WorldGate Communications Closes Shop

worldgate-ojo-phone.pngWord has it that funding was pulled at WorldGate Communications two weeks ago with everyone being laid off. Requests for information to the company did not get an immediate response. The Pennsylvania-based organization which made high-end designer-looking videophones no-doubt faced an uphill battle competing with Cisco and Polycom – as well as low-cost players like Grandstream.

When the company launched – years back I remember a massive crowd around its products at ITEXPO and other events – but getting tremendous attention at a show does not obviously always translate into success in business. Those of you who recall Wildfire’s booth at the Computer Telephony Expo know what I mean.

The company seemed to be in a perpetual state of financial trouble and the best news I heard from them a while back was when they either received or were about to receive an order for an organization who was to supply videophones to the hearing-impaired so they could communicate via sign language.

TMC’s Tom Keating reported troubles brewing at the company in February, 2008 and then reported when things got better in the next month saying Ojo Phone Lives! It seems it never totally got through its problems as this past March 14th, the company reported it was running out of cash and two days later the company’s executives resigned and 28 employees were laid off.

About 12 years ago or so Pingtel too had a slick looking phone which didn’t transmit video but did win a design award from BusinessWeek. It too fizzled as a commercial product causing the company to have to get into the open-source PBX space and eventually sell to Nortel. WorldGate also had high hopes for success as this article from the Philadelphia Business Journal describes – the company was trying to get cable and DSL providers to sell the company’s phones since January 2004. Obviously this strategy didn’t work out too well and its a shame – because sometimes you come across technology which is so new, fresh and groundbreaking – it makes you wish it was more successful.

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