Blogging as representatives of the company or as David Beckemeyer, Alec Saunders and SightSpeed's CEO Peter Csathy do as individuals, but with tone and manner very closely aligned to their company's mission, is key to communicating with the audiences they desire to be interacting with at some level.
Sometimes Alec's non-iotum blogging is questioned by outsiders, and sometimes I even call him onto the carpet for being too tell all, but in the end his insight and the information he is gathering and disseminating is helping to refine the iotum platform and service applications (ala TalkNow) as well as providing the company with some very far reaching credibility. In the end, the benefits of his blogging outweighs the comments of others in my book.
By using the blog to encourage conversations and discourse, each of these companies and individuals are engaging with their audiences and making their companies and personal viewpoints better known and more clearly understood.
Ok, I bit. I decided to take Om's lead about ooma and despite my concerns that were only reinforced by a back channel thread led by some of the brightest minds in VoIP blogging that Om started, I was willing to give ooma a shot.
That was until I got to the very last stage of the sign up process. WOW there Nelly!!!
I immediately stopped. It seems in the process the subscriber gives ooma the right to make changes to the already existing services provided by the local telco and also change the long distance provider.
Sorry. Back in 2001 I spent a lot of time with the then Pacific Bell reps configuring my home phone service for three PSTN lines with things like call forward/busyno answer, remote call forwarding, elimination of the the Pacific Bell Voice Mail in favor of my own (previously Webley, now GrandCentral on my main line, PhoneGnome on my second line now) and I still have Webley as the CallForward/Busy No Answer default if everything melts down.
So when I saw what basically is a general assignment of control of my phone service's features, I quickly stopped and cancelled all ooma efforts. To their credit their PR folks made sure all activity was stopped, and offered me the beta of their non PSTN product, which I'm considering.
This made me think about PhoneGnome and how non-invassive the approach taken by friend and client David Beckemeyer really is. I called David on my drive to Los Angeles on Thursday and we talked over the whole thing.
Basically PhoneGnome lets a buyer gradually adopt Voice 2.0, without any need to change what they already have. The person uses as much, or as little of the 2.0 features and functionality that they want, and at any time, just by unplugging their PhoneGnome they still have everything their local phone company is providing, without needed to talk to a customer service representative. ooma doesn't enable this.
Had I gone through with the the EULA I would have lost, and never been able to recover the unlimited long distance plan I have on my primary line that costs all of $20.00 a month. While I'm likely under utilizing that today, if all melts down and I need to make those calls, I know its there. Candidly, some day that will go away, but until then between PhoneGnome and my local line services, I know what I have and what I have to do to keep them. The ooma method doesn't give me that same set of assurances.
Lets face it. SunRocket flamed out not because of anything Vonage did, but because of gross mismanagement over the last year. Their change in leadership earlier this year, which basically tossed the founders overboard, was the beginning of the end. Within five months SunRocket went from being a darling to a dead dog. Nothing that Vonage did hurt them.
Alec also points out about ooma's PR failures. I don't think though its simply a matter of "a good outreach" program. A lot of it has to do with telling people about a product versus giving them the product to try. This is called Hype.
Today the New York Times has a story about the less than anticipated reaction to the iPhone. It seems that the uptake isn't as great a people thought it would be. This is called reality. I think ooma is seeing PR reality unfold with the bloggers.
Update: Stuart, who knows his marketing stuff weighs in with his commentary, praise and analysis. He also recognizes what my firm has been and continues to do for our clients. We always accept the praise, and when we make a mistake, the blame. Thanks Stuart!
Fueled by last week's ooma announcement and fresh off a panel, Jeff is talking about disruption.
Two summers back I coined the phrase "Me Too, Me Also, Me Different" when asked to present to AOL. Jeff is clearly saying the same thing and the time is right. With SunRocket flaming out, AMP'd being licked by its own leaderships inability to be different in a space that was begging for alternatives, Pulver's offer to seed companies looking to be different has significant merit.