January 15, 2013
Ooma Business, Good Business
By Doug Mohney
Ooma joined the field of service providers offering small businesses hosted voice service. Announcing Ooma Office at International CES (News - Alert) 2013 is one of a couple indicators that the privately-held company is doing well and is growing at a steady pace.
Shipping in the second quarter of 2013, Ooma Office costs $19.99 per line per month for unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada. A "starter pack" of Ooma hardware will cost $249.99 and support up to three phone extensions through the Ooma Office Base Station, and two Ooma Linx remote phone jacks.
The Linx is a DECT (News - Alert) 6.0 bridge device between analog RJ-11 devices and the Ooma base station. Businesses can have up to five phone extensions and 10 lines by adding more Linx devices.
Features of Ooma Office include a Virtual Receptionist to automatically greet and direct incoming calls, answering differently during business and non-business hours. Standard features include extension dialing, ring groups, music-on-hold, conference bridges, virtual numbers and HD voice support using the G.722 codec and Ooma's adaptive VoIP technology.
Ooma Office is keeping with the company's tradition of leveraging open source by using services from San Francisco-based 2600hz. Ooma vice president of Product Management, Dennis Peng (News - Alert), said 2600Hz uses the same open source FreeSwitch platform embedded into the company's Ooma Telo base station and used in its network voice servers.
The Ooma Office starter pack will be available through "big box" electronics stores, as well as online through the company's website. Peng couldn't disclose specific outlets prior to launch, but it's a safe bet to look for the product among the Office Depot-Staples-Radio Shack trio.
From a business perspective, taking a crack at the SOHO category with one to five handsets is a reasonable move. The market segment is highly contested with no one dominant player, price sensitive, and looking for an easy-to-install, easy-to-use solution without the expense of dedicated onsite IP PBX (News - Alert) equipment – and a reseller to install and maintain it.
Plug-and-play might be a big winner for Ooma if it can establish a good reputation in the SOHO space.
How is Ooma doing overall? The company hasn't disclosed subscriber numbers for a couple of years, so there's no way to look at year-over-year growth either in terms of lines or making speculation on revenue. A subjective "boothology" analysis would indicate the company bought larger exhibit space in 2013 than in the past two years and the booth itself was new and larger, so there's more cash going into marketing; CES real estate isn't cheap.
Peng said the Ooma is increasing its marketing spend in 2013, and the company was doing so through existing cash flow, not via supplemental private investment.
I suspect you'll see more of Ooma via various media in the months to come.
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Edited by Braden Becker