I give them my money when all of these other services provide me more value for less money? Why should anyone else?