Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Vonage vs. Skype in the Blogoshpere

There is a ripple going through the blogosphere that Skype is synonymous with VoIP and that Vonage is a mere hanger-on. The original analysis has been picked up by popular technology blogs and used as the basis for an argument that Skype is superior technology and/or implementation. Because, of course, bloggers are the vanguard of the technological future, right?

I believe that analysis is fundamentally flawed. I base this on the fact that bloggers, while numerous, are an insular and intensely self-involved group. And even among bloggers, the analysis shows that VoIP is only of interest to less than 0.1% of them - not a very statistically significant group.

As for me, I personally use both Skype and Vonage - but for different and distinct purposes. One purpose is more likely to fit a blogger lifestyle, and one is more likely to fit the target consumer of Vonage services.

When I wanted a VoIP service that looked, smelled, and quacked like POTS, I chose Vonage. My family can use it, it works in every room in the house, and 911 should work. When I’m travelling - especially internationally - I use Skype. It’s just me in one room with a high speed connection and a computer, so a USB headset makes sense.

Skype appeals to people who live next to or near their computer, understand the technology, and can live with one phone. Bloggers are these people. Vonage is attempting to appeal to part of America who can generally set up the VCR, has several phones in the house, turns off the computer when it’s not in use, and doesn’t have the time to fiddle with technology. Those people are not bloggers - at least not usually very good ones.

The conclusion here is twofold. If you're a fully integrated member of the technology blogosphere, then the Skype vs. Vonage analysis might be of value to you. People like you are at least talking about Skype a lot - perhaps you should check it out. However, if you're one of the other 99.9% of bloggers and/or not a blogger at all, this analysis shouldn't be taken for anything more than it is - an interesting factoid with little or no implications on technology and how it relates to your life.

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