Consumer VoIP startup Ooma launched nearly a year ago and offered consumers free phone service for life, all you had to do was buy the hardware for $399.
Just one problem. The sticker shock of paying $399 up front for the hardware put a lot of users off. And there weren’t many places you could actually buy the Ooma. It went on sale on their website in August 2007. When a number of key executives left the company (we grabbed Sarah Ross, their former VP Communications), some blogs said they were in big trouble.
Amazon started selling Oomas later in the year, and customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
A year later the company is still going. They added marketing executives Rich Buchanan to the team from Sling Media earlier this year – the guy that led the Sling marketing team to sell 100,000 units in its first six months of operations, and 500,000 units as of mid 2008. Buchanan brought Tami Bhaumik with him from Sling as well, who is now Ooma’s VP Marketing.
Ooma is also now being sold in 26 southern California Best Buy retail stores, with a nationwide rollout scheduled later this month.
The company has also tweaked their business model. They still offer the free service for a reduced price of $250, with optional additional features in a premier service add on for $13/month. The premier features include a second line, three-way calling, message screening and custom rings.
I’ve been a happy Ooma customer for a year now. I also use Vonage, and Ooma’s call quality is better and there are fewer problems in general. If I didn’t have one I’d buy one now.