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Summary:

Ooma, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based VoIP phone hardware and services platform that has been struggling to live up to its initial hype is going to take a second run at mainstream success. At CES 2009, the company is launching the Ooma Telo, a wireless handset that […]

oomateloOoma, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based VoIP phone hardware and services platform that has been struggling to live up to its initial hype is going to take a second run at mainstream success. At CES 2009, the company is launching the Ooma Telo, a wireless handset that wraps the original Ooma phone system in a mobile unit. Ooma has raised a total of $43 million.

ooma-handset1If you frequented Amazon.com this holiday season, then you might have noticed that Amazon was pushing the original Ooma device hard, though it’s not clear how that impacted sales. I am looking forward to the launch of this new wireless version, to see how the platform has actually evolved.

The company previously made some strategic mistakes, including an ill-conceived marketing strategy with actor Ashton Kutcher, and the initial product launch was fraught with problems. The biggest problem was that Ooma was too expensive for VoIP’s market segment, which includes penny pinchers. Since then, Ooma has tried to mend its reputation. It brought in new management that has focused on the consumer electronics channels and slashed prices. Ooma Founder Andrew Frame was recently replaced as the CEO by Rich Buchanan, but he remains with the company as its chairman.

  1. Any idea on when the telo will be released to the public? I’m anxious to buy it, but I haven’t heard any news on an official release date.

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  2. I wish Ooma all the best. I got my first Ooma products through this site (thanks Om!) and while there were some rough patches with international calling, I’ve been thrilled with the product for the last six months or so. The voice quality is excellent, the features are plentiful, the international-call pricing is very competitive, and now that the international kinks seem to be gone, the product just flat-out works.

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  3. @brian

    We should know more by end of this week. I am betting the release is quite soon. If I find out any more details I would let you know. :-)

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    1. Hey Om,
      would you mind letting me know to. I was planning to buy ooma but have deferred the decision pending launch of Ooma Telo.
      tha.
      Ashok

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    2. Ooma will release the new system around August…

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  4. @Raymond, Glad to hear that you are still loving the service and the device. After so much anger at them, I was wondering how people are reacting to ooma

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  5. Om – this will def. be interesting to watch. When I bought my Ooma (also learning through here) and swapped out my Vonage, it was the best choice I made. No longer any monthly phone bills. The Voice quality is much better than Vonage and I have had no real issues to contend. My only concern is that the company does well enough to stay in business. They have built a quality product and while their customer service is not the best, it is still better than I had with Vonage. While I close my Vonage account, I still have the box around just in case Ooma goes bust. But I think if they market the product right and figure out a hybrid approach (lower the equipment cost if people sign up for their premium service ($12.95 a month).

    I think the real problem all these companies will have, is that how many of us really need our home phones anymore? Mine is just a backup system. Mobile and VoIP with Fring or Skype on mobile devices seems to make home phone systems obsolete. Perhaps Ooma should figure a way to leverage the mobile market in some manner? Perhaps they should look at Video Conf (try to beat Cisco and others to the market)?

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  6. I got Ooma in September, 2007 and was one of the first non-beta adopters. I was using Vonage two-line, did the math and figured even paying the approx. $450 I broke even in about 8 months. For a one line user, the payback was about 15 months. For me, this was a great deal. I don’t understand why people just couldn’t pick up a calculator and figure it out.

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  7. Ooma is a total no brainer. I too was an early adoptor. Even when there were some patchy times, Ooma support was always right on top of things. To think I have not had a phone bill for over a year, and call internationally for peanuts. If Ooma can get past this gowth period there will be no stopping them. Superior technology and products. Anyone reading this….go with Ooma. You will never regret it.

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  8. I think Ooma will do well to get some support staff on board.

    I have actually bought an Ooma unit, but held off breaking the seal as I had a couple of questions, but I cannot seem to get through to them!

    The wait times on hold are ridiculous, and to add icing to the cake, the on-hold call just drops the connection after about 18-20 minutes. I have tried choosing both the pre- and post-sales options and it seems the calls are routed to the same bloody queue!

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  9. [...] Ooma and MagicJack have product and company strengths that defy logic and economics. Ooma has a pending DECT phone with features that I conceived of years ago, then as an open platform. Maybe someday that could [...]

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  10. What is your financil situation, close to bankruptcy?

    Sorry to be so blunt but if you can credibly reassure me I’ll buy Ooma

    Stan

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