My friend Michael Arrington has written a moderate broadside toward a few next generation startups offering cheap-to-free telephony services. He rightfully observes that each of them remain difficult to use. But he misses a very key point. In fact, it seems to me, he misses several. Let me explain.
Jajah, Rebtel and other players have really only just begun. He mentions that Rebtel just landed a whopping $20 million in investment. What does he think those guys are going to do with the money stuff under a mattress? Does he really think that the people behind the company d not have plans to make the new VOIP service easier to use?
He also complains that no one is going to use the services because they have to be tethered to their computers. Well, it's a good thing the founders of Skype had not listened to Michael with that advice.
Jajah has only been live for a few weeks and rumors are rampant that they already have over a million users, so Michael's claim that no one's going to use the stuff may be more tan slightly overstating the case. Further, he plays coy about Jajah's announcement next week. Both Michael and I are under NDA and we know a fair amount about what will be announced and Michaels has to know that it takes a significant step away from being tethered to a computer.
Michael also observes that incumbents are already lowering their long-distance rates. But in no way, does he connect dots that incumbents can afford to lower rates because they have been bilking customers with long distance overcharges for years. Does it occur to Michael, that maybe, just maybe the new competition is driving prices down, and that the new competition above everything else is good for phone users everywhere.
These new companies have just started. Yeah, the stuff so far is kludgey and clunky. But they will get better. before long some solution will emerge that are dial tone easy to use. That's what always happens with disruptive technology.