This week, word came out that Verizon is pulling the plug on its Hub media phone and VoIP service — all the more ironic given a report out this week saying media phones will be big business in the future. In retrospect, Verizon’s Hub product was doomed from its launch for three reasons.
1) Hub was neither fish nor fowl — it was a broadband service being sold through Verizon Wireless stores/outlets because Verizon (wireline) had no consumer outlets. There was no real champion for the concept and you didn’t see it get the (advertising) airwaves that the stock Verizon Wireless service did week after week.
Sure, it had some whistles that allowed it to access Verizon Wireless services, but you could get those through any vanilla web browser.
2) Priced to fail – You needed a two year contract for the Verizon Hub AND pay for the hardware. Oh yes, let me run to the store, pay $35 per month for an (overpriced) VoIP service and then shell out another $200 bucks for the hardware.
It’s the same sort of “Let’s charge more” strategy that has kept femtocells on the backburner at wireless carriers. Which leads me to the final point..
3) It wasn’t anything Really Special. People will pay more for better service, but Hub was a glorified cheap tablet PC with a vanilla VoIP contract anchoring it. I could be catty and say it would have been better with HD voice, but that’s an apples and oranges comparison — HD would have been a superior service to vanilla VoIP.