Mobile VoIP Not A Sufficient Business Model


Sometimes it seems that voice is going out of fashion on mobile phones, for example… GigaOM has a look at three mobile VoIP companies — mig33, iSkoot and Truphone — and how all of them think that cheap mobile voice calls aren’t going to make a sufficient business model and are looking at other forms of revenue. Truphone is expanding its services to other communications methods like Twitter, Mig33 is selling digital goods like virtual gifts and emoticons, while iSkoot is developing a mobile application that lets people read RSS and interact with Facebook and Gmail on “plain-vanilla mobile phones” (more here). I always considered offering phone calls on a mobile phone was a bit redundant, and the economics of voice and data plans meant that there wasn’t a great deal of financial benefit (although these vary greatly from country to country, to be sure) — Om opines that “These startups are realizing that in order to make real money they would need to create billions of minutes in calls to off-net services”, and that’s why other revenue streams are important. Of course, cheaper voice calls can be a good hook.

That being said, Japan is often thought to be several years ahead of the rest when it comes to behaviour on mobile phones, and there’s an interesting survey reported on What Japan Thinks. Only about a third of respondents make mobile voice calls daily. Out of 1,000 respondents this is the result:

— 5 or more times a day: 5.7 percent
— 1- to 4 times a day: 28.9 percent
— Several times a week: 34.1 percent
— Several times a month: 24.6 percent
— Several times a year: 6.7 percent

I guess e-mail is more convenient and polite.

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