The web is rife with companies that have what seem to be unfathomable business models. We are regular users of www.freeconferencecall.com and every time I use it I think what a good service it is and of course you cannot beat the price.
I finally was curious enough to look up what is the revenue model and as I suspected (or likely had read someplace) the model is based on fees charged for line transmissions. Of course those fees are not visible (or easily visible) to users. I use the term “users” since people that use Free Conference Call don’t pay money so consequently they are not and cannot be customers.
It’s one thing to have a business model that claims it has future plans to monetize its users or players (think of the way Facebook started, Zynga and even Twitter), it’s quite another to have a model that does not plan to ask its users to fork over any hard cash.
So I checked around and one of the more concise descriptions on how Free Conference Call makes money came from Aaron Parekci’s blog from March 2012 – http://aaronparecki.com/articles/2012/03/25/1/how-does-freeconferencecall-make-money . Despite my now having a better overall understanding of the platform and how per www.feefighters.com Freeconferencecall.com does ~20 million calls per month and (per feefighters.com) it did ‘$23 million in revenues in 2010. So it’s a win-win-win right? Freeconferencecall wins, the conference callers win, the rural phone companies win, etc… Everyone, that is, except for the large phone companies. They are paying a ton of money to the small companies. AT&T estimated in 2007 that they were paying an additional $250 million to connect these calls.’ Basically the user pays nothing and the phone companies pick up the tab. Yes this is odd to say the least.
My normal thought process includes the phrase ‘if it seems too good to be true, it probably is’. Something about FreeConferenceCall.com just does not make sense (or cents) to me. But for the time being I am happy to not pay, to have our own number, and to have clients accept the platform without any issues.
How about you? Do you pay for a conference call service or are you a FreeConferenceCall.com user or fan?