Friday, September 22, 2006

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Vonage Canada

On this week's podcast, I spoke with Joe Parent, Vonage Canada's VP of Marketing and Business Development. I've been wanting to podcast with Vonage for a while, and the time has finally come.

The big picture Vonage story is well covered everywhere, but the Canadian operation doesn't get as much attention, and there's a good story here that needs to be told. I've been following them from Day 1, and one of my very first blog postings was about their open house celebrating their new offices and 1st anniversary back in April 2005.

Joe and I talked about the state of the VoIP market up here, and the challenges all the pureplay VoIP providers face. Aside from what you'd normally expect us to talk about, Joe also focused on the marketing realities up here, and how it's so much tougher than what Vonage corporate faces in the U.S. Imagine if Verizon had a tie-up with MSN or Yahoo, and blocked VoIP competitors like Vonage from doing online advertising on those portals? Or if AT&T owned the NYT and CNBC and wouldn't let competitors advertise there?

Well, that's what it's like here in Canada. We have a very high degree of concentrated ownership in many industries, and the lines between media properties and telcos are blurred in many areas. In short, Vonage's lifeblood is mass marketing to attract subscribers, and many of the best channels that are widely used in the U.S. are closed to them in Canada. This is a problem that won't get fixed any time soon, and it forces Vonage Canada to be more creative in reaching the market with their message. Of course this also holds true for their competitors up here, so it's not just a Vonage story. However, at least you'll get some sense about what the Canadian VoIP players are up against in this podcast.

You can download the podcast here, as well as read more about Joe's background.

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1 comment:

ipcom said...

Posted by: jules

Hi there Jon! Fantastic podcast with Joe Parent! I found it extraordinary that this was the first time I'd heard that Bell wasn't providing/allowing Vonage advertising on their portal. There certainly is a media story there - I'm sure I'm not the only one who would find it shocking (and simply poor sportsmanship on their part) that Bell discriminates in their advertising.

Thanks again,