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Posts from December 2005

Fear Of Skype?

This post by Rich isn't really new news. It's been documented before that Skype poses risks inside the Enterprise via the way it punches a hole in the firewall, and also now with it's API.

One would think one of the first things the folks at eBay would do is attack this issue, but eBay is very corporate from the top down, while Skype is very radical in the way they work. But so far, other than some report that didn't tackle the problem, and a weak effort to tell that story, Skype really hasn't cured the perception or the reality.

Rich's post today clearly points both those facts out.

Skype has a security resource center that helps explain things.

Gizmo Goes Forward

I downloaded the latest GizmoProject application and found an early holiday present. It's the GizmoForward feature.

While it doesn't work seamlessly like Skype which first tries the Skype client before forwarding, it does provide you with a manual capability to forward calls to your Gizmo out to mostly any number.  I say almost because unlike Skype, I can't call my CallVantage number, nor can I do this from Gizmo, as their remains some issue between PointOne and AT&T. That means I can't take advantage of the multiple endpoint locate me abilities of CallVantage.  A minor hang up, and one I figure the very responsive gang at Gizmo will get around to fixing.

But, on the plus side, I can have people call me either Gizmo to Gizmo, by using a SIP number or my Gizmo In number versus a Bell number and have those calls end up on almost any endpoint. 

This also means between Skype In, Gizmo In, PhoneGnome and CallVantage, I can basically see myself over time weaning away from Webley as now I have more than enough "free" tools that do all that they do in the way of find me and follow me, and for less money, as there is no monthly fees other than CallVantage. Webley still gets the nod, especially with their IVR interface that can't be beat, especially when I'm traveling or at confernces, as the call screening feature really is a plus in those situations.

I'm kinda feeling that Yahoo will be offering much of the same, but the key thing is Gizmo's already doing it. Yahoo's still in Beta and not ever here in the USA yet...I wonder why the delay....hmmm....

Gizmo and Adium-A Macaholic's Dream

When it comes to being Mac friendly with VoIP no one is as forward thinking as the team at GizmoProject. I came across this little known add in for Adium, the all IM utility for the MacIntosh.

After you install the Adium GizmoProject add in, you get almost full GizmoProject functionality. Yesterday Om was omming about how much in the way of resources clients like Skype take up. With Adium and this plug in, I can keep Gizmo closed and still have all that I need, from within one application.

A quick test or two before I turned in for the night showed me that it worked as publicized!

Nice work Jason and Michael!

How Vonage Raised the Dough

Mark Evans has a nice recap on how Vonage raised another 250 million this week.

Give the company credit. They sure must have one heck of a road show presentation. And 1.2 million customers is nothing too shabby. Obviously they do something right.

While I may question their operating style sometimes, and am skeptical about the amount they can really raise, I am actually rooting for them to have a successful exit, even if I think they missed the exit ramp sometime early this year.

Why? Because a healthy Vonage IPO is good for the entire VoIP industry.

Packet 8's Gain Was Broadvoice's Loss

When Packet8 won the BellSouth trial VoIP program, they weren't the Southeastern US' first choice.

Reports I've heard indicate that Broadvoice had the deal pretty much sown up, until some internal changes last summer and other machinations caused BellSouth to take a look elsewhere.

Jon's Phone Dialer 3.0

If you have a Mac you'll like the idea of what Jon's Phone Dialer can do for you with some select VoIP carriers (CallVantage, Vonage) plus IP phones from Cisco and the Xten line of softphones. This latest revision seems a lot smoother. I've got it installed and will run it through its paces over the next few weeks.

Props to Russell Shaw for finding this.

What's VoIP For Life Worth?

Well if you look at the results of the United Online charity auction, about $1,400 a subscriber. That puts a damper on companies asking $2,000 a sub who have been shopping themselves to some of the bigger names on the net.

In Vonage terms that would price them at $1.4 billion, but this is all before you factor in cost of customer acquisition and monthly cost.

So let's do some quick math.

Vonage spends about $8 dollars a month on each line in administration, support, transport and termination. With one million lines that's eight million per month or 96 million a year in expense for their current customer base not counting overhead.

Since they spend a reported $700-800 to acquire a customer in the first year alone it costs a max of $896, plus another $96 dollars a year to maintain the customer.

Since they churn at about 7-8 percent a month, according to industry sources, their competitors who pick up the former Vonage customers, that means every 14 to 15 months Vonage is losing their entire customer base in theory. At a $20 gross revenue paid (the average price between their two plans, excluding softphone) that's $300 in gross revenue or a negative $596 per customer Vonage has generate.

That begs the question how many customer Vonage has to generate to become cash flow positive?

SMB Market A Boon To VoIP

It seems the SMB market will be a big play in 2006 for the VoIP industry. I've previously mentioned that companies like CallTower, Covad and Speakeasy are nicely poised in the space.

Others have made noise as well. According to a Vonage spokesperson I spoke with recently, the long awaited Vonage SMB play seems to be on hold while they get their act together with the VARs they have been trying to assemble. Their product offering, what was to be reportedly a IP-PBX developed by the Sipura team inside Linksys in the meantime is coming out from Linksys who more than likely will try to assemble their own group of ITSP's.

One things for certain, the market will certainly grow. New businesses have little reason to start with legacy PSTN. Others looking to modernize will shift to VoIP and as the prices fall for the hardware, and minutes too, this can be a huge growth opportunity. Expect a lot of "sham" companies to get into the space too.