I have written about an imbalance between the vendor market and businesses when it comes to hosting. I see more interest in hosting from the vendor community than I have from businesses. I wonder if all the new hosted communications companies will eventually drive more awareness of the market and subsequently more interest in subscribing to hosted services instead of purchasing equipment.

I recently met with the management team at GotVMail a hosted communications provider. They are focusing on the SMB market and offer a virtual account which enables you to have calls forwarded to a corporate division or any telephone number based on rules you define. This can be done at a relatively low price — $9.95/month to start and the company also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

A slew of companies are looking to offer these sorts of services and GotVMail has a head start on many of them as they already have ten thousand customers. Furthermore the company seems to really understand marketing. I have frequently noticed that as some of the smaller competitors in this space are near-silent, GotVMail makes a lot of noise. They not only seem to excel at marketing, they have a good PR team as evidenced by their recognition in a slew of publications.

The strength of this offering is that it works with any sort of phone you have — VoIP, PSTN or wireless, allowing customers to manage the service fully online by allowing such things as uploading greetings and changing call forwarding information. This extremely feature-rich service also allows dial by name, web and e-mail delivery of voicemail, marketing extensions and music on hold.

No matter which companies in the hosted communications space you speak with, they will all tell you that one of the advantages such a service affords is that your phone system stays up, even if power or phone access is cut to your physical location. Company CEO Siamak Taghaddos was proud to reiterate this benefit to me saying this allows the phone number to be decoupled from the physical device.

The company told me they sell their service directly 95% of the time and have a reseller affiliate program allowing resellers to get commissions. Their equipment is located in Boston and New York and they have redundant servers, lines and carriers.

GotVMail is expanding quickly and to date they have achieved 99.994% uptime which is pretty impressive.

I asked how they compare to Vonage and they were quick to point out they are on the inbound side of the business. They are not offering cheap long distance but inbound flexibly and functionality. They consider VoIP service providers as their partners.

My take on the company is that they get it. There are more and more hosted communications companies coming on the market all the time. Marketing and public relations is what will separate the winners from the losers in this business. I think this company has a great shot at being one of the winners.

  • Jason Andrews
    December 6, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    I have a Virtual Secretary! I like the program because I pay 20 buxs a month for 800 number, fax, and voicemail. I receive most of this over the net as to not charge myself trying to listen to my voicemail. Comes straight through my speakers via EMAIL as a MP3 so I can rewind the calls, save the calls, and delete the calls. I also like the fax VIA EMAIL where I can save, delete, and save as a pdf. Both features come to me VIA TEXT Message. So I can transfer to a lender if I want as an attachment. I mobile a lot so this feature works for me. Tell me what may or not work for you? Click This if you want to know more about the $9.95 plan

  • Sonam
    July 8, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    I am not sure where GotVMail stands now. I have been actively researching about companies on this industry and here is take.
    a) GotVMail: Was leader and not now. Things have changed but the company is still the same with old website and nothing happening as such.
    b) UReach: Was leader, no more!
    c) 800PBX: New, upcoming player. Cheapest in the industry with all features. This is something to watch for.
    d) Ringcentral – my choice till now. I moved to RingCentral a while back and am happy with the services provided. Downside, there were no features till now.
    e) Virtual PBX – Expensive and non existing support!
    I would confine my choices between c and d.

  • Rich Tehrani
    July 8, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    Would you care to elaborate? have you heard something bad about any of the above companies? I have been in the industry for over a decade and haven’t heard any complaints about A, D or E. I know little about B and C however.
    BTW VirtualPBX more or less founded the space. In addition, Packet8 is getting rave reviews from customers I have spoken with. I would give this company a try as they have a money-back guarantee.

  • Huw Rees
    July 9, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    AMI Partners ( ranked Packet8 Virtual Office service as the #1 hosted VoIP phone system choice by U.S. based small and medium sized businesses. This ranking was based on the number of SMBs subscribing to the service (over 6000 at the time of the the report). The service differs from GotVMail as it is a complete phone system/service rather than just an inbound service. The service offers low, fixed price, unlimited calling plans as well as sophisticated inbound call treatments, such as auto attendant(s), ring groups, hunt groups, follow me find me etc.
    If you are looking for a complete solution rather than just an inbound solution I think we have the best solution available (I admit I may be a little biased).
    Huw Rees (VP Sales and Mktg for Packet8).

  • Sonam
    November 2, 2007 at 6:32 am

    Rich: I understand virtual pbx has virtually founded the space. But remember, many found (eg: IBM, MAC) but are not considered as leaders anymore in the OS market. I am starting a flame of war between yours and other systems out there. But you should constantly innovate to be a leader in the market.
    I am surprised you haven’t heard about ureach. They have more clout (still I believe) than anyone else in the market with BIG corporations for unified messaging. Excellent features, excellent traffic.
    800PBX – honestly, they have just started up and I came across them online through some google ad. However, I keep liking them for the fact that they are more responsive to suggestions than anyone else in the market. They have an excellent pleasing site 🙂 May be one of the reasons why I like them.
    Huw: We are discussing only incoming call handling mechanisms. For total comprehensive phone systems, I think packet8 does a good job. I’m sure others are catching up soon.

  • Paul Hammond
    July 4, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    As CEO of VirtualPBX we take comments like yours seriously. We have been in business for over 10 years consistently win awards for our service and remain the market leader in this space.
    If you have an instance where you can show that we failed you personally on support I would be interested in hearing about it, otherwise your claim that we have no support is inflamatory and untrue.
    With respect to price our SOHO package is hard to beat for a small business. At 9.99 a month it includes many features that others charge extra for.
    Our system is highly configurable and leads the market in ACD features. A feature that other have not matched.
    We are constatnly innovating with other new features. I personally would be happy to provide you with more information. After that you can comment as an informed consumer.
    With best regards
    Paul Hammond

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