Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ooma, Oprah? Oprah, Ooma?

Remember David Letterman's infamous "Uma, Oprah?" line which bombed at the Academy Awards several years back?

Well, there is yet another new VoIP provider in town -- and this one ain't that Uma. This one is Ooma, featured prominently in today's Los Angeles Times. What makes Ooma different and "buzz"-worthy? First, Ooma is backed by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, among others, who invested $27 million (Draper Fisher Jurvetson also was an early investor in Skype). Second, celebrity Ashton Kutcher is involved as "creative director" (you know, Demi Moore's husband?) and Ooma's web site certainly is slick.

Third, Ooma's US-based voice calling is said to be free -- but, not really free, because Ooma users need to fork over $399 at the get go to get going. This $399 -- which is an initial substantially discounted price apparently (i.e., there already are plans to increase the price further to $599) -- gives Ooma users a call-routing device that plugs into a home network. This is said to make the service easy. But, do consumers really want yet another hardware device to connect?

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity -- that's what soft solutions like SightSpeed give you. They also give you a high quality and cost-effective solution -- no up-front costs of any kind. In fact, unlimited world-wide PC to PC voice calling (works with Macs too) is absolutely free; and, calls to regular phones around the world are at low per minute rates. Finally, soft solutions like SightSpeed give users features that pure VoIP services like Oovo can never match -- including full 30 frame per second (full motion) video calling, video mail, multi-party video conferencing and more.

"Uma, Oprah" didn't exactly take the world by storm several years ago. Ooma has a tough road ahead of it today even with its early buzz ... and, late-breaking addition to this post, I am not the only one who apparently is skeptical here (check out this post from Valleywag).