On KenRadio.com's World Technology Roundup I've regularly said that AT&T is using it's legacy as part of the creative strategy. Seems another veteran ad guy shares the same opinion.
I share Jonathan's opinion that Vonage, which has yet to launch a mass media campaign, but is planning one has an uphill battle. AT&T's preemptive Olympic strategy means all others have to follow, not be considered the leader in the public's mind.
After he linked to a post of mine on Thursday, I've been following this new blogger on the scene. Seems like me, he's an ad/interactive/marketing agency guy. The blog Atmaspheric Endeavors is worth reading and has made my bloglines list.
AT&T's CallVantage service gets put through the paces by the New York Times.
What I don't get is the reporter's reference to the word modem. A modem modulates and demodulates, and no part of the D-Link Telephone Adapter which AT&T provides does that. The closest thing it does is serve as an analog to digital converter, so while the concept of a modem is likely more common, the fact that it works in front of a router and behind a cable modem could be confusing to some readers.
I also chuckle at the calling of Verizon a rival. While they may compete in certain ways, the VoiceWing service is not what CallVantage is. AT&T built CallVantage from the ground up. Their network. Their own technology. Verizon is using Delta Three's network and a hodge podge of technology to power their network.
The reporter also calls into question AT&T's mass market media strategy. In talking yesterday with Huw Rees, VP of Marketing for Packet 8, he did some analysis of Vonage's online ad spend rate and pegged it at $80 million a year right now. Packet 8 is launching a subway exit billboard and radio campaign in New York City and a television campaign in the Bay Area. Seems they are going to follow the AT&T media approach and blend online and mass media to reach the public, but at a much lower budget than either Vonage or AT&T.
Last time I checked telephone service was a mass market service and to reach the mass market requires two things. Distribution (Best Buy, Amazon and more to come) that is on Target, and mass media advertising on a national level, backed up by very targeted marketing efforts (i.e. online and direct marketing) both of which AT&T already seems to be doing. The broadband cable and DSL market is only getting larger and that's why AT&T and AOL are both going after it.
In the close of the article, the reporter brings out the fact that the cooperative cable companies working with AT&T are also likely competitors. Reports out of Boulder Colorado are that that Comcast will be pushing VoIP there in early 2005. I know from insiders at Comcast that they are going to be pushing VoIP too.
CNET Asia reports on Skype, SipPhone and MediaRing. Nothing really new in the article except most people forget about SipPhone.What many don't know is the termination is coming from one of the largest telecom companies in the world that is not USA based, according to well placed sources.
Much of what Skype is seeking to do, minus the P2P, SipPhone already does.
A report out today highlights the growing deployment of VoIP and reasons why it is seeing such a rapid uptake.
The real reason is money. VoIP saves money, especially in new office build outs. One ethernet cable can now carry both Voice and Data. The electricians and phone installers of old, have been replaced by non-union techs who can easily move and change phones from anywhere. And with WiFi the costs get even lower.
If this posting in DSLReports User's Forum is accurate, then this is what has to be one of the most short sighted and potentially embarassing moves I've seen in the short history of Vonage, and one that takes the cake of how not to do a marketing effort unless alienation of your most loyal and vocal customers is the goal.
First Vonage makes a big deal about the Linksys relationship. Existing customers with Cisco ATA or Motorola TA's decide they want to reduce the number of devices drawing power and consolidate unsightly extra wires only to find out that they can't keep their Vonage phone number for now, which in some cases may be the number they ported over from the era of the RBOC.
Obviously this is not all Vonage's doing. Likely the equipment manufacturer is paid or receives some percentage of *NEW* activations, yet nowhere on the Staples web site does it say anything about existing customers other than the line "You will need to sign up for the service through Vonage separately, see details in box."
Well in box means buy, then open where I come from. I also read the line to mean, and this is where operation definitions come into play, that by using post hoc ergo protor hoc logic (if this, therfore, thenfore that) the following makes total sense (except to Vonage)
1. To use the device you need to be a Vonage customer.
2. I want to use the new Linksys device with Vonage.
3. I am already a Vonage customer so I can use the device with my service that I already established.
4. I can buy this device and use it with my existing number.
Translation...unless you want to lose your current number, wait to buy what you can't easily find at Staples...until the dust settles. My view is Vonage will find a solution to a problem that never should have existed. They certainly now have the money to pay someone to do just that.
Add to the FUD being tossed around about Vonage's Retail Sales termination charges of $200.00 and you realize Vonage is paying a lot for retail space in the big box stores.
For those not schooled in retail, product companies pay what is called "slotting" fees to get products on store shelves. The slotting is collected in a variety of ways by the mass merchants via advertising, coop promotion, circular ad inclusion and more. In some cases a bounty per sale of hardware is paid, ala the cellphone business or a few years back, so called free Internet ISP service in exchange for a multi year agreement with AOL, MSN, etc. Using the theory that there is no such thing as a free lunch, Vonage is apparently linking early termination fees to offset the slotting and marketing costs, plus the cost of the TA into the "let me go fee."
But by putting the information on the inside and not promoting it on the outside, it makes them suspect and could have them in court at some point once the consumer protection activists who live for causes like this do get wind of it.
In a move clearly designed to make VoIP more available in the UK, Ofcom, the regulators of telecom in Britain announced efforts to further unbundle the local look.
This is a major step for the marketplace and will only futher propel adoption of VoIP by helping to keep the costs down. Expect some of the more established North American VoIP players to undertake efforts to either establish operations in the UK or form partnerships with the wirless phone companies in order to gain market share. Carphone Warehouse will likely lead the charge in this area. They already are selling wireline replacement via cell and broadband. I would not be surprised either to see Virgin enter the VoIP market. The two companies continually out market the existing giants and seem to have the idea of being customer centric nailed down to a T.
If any one company is hurt by this unbundling in the near and long term, it's British Telecom.
As someone who travels, broadband is a requirement and I prefer a wired room so I can bring along a telephone adapter from one of the companies offering me VoIP. which means I need a router too.
While I don't travel all the time with all the equipment, when I go to Europe I sure do, as I tend to spend five to seven days in each city and prefer to keep my costs down on telco charges that are always massaged upwards in hotels. Having my USA number with me sure cuts the cellphone bill down too.