VoIP’s Retail Dilemma


rich_broadband_str_190x190.jpgAbout eight months ago, I had written a piece for Business 2.0, (Do this Get Rich) in which one of the business ideas I suggested was creating a specialized store to sell broadband and broadband related services. I think the argument still holds. Just like the retail presence of cell phone and service providers helped boost the penetration, I think broadband needs to go through the same growth curve as well. The non-geeks are still mystified by most of the technologies and that holds particularly true in case of broadband. In fact, I have made a dinner out of installing-wireless LANs-for-home cooked meals. I am now finding that my friends call me and well ask me about which VoIP service to get, and how to install. Well, that is strange because never does a day go by when some VoIP service provider sends out a gushing email, outlining a new deal with yet another new retailer. Most recent being Vonage and CompUSA. Dan Brekke found that despite all the increased retail presence, it is fairly difficult to find products, or knowledgeable help when it comes to matters of the “Internet Phone.” Andy has also had the same problems.

A recent visit to some of the stores selling VoIP (Staples, Best Buy, CompUSA) from the various carriers shows a total lack of understanding about the service and each carriers differentiation. The Linksys display, a co-pack of both AT&T CallVantage and Vonage is a great idea, but the sales associates at Staples don’t know A from V.

Now just imagine who difficult it is for folks to figure out which music service to subscribe to, or how to get the whole thing set-up. I think someone who has the entrepreneurial chops needs to open a “Broadband Store.”

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