There are a few major reasons why we all don’t have VOIP phones: monthly subscription fees are a big one, as is cost of equipment. But Ooma may change all of that, while adding icing to the cake, with full native Google Voice support.
Ooma is a one-time-cost voice-over-Internet solution. No monthly plans, and no “installation” that you can’t do yourself. It doesn’t require Google Voice, and vice versa; Voice works great with regular old phones. But together, the two offer the closest thing to telephony nirvana there is for a few hundred bucks.
Here’s why: Google Voice gives you a new number that lets you ring all your phones and manage voice mail online. But you have to “train” people to use that new number, or else they can bypass the system entirely. With regular phones, that’s a pain; in order to get your caller ID on another phone to say your Google Voice number, you have to first call your own number and then put in the digits you’re calling. Bummer.
In October, Ooma is releasing a handset to go along with its existing VOIP router, and it has the magical ability to act as a native Google Voice phone. When you call out, your Voice number appears on the other caller’s caller ID. When someone sends an SMS to your Google Voice line, it appears on the Telo handset. For a lot of people who’ve been casually messing with Voice, this is the convenience they needed to adopt it completely.
Ooma has been around since 2004, but the Palo Alto-based company seems to be just now hitting its stride with $18 million in fourth-round venture in the bank. Obstacles remain; you can’t text out from your GV number using the Telo handset, because Google hasn’t figured out how to make the caller ID for outgoing texts appear correctly. Still, as this technology develops, Ooma may be the add-on that makes it a must-have for small business owners and households.