Consumer VoIP startup Ooma launched nearly a year ago and offered consumers free phone service for life, all you had to do was buy the hardware for $399.
Just one problem. The sticker shock of paying $399 up front for the hardware put a lot of users off. And there weren’t many places you could actually buy the Ooma.
A year later the company is still going. They added marketing executives Rich Buchanan to the team from Sling Media earlier this year – the guy that led the Sling marketing team to sell 100,000 units in its first six months of operations, and 500,000 units as of mid 2008. Buchanan brought Tami Bhaumik with him from Sling as well, who is now Ooma’s VP Marketing.
Amazon started selling Oomas earlier this year, and customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Priced at $249.99, it was a much better deal then the original. They still offer the free service for a reduced price of $250, with optional additional features in a premier service add on for $13/month. The premier features include a second line, three-way calling, message screening and custom rings.
Well, I currently use Vonage. I have been having problems with Vonage since I started using them 3 years ago, but even with the problems (bad phone connections, echos, voice mail problems) I was happy with their price over my local phone company and long distance carrier. I used it primarily for my business, but then started also using a Vonage line for my home. I no longer have a traditional phone line. Is it time to move on to the ‘Free’ voip service?
Well, Amazon.com’s Black Friday was this weekend (well Friday). Amazon offered the basic Ooma module along with a scout (allowing a second phone number or extension) for $199.99, $50.00 off their new regular price. I have been toying around with the idea for a year now and held off thinking the company would go under. But they haven’t. I spent the last year trying to find a headset that would give me a good connection on my phones, always blamming the phones for the connection problems. Was it really my phones (I have returned 3 units so far this year), or my Vonage service? Could all the reviews on Amazon be correct, or just reviews from its employee’s?
Well, I couldn’t resist. I had to try for myself. I had to find out if this was all just hype. At $200, the system would pay for itself in 10 months (Vonage is $24.95 a month for one phone line). If I go with the premium service ($100 per year or $13 per month) I could get a second phone line along with the other premium features. For two lines at Vonage it would cost me $50 a month (until they realize one is for a business, then $60 per month). It won’t take but a few months to pay off the system, and then free phone service for life (or as long as Ooma is around).