An Open Letter to Mr. Michael F. Snyder, Director and CEO of Vonage Dear Mr. Snyder, Congratulations on your new position, though in the wake of the yesterday's catastrophe of an IPO I'm not sure anybody's going to be envious of the challenges ahead. I don't need to tell you that turning around Vonage, or at least readying it for a sale, won't be easy. Your friends over at Ebay will be sure to make your life difficult, offering value added services. Your buddies over at Verizon, Time Warner, Cox to name a few, will chase you for PSTN-paying customers.
You've got to fight off both by blending offerings from both. Use the cash raised in the most current IPO to bring value back to your PSTN-grade consumer services. Deliver a service with the simplicity of the telephone and capabilities of the Internet.
1. Offer a Phone Trade-in Program ??? Part of the limitation of Vonage's service is that plain old analog telephones are rotten platforms for delivering rich services. Soft-phones (more on those later) will help you leverage the PC better, but that hasn't been your market, has it? You wanted to give a service that even Mom and Dads would buy, right? But now you need teen as well. So why don't you offer a trade-in or upgrade program for customers to exchange their analog phones for a high-end phone. Whatever you offer, bundle in a value-add service, charge them an upgrade fee, and you'll transform the product delivery potential of your servcie. Heck, you could probably resell both of those components, or give them to a non-profit as a tax write-off and make a profit on its own.
2. Develop a "Vonage Certified" Service ??? It's been a wonder to those of us who've watched the rise of Vonage as to why the company hasn't taken advantage of its SIP-compatibility. Limiting customers to just telephones ignores the fundamental differentiator of Vonage. Open up your service to every telephone, soft-phone, video mixers, gizmo, and SIP software on the planet. Create a " Vonage Tested" program and use your formidable marketing engine and customer base to push those products out to the masses. Evangelize "rich communications" the way Vonage evangelized Internet telephony.