Yak For Free, eh!

For all my rants about the Canadian market not being very exciting for VoIP, we sure generate a lot of good technologies and companies. However, the good stuff is primarily exported elsewhere, at least until the Canadian operators get behind VoIP in a big way.

Well, Yak Communications is another example of this. They were actually an early entry to the VoIP market up here, but haven't really gained much traction, at least the kind that gets noticed. Today, they launched a very interesting offering that raises the bar for IP. YakforFree is not only free PC telephony - among other Yak callers - but free video as well. Really. That's pretty neat. Talk about a great hook for international calling where you've got broadband and a videocamera. The voice part is not new, but adding video takes things up a notch. I'm still not convinced video is a driver for IP - either in the home or the office, despite the efforts of Nortel's MCS platform and all the angles Packet8 has been trying to make a go of it.

For all the coolness of this service, it's not something I'd run to sign up for - even if I had a videocamera. No doubt, they're showing the market the multimedia potential of IP, which is great, but this is a familiar scenario.

First we had Skype, which has had fabulous success getting 10's of millions of free "users". But transitioning them to paid, PSTN service has been another story. Voiceglo was actually doing this one better, and had PSTN connectivity way before Skype. They're up to 5+ million users, but only a fraction are spending any money. Free World Dialup is another example, but it's less crucial for them to develop revenues.

So, what's really new here? Will addding video be the kicker that drives free Yakkers to take on Yak's various paid services? Hard to tell, and Yak is not a brand to be reckoned with - at least yet. They'll be doing some heavy duty marketing to spread the word, so we'll just have to see if they have a twist that nobody has thought of. Until then, it's great offering if you're into free video telephony on your PC.

Hat tip to Andy Abramson who had an insightful posting on this earlier today.