Posted by: Olga Kharif on July 29, 2009
Web-calling provider Vonage will come out with a version of its service for smartphones in the second half of 2009. “The time is right to take advantage of the penetration rate of smartphone devices and Wi-Fi by providing branded mobile applications,” Vonage spokesman Charles Sahner tells BusinessWeek.com. The move was first reported in this story.
The plan is to offer a Vonage app for all of the leading smartphones. “We are talking to the big guys, those most material to the market,” Sahner says. The company plans to enable cheap long-distance and international calling via cellular networks as well as Wi-Fi hotspots. It’s also playing with advanced features, which might allow users to link their home and mobile phones and the computer, he says.
Vonage’s apps could prove to be a major wake-up call for Skype, Truphone and other companies that already offer cheap calling via the iPhone and other mobile devices. Today, Vonage is servicing some 2.6 million lines, used by consumers and small businesses to make calls via a fixed broadband connection and a special modem. Many of these users may wish to also use Vonage’s service on the go.
The smartphone service could also help Vonage attract new users, which might have opted for Skype or Truphone before. An infusion of customers would be most welcome as, for months now, Vonage has struggled with growth. It lost 6,000 customer lines in the first quarter.
Competition in the Web-calling market is heating up. And Vonage is just the latest established player to jump in. Google is pushing its Google Voice mobile product hard (and encountering some problems along the way). The market is so new, it remains to be seen who wins out. And Vonage, with its large installed base, has a better chance to succeed than most.