GrandCentral.com (And A Whole Slew Of Other Things) Has Caused Me To Coin A New Term … “Froomed”

Have you tried GrandCentral.com? This company has the potential to revolutionize the way I do business on the phone. I was salivating at the potentials.

Salivating.

But I can’t use it.

I’d gladly pay for it.

They won’t let me.

Her Focus is being Free, and therefore she’s Doomed.

Or, as I’m going to start calling it now … Froomed.

Side note: I’m sure there’s some Web 2.0 company holding the name “Froom” to launch their mashable YouTube killer with Web 2.0 social networking memes that integrate the best of bookmarking with location services and high profile web applications that leverage open source RSS schemas that play Doom but … I’m gonna coin the term anyway.

I grabbed a Grandcentral account. Excellent product. Puts me in charge of the telephone – finally.

The very thing that number portability did do the wireless carriers has the possibility to let me finally call Comcast and tell them what to do with my “line.”

But I still can’t.

If you read around GrandCentral.com, there are 2 big warning signs.

First (no, it’s not the “Google only pretends not to be evil thing), there’s that whole “beta” thing. Beta means, “we ain’t ready yet.”

Secondly, if you read the Terms, check this out …

The GrandCentral Services are for personal, non-commercial usage. GrandCentral reserves the right to immediately disconnect or modify a Subscriber’s Service if GrandCentral determines, in its sole discretion, that Subscriber’s use of the Service is, or at any time was, inconsistent with normal personal, non-commercial usage patterns.

So, in short, GrandCentral has said use this for business and we’re gonna cut you off.

Fine, it’s their business.

I remember when companies salivated at the option that someone might tie their lively hood to a product or service. Seems to me we’re fighting a war over that very topic right now.

Can I pay to upgrade to a business account?

You’d think. In the old days, investors would actually require something like that.

But, you see, the focus is on being FREE, not providing a reliable service. They’re Froomed.

I was going to ignore it but … this happened … our whole industry is “FROOMING at the mouth” (cool, another new phrase) and nobody seems to notice.

GrandCentral.com told a bunch of folk that they’re free beta service that makes no promises in any way shape or form (and won’t let you pay for promises either) might be changing some phone numbers on them. Seems fair enough for a beta program that nobody paid for and no promises were made for? Right?

TechCrunch picked it up. GigaOm picked it up. They were popular posts.

In the old days of business people would laugh at anyone who printed a business card with a phone number they had no promise from anyone that they could keep.

In this “New Media” world, the founders Blog for forgiveness. Again, I remind you this is a product that very carefully not only promises nothing but shows no chance at paying for it and keeps the “beta” tag up (one would think) to product herself when things go wrong.

What am I missing?

Skype goes down and suddenly business can’t get done? Are things so tight that a 4 cents a minute phone card at any gas station or Costco will do you in?

Why is the FOCUS on FREE?

Why isn’t the FOCUS on Service, or Content, or … anything else?

Revision 3 had a fun little model where people could pay for content to get it a few days before everyone else. I applauded them for it. Who knew 2 guys on a couch drinking beer …

Don’t worry, the content would still be FREE … but those who paid got it a few days earlier.

Who could be offended with that? Who could possibly have a problem with that?

Lots did. Here’s a token complaint.

Others were stealing their content and posting it early to help others circumvent the subscription models.

Revision 3 was extremely cool about it, actually “letting” them do it, in simple exchange for download numbers.

That was too much.

Did Revision 3 take them to court?

No, they killed the subscription model FOCUSING on keeping things FREE.

They turned their direction towards the audience that wanted the content for free.

Remember, SOME WERE PAYING FOR IT.

They figured they’d rather have those who weren’t.

Apple has sold like 3 billion songs on iTunes that people can get for free. But, somehow, 3 billion times someone has said “sure, I’ll pay 99 cents.” And a billion of those decisions were in the last 6 months alone.

People are buying television shows, books on tape, movies and more yet, somehow, our industry’s focus is on keeping everything FREE.

Are we FROOMED?

Am I the only one willing to pay for good content and good service?

Is it smart to be in an industry where our customers won’t pay?

Are we doing them a disservice by encouraging them to grab it all for free?

Are we FROOMED?

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