Summing It All Up
After my experience with these two services, my bottom line is that there is no real winner. While I'm sure some of you think that's a cop-out, please look at Table 4 to see the reasoning behind my conclusion. The table lists key attributes of VoIP service that buyers will be looking for and which service is better.
|Ease of Installation||Tie|
|Cost - US calling||Tie|
|Cost - International calling||Skype|
|Local number availability||Vonage|
|Table 4: Skype and Vonage compared|
You can see that neither service has the advantage for about half the attributes, and for the rest, Vonage gets three wins while Skype gets two - hardly an overwhelming majority. The reason I gave Vonage a plus for Customer Service in spite of my not-so-stellar experience is that at least they offer live help, while Skype help is via its "knowledge base" and website form only.
All that being said, I think I can boil it down to an even simpler bottom line. If you're a traditional phone user, do most of your calling from your home or office, and spend more time on your phone than your computer, then Vonage (or one of the other conventional VoIP providers) would probably be your choice. Skype's lack of live customer service and emergency-calling (911) support, pre-paid billing model, and computer-dependence make it not yet ready to be your only phone connection.
On the other hand, if you have a computer-centric lifestyle, find yourself frequently voice and text chatting simultaneously and communicate mostly with other like-minded folks, then Skype is a better choice. It can even be the way to go as a second line for a home-based business, as long as you don't need to do any faxing - which Skype can't handle - and don't need any of the fancy call-forwarding tricks that Vonage can do.