Over the last nine months, the number of adults in the United States and Britain who have heard of voice over Internet protocol has increased to about half from just over a third, but a substantial number remain ignorant about the technology, a research firm said Tuesday.
The percentage of adults familiar with VoIP grew to 46 percent from 37 percent in Britain, and to 51 percent from 36 percent in the United States, according to a survey of about 2,000 adults by Harris Interactive.
A substantial number of adults, however, were unaware of the technology. Fully, 41 percent of the respondents in Britain never heard of VoIP, and 36 percent in the U.S. Women were far less likely than men to know about VoIP, 28 percent to 57 percent in Britain, and 34 percent versus 62 percent in the U.S.
The data suggests that broad marketing efforts on the part of providers are working, but more needs to be done to reach people in particular demographic groups, the researcher said.
Among VoIP-aware adults, Vonage had the most recognition in the United States and Skype and BT in Britain. Vonage and Skype, however, had more recognition among men than women, while the more "mass market" players, such as Yahoo, BT, AOL and Verizon, had levels of awareness equal among the genders in both countries.
“The entrance of more mainstream brands moves the VoIP market onto the next stage, raising the questions: Will the big players use their scale and presence to quickly establish dominance? Or will their arrival lend credibility to the market and benefit the specialists?” Derek Eccleston, a Harris research director, said in a statement.
Among those people who don't use VoIP, about half in both countries were at least somewhat interested, while only about 10 percent were "very" interested. Roughly one in four people interested in the technology said they would consider subscribing in the next 12 months or sooner. These numbers indicated that VoIP had good market potential, Harris said.
The reasons for the interest included free calls between users of the same provider and cheap local/national telephone calls. Barriers to adoption included the lack of a perceived need and an understanding of the technology, which was reflected in such comments as "I don’t want to talk to my computer," the researcher said.