Remember Lycos? At one time, they had an important search service.
Now, after being at the periphery of search, they are using a partnership with India-based Global 7 to launch a softphone product called Lycos Phone. (First duh: Lycos Phone got its own website before a link to it was posted on the main Lycos site. Still not there as of this a.m. Makes you wonder if the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
The upsell is free calls to phones when you sign up for Netflix, or credit card promotional offers. You'll also see banner-ads.
Those users who choose not to sign up for offers will either pay 1 cent a minute for domestic calls when they exhaust their initial 100 free callout minutes, or agree to watch ads featured in Lycos' "lead generation" program.
Lycos Phone's GUI also supports Instant Messaging and streaming media content.
You do get a free "Lycos In" number, which you get for free. That's compared to Yahoo! Messenger's call-in number rate of $2.49 a month, and SkypeIn's approximately $3.16 a month.
Fellow VoIP blogger Tom Keating likes this pricing approach, and regards the ads that will appear on the bottom of the Lycos Phone interface as de rigeur for softphones, and non-intrusive as well.
But I say no thanks. When you are forced encouraged to watch ads within a softphone, and that softphone can do streaming of movie clips (as promo-ed on the Lycos Phone site) I can visualize that as being a slippery slope toward the type of rich media advertising that can crash a softphone.
Also, I have concerns about clutter. Even if I am just presented forced with the opportunity to endure bouncing Flash animations, code-rich Java applets and streaming videos on the bottom frame, no thanks. Why bother when all I want to do is make a call?
If I have to pay a little extra for a VoIP softphone that won't overstimulate my senses with static and multimedia ads so I can save a penny or two a minute, well, I will eat the cost.
See, I have this quaint notion. No, I don't want to watch an ad. All I want to do is make and receive calls. Just give me a calling pad and be done with it.