I Tried Switch.co
At work, you have a phone on your desk, right? At home you have a phone, too. And then of course you have your mobile, and so do all your coworkers and your family members. Well, here is the thing: Switch.co launched this week and I signed up. Looks like I am leaving both my work phone and my home phone behind.
Note: I have no affiliation with Switch.co or any of its investors.
For at least a decade we were hoping for Unified Communications (UC) to take off. We are still waiting. The gap between the telephony world and the Web world remains and it extends from the vendors deep into the channel and even still into customer’s organizations. But a lot is happening in the Web world when it comes to communications. There is real innovation at Web-speed. It is not "unified" but integrated instead. Integrated into the Web, into your workflow, and into the applications and devices you already use. Communications as a feature instead of an industry. It is finally happening.
Switch.co is a shining example of this new reality. Tuned for viral adoption with a high K-Factor (check how focused they are on getting a user to invite and onboard teammates). With a beautiful design and an appeasing user experience that removes all the friction. An inviting Web site. A free trial. And flat-rate per user pricing without gimmicks. Wow!
Does it hold up? Does it work? You mean they want you to give up your phone and replace it with what, a Web app? No way. This is mission critical and people will never go there! Well, we have all heard the arguments between the Yin and the Yang. But let’s see, maybe it does work.
The only friction I found during the signup process is a glitch in the form for the 911 information, where at least a space needs to be entered for the apartment number. It took me no more than five minutes to get a new number and receive my first call. It helps if you are a Google Apps user and of course Chrome is a good thing to be using. Switch installs a Chrome app that turns into your new desk phone. You pair it with your mobile number so that incoming calls ring both your laptop and your mobile. That is good just in case my Web phone misbehaves. After all, I want to appear professional to my callers.
Switch.co feels a lot like Google Voice, just nicer. This is not surprising considering that the Switch team came from Grand Central, the company that turned into Google Voice. Looks like this is their third go at solving this problem. The fact that WebRTC is now ready helps a lot, too. It helps to provide great audio quality and it just works, like Skype did when it came out.
There are two universal ways to find someone. We all have both an email address and a phone number. We also typically have two gadgets we carry around: a laptop and a smartphone. A service like Switch.co allows me to integrate email with calling and it creates universal reachability where finally location no longer matters for my business calls.
I will keep using it, for sure through the trial period. I’ll report back and let you know whether my coworkers and family got hooked. I need to invite and convert at least one other person to deliver on a K-Factor > 1, a key measure for Switch’s potential to go viral.