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More P2P Wannabe's

I'm completely bored with yet another stupid P2P telephony play. Last week it was TelTel and this week it is Buzzfon. Oh and I forgot GeckoPhone Really, these aren't newsworthy and the claims they are making are not compelling. Before saying anymore I should add I'm rather jaded so I've not downloaded any of these.

The similar claims start with everything from dialup connections to fantastic sound quality. Most of them use a dial format and eschew any instant messaging capability while centralizing something in the process. Some are giving away the free calling to anywhere on earth just to get you in the door while the "operators" try to build volume.

At this point there should be some marketing basics. If these are the products dreamed up post Skype then the designers failed to do their due diligence on the product, explore consumer behavior and work out how to position a better product. Even the feature sets on these products don't stack up much less the real benefits. Let's be clear a better product than Skype is possible and given time and some rapid learning even one of the motley crew above could evolve into something interesting.

However, these are starting points.

  • Easy to Install: You are up and running in two minutes. No firewall problems. (Skype when are you going to provide a test numbers?) And it must just keep on running. Any early failures will kill it.
  • A clean GUI. You will need to win a design award with your solution. There are a few elegant solutions. Eg If FireFly came before Skype I'd guess it influenced them. Or was it the other way round? What are you going to add that is new or different? Userplane is clean and Pangean identifies some new modifications.
  • Fantastic sound. I've only head one Internet sound engine that provides an experience that may compete with Skype's. So for all these wannabes... I want to know who provided your sound codec. It's not that easy. At the moment if the audio engine isn't provided by GIP's then I'd suggest you better be able to make a story of your own home grown one and if it is not wideband or stereo don't bother.
  • Something new. From presence, to lifestyle provide me with an economic model or insight into why this will be really different. It's not enough to say P2P, you must give me a perspective on how you beat Skype's cost structure and profile. Alternatively create new listening experiences. Plus despite the current infatuation with video, I don't think that is the key driver.
  • Critical Mass. Consumers aren't stupid. I look at each one of these and ask how many will adopt it. If my experience with Multiply invites is any indication (I've not yet responded) people are jaded on social networks. For these VoIP Communications applications it is even more difficult. If you are going to be able to use it you have to have buddies online. Getting buddies onto a new system is no simple matter. Orkut certainly managed an accelerated launch. If you want to operate as a Skype competitor your business model must ramp to 500K users on line almost after a weekend. Unless you have a deal with eBay or an angle like Chatango or a deal with "Friendster" you are going to find it rather difficult.
  • Identity: Think identity not numbers. People are connecting from phones with click to call. How often do you want to dial a number? How often do you type an e-mail address. Numbered accounts are an increasingly an anachronism from the consumers point of view. So each time I see number-centric dial pads I think old telephone, old model.

    On day I may just post little pictures of all the soft phones out there.

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    Comments (1)

    "Easy to Install: You are up and running in two minutes. No firewall problems. (Skype when are you going to provide a test numbers?)"

    What exactly do you mean by test numbers? Like test users to call to? Skype has user echo123 that you can test with.

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