Friday, July 18, 2008

MajicJack Partnering With AT&T .... And More On "Problems"

MagicJack recently announced that all of its international calls have gone World Class. To be more specific .... they will use AT&T exclusively to complete all international calls placed using a MagicJack device.

Personally, my opinion is that something is just wrong with that marketing message. MagicJack's core Value Proposition is that AT&T costs too much, so folks should switch to MagicJack. Now we find out that the overpriced AT&T is the source of the international terminations. Without looking at the prices, one would expect that the international prices will be needlessly too high. For a hard core selling website, those messages seem too inconsistent ... and would scare off the heavy international caller.

I know they "say" that you'll get the "world class" international service at "the same low MagicJack price". But geez .... talk about a confusing mixed message. But, I guess you're talking about customers who buy from infomercials, choosing between Ronco's knife set or MJ's gadget. They're not going to put that much thought into it I suppose.

Maybe the attempt is to send the message that "we're mainstream." I don't think most people will consider the contradiction between being mainstream and charging non-mainstream prices. They'll just think they're getting mainstream for low prices.

Just another thought .... marketing statements like that also make it seem like they are admiting that their domestic calling is not World Class. Why would they advertise in a way that possibly risks implying that their basic product is not World Class? That's like General Motors saying the best leather is in a Cadillac, but the drive train is just so-so.

Since AT&T is the worst Telco for routing all your calls through the NSA or Homeland Security for monitoring, I don't know if this announcement is a great idea or not.

I have to throw this one out there too .... the MagicJack website looks like a bad used-car lot. As in a definite contender for any "ugly dog" contest. There's no coherent information. It's just all "Hurry, today's the last day" schtick.

Add the above to a fact few if any MagicJack customers know .... at least before they sign up for their service .... that the MagicJack business model is based on ad supported income. In other words ... they will cover their low cost to users by bombarding those same users with advertisements from "advertising partners" (in the MagicWindow). What advertising "you" see will be based on your calling habits (which MagicJack will be monitoring .... and then using to target and direct products/services advertisements aimed at your likely interests). Kinda smart .... but kinda sneaky too. I for one wouldn't want my calls to Grandma to result in adverts being to sent me on Denture Cream. To be blunt, the general idea for the concept just doesn't set well with me as a matter of principal .... no matter what adverts they were to "send".

As if that's not enough .... the requirement for an "always-on computer" to make the gadget work is more than a bit annoying. Plus expensive considering todays cost of electricity. Now maybe that doesn't bother you too much. You can pick up an old, used laptop. Replace the IDE hard drive with a flash-to-ide adaptor, install XP, and leave it on 24/7 without consuming too much electricity.

Personally .... I wouldn't try that right now. I get the impression MJ is still a bit unstable. I've read about people needing to unplug the USB device once a day for example.

There have also been reports of a Linux version. If that happens it will be more feasible to setup a solid-state, always-on computer using a small Linux distro like Puppy Linux (which is optimized for flash drives). You could use even older hardware, and smaller flash drives. No OS license.

The moral of the story .... don't get caught up in all the hype with MagicJack. Make darn sure you know everything you need to know .... before jumping on the badwagon. In all fairness there are folks who are very happy with their entire MagicJack experience. Just be sure to go in with your eyes open if you want to count yourself among their numbers.

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