November 21, 2006

It was funny when a friend's mom recently asked me my thoughts on Voice over Internet protocol, referring to Vonage and Sun Rocket. Oh, I forgot one important fact, she's in her '80s.

Not sure if this happens to you or not. Being in the digital space, it seems anything new and technology-related gets lobbed over to me--either during speaking gigs, work, or among friends and their moms. It's good, though, it keeps me fresh. However, it's hard to keep up with at times.

Only a few years back I worked with a guy who was, well, let's just say an offline media guy. His idea of parsing any money out of his budget to online was largely due to there being not enough time to meet print deadlines or no budget for broadcast. Anyhow, this guy, let's call him John, brought me into a large local CPG client. Talk about feeling like I was in the 1950s talking to them. Anyhow, they actually had open minds. They asked smart questions about how to track offline to online and online to offline activity, couponing and the like. However, John (a member of my team) kept shaking his head in disbelief. In a nutshell, he swayed the client to stay in their offline point-of-purchase (POP) world.

Feeling more than set-up, I asked John why he didn't believe this was a proper channel for the client. He said adamantly, "Broadband isn't mainstream yet." Remember, this was a few years ago--and broadband wasn't mainstream yet. I didn't agree, but was satisfied with his answer, as well as being equally dissatisfied with the way the whole meeting went down.

Now it's somewhat rare that I walk into a client or prospect with the, "Why advertise (or market) online" deck in hand. I hardly think it's because broadband has become mainstream. Sure, this fact has affected many things--and a lot has changed over the past few years.

Today's consumers want fat pipes yielding warp speed connections to the Internet, HDTV, and now VP.

(I saw a TV ad with Jessica Simpson looking all Daisy-Duked out. She's serving drinks to some guys at the local watering hole, and she goes on and on about high-def, etc., talking with a thick, contrived Southern drawl. She finishes off with, "I don't know what it is, but I want it." Sadly, I must admit I don't know who the ad was for, though it does stick with me. I'd love to sound-byte it into some Powerpoint decks of my own. Can't you just hear it? LOL.)

I digress. My point is that there are so many technology and Internet-related acronyms and abbreviations out there today. Many are becoming household names. VoIP seems to have snuck up on us a few years ago, and this year, it seems, everyone is talking about it. According to In-Stat's 2006 Consumer Broadband Study, nearly one-fourth (23% f the 1,217 study respondents) use some sort of VoIP today.

In-stat segments VoIP as broadband IP telephony such as Vonage and client-based applications such as PC to PC apps like Skype. This also includes IM-based tools from Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, etc. While we are thinking about it, some topline findings from the study include:

Free is more popular than fee nowadays.

The top three client-based PC to PC apps are Yahoo, Skype and MSN.

More than one-third of respondents who use IP telephony use Vonage.

There is a lot of fragmentation in the market now, with no clear dominant player.

In-Stat predicts that by the end of this year, the broadband IP telephony should have approximately 5 million residential subscribers. This will grow to over 19 million by 2010. Remember, this is residential broadband IP telephony subscribers--not client-based VoIP.

By Seana Mulcahy
Courtesy of

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