Social VoIP Cures Service providers Churn

On 13 Oct., 2006

ITSP and VoIP service providers are fighting high user aquisition costs and churn. Could social networks assist them in reducing those costs?

Social VoIP Cures Service providers Churn

Social VoIP Replaces traditionnel VoIP Services?

Vonage ’ IPO failure is attributed to several factors: some claim it is due to the "direct share" program, others point to churn but it seems that the main reason for the failure was the US$ 200 user acquisition cost .

If this is true, it seems that the main wants of VoIP service provider are:

  • Lower user acquisition costs
  • The need to create value added services (retain subscribers, lower churn)
  • Create identification with the VoIP brand

Application developers recognizing these needs have been developing new methods to connect communities with VoIP. The two main features that are expected to increase per subscriber revenues and create a "sticky" service which subscribes will not leave are socialization and personalization.

SVoIP – VoIP for social communities'
Social communities are booming today with sites and services like: MySpace , LinkedIn and Plaxo increasing their subscriber bases to millions. Establishment of partnerships between those social communities and various VoIP service providers is natural with benefits going in both directions; a new and highly connected user base for the VoIP service provider and revenue sharing and feature offering for the on-line community. Examples of such partnerships include such companies as Jajah – Plaxo , Skype - Bebo and many are sure to follow.

"Social VoIP" is not limited to linked communities interaction; it includes use of VoIP in MMORPG ( Definition ), for Vlogs ( Definition ) and for referrals to services and service providers. Examples of such services are the SkypeCasts feature in Skype 2.5 beta and the social referrals pay-per-call service offered by Palore .

PVoIP – Personalized VoIP
Skype is a pioneer not only in recognizing the importance of social VoIP and in adding SVoIP features but also in personalization of its VoIP services. In September 2005, Skype announced its partnership with American-Greetings, Qpass and WeeWorld, aimed to deliver greater personalization to the Skype client. The additional personalization and emotion expression features include icons, ring-tones and sounds.

To further increase user VoIP application brand, service providers will increase emotion expressions and personalization features with video tweaking features. One company which develops such features for the VoIP and IM market is IDT Video Technologies, a computer vision and graphics start-up within IDT.

Just like emoticons (the well known “Smiley” and similar Internet symbols) which users add to text when they interact over the Web, users search for picture-messaging solutions that combine their own content with mood-animation. IDT Video TechnologiesChameleon service provides end customers with the ability to generate their own content based on pictures they have made by uploading it to the VoIP client, and then automatically touching up the pictures with ready made fun and expressive animations.

Today when most VoIP applications has reached technical maturity providing adequate voice quality and application robustness and scalability, differentiation between applications and services will be derived by brand. Socialization and Personalization features like emoticons will play a key role in creating brand loyalty through personalization while partnerships with on-line community groups will increase the socialization factors of the VoIP applications.