PamConsult launches PamFax 2.0 as an obligation-free hosted fax service that supports sending and receiving faxes worldwide with no capital expenses, no usage contract requirements and lower “per page” costs.
The process of sending and receiving faxes involves:
- a document source: whether physical or a computer file
- physical document scanning
- a cover page
- transmission of the fax (originally over a phone line)
- often at expensive long distance rates and/or hotel service charges
- receipt of the fax (over a phone line)
- printing the received document
- logging the transmission and archiving the document
In the early 80’s the original fax machines were huge (at least the size of a bulky floor model photocopier), expensive and rare. However, a former medical practitioner customer was impressed that he could fax electrocardiograms to obtain diagnosis assistance with, say, a remote cardiology specialist, providing an initial level of value in time-critical circumstances.
As we moved through the 80’s fax devices became less expensive, more pervasive and somewhat smaller such that they fit on a table top; the biggest issue was finding or installing a nearby fax-dedicated phone line. In 1985 GammaLink introduced the first Fax PC board; a fax modem became common in PC’s throughout the subsequent 15 years. In the early 90’s there were various attempts to develop fax software for PC’s; the most widely remembered program was WinFax, which was sold to Symantec in 1995 and discontinued by Symantec at the end of 2006. But, while WinFax certainly could send and receive faxes, it did not exactly provide the simplest user experience for sending and managing faxes. Over this period several Internet-hosted fax services became available and contributed to the demise of WinFax.
Certainly, with Internet email and various file transfer services the volume of faxes has dropped off. However, they are still essential for (i) convenience of sending and receiving faxes via a dedicated device and (ii) exchanging executed legal documents, real estate papers and other business requirements which are suited to having a hard copy.
In many circumstances recipients still simply like to have a piece of hardcopy paper in their hands. As a result the real challenge for any new service is to offer a simple, easy-to-understand and easy-to-use fax services experience at lower costs yet that take advantage of the Internet’s cloud infrastructure and worldwide accessibility.
Fast forward to late 2007 when Ethernet ports had replaced modems on PC’s; PamConsult launched PamFax 1.0, a fax sending service that significantly simplified sending a fax from your desktop or laptop PC to any fax number worldwide. PamFax 1.0 was solely a Windows application that featured:
- sourcing documents from either a computer file or a scanned image
- compatible with all recent scanners, including multi-function printers
- five or six steps to send a document:
- select the document source
- (optionally) scan in a paper document
- enter the destination recipient and fax number
- (optionally) add a cover page
- pay via Skype Credits or PayPal
- send the document
- integration with Skype for fax confirmation notification and payment using Skype Credits
- an infrastructure that handled the payment transaction and sent the fax to any destination worldwide
- a Windows printer driver capability
- a minimum cost of ~$0.20/€0.14 per page
- a web-based PamFax portal to report on usage and archive sent faxes
But PamFax 1.0 lacked the ability to receive faxes and was not available for Mac PC’s. Yet PamFax usage has grown constantly; this past weekend PamFax 1.0 downloads passed the 200,000 mark, confirming the demand for easy-to-use fax services available wherever one finds a PC and Internet connection. It sure came in handy when on the road in a hotel room – at a much lower cost and no need to go to the front desk to send a fax.
According to PamConsult CEO Dick Schiferli, 58% of PamFax 1.0 downloads resulted in at least one additional paid page being sent; the average paying customer sends 6.5 pages. Overall month-to-month volume growth is currently running at 10% per month.
Today PamConsult is launching PamFax 2.0, elevating PamFax to a complete send/receive fax service on both Windows and Mac PC’s at lower costs. PamFax 2.0 features:
- Support for both Windows and Mac OSX
- Fax-in numbers available in 27 countries
- A complete redesign incorporating new user interface
- “Per page” pricing reduced by ~40% to $0.12/€0.09 page for on-demand service and $0.08/€0.06 page for volume subscriptions
- Several additional destination countries moved into the lowest cost zone 1.
- No requirement for Skype although Skype integration adds notification and payment options
- Ongoing support for Facebook and Salesforce.com integration
- A Vista sidebar widget
Much like Calliflower which takes a user through the entire conference call business process from invitations to archiving, PamFax 2.0 is a complete service that takes you through the entire fax generation and transmission process from the initial document sourcing requirement through to logging and archiving your fax activity.
- On Demand/Pay-as-You-Go or Prepaid?
- destination country (seven zones covering the world)?
- Fax-in number required?
- currency (select from 15 options)?
While PamFax can be used as an obligation-free “On Demand” service for sending faxes (at €0.09/£0.085/US$0.125 per page to Zone 1 countries) , PamConsult is offering volume bundles that reduce per page costs even further. For receiving faxes a monthly or annual subscription is required for the associated fax-in number.
PamFax Professional, a monthly or annual subscription, includes:
- Fax-in number for the subscription period (select one of 27 countries)
- Unlimited fax reception
- 33% discount on “per page” prices, starting at €0.06/£0.06/US$0.08 to Zone 1 countries
- Monthly: €3,95/£3.75/US$5.50 (subject to fluctuation with exchange rates)
- Annual: €47,40/£45.00/US$66.00 (subject to fluctuation with exchange rates)
PamFax Credit Packs add credits to your account at the €10, €30, €50 (with 5% bonus credit), €100 (10% bonus credit) and higher levels with increasing bonus credits.]
PamFax also offers a “business control panel” from which a business’s administrator can create a group account, assign and manage PamFax credit and track employee fax activity.
As a next step, address book integration and scheduled sending would be useful features to incorporate into future releases of PamFax.
Bottom line: PamFax 2.0 is another disruptive service within the Skype ecosystem as it eliminates several costs associated with faxing documents:
- country and international long distance charges
- hotel and airport kiosk fax service charges
- charges associated with having a fax-dedicated physical phone line
- cost and overhead of a dedicated fax machine
and results in turning your desktop or laptop PC into a fully featured fax machine. Laptop users have the convenience of being able to take their PamFax-enabled “fax machine” anywhere they may travel and find Internet access. Basically PamFax 2.0 allows you to disconnect your fax-dedicated phone line and to throw away your dedicated fax machine while having fax services available not only at the home office but also on the road.
Give it a try and report on your experience in the Comments.
Update: Alec Saunders: PamFax – no strings attached PC FAX
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