The VoIP phone industry is growing at an exponential rate and the cost of calls is decreasing on a monthly basis. The industry is extremely competitive (with almost 570 international VoIP providers identified and listed in the VoIP directory) with new VoIP services launching weekly and all attempting to acquire a piece of the VoIP cake with one company in Switzerland taking a new approach to marketing their VoIP services.
Finera SA***, based in Switzerland has taken an interesting route in marketing their services in this competitive industry and will definitely land up with large piece of the VoIP cake in years to come. Finera first launched VoIPBuster.com over a year ago offering free calls to landlines in a few selected countries. This was a totally new approach to marketing VoIP services and the industry received a wake up call resulting in further decreases in VoIP call charges.
The company is very secretive about the amount subscribers they have signed up, but one can only assume that it is substantial. Although prices to many destinations worldwide are already very, very low, it is still a huge physological difference for the consumer to be able to say that he no longer pays for any calls to certain countries.
Over the past 12 months Fineara, together with selected partners, have launched further online VoIP sites in the UK (VoIPCheap.co.uk), France (NetAppel.fr) and Germany (VoIPStunt.com) and all offering free calls to certain destinations. It is interesting that these sites even compete with one another and thus diluting the initial brandname (VoIPBuster), but the model seems to work.
Their latest release in December 2005, www.voipstunt.com, beats them all by offering totally free calls to landlines in 39 destinations (now 38 as Israel was removed on the 17-01-06). Included are even calls to mobile phones in 5 countries.
How do they do this? Their VoIP call rates to other destinations are slightly higher and these subsidise the costs for the free PSTN calls and they reuire a minimum credit of 5 or 10 Euros. Nevertheless, if the consumer only has to make calls to countries in the free destination list it adds up to a hugh monthly saving over traditional phones. If this busimess model is viable it is only a matter of time until others attempt the same route.
Finera has set a trend in the VoIP industry and it will be an interesting wait to see if they launch further sites competing with the first four. Even the world leader, Skype, will have to watch this development.
Two further companies have decided that this is the easiest way to attract the VoIP consumer's attention. vbuzzer.com in the US is offring free VoIP calls to 20 destinations until 30 January (a pure marketing ploy) and a large VoIP provider in France, www.free.fr. The name says it all and they offer free landline calls to 14 desinations and, it seems, without a catch.
The following matrix gives an overview of Finera's VoIP sites and free call destinations.
Update: 15 February 2006
|Min Credit = 10 Euro||Min Credit = 5 Euro||Min Credit = 10 Euro||Min Credit = 10 Euro||Min Credit = 10 Euro||Free 1 miniute calls to 41 destinations|
|Total||31 free||27 free||31 free||37 free||34 free||17 free|
*** = All Finera Companies seemed to have changed hands and now belong to:
Betamax GmbH & Co KG
P.O. Box 190425