After a Vonage new features demo at CES, I am a bit less skeptical about them
Walking through the main Consumer Electronics Show exhibit hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center, I chatted up some Vonage staffers at the booth.The chat-up resulted in me receiving a demonstration of two new Vonage features that have emerged from closed beta to go live this week.
Walking through the main Consumer Electronics Show exhibit hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center, I chatted up some Vonage staffers at the booth.
The chat-up resulted in me receiving a demonstration of two new Vonage features that have emerged from closed beta to go live this week.
These features are part and parcel of VPortal, itself an initiative of the company's self-branded MyVonage strategy.
Let's first discuss the VPortal. It's a device that comes with an LCD screen, that provides real-time feedback and error messaging. Users can also work with VPortal for Caller ID, call logging and as you see in the photo I took during the actual demo and am including in this pos- a day-time display. and an integrated LCD screen that provides real-time feedback and error messaging, allowing users to easily troubleshoot basic issues.
I think the user win in the VPortal is not so much the variety of features, but being able to get a leg up on just what might be ailing their Vonage connection. Having this info available via in-device self-diagnostics would give tech-support callers a leg up.
I mean, who really wants to participate in a 20-minute checklist to rule out (or rule out) possible problems? Wouldn't it be better for all concerned to have these pre-diagnostics available for tech support to suggest a solution right off the bat?
Also got a demo of Vonage Contact Book. Think of it as a type of Outlook Lite. You can integrate your existing Outlook contacts into a familiar UI, and then perform various Vonage phone functionalities (Voice-Activated Dialing, Speed Dial, etc.) from within VCB.
To be available later this year at a date to be announced, Vonage Contact Book has another compelling feature. Call Blast lets you record and then call all or some of your Vonage Contact Book entries simultaneously.
The practical advantages of Call Blast was shown to me by a Vonage exec who is also a youth soccer coach in New Jersey. He cited a hypothetical circumstance where a soccer practice might have to be cancelled at the last moment. Rather than place individual calls to 20 parents of 20 players, he would be able to call them all at once.
Taken more broadly, Vonage Contact Book could be seen as a strong bid for the SMB market- the lower end of which is being strongly recruited by open-source Asterisk-based solutions from companies such as Digium and Fonality.
So what do these innovations tell me? Rather than biting the bullet and trying to go the triple-play route as their broadband Internet service provider rivals are, Vonage is digging in, preferring to broaden their service set.
I'm still doubtful this will work, but after playing with VPortal and cruising through Vonage Contact Book, maybe I am a bit less skeptical a Vonage-doubter than I have been on these screens.