Yesterday at Spring VON 2006, CompUSA announced its partnership with Bandwidth.com and Sylantro Systems to offer what it called the first full-featured hosted VoIP service for small and medium-sized businesses in the retail industry.
Target audiences will be businesses in need of 10 to 200 lines.
I have one word for this strategy. Two words, actually:
Channelitis: an ill thought-out strategy to get your products into as many VoIP solution channels as possible, and
Silly: silly because no matter how much self-serving studies you put out, I am not convinced that businesses of the size touted by these alliance partners will go to a mass-market retailer to purchase hosted VoIP. Yea, I know that CompUSA has in-house expertise to sell to SMB, but I don't sense a likely degree of reciprocal interest.
Now if you are talking to me about someone from that company fighting the Saturday afternoon parking lot jam to pick up a router for his or her home office use, then yea. Heck, CompUSA might even be able to claim some sales from businesses who want hosted VoIP for say, 2-5 lines. I could see a small law, engineering, or physcian's practice sending someone in to Comp USA to poke around.
But 150 lines of hosted VoIP? Systems integrators and supplier sales staffs, yes. But mass market retailers? I remain to be convinced.