A post by Mathew Ingram and one by Mike Urlocker on the recent Vonage IPO really sum up my point on VoIP. Voice is truely free. No longer is it a money-making commodity. Voice service is like the free toaster you get when opening an account at a bank. You know, functional, easy to use, simple, free, and occasionally not worth what you paid for it.
Yes I know that you are really paying for it in some form, you still are paying for the bits traveling down your broadband connection. But if you use one of the VoIP services like Skype you can simply get rid of a $40/mo. bill by getting rid of your POTS line.
Of course many people simply give up on a home phone and go with one or more mobile phones, and I must say good for you on that decision. The traditional concept that Voice service is something of value is changing. While there are still millions of land lines, they are definitely on the downward slope.
The reality for any communications provider is that they need to understand what their real value to the market is. Its quite simple really – a big fat data pipe. Whether wired or wireless, the simple fact is that all communications services most consumers need are all IP based. Simply sell a data pipe of varying sizes, offer premium services that have SLAs attached to them – people will pay for a line that have some kind of guaranteed uptime. Increase the uplink speeds, and remove any limitations on consumer server hosting.
Hey, many of us have terabytes of personal data that we stream to ourselves as we travel around the world – make it easier for everyone to do this.
Yeah, I’ve gotten off-track again, but the point is that the market is radically shifted in the last several years and voice service is just one of many components to make up communications in the 21st century.
Update: Here is a nice post at TechDirt Wireless that talks about VoIP being more than cheap voice service. I couldn’t agree more, though I ranted mostly on the cost aspect – the real benefit is using voice service in new and interesting ways. Check out what Mike Masnick has to say on the topic.