MagicJack vs Vonage: Which Of These Industry Leaders Is Better?

For residential VoIP services as alternatives to conventional local phones, cell-phone services and landlines – Vonage and MagicJack have both had their moments. While the technical premise of using ATA (analog telephone adapter) is similar for both, there are differences in terms of price, accessibility, advanced features and of course – after-sales service.

If you’ve been keeping up with their innovative adverts and marketing, you already know Vonage has a variety of different calling plans. They are especially attractive for the first six months of service, though they require upgrading to full-feature plans in the long term. Their name, a play on “Voice-Over-Net-Age” outlines their early start in this field (2001). In the early part of the decade since their debut, they made serious inroads into traditional telecommunication services. The company went public in 2006

A year after Vonage went public, MagicJack started out as a simple PC add-on, using the computer for uninterrupted operations. Over time, they offered several plan upgrades, features and refinements to their original

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MagicJack Impact – How One Tiny USB Device Changed The VoIP Industry FOREVER

Few products have changed market dynamics in tech market as MagicJack has in the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) domain. While the internet market was still exploring long-distance calls at an affordable price using software based services like Skype and GTalk – they came with a price-tag, not entirely justifying retiring your resident landline or cellphone. Ditto for NetTalk, another VoIP service which didn’t quite measure up with the audio quality. Cellphone plans too, were free for certain carriers within their customers, but mostly had customers waiting for those ‘nights and weekends’.

Figure 1: The Original magicJack device (2007) which arguably ushered in a new era for all VoIP Services

Introduced in 2007, the USB based MagicJack device immediately surged in popularity owing to twin benefits of promising truly low-cost alternatives to monthly phone bills and a very affordable price-tag. That, coupled with the rapid evolution of smartphones forced the existing players in internet based call market to improvise. Their impact was immediately visible as competitors felt the heat. Some of the prominent changes which ensued were:

  • NetTalk immediately invested in Video over IP technology – something which remains their calling card to the day. Despite other comparable features, customers agree that the MagicJack threat truly had them kick on to innovate
  • Skype has since then undergone overhaul of sorts in terms of video and audio quality, connectivity and overall user interface. File transfer speeds, which were painfully low even as late as 2008/09 have surged since. Controls are much more intuitive right now, though their international calling charges still keep them from truly challenging MagicJacks insanely low overseas rates.
  • With the advent of Smartphones, all of these services rushed to develop their proprietary applications. Several connectivity applications like WhatsApp have come along with free text, message to SMS, and file transfer bundles
  • Even resident phone plan services and VoIP options like Vonage have massively slashed their international calling rates, even offering unlimited calls to any country for around $9.99 for the first few months after sign-up. Further feature addition involved supporting fax lines in addition to the primary phone line.
  • Major Cellphone carriers steadily brought down their ‘bundle’ costs including unlimited text messages and favorable internet data plans as the market for Smartphones improved. Though support for international calling, and calling outside of proprietary carrier devices has remained underwhelming.

Such an explosive market activity was at

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