Obivoice price changes.

Started by giqcass, January 25, 2014, 01:38:01 AM

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giqcass

There have been some price changes to Obivoice.  It would not have bothered me if the original prices were labeled as introductory and they upped them. The fact that the prices were not "introductory prices" and they upped them so soon into the game makes me question the stability of the company.  Perhaps I read too much into this but given the failure rate of young companies and other inconsistencies it gives me pause.

All that having been said they still have competitive rates and service seems good.  Customer service seems excellent.  There is a "reasonable usage clause" for the residential unlimited so it's not truly unlimited.  These things rarely are truly unlimited because of abuse.  There is a new business plan that was added and Paypal is now officially a payment option. Both incoming and outgoing minutes are counted against your total usage. There are no setup fees and a DID comes with the package.  The company has repeatedly said there are no hidden fees and so far there are no  reports of "Hidden fees" that you would find with many other phone companies.

Current Pricing.

500 minutes talk time per month.
Monthly $4.99
6 Month $14.99
12 Month $24.99
24 Month $39.99

2,000 minutes talk time per month.
Monthly $7.99
6 Month $24.99
12 Month $39.99
24 Month $59.99


Unlimited (Residential only)
Monthly $9.99
6 Month $29.99
12 Month $49.99
24 Month $74.99


Business Plan 7,500 minutes talk time per month.
Monthly $39.95
6 Month $120
12 Month $200
24 Month $300
Long live our new ObiLords!

Ansextra

I paid $185 for the first two years at VOIPo and that includes unlimited minutes (literally).  After the first two years the price goes to $185/year which is still only ~$15/month.  Lots of features and customer service is great.  Transferred my home phone number from Vonage to them at no charge.  Also set up a business line (same price) so I now have two VOIPo lines in the house.  In two years I'll check around again and see if there are more options.  If I'm happy with them I'll stay with them.  They're a spinoff from Hostgator so they have some money behind them I believe and have been around for a few years already.

Ansextra

Just checked their website and it's still showing the old pricing.  Now I'm confused... ???

gderf

If you have an account there you will see the latest prices.
Help me OBiHai PhoneOBi. You're my only hope.

Ansextra

Seems strange that they still have the old prices on the website though...

lhm.

New prices are on site. Clear the cache on your web browser.  ;)

LeoKing

I've seen their new prices since yesterday, $39.99/yr includes 2,000 minutes/month and the unlimited talk time per month plan is $49.99/year.

Ansextra

I'm seeing it.  Fast price change!

ceg3

Having just signed up this week for only one month at 7.99 as a trial, an immediate price increase seems like pretty poor business practice just when they are starting to attract our attention. ??? I'm not a big talker on the phone, so 2000 minutes at the 39.99 rate I expected to pay for "unlimited" might not be a deal breaker when the end of my trial month rolls round.  If the new 49.99 rate for unlimited is truly unlimited then that might still be a good deal.  Obihai in their blog post only talked about a set number of minutes for 39.99, not unlimited, so the obivoice 49.99 might be better for some people.

carl

Something is telling me that this will be not the last sudden turn down the road. Not that I care, since I would not consider this for a second anyway. :)

Ansextra

Honestly seems to me like someone started a business without a plan...

LeoKing

Quote from: carl on January 25, 2014, 06:54:09 PM
Something is telling me that this will be not the last sudden turn down the road. Not that I care, since I would not consider this for a second anyway. :)

+1. I was planning to use this OBiVoice service after 5-15-2014 but I don't think I like it anymore.

simpleAnswers

#12
No surprises here. Maybe a bit sooner than I expected. But seeing what everyone is offering I expected this price jump to happen that I actually got 2 accounts for 2yrs at the old price. They are most likely getting plenty of sign ups and have gotten enough demand to justify the price rise. Plus how else are they going to pay for that affiliate program  ;D

Having used a bunch of VOIP services for the last 10yrs, I can tell you right now that gripping about the price rise is a waste of time. I got a bunch of free DIDs from betamax before they stopped giving them away. I signed up for multiple Google Apps accounts before they started charging for it. Others got free SipSorcery accounts before it now started charging 60$ yearly. Early movers get the best deals. It was a lower price since the google announcement months ago. They have been featured in Nerdvittes PBX blog and other places. So clearly they are getting some traction.

When XMPP goes away, I expect them to raise their prices again because of supply/demand curve. When you look at what everyone is offering even their new $75 2yr plan looks better than anything else. Even the offering from Obi is 40$ per year and that doesn't offer as much as ObiVoice. GV XMPP going away has really killed the free VOIP market unless someone finds a workaround. Every VOIP company out there can now smell the blood in the water and will nickle and dime the shirt of your back. If you think this is the end you are mistaken, it is only the beginning.

Businesses adjust price according to demand. Its basic economics. If you see a good deal and sit on the fence for months, if the deal changes you can't say its a lack of business plan if anything its the opposite. For a long time all VOIP businesses have been competing with FREE from GV. Well GV has taken their FREE and gone home at least they told us months in advance, usually its instant. So for now the VOIP landscape is about to go through some serious changes.

ceg3

I can report that I got a Saturday customer service response about the increase and I was assured that I will be grandfathered in at the rate prior to the increase. Like everybody else, I didn't appreciate the price increase, but I do find their support good and the ease of moving off GV to their service was simple to the point that I even I could do it. There are lots of ways to use an OBi, many a lot more techi than signing up for obivoice. I think obivoice is going to work for me and it didn't break my brain signing up.

carl

Quote from: simpleAnswers on January 26, 2014, 03:37:25 AM


When XMPP goes away, I expect them to raise their prices again because of supply/demand curve. When you look at what everyone is offering even their new $75 2yr plan looks better than anything else. Even the offering from Obi is 40$ per year and that doesn't offer as much as ObiVoice. GV XMPP going away has really killed the free VOIP market unless someone finds a workaround. Every VOIP company out there can now smell the blood in the water and will nickle and dime the shirt of your back. If you think this is the end you are mistaken, it is only the beginning.

Businesses adjust price according to demand. Its basic economics. If you see a good deal and sit on the fence for months, if the deal changes you can't say its a lack of business plan if anything its the opposite. For a long time all VOIP businesses have been competing with FREE from GV. Well GV has taken their FREE and gone home at least they told us months in advance, usually its instant. So for now the VOIP landscape is about to go through some serious changes.

I do not think so. Just the opposite. The free GV has been killing a lot of great small VOIP providers. You cannot compete with free.At the same time, there is enough competition among smaller VOIP providers. Getting rid off freebees is one thing. raising prices another. The small provider VOIP market is one of the last markets with truly free competition and performance pressure. I think that a disappearance of a market distorter like Google voice is a good thing for all of us.

SteveInWA

The only good thing about these companies that spring up like toadstools is that, if they fail or raise prices to a level you find unacceptable, you can leave without a contract issue.

I doubt this company's pricing model, even after the price increase, is sustainable long term.  There is a level of fixed cost and reasonable profit margin involved that will eventually doom them, as it has others with a similar price.

There is a long discussion/debate on this over on DSLreports, and I tend to agree with the poster who took the effort to try to figure out a bare-bones cost model, and demonstrated that this is just too low to be sustainable, especially after they expand from the one guy answering the sales and support calls and emails, etc.

As always, everyone has their own tolerance for "you don't get what you don't pay for".

Koby

Quote from: carl on January 26, 2014, 05:29:21 PMI do not think so. Just the opposite. The free GV has been killing a lot of great small VOIP providers. You cannot compete with free.At the same time, there is enough competition among smaller VOIP providers. Getting rid off freebees is one thing. raising prices another. The small provider VOIP market is one of the last markets with truly free competition and performance pressure. I think that a disappearance of a market distorter like Google voice is a good thing for all of us.

I think you are getting a bit ahead of yourself here.  The only thing that is happening on May 15 is that Google Voice is discontinuing XMPP connectivity.  As far as we now know, Google Voice will still exist, and they will still be free (though that could change because they did not make their usual late December announcement this year).  The only difference is that your Obihai device won't directly connect with Google Voice any longer.  As far as we know now, there will still be ways to make and receive calls using Google Voice, they simply won't be quite as transparent and will involve additional equipment.

The other thing I think that it's wrong to assume is that Google Voice discontinuing XMPP connectivity will be a big boon for other VoIP companies.  That could happen, but it's also just as likely that people will simply forget about trying to use landline phones and shift all their traffic to their cell phones.  I think the idea of paying an annual fee for a VoIP line isn't anywhere near as attractive as free service, and some percentage of Google Voice users just aren't going to bite, even if Google Voice DOES go away completely someday.

Personally I am waiting to see what sort of plan Obihai has in the works, since they have said that this "Obivoice" is not the service they are planning to offer.  I do not really have a good vibe about Obivoice, and them raising prices so soon out of the gate certainly didn't help.  Maybe they aren't any better or worse than most of the other VoIP providers, but offering a plan for less than a month before jacking up their prices just doesn't seem like the right thing to do, especially since they didn't set any kind of expiration date for their initial price offering.  I'm not real big on the "we have to charge extra so we can offer an affiliate program" excuse either - as a consumer, why should I have to pay more just so someone else can take a bite?

SteveInWA

Good points, Koby.

With regard to the future direction of GV and the consumer land-line telephony marketplace, I've frequently written about this on the Google Voice forum.  I get a lot of flack from the soreheads and whiners valued community members who don't have the business or legal background to understand the larger issues, and just want free phone service.  Here's a recap:

Google, of course, hasn't and won't announce future plans; they're infamous for their silence.  But, all indications are that the inbound call management and other original features of GV from the Grandcentral days will remain pretty much intact (they'll give you one phone number that, in turn, forwards to up to six of your phone numbers, etc.)  The "free through the end of 201x" limited offer language was eliminated in 2013 when Hangouts phone calling was introduced.  Now, future pricing can be understood as any business product or service:  "It's free as long as we continue to offer it for free, and we reserve the right to change our pricing, or the offer itself, at any time."  I do not see Google having any interest in being in the telephone services-for-a-fee business, as they really want to stay away from FCC regulations and the mandatory fees, surcharges and taxes that come with regulation.

Your point about users turning to mobile vs. VoIP is right on.  Google is moving in the same direction.  The "pure play" or independent VoIP marketplace is already saturated, with race-to-the bottom pricing and extremely low profit margins.  It is a relatively small niche market at this point for consumers (although more robust for business users), for several reasons.  Most residential consumers are either getting phone service as part of a 2-way or 3-way bundle with TV and/or internet service now, or they are abandoning it in favor of mobile phone use.  There is no sensible business reason for Google to be in the land line VoIP telephone service provider marketplace.

As to whether or not Google's exit from XMPP support will have any effect on the pure play consumer/residential/SOHO VoIP marketplace, one could argue either way.  A year from now, everybody will have forgotten about it; there will continue to be the come-and-go small providers, but the more stable providers will probably still be priced around where they were before and during GV times.

This year, we expect to see increasing migration and integration of Google Voice functions over to Hangouts, where users will continue to be able to make telephone calls (free to the US and Canada, low-rates elsewhere) on their laptop or desktop computer, on their iOS device, and soon, on their Android devices.

CLTGreg

If picked up a 6 month lite plan to see where it flows. Low risk indeed. As long as they honor pricing as it was for those on a trial then that's OK with me if the service is good.

Only other thing I noted was billing increment is 60/60 where Anveo (and I assume others) is 30/6. So short calls to leave a message on an answering machine for instance could add up fast so be aware.

intelafone

Hey everyone,

Thanks for your feedback. As always the input we receive is what allows our service to grow and change to suit our customers needs. The price increase on the Unlimited Plus plan was implemented for a few reasons.

Foremost, it allowed us to offer more subscription plans to our customers who knew they didn't need unlimited minutes as they simply didn't need to use their residential landline that much. We opened the ability for them to start plans that had 2000 free minutes included.

Also the higher price has allowed us to introduce an affiliate program that has been suggested by many of our customers. The affiliate program provides participants with a set of image banners and links that, when used to create an account and sign up with service, will earn the affiliate program participant 10% of the subscription cost for as long as that customer is with Obivoice service.

Thank you again for your thoughts and the discussion you have all prompted about VoIP services.
-Andrew
Vestalink | XMPP Shutdown and Vestalink
BYOD Home VoIP Service | Approved Obihai Provider | Free GV Number Porting