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Wholesale VoIP Feature Article

'Free' Communications Apps: Look Before You Leap

January 27, 2015

By Rory J. Thompson, Web Editor

Most everyone in the tech world is aware of the many free apps available for communicating with others (Skype (News - Alert), anyone?), but they’re less familiar with the costs associated with such “free” offerings. Are they really worth it?

In a recent blog post, Natalie DeCario – Marketing Communications Manager at leading VoIP provider VoIP Innovations (News - Alert) – looked at some of the options out there and examined their value. She cited research by telecom software reviewer Software Advice, and what they found is of interest to anyone considering hitting that “download” button.

“The biggest reason people are opting to a free communications solution is to cut down on expenses,” DeCario notes. “In fact, they discovered that it is possible to save up to 50 percent by replacing the traditional long-distance services with SIP Trunking.”

That’s nothing to sneeze at, and there’s more good news where that came from.

“More than half of the respondents to this Software Advice survey reported that they use free apps at work and that freemium and open-source OTT options are used slightly more than paid solutions,” DeCario found. “From looking at the research, we can see that text messaging and instant messaging appear to be the most popular OTT app features. Oddly enough, video calling and Web conferencing are the least-used features.”

But it’s not all Unicorns and free candy, DeCario found.

“When you compare free to paid communications clients, you tend to see a big difference in the amount of features that are available to use,” she wrote. “Some examples outlined in the study identify a few pain points that may not be available to those who use free apps including:

  • Integrations with other kinds of software;
  • Customization around specific business processes;
  • Federation with partner companies’ communications solutions.

“However, some open-source communications systems offer these types of features, but they are very difficult to get set up. They require extensive technical knowledge and this makes it very challenging for some business to use the apps to their full potential.”

On the other hand, the free stuff gets strong favorability ratings as well.

“When looking at free instant messaging solutions, 29 percent of respondents rated them as extremely effective. That might be because it’s a relatively basic technology or it might be because instant messaging has been around since the 1990’s,” DeCario said. “I believe that it has something to do with the fact that the majority of OTT users are between their late 20s and early 30. These millennials grew up with the instant messaging technology.”

It’s a good point. The bottom line is, while there’s no such thing as a “free lunch,” a lot of these apps come pretty close. As is always the case, “Let the Buyer Beware.”

For Natalie DeCario’s full “app-blog”, click HERE.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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