Late last week I had a most interesting conversation with Matt Rosen, CEO of Internet phone company Efonica.
Here are some highlights.
I asked Matt why there is no IM client in the inaugural Efonica Fusion softphone build (shown at the top of this post). While he did say there would be IM capability within 60 days, he indicated to me the fact that Fusion is hitting the market with a softphone first- rather than go the IM-to-softphone path of Google, Yahoo!, and others, offers a clear point of differentiation.
In other words, Efonica's approach is to be more of a telephony service provider than one that happens to bundle telephony in with IM and other applications.
Matt also consididers it important for Fusion to come to market as more than a software-only service. Fusion is ATA-compliant.
I got the impression from talking to Matt that he views Fusion's capability for use over dial-up as an important characteristic that will broaden the customer base exponentially.
Matt is very upbeat on Internet Area Codes, and the accompanying eNumber concept. The Efonica-Trademarked IAC eNumber allows Fusion users to dial any number by dialing "10" first. He views IAC as a feature that will be more in keeping with the "habitual calling patterns" of customers.
I agree- this is infinitely easier than looking up and then dialing a country code.
Because referring the people who call you to your new VoIP number can be time-consuming and inefficient, Rosen thinks it is important that customers can use existing numbers. That's why Fusion has that capability as well.
I pointed out to Matt, though, that although Fusion offers outbound calling, there's currently no inbound calling. He realizes that of course. Fusion will offer voice mail within 60 days and inbound calling in around 90 days, Matt told me. At that point, the "efoin" (lower left, as shown in the screen cap at the top of this post) and Voice Mail prompts (lower right on the same cap)will be enabled for those users who sign up.
Fusion will probably also offer video calling but a bit further out.
The actual Fusion softphone will soon be offered in what Matt characterized as "five or six" languages. That's in keeping with Matt's declaration that Efonica sees Fusion as more of an international calling service than a domestic one. An international service in which callers encourage others to become Fusion users- and then get to talk to each other for free.
Speaking of, after around a half-hour on the phone with Matt, I asked him: "you know, you didn't mention price once. Is that because you feel you are differentiating yourselves on services and platforms rather than cheap calling?"
Matt was on board with that. Then I asked him,well, then, how low will PC to PSTN calling get? He sees both an eventual, and realistic, calling fee structure of 1.3 to 1.8 cents a minute.