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T@lkster: A New Voice 2.0 Company

The preferred attack point for cellular VoIP plays today seems to be disintermediating mobile long distance from the handset.  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’s promise is that you will be able to make inexpensive long distance calls from any mobile handset to anyplace in the world without downloading new software. Unlike Jajah, T@lkster allows the call to be originated from the handset (without a downloaded client) which is much less expensive in Europe.  Unlike Rebtel, T@lkster requires no special numbers to be created and mapped.  The service operates transparently.  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.  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.  You can see each user’s online presence, and then choose to make a call to that user.  The first photo below shows T@lkster running in the Blackberry 8700 window, with “available” presence indicated for Janice, and the T@lkster helpdesk, but not Andy or Howard.  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. 

The second photo shows the two modes that T@lkster can operate in.  You can have it perform a callback, the way that Jajah does, or have it initiate the call from your handset,as Rebtel requires. 

Calling using T@lkster   T@lkster call out window

T@lkster came out of stealth at the recent Voice 2.0 conference in Ottawa.  After CEO James Wanless’ pitch, I had a chance to catch up with him and CTO Mark Gelman at the Voice 2.0 conference.  Gelman let it casually be known that one of the “hidden under the covers” features of T@lkster is a web services interface, allowing the T@lkster system to be driven from an application.  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.  Watch for the open beta coming soon. Their blog is at http://talkster.wordpress.com/.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • luca October 18, 2006, 4:27 am

    I feel the same. I think is one of the most promising services in the mobile VoIP scenario.

  • Alec October 18, 2006, 4:44 am

    i saw your post Luca. I think the biggest impact is going to be in europe. These VoIP on Mobile plays aren't going to take off in the US, because most of the carriers don't unbundle the LD minutes anymore. But here, the Web Services angle could be big!

  • Pat Phelan October 18, 2006, 11:07 am

    Its a great product
    We gave a bunch of Cork Bloggers test accounts and demoed the service last night.

    My only concern is the high wholesale termination cost to European mobiles, I think this could be actually huge in Asia where you have a very tech savvy population and mobile termination costs very similar to fixed termination costs.

  • James Body October 19, 2006, 6:10 am

    Alec – you think that the biggest impact of mobile VoIP is going to be in Europe? I am not so sure about this – wherever there is high cost of use of cellular voice services, then mobile VoIP has a clear advantage as infrastructure costs are much lower.

    It is clear that Europe and US markets will have to operate on completely different tariffing models; in Europe the model is calling party pays and calls to cellular numbers are expensive, in N America the called party pays (mainly) for the call and mobile numbers are overlaid on the normal geographic numbering scheme. However, in both markets the total cost (whether paid by caller or callee) is still much much higher than calls to wireline phones – and it is this cost differential that makes mobile VoIP such a viable commercial proposition.

    By embedding the mobile VoIP capability into a cellular handset, users can enjoy the best of both transmission means (cellular and internet). One player that has done an excellent job of this (using WiFi capable Nokia handsets) is Truphone ( http://www.truphone.com ) Truphone has been release (in beta) in UK and US and offers different business models for each market.

    Whilst it is still early days for mobile VoIP, the writing IS on the wall – the large MNOs honeymoon period where they have been able to extract extortionately high revenues from cellular customers is drawing to a close, driven principally by the widespread availability of cheap, high bandwith internet services with wireless local distribution.

    If I had Vodafone shares, I would probably be selling them now!

  • Alec October 19, 2006, 6:48 am

    James — perhaps I should have said that differently. I don’t believe T@lkster will gain a large following in the USA because it requires you to use minutes on your handset, and (at least in the USA) these are generally nationwide minutes. Certainly here in Canada, the value proposition for T@lkster will be compelling.

    Truphone, as you point out, has the potential to be impactful globally. I have yet to get my hands on a Nokia handset with WiFi that supports TruPhone (they don’t support the N91 at this time) but rest assured, when I have one, I will write about it.

  • Bingo October 19, 2006, 7:31 am

    globedialer.com is already doing this…

  • Alec October 19, 2006, 7:45 am

    Thanks for the tip, Bingo!

  • Allan October 27, 2007, 9:19 am

    This is not working.
    Only for 10 sec, and only after a lot of work !!!!!!!!

  • Dan October 27, 2007, 9:20 am

    Working for ONLY 10 sec

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