Today is Alexander Graham Bell's birthday and it seems a fitting time to talk about the revolution that is happening in Telephony. The computer and the phone are merging. Just as Bell himself could not have imagined the full potential of what he created, we have barely scratched the surface of what happens when you merge voice with the PC and the Internet. The applications, services, and new revenue models that will be enabled cannot yet be fully appreciated.
Toktumi is at the forefront of this revolution, and the opportunities presented to the company extend far beyond it's initial service offering. The winners in the new markets that will be created tomorrow will be those who get a seat at the table today. Toktumi takes small businesses into the future by solving a real business problem for real customers and making money doing so, but perhaps more significant is that in doing so, it pulls up a chair at that table of the future.
Toktumi incorporates this revolution not just into the features it offers, but into the way it acquires customers. Toktumi's free version unlocks the power of the Internet to harvest referrals from partners and its own customers much more cost effectively than the traditional direct sales or call-center based approaches used by all its competitors. It is the first time such a model has been applied to the office telephony market, and its the key to acquiring SOHO customers cost effectively. Our beta has shown us the power of this model, with more than 10% of free customers having converted to paying customers, and with existing customers inviting new customers at a rate exceeding 1 to 1.
To explain what's happening in telecom, let me try an analogy. First there was the manual typewriter, then the electric typewriter, which was really the same thing but with a few extra capabilities that electrification enabled. But the electric typewriter did not create the publishing revolution - it was merely incremental. It was used pretty much the same way, distributed and sold pretty much the same way.
What changed everything was when typing jumped onto the PC, and the electric typewriter was replaced by WordPerfect and ultimately Microsoft Word. Suddenly everything was different, and whole new markets and billion dollar companies were enabled by the shift. All the people selling typewriters had to reinvent themselves or die, and new billion dollar companies like Adobe were created out of the ether.
The same is about to happen in telecom. Most VoIP products and services up to now have been electric typewriters. Same phones, same capabilities, and perhaps a few new cool features. And still distributed and sold pretty much the same way. Not a revolution. As voice moves onto the PC, that's when the revolution begins. The same thing will happen that happened to home publishing when Word took over. Whole new applications and markets and distribution channels will appear, and billion dollar companies will be created, some offering services we can't even imagine today (could you have envisioned Adobe in 1978?). So goodbye electric telephone - let's bring on the next revolution. Word up!