A number of dating services are exploring adding VoIP to their offerings as it makes perfect sense to allow people to prospective dates to speak with each other and not give out their phone numbers. For dating services, VoIP is just another moneymaker but if you buy into my ideas about us being on the verge of new paradigms in VoIP which I call VoIP 2.0, you will see that VoIP allows a number of totally new business models to emerge.
I read an article today titled Single and Skype? If you’re lookin’ for love, read on in which Russel Shaw discusses Jyve, an online community of Skype users. Here is a case of a business model evolving from a successful p2p network. This totally changes the way services providers should be looking at their networks and further illustrates there are so many ways to generate revenue beyond per-minute telephony.
In February 2001 we had a keynote at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo from John "Joc" Jacquay where among telling the audience that VCs were no better than parasites, he introduced us to broadband telephony, the concept of portable ATA devices and more importantly he mentioned that the investors in his company, Pagoo, were also investors in Napster. The idea he implied was to connect Napster users (who were mostly on broadband connections) together so they could talk to one another on what would become Pagoo service.
Obviously Vonage popularized this idea but it is interesting to note that the number one competitor to Napster became Kazaa and the same person who co-founded Kazaa also invented Skype. Joc's predictions kind of came true but Napster became Kazaa and Pagoo became Skype.
Joc also went on to say in his keynote that he was part of the launch of MCI "Friends and Family," which as he put it, was the first instance of selling telephony as a bundled offering. The audience was then reminded of how this MCI program was very successful and we could all learn from it. He was right.
Back in August of 2000 I wrote about my experiences using Napster and having someone contact me as I was downloading a song from their computer. I wrote about how virtual communities were being developed around people with similar musical tastes.
These thoughts, ideas, articles and keynotes come together so nicely now in that they show the power of using the Internet and in this case VoIP to build communities of interest. While it seems infinitely more logical for VoIP to be added to the toolset that allows you to interact with the community... You can also add the community to VoIP as is the case with Jyve. There is no reason these same types of communities can't spring up on other service provider networks but there will come a time soon when we will need to worry about interoperability. When this problem is really solved, we will be able to really have large communities of like-minded people, dating, collaborating and improving themselves.