Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Nolan Eakins

A couple months back I was flown out for an interview with Vonage. Gauging from some of the questions and answers I heard, I really don't think they have a clue about how to revolutionize the phone. I was brought in to interview because I'm involved with the Jabber community, the community for that instant messaging standard.

I was asked how I'd scale a web service and one of the interviewers said that people are comfortable with how phones are, ie: 9 digits, even as he had a Blackberry on his belt. Those two things obviously showed that they lack the knowledge to revolutionize the phone like Skype and most likely Google will. Such a revolution will be centered around your buddy list, not phone numbers, and will involve fully exploiting standards like XMPP.

Also worth noting since you quoted that Vonage is burning money is their advertising. I can't go a day without seeing a Vonage TV commercial or ad banner. I even saw an ad banner for developers yesterday on Slashdot, and not to mention that they're sponsoring a fucking Indy car (I live in Indianapolis btw, the Indy 500 is the upcoming big event).

They really need to start reading the books by Seth Godin. Of all the big Internet companies, there are very few that I can think of that have used an ad campaign such as Vonage's. All of them have been based on some variation of word of mouth and having a product people want to talk about. Sadly, being "the Internet phone company" just isn't one of them.

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