Vonage Hits 1 Million Lines

I was a  Bar Mitzvah for a cousin this past weekend and ran into my accountant who is definitely not on the leading edge of technology. He does use a PC and has DSL but he is not a person that you would discuss nanotechnology with at a dinner party.

We got to discussing business sand I mentioned how Internet Telephony Magazine is doing great… It is one of the thickest books in the tech market and advertisers are telling us they get great results. I told him about how our website TMCnet has between half a million to a million unique visitors a month and that our last three ITEXPOs were sold out and they are growing around 100% per year.

He was floored. The last time we spoke was the height of the telecom depression back in 2003.

We got to speaking about why things are so good and I explained it is the VoIP market that is on fire. He paused. His eyes lit up and he said, “Ohhh, like Vonage?” He then told me that he had just signed up for the service and asked me if he did a good thing. I get that question a great deal. I assured him a he did a great thing.

People are switching but they are uncertain. I guess any new technology takes time. I know a number of people that had similar feelings when they first started to use an ATM. Many people still won’t make a deposit to an ATM. There is definitely an adoption curve with any technology.

Yesterday I read that Vonage crossed the one million line mark. I was expecting them to use the word customer. I am not sure what they mean by line. Vonage was the first VoIP provider to allow people to have virtual lines in different area codes for $5/month. My guess is that when they refer to lines they are aggregating customers and adding on second lines, etc. That is what makes sense tome any way.

Tom Keating wrote about Vonage yesterday and couldn’t figure out what the company was talking about. I didn’t have time to opine on the matter until today and was reminded to do so by Russell Shaw’s post that sums up the feelings about Vonage, the million line mark and the IPO market.

IMHO Vonage will have an amazing IPO. They are on fire and more and more people are switching in countries where Vonage doesn’t really officially do business. They are setting the world on ablaze and part of the reason for this is that they have no real global VoIP competitors right now and they own the mindshare online, in print and on TV.

If someone wants to be a strong #2 pure-play VoIP company they better get their butts in gear pronto. If not, LECs, cable companies and software players like Skype, Yahoo, AOL and Google will be the only other viable choices to Vonage.

Om compares Vonage to @Home (in his 4970th blog post!!!) and I agree that both companies blaze a new trail for others to follow. But there are important differences. Remember @Home didn’t own the customer and Vonage does. I was an @Home customer and Cablevision one day told me I was no longer an @Home customer, I was now an Optimum Online customer. What did I care? The service change was transparent to me and I ordered the service from Cablevision in the first place.

The difference today is that Vonage owns the customer and has a relationship with them. The cable company has to sell me on why I need to switch. Maybe they will be successful in doing so but while this is happening Vonage will steal back other cable customers and more from the PSTN.

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