An ecosystem of partners has started to coalesce around the FREETALK Connect platform, announced yesterday. Simultaneous with the unveiling of the device, FREETALK announced the FREETALK Connect Alliance, a consortium of industry players offering products and services that interoperate with the FREETALK Connect has formed. Initial members include:
And although not formally a member of the FREETALK Connect Alliance, Aastra is also building devices that interoperate with FREETALK. Last week at Jazinga’s offices in Toronto, I was shown an IP handset with a color screen capable of displaying the user’s Skype buddy list and presence information.
So why is this important? Note the number of players offering services that exist in the voice cloud. FREETALK Connect is not just a company selling an interesting PBX. It’s an interesting PBX that comes with a group of ready-made add-on services that can easily integrate. Applications are the name of the game, and FREETALK Connect has ‘em.
Naturally, we’re proud that iotum and Calliflower is one of the founding members.
Today was a big day for us, as we announced the addition of Skype calling to Calliflower. This is an open beta. Users can call Calliflower from Skype by calling the Skype user CalliflowerSkype. It’s that easy.
You could always call Calliflower from Skype before, just as you could call any phone number with Skype. So what are the benefits of this new model?
Improved voice quality. Now, we have not implemented Skype’s famous SILK codec yet, but that doesn’t mean that users aren’t getting higher voice quality than before. PC headset microphones tend to be better quality than the cheap microphones in telephone handsets, plus we’ve eliminated one source of transcoding loss by taking the Skype call in directly rather than crossing a telephone network gateway.
Truly international reach. Calliflower already has dial-in numbers in over 30 countries, and well over 130 cities. There have always been cities and countries, however, that we’ve been unable to reach: mainland China, India, most parts of the Middle East, Africa, and so on. With Skype, we can now provide a quality call in experience from anywhere on the planet where the Internet is available.
No cost. Callers can now connect to Calliflower calls via Skype without incurring any costs whatsoever. In North American this isn’t such a big deal, but our customers in countries which charge for local calls will particularly value this feature.
Most of all, this is a pre-cursor to the things we hope to do with Skype technologies in the future.
More details: Jim Courtney wrote about the announcement this morning, including a tip to avoid ever having to type a PIN number in when calling with Skype (hint: set your caller ID). I also chatted with TMC’s Tom Keating about this announcement as well.