Old VoIP Wine; New Web 2.0 Bottles

from the jajah-vu dept

We mentioned this back when the hype first came out about Jajah, but it's hard to see how they can claim this model is even remotely new or revolutionary. Dialpad (which went through a ton of business model changes before eventually being bought by Yahoo) had a service identical to Jajah's in the late 90s. Rather than a softphone based VoIP system, you simply type in your home or cell phone number and the number you want to call. The system calls you first, and then calls the other person. So, seeing the company promote it as something amazing and new seems a bit silly. Dialpad discovered that it was tough to make money with this model. At one point they only allowed calls to be one minute long -- and if you wanted longer, you had to watch the screen of your computer and keep clicking a button to stay connected on a minute-by-minute basis (and the website showed ads, of course). It's not clear how Jajah will make money, but as SiliconBeat notes, the site suggests that it may only allow free calls to last five minutes. Still, one of the problems that people have with the bubble mentality is that people don't seem to remember the past very well. There doesn't appear to be a single news article (so far...) that notes that this is an exact replica of a bubble-era business that went nowhere. It's tough to even improve on old failed business models if no one even remembers them.

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  • identicon
    Jaime, 27 Jun 2006 @ 11:27am

    Dialpad was different

    I don't remember Dialpad providing call bridging -- didn't the one initiating the call have to use a headset with their PC? This to me is the huge difference with Jajah, since you can click on any phone number in your browser and then have a conversation on your regular telephone, without the stupid headset and such.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      D Roberts, 27 Jun 2006 @ 11:34am

      Re: Dialpad was different

      That was a different incarnation of Dialpad. I used it during that time as well, but, as the OP said, they went through many different phases before Yahoo bought them. I do remember the call bridging but I only used it a couple of times. When the "click on ads to extend the call" idea came around I gave up.

      -DR

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 27 Jun 2006 @ 12:03pm

      Re: Dialpad was different

      I don't remember Dialpad providing call bridging -- didn't the one initiating the call have to use a headset with their PC?

      They did both. At one point they did the bridging, but it didn't last long. I'm pretty sure it was in either 1998 or 1999, but I'm not positive.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Drew Robertson, 27 Jun 2006 @ 1:39pm

    What's Different

    We recently implemented JahJah inside CallinSearch so we're a little biased but...JJ's bizmodel problem you mentioned is no different thanthat for any PC-based VoIP service like Skype, Estara, GoogleTalk, Yahoo, etc., etc. Vonage feels the pain as well as disintermediating PSTN carriers becomes a chump's game. Integrating voice (and chat) within ecommerce, advertising, social networks and search (hey that's us!) is the way to go. Stand-alone is not a long term strategy. And I don't think JJ wants to go there.

    Oh one more thing, Net2Phone sucked back in the 90s. They and everyone else have much better QoS today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brian McConnell, 27 Jun 2006 @ 1:45pm

    International Callback 2.0

    If you include international callback services, which is essentially what this is, the idea dates back to the early 1990s. Callback is actually a better way to do this. You just ring a phone number once, hangup before it answers, and it calls you back. No need to be anywhere near a computer. No internet connection required.

    Nothing Jajah is doing is technically innovative, it's just callback with a web form, and web initiated callback has been around since the mid-1990s. What they have done is build a zero profit business that is set up for a very high churn rate (there's nothing here to retain customers, such as a downloadable app that people will use a lot).

    My guess is that since the blog search engines only go back a year or so, journalists now do not recall anything that happened before 2003.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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