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Summary:

Niall stopped by Earthlink’s SF store last night and snapped these photos. He says the store opended up on Thursday and has been touting DSL, VoIP, Helio, Mindspring, and muni WiFi. The company thinks that boots-on-the-ground in targeted cities can help convince customers. We’ll see. And […]

Niall stopped by Earthlink’s SF store last night and snapped these photos. He says the store opended up on Thursday and has been touting DSL, VoIP, Helio, Mindspring, and muni WiFi.

The company thinks that boots-on-the-ground in targeted cities can help convince customers. We’ll see. And if their obvious bid to bring in pissed-off phone and cable customers wasn’t clear enough, they commissioned this not-so-subtle chalk drawing outside. (well that’s my interpretation of it–what’s yours?)

By Katie Fehrenbacher

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  1. Private Citizen Saturday, July 8, 2006

    I stopped by last evening evening to chat with the folks manning the impressive storefront. They didn’t seem to be very informed about where Earthlink was going bundled service offerings. In particular, they couldn’t answer questions about how premium WiFi services throughout the city might be bundled with their at home voice and data packages. They also seemed amazed at the idea that I could one day watch TV via an EarthLink DSL connection.

    Alas. My bet … a tremendous waste of money and time.

    Private Citizen (citizen.private@gmail.com)

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  2. Any Scientology sign-up booths? ;)

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  3. I take it they’re not offering free phone calls? At some event I was at recently, I thought Vonage had set up a VoIP area in which you could use their orange phones to make free phones calls to anywhere they served at a low or included rate. Which was a nice idea. EarthLink could get folks in to make 15 or 30 minute VoIP calls for free since they offer that, after all.

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  4. Haven’t been down to the store yet, but can you actually buy anything there, or is it like those Gateway stores – come in and look, sign up and we’ll ship something to your house?

    I just don’t get it – well, I don’t get why they didn’t go along more of a stunt store route, with a pop-up store in the middle of Times Square, instead of an always-there store.

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  5. Part of the idea behind the stores is to show off the uniqueness of line-powered voice (“EarthLink DSL and Home Phone Service”) to the general public — the fact that you plug standard phones into your standard wall jacks rather that into an adapter. I think many still assume that any home VoIP solution involves an ATA, and won’t work if the power in your house goes out.

    In the case of line-powered voice, it’s almost like we’re having people come in to a store to see a lack of something (lack of an ATA) rather than some gadget with lots of cool factor. I think it’s definitely easier for regular folks to grok how it works in person than over the phone or a set of web pages. When many people think VoIP they still probably think Vonage, and hardware.

    Glenn — I haven’t been to the stores personally but we are set up to offer free calls. I don’t think it’s like the freestanding free calling booths you see at CES and elsewhere, in that part of the set-up includes having reps around that can answer questions.

    Jeremy – As far as I know you can buy some stuff, like Helio phones, in person. For LPV, it would be a prequalification and sign-up kind of thing.

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