In reflecting on the AOL release of AIM Phone Line with some friends in the biz we pretty much came up with some thoughts as AOL is no stranger to deriving value from someone else's phoneline so here they go, doing it all over again.
What, you don't know?
- Were able to get $24.90 for dial up Internet when incumbent phone providers weren't even able to to beat them at a $15 price for Internet access, and the AOL service cost more than the phone line itself!
- Were able to sign over 1MM voicemail subs with zero phone customers
- Were able to sign over 1MM AOL Call Waiting/Call Alert with zero phone customers
AOL has a massive embedded infrastructure of POPs with PRIs with plenty of excess capacity as a result of customers leaving for broadband, all of which can be leveraged for this service.
Not only do they usurp the value of a phone line, they also usurp eBay's value of Skype. Someone can just as easily put their AIM Phone Line number on an eBay listing and communicate that way. If eBay doesn't hate this new service, they should.
And for an added fee, your inbound calls can be terminated to a POTS or Cell phone so you don't even need to be tethered to your PC with a headset, which is still a very niche market.
The Voice Long Tail continues to grow while incumbents sit on the sidelines and fight over a slice of the same pie.... It sure sounds like this is a natural place for them to be.... Kudos to my wine loving pal Ragui Kamel for pulling so much of this off along with his team!!