TheÂ preferred attack point forÂ cellular VoIP playsÂ todayÂ seems to be disintermediating mobile long distance from the handset.Â For the last few weeks I’ve been playing with an alpha release of T@lkster, a new Voice 2.0 offering which does exactly that.
T@lkster’sÂ promise is that you will be able to make inexpensive long distance calls from any mobile handset to anyplace in the worldÂ without downloading new software.Â Unlike Jajah, T@lkster allows the call to be originated from the handset (without a downloaded client) which is much less expensive in Europe.Â Unlike Rebtel, T@lkster requires no special numbers to be created and mapped.Â The service operates transparently.Â In addition, unlike either of the above services, T@lkster lets you terminate your calls on literally any client you can think of — IM, a PSTN handset, or VoIP.Â Moreover, it gathers presence information from your contacts IM accounts to show you whether or not the recipient might be available to take that call.
To use, you simply browse to an available contact and initiate a call.Â You can see each user’s online presence, and then choose to make a call to that user.Â The first photo below shows T@lkster running in theÂ Blackberry 8700 window, with “available” presence indicated for Janice, and the T@lkster helpdesk, but not Andy or Howard.Â What you can’t see is that Janice is reachable either on MSN, or via her home or cell phone lines, while Andy’s contact record is set to reach him on either his Gizmo project number, or his GrandCentral number.Â
The second photo shows the two modes that T@lkster can operate in.Â You can have it perform a callback, the way that Jajah does, or have it initiate the call from your handset,as Rebtel requires.Â
T@lkster came out of stealth at the recent Voice 2.0 conference in Ottawa.Â After CEO James Wanless’ pitch, I had a chance to catch up withÂ him andÂ CTO Mark Gelman at the Voice 2.0 conference.Â Â Gelman let it casually be known that one of the “hidden under the covers” features of T@lkster is a web services interface, allowing theÂ T@lkster system to be driven from an application.Â That feature alone has tremendous potential, and the ability to make T@lkster into a true long tail player in the Voice 2.0 ecosystem.
This company has a lot of promise.Â Watch for the open beta coming soon. Their blog is at http://talkster.wordpress.com/.