From Forbes.com The next Internet gold rush?
I think not. A gold rush implies a limited amount of a valuable commodity. Broadband services are hardly limited and service providers are finding out that voice is definitely not valuable any more.
When online auction giant eBay said on Monday that it was purchasing Internet telephone provider Skype Technologies for $2.6 billion, reactions fell largely into two camps: Those who saw the deal as recognition of the money-making potential and transformative power of Internet telephony; and those who questioned the wisdom of paying billions for a company whose sales hover in the tens of millions.
I am in the latter camp.
"The barriers of entry in the phone business used to be prohibitively high, and the phone companies were in effect monopolies," says Synergy Research Group President Jeremy Duke.
"VoIP technology brings down the barriers to entry and levels the playing field. You and I could start up a VoIP phone company tomorrow, and the product we would offer would not be any different than Skype's or Vonage's."
A space that has low barriers to entry and sells a commodity. Those are two things that when combined are never good for a startup business.
Maybe eBay thinks they need to buy Skype because they fear Skype is the next Google and don't want to be in Microsoft's shoes. (MSFT was int'd in buying Google for $12b the summer before they went public).
Here's what I think could be a winner.
Let's say there's some tech guy out there that is software/VOIP saavy. He writes a program that makes ANY PC VOIP-able. He then markets this product for $100.00 to any person with a broadband connection. Could this be done? Could someone write a program that allows this?
Adcalls offers free long-distance through your PC is you just look at their ads while you call. So I know this low cost, one-time software idea could work.
By signing up for a Skype or Vonage aren't you in a sense paying TWICE to use your broadband? All you're doing is using your ISP for another application aren't you?
Would you pay an extra fee to your ISP for email or IM? So why should you have to pay twice for VOIP?
I also see Google Talk introducing a VOIP service that combines advertising, VOIP, IM, search and mobile all in one. That's when I think Meg's purchase won't make any sense.
Another thing to consider. What happens when cell phones can switch seamlessly between cell towers and Wi-Fi? Just another point to ponder.
Would love comments on this one. Can this software idea work?