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Categories: VOIP

Will Skype Follow In Jajah's Footsteps?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on December 22

Traditional telcos are showing healthy appetite for Web calling start-ups. On Dec. 23, European carrier Telefonica acquired Jajah for $207 million. The acquisition comes on the heels of Google's November acquisition of Gizmo5 and British Telecom's 2008 purchase of Ribbit for $105 million. So, what does this mean for Skype?

Vonage Loses More Subscribers

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 05

Web-calling service provider Vonage lost more subscribers in the second quarter, the company reported on Aug. 5. Vonage lost 89,000 customer lines, and ended the quarter with 2.5 million lines. Its user turnover rose both sequentially and year over year.

Vonage: Not a Telecommunications Service

Posted by: Olga Kharif on May 01

Today, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Web-calling provider Vonage in a landmark case. In Vonage Holdings Corp vs. the Nebraska Public Service Commission, the court determined that Vonage and other Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) providers whose services can be used nomadically won't have to contribute to the state's universal service fund (USF), because these companies provide an "information service" rather than a "telecommunications" service.

One Number to Ring All Your Phones: Google Resurrects GrandCentral Service

Posted by: Rob Hof on March 12

With no news for so many months after Google bought GrandCentral Communications in July 2007, a lot of people thought it might be one more Google acquisition that ended up...

PDA Inventor Jonah Klausner Is At It Again.....

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 28

It's amazing how much power a single patent owner can wield in the telecom industry. Just consider Klausner Technologies. The company, which is headed by PDA and electronic organizer inventor Judah Klausner, is currently suing Verizon Wireless, Google, LG and others claiming that their visual voicemail feature infringes on Klausner's patents.

tuitalk: Ads-Supported VoIP Calls

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 26

I just heard about an interesting new service, tuitalk, which, if successful, could potentially alter Skype's business model. The service allows anyone with a computer to call phone numbers in many countries around the world for free. (Remember, Skype charges for this feature, which it calls Skype Out). The catch is, the caller has to view a 30-second ad from the likes of BMW or IMAX.

Should Wireless Carriers Offer Mobile VoIP?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 26

Web-calling expert Andy Abramson made an interesting comment on our mobile VoIP story that came out today. He thinks that wireless service providers may wish to compete with mobile Web-calling start-ups and to offer their own mobile VoIP services. That makes sense.

Do You Use Mobile VoIP?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 21

I'd also love to hear from people who are using VoIP applications on their mobile phones. Could you please e-mail me at I'd love to hear about your experience with the application.

Vonage Earnings: A Mixed Bag

Posted by: Olga Kharif on May 08

Vonage's earnings are a mixed bag. Churn is up, subscriber growth is down. But there are also plenty of good signs as well.

Jajah Lands Yahoo Deal

Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 29

Web-calling service Jajah deserves a pat on the back: Today, the company announced it's landed a big new customer, Yahoo. Jajah will now power Yahoo's premium voice service, allowing people to make low-cost PC-to-phone and phone-to-PC voice calls via Yahoo Messenger, which has nearly 97 million users worldwide.

Skype's No. 1 Priority: Ease of Use

Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 21

Skype's new CEO, Josh Silverman outlined his plans for the company for the first time today, a few months after assuming the position in February. Not only does he say that parent eBay is unlikely to sell Skype this year, but he also says that his No. 1 priority is making Skype easier to use. That starts with the download and ends with video features, he says. What would you like to see improved?

T-Mobile: Move Over, Vonage

Posted by: Olga Kharif on February 21

Today, T-Mobile USA introduced its first home phone line replacement service. For only $10 a month, plus the price of a $50 router, T-Mobile's existing wireless customers with high-speed Internet connections can make unlimited calls over the Web. This plan is priced so attractively, it spells trouble to Vonage, cable companies and to telcos like AT&T and Verizon, currently charging about $40 a month for residential lines.

Vonage: Better, But Not In The Clear

Posted by: Olga Kharif on February 13

We got some good news from Web-calling provider Vonage today. For the first time ever, Vonage reached operational profitability in the fourth quarter -- actually ahead of schedule. Is Vonage out of the woods? Not quite.

AT&T Slaps Vonage With a Lawsuit

Posted by: Olga Kharif on October 22

Just when things began looking a little brighter for Vonage, which recently settled a patent infringement lawsuit with Sprint, the Web-calling company got hit with another lawsuit. The way things look, Vonage will have humongous legal expenses for months -- if not years -- to come. And it might have to adjust its cost structure further for that prospect.

Skype and MySpace Link Up

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 16

It's such a natural that some blogs had predicted in recent weeks it should happen: eBay's Skype and News Corp.'s MySpace are going to share their DNA, as it...

eBay's $2.6 Billion Bet on Skype Doesn't Pay Off

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 01

eBay mystified me and many other people when it bought Skype, the Internet telephony startup eBay bought in late 2005 for $2.6 billion plus a potential $1.7 billion incentive payout....

Vonage Gets Another Black Eye

Posted by: Olga Kharif on September 25

For Vonage, things have gone from bad to worse. On Sept. 25, a jury found that Vonage infringed on Sprint Nextel's patents. It asked Vonage to pay $69.5 million in damages and a 5% royalty rate for future use of the patented technology. Sprint may also seek an injunction against Vonage; Vonage say it will appeal. So, what does this mean for Vonage? Basically, Vonage will need to find its way to break even faster now, as its cash has taken a major hit and it can't afford to lose money for much longer.

Wiretapping for Dollars

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 24

No, it's no joke: A company called Pudding Media is offering people free Internet phone service if they allow advertisers to pitch them ads based on the content of...

VoIP: Amidst Wreckage, Profits Emerge

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 21

Several VoIP companies have become profitable in recent months. This is a proof that Web-calling can be a viable stand-alone business.

Skype Outage: A Sign of Deeper Trouble?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 16

Skype is experiencing an outage. Could that be a sign of deeper trouble?

Web-calling Wars: T-Mobile, Vonage, ooma Get Ready for Combat

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 09

Competition in Web-calling services is heating up again: T-Mobile appears to be readying its own brand of VoIP calling. That's bad news for Vonage, which reported its second-quarter earnings today.

ooma: First Thoughts

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 06

I've been testing ooma, a piece of equipment offering free long-distance for life, for the past week. Here are my initial thoughts.

Gotcha! SunRocket Leaves Angry Customers in its Wake

Posted by: Olga Kharif on July 20

Earlier this week, a friend of mine, Gail Norris, received the unpleasant news that her Web calling provider, SunRocket, was going out of business. That's the sort of news that can make one think twice about backing the Davids.

Deutsche Telekom Invests Into Jajah

Posted by: Olga Kharif on May 29

On May 29, Jajah announced it received an investment from Deutsche Telekom, the owner of T-Mobile USA. The investment marks the first time a telco has invested into a Web-calling company, and it's a major coup for Jajah.

New VoIP Player: Mobivox

Posted by: Olga Kharif on May 10

A new VoIP player, Mobivox, just jumped into the Web-calling market. The service, which was released in beta to 1,100 testers and is now launching publicly, enables you to import all your contacts from Skype and other services.

Vonage Shakes Its Finger at Verizon

Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 25

Vonage just kicked off a national campaign accusing Verizon, with which it's locked in a legal battle over patents, of limiting customer choice. The campaign could help raise consumer loyalty to Vonage.

Vonage: Now, There's No Work-Around?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 16

On Friday, Vonage relealed that coming up with a work-around around Verizon's technology could take months. That seems to contradict the company's earlier statements -- and threatens to further shake up investors' trust in the company.

Vonage: Need Help With Story

Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 11

Are you a current Vonage customer? I'd love to talk to you for a forthcoming story.

Holding Breath for Vonage

Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 05

Tomorrow, a judge will decide on whether to grant a stay to a previously-issued injunction for Vonage to use Verizon's technology. My bet is, the judge will go with a proposal Verizon submitted this week.

Is This The Vonage Work-Around?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on March 29

A company called VoIP just announced an agreement to provide services to Vonage's domestic customers. Could this be the work-around around Verizon's technology that Vonage had talked about for weeks?

Vonage Injunction: Now Wait a Minute (Weeks, That Is)

Posted by: Olga Kharif on March 23

Vonage just got slapped with an injunction in its legal battle with Verizon. A judge will rule on whether to stay the injunction or not in the next two weeks. But even if the judge does not grant a stay, Vonage may have more time to come up with a work-around around Verizon's technology.

Skype's Prices Are Creeping Up

Posted by: Olga Kharif on January 18

Skype just announced a slew of paid calling plans, becoming the latest VoIP company to hike up its rates. These rate increases spell trouble for the fledging Web-calling industry.

VoIP: Not The Cheapest Calling Option?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on December 26

Traditional telcos can often offer better rates to call Israel than Skype, Web-calling expert Jon Arnold writes in his blog. I have found the same to be true when calling Russia. What this means: Migration from landline to VoIP could slow down.

Vonage: Making Calls to Santa

Posted by: Olga Kharif on November 28

Web-calling provider Vonage has just introduced a cool new service called CallSanta. It's an example of the sort of innovative services VoIP providers can offer in the future -- finally differentiating their offerings from traditional telcos'.

Vonage: More Bad News

Posted by: Olga Kharif on October 31

Criticizing Vonage feels like kicking a dog. Yet, what else am I supposed to do looking at the Web-calling outfit's third-quarter results? The company's churn is up, customer acquisition costs are up, lifetime value per supbscriber is down. That's very troubling.

Acme Packet: Almost as Big as Vonage

Posted by: Olga Kharif on October 17

Acme Packet, a maker of IP equipment, just went public last week. And already, its market cap approaches that of Vonage, much better known and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing. Acme's successful IPO may signal that the market is ready for more VoIP gear IPOs.

Users of Rebtel, Please Stand Up!

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 29

VoIP experts call Rebtel, a VoIP service for mobile phones, the next Skype. Have you tried it?

Vonage IPO, Hotter Than MasterCard's? Wait a Minute...

Posted by: Olga Kharif on May 23

Mention Vonage, and you'll get opinions as diverse as political views. In today's BusinessWeek story, Peter Elstrom shows that the Web-calling company's future is uncertain, and its shares, being priced...

Can Anybody Tell Me Why Vonage Isn't Toast?

Posted by: Rob Hof on May 16

My colleague Olga Kharif raises questions about whether Skype's new plan for free calling to U.S. landlines means growth in the States isn't up to snuff. Well, maybe, but I...

Vonage IPO: Customers to the Rescue

Posted by: Olga Kharif on May 09

Web-calling service provider Vonage will sell some of its IPO shares to its own users. That's a smart move, intended to keep Vonage's IPO from fizzling.

NetZero Voice: Another Skype Rival

Posted by: Olga Kharif on February 21

I just trialed a new VoIP service called NetZero Voice, which is competing with Skype. The service's quality was pretty good, and its features impressive. But it might end up being more expensive to use than Skype.

VoIP review: SunRocket

Posted by: Olga Kharif on February 14

I'd just trialed SunRocket's service, one of the cheapest Web-calling services out there. Overall, the experience was pretty good.

Some Useful VoIP-related Sites

Posted by: Olga Kharif on January 10

With VoIP's use skyrocketing, VoIP-related informational sites are popping up left and right. Here are a few I found particularly useful.

VoIP Patent Holders, Please Stand Up!

Posted by: Olga Kharif on December 27

In many tech sectors, such as next-generation RFID, one company holds a lion's share of the patents needed to make that technology tick. Who will hold the most patents to VoIP?

Google-AOL: The First Step to VoIP Interoperability?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on December 21

Google-AOL tie should allow for interoperability of the two companies' VoIP services. That, in turn, should benefit Google -- and perhaps even lead to interoperability of all IM-like VoIP services.

Have You Experienced VoIP's Glaring Glitches?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on November 13

When I'd recently tested eight different VoIP services, I was amazed by the number of glitches I encountered. Several services were down -- meaning that users couldn't make or receive...

VoIP: It's Not a Car or a Brand of Vodka

Posted by: Olga Kharif on November 03

Clearly, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), allowing for cheap Web calling, is an exciting technology. Except most people don't know about it. Only some 3.25 million Americans will be using...

Sprint-Nextel vs. Vonage: First Bicker, Then Make Up?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on October 05

I just got done reading a 13-page lawsuit, alleging that Vonage, providing popular VoIP services, infringed on Sprint-Nextel's patents. And I have to say that this is the tiniest, the least detailed, and the vaguest lawsuit I've ever seen.

Why eBay Is Buying Skype

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 12

Here's my quick take, below, an edited version of which will appear in a few hours at CEO Meg Whitman & Co. gave an impassioned rationale for the deal....

eBay Buys Skype After All

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 12

Well, eBay did it. It's buying Skype for $2.6 billion. Here's the press release and one of the first stories. I'm getting on the conference call shortly, so will have...

Here Comes the eBay Announcement...

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 12

Just got a notice from eBay of an "investor conference call" at 5 a.m. Pacific time, on an announcement to be made two hours earlier. Very unusual practice for eBay....

eBay Buying Skype? I'm Scratching My Head

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 08

Another day, another report about the Internet voice startup Skype maybe getting bought for billions of dollars. But eBay? It sure seems a stretch to me, as it does to...

Skype's Ambitions

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 20

The Internet phone software phenom Skype revealed today that it has much bigger ambitions than helping people make calls for free. At AlwaysOn's Innovation Summit at Stanford University today, founder...

Gizmo Takes On Skype

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 02

Michael Robertson seems to enjoy trying to shake up the powers that be, as he did in music with and in computer software with Lindows (now Linspire). Now, he...


Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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