Whither Mobivox?

Received an email this evening from Mobivox with the same text as the initial post in this linked forum thread. It probably explains why all the top Mobivox CxO executives have been leaving recently. (Check out the current management team; only one CxO in sight.)

Starting in July, because we’re going to be using more expensive networks to connect you to your contacts around the world, calls between Mobivox members will be charged at our regular low cost rates. You will still benefit from better service and big savings on your phone bill, while calls to your Skype buddies will remain totally free and unlimited.

In an age when the main driver of subscriber attraction and growth for a voice communications service is a minimum offering of free calling amongst users within a service, withdrawal of this feature can hardly be good news for Mobivox. Even my new Rogers Home Phone service has taken a cue from Skype and provides free calling to other Rogers Home Phone (and Rogers Wireless) customers across Canada. And the only free calls via Mobivox after July 1 will be those to Skype contacts.

I think Mobivox’s statement says a couple of things about Skype:

  • There are no termination charges for calls to Skype contacts from any service. We learned this from the iSkoot Skypephone presentation at eComm 2008. And it’s reinforced by the text of the Mobivox announcement. A key benefit and advantage of Skype’s peer-to-peer architecture and its impact on a service provider’s operating costs.
  • It reinforces the iSkoot architecture for making calls from mobile phones, whether to Skype contacts or via SkypeOut calls. (Also check out this post.)
  • Skype’s "HD Voice" call quality is obviously a challenge for other services to meet and sets a performance standard for voice services going forward. (And, as for SkypeOut calls where one cannot have the full HD Voice quality due to audio bandwidth limitations of the PSTN, the percentage of my SkypeOut calls with unacceptable voice quality has declined significantly over the past several months.)

If Skype could get Skypephone (working with iSkoot in this case) and their Skype hardware partner offerings into enough carrier and distribution channels, Skype has some significant business potential. (I am one of the few, if not the only, Skype users in Canada using dual mode Skype-enabled cordless phone, namely, the Philips 841VOIP, accessing both my Rogers Home Phone service and a separate Skype account. Works quite well, thank you.)

Perhaps Mobivox’s main attraction at this point will be its ability to make low cost calls worldwide from any of the over 5 billion landline and mobile phones worldwide. But with the legacy PSTN carriers, such as Rogers and Bell Canada in Canada, offering lower long distance rates – close to Mobivox rates with more reliability and user familiarity, Mobivox is going to lose its viral marketing energy and become a much tougher sell.

Tags: Mobivox, Skype, Skypephone, iSkoot, HD Voice, Philips 841VOIP

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.
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