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Ooma’s PR failure

My good friend Tom Howe is savage in his criticism of Ooma, and then, in Aspirin or Penicillin, follows up with a good generic post on pain points in business. I don't necessarily agree with all of Tom's criticisms, but given the veil of secrecy the company has thrown up about some aspects of its product, it's easy to see why bloggers have nearly universally thumbs-downed this product. That's a failure of the company's marketing programs, and nothing more.  An intelligent outreach program could have mitigated the negative sentiment which now has the potential to turn into an outright disaster for the company. 

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Dean Collins July 25, 2007, 4:56 am

    Hi Alec,
    Disaster in who's book? the bloggers….yeh ok but what about the other 99.9999999999999999% of potential customers out there.

    I think several bloggers Om included have overstepped their 'boundaries' on this product 'review'.

    Maybe because of my experience at Cognation with a few different peer to peer applications I feel that Ooma might just have a very interesting future.

    I'm off to take up Thomas on his bet that Ooma will still be around in a years time.

    I'll set up a page on the http://www.Cognation.net site to track how this plays out.

    Dean Collins
    Cognation Pty

  • Alec July 25, 2007, 5:36 am

    I speak about it purely as a PR issue, Dean. Google search on Ooma turns up probably 50% negative mentions. At this point, I don't think anyone can "review" the product without having it in hand, which means that the exercise in the WSJ etc last week was all designed to create buzz and nothing more. My opinion? Ooma could have done a better job educating the cognoscenti in the VoIP world, and avoided this. Moreover, with 27 million raised, they have the dollars to do it.

  • Jon Arnold July 25, 2007, 5:43 am

    Thanks for putting this view out there, Dean. I suspect you don't follow my blog, but I did address this sentiment on my post. Being an analyst, I know I was one of the few in this crowd who actually had a briefing. Alec at least took the time to speak to Andrew Frame to get a first hand perspective, and I'll be speaking with Andrew again this week to rehash their lessons learned from the launch as well as finally getting me set up with a trial box.

    I'm with you in your thinking, and while critical of Ooma, I think I was pretty fair and did not trash them or give them 6 months to live. It's very easy to be an armchair critic, and blogs have a way of legitimizing an opinion – and I have a real problem with that. Ooma is an example of why journalists don't respect bloggers because the facts haven't been checked and their POV is based on second/third hand accounts. The bloggers may be more tech savvy than the journalists, but fact-checking is not generally their main concern. Isn't the Internet fun?

    Even though these bloggers are correct in many ways, like you say, they represent a tiny minority, and I don't think they speak for everyone. In fact, if you scan the bottomless pit of comments on Om's post – which to me is the REAL barometer of reality – you'll see plenty of positive comments from people who can't wait to try it.

  • Mike P August 26, 2007, 6:07 pm

    I think it is fair to say that my reasons for doubting what Ooma claims are based on 1st hand experience. I was involved in implementing much the same thing that Ooma is doing on the PSTN side of the Hub many years ago. The issues haven't changed. The problems with Calling Line ID, lack of answer and disconnect supervision on a loop-start subscriber line, dialing plans, huge lists of telephone exchanges, etc. still exist, and will plague Ooma.

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