Interview: Jeff Black of TalkPlus about Skype, Rebtel and iSkoot

September 13, 2007 at 2:15 pm

talkplus.gifWe have featured TalkPlus a couple of time already. As background, TalkPlus is a mobile voice application that markets itself as a second line for your existing mobile phone (with cheap rates of course!) in addition to providing visual voicemail functionality. The application is really quite unique in that all calls use your carriers voice network, however it is the phones internet connection that enables the “smarts” for the second number and the visual voicemail to operate.Today Jeff Black of TalkPlus takes a look at some of his company’s VOIP competition.  Some of the mobile VoIP products we’ve discussed on inbabble include Truphone , Rebtel, and fring.

How do your mobile products differ from Skype?
Black: Skype is a cheap long distance play only. Skype is big in the PC-to-PC market and is growing in the PC-to-Phone (Skype-Out) and Phone-to-PC (Skype-In) markets. However, Skype does not have a pure-play “mobile” solution in the market today. Skype only has a service offering with one carrier: 3, who operates in parts of Europe and Asia. Skype does not have a native client that works on mass market mobile devices, nor do they have an application that uses a mobile data connection to generate free phone calls.

So do you see any promising developments for Skype on mobile devices?
Black: Skype does have a partnership with iSkoot to provide a mobile application that allows a limited number of mobile devices (mainly smartphones) to originate mobile-to-Skype client calls. When a user originates one of these calls, the user normally dials a number in Boston, MA (the iSkoot’s setup number). The user is then connected to the Skype destination user and all minutes are billed against your Skype credits. This service is low cost, since it’s only the cost of your mobile minutes plus the Skype credits you burn while talking.

What about Rebtel?
Black: Rebtel is a cheap long distance play with an awkward twist. Rebtel requires a user to first call their friend in another country, then have the friend hang up and call back on the displayed caller ID, while the caller stays on the line. The problem here is four fold: 1) this requires the caller and the friend to modify their normal behavior, 2) the friend has to pay for one leg of the call if they are in Europe and calling back the temporary phone number, 3) the quality of the call is subject to any congestion over the internet and 4) this solution is not always cheaper in the end.

Are carriers are learning the value of partnering with companies like TalkPlus?
Black: The carriers realize that mobile long distance is going to face margin pressure, and TalkPlus is a superior solution, since it works over the voice channel. I think we’re a defensive play against traditional VoIP and Dial-by-Handle players. With TalkPlus, a carrier can monetize GoogleTalk and other Dial-by-Handle solutions without working directly with the instant messenger providers (e.g., Google, etc.) Lastly, our patent-pending Dial-by-Handle and Visual Voicemail solutions allows mobile carriers to offer a true “seamless communications” and “unified voicemail” (mobile, web and email) solutions that works on mobile and landline phones around the world.

Michael M.
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Entry filed under: fring, iskoot, mobile application, mobile content, mobile voip, rebtel, skype, talkplus, truphone.

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