I am a big fan of PC-based VoIP products like Skype, Google Talk, etc. I find them really useful. However, I have found relatively modest adoption among my friends because you really need to have a decent USB headset to make the experience worthwhile. Why haven’t some of these providers (Plantronics, Logitech, etc) gotten together and done a deal with Dell to get a low-cost headset bundled with every PC or laptop that ships nowadays? I have been to Fry’s and seen decent headsets (not all of them USB) for sale for less than $20. The applications themselves are getting easier to use every day and the lack of headsets is a real impediment to user adoption. I have to believe that giving consumers a relatively cheap headset for “free” would a) encourage greater use of these applications and b) encourage consumers to trade up to more fully-featured headsets to have a better experience. I have to believe that some of the explosive growth around USB keychain drives is due to the fact that major computer manufacturers were aggressive in bundling these things with new PC purchases or offering them at low low prices.
I think it would be tougher for an application vendor to underwrite such a program as the switching costs between programs are still fairly low. That being said, providing low cost VoIP headsets for just about anyone who buys a PC would do wonders for the PC-based VoIP industry. The industry needs to do something while we wait for the ability to be able to use mobile phone Bluetooth headsets to make calls from PCs.