≡ Menu

"Finally, a useful application on Facebook"

Ten weeks of hard work all came to fruition yesterday. The wraps came off iotum's free conference calling application for Facebook, we told some friends in the blogging community what we had done, and then we watched to see how people would react.  Reaction was incredibly positive. The most common sentiment? Finally… a useful application for Facebook.   And, in the tradition of any good startup, there were one or two glitches that still needed to be worked out and code still being added until late last night. 

What's special about the iotum FREE Conference Calls application?

  1. It's tightly integrated with Facebook.  Using it is a natural extension of the Facebook experience people are already comfortable with.  We intentionally modeled our application on the Facebook events application… our events simply take place on a phone call instead. 
  2. How many times have you scrambled looking for the PIN number for a conference call?  Well, we don't use PIN numbers.  Your mobile phone number is your identifier.  Everyone can remember that.
  3. How about remembering the bridge number? It's usually stuck in a mail message or calendar reminder somewhere.  Not with iotum FREE Conference Calling.  It's in the text message reminder we send you a few minutes before the call, so you don't have to look for it.
  4. Isn't it a pain waiting on a bridge for others to show up?  iotum FREE Conference Calling shows you who has RSVP'd, and who is on the bridge.  It's a live application element within the Facebook app itself.
  5. Most conferencing systems today are for private scheduled calls.  iotum FREE Conference Calls can be both public and private. If you make a call public, it shows up in your newsfeed, as well as allowing anyone to join.  We hope public calls will be popular with podcasters, musicians, and others who are trying to cultivate an audience.  Blogging pal Moshe Maeir has a public call scheduled for today at 3:30 PM EDT, and iotum's dynamic duo Julien and Saad have one scheduled for 10 AM EDT.  Try them out, and let me know what you think. 
  6. For North American users, the calls are free.  You call our bridge in the 218 area code, and pay only the charges you would normally pay, whether that's airtime on your cellular phone, or long distance on your land line.  As Jim Courtney at the Skype Journal discovered yesterday, you can even make the calls from Skype — great if you have an unlimited Skype account.

Here's a sampling of some of the coverage we saw yesterday:

  • Dan York's Disruptive Technology published the first (and lengthy) review of the application.  Says Dan, "it's good to see a useful business app out there for Facebook".
  • Ted Wallingford's Signal to Noise said iotum is "embracing Facebook whole-heartedly by creating a voice conferencing application for the business-friendly social networking site".  Like us, Ted sees huge value in Facebook for business use as well as personal networking. 
  • Luca Fillighedu expressed disappointment that we're only offering North American numbers.  Perhaps you can help us fix that, Luca!
  • Gary Kim offered the view that just as RIM defined the market for email in your pocket, someone will do the same for conference calls in your pocket.  We're aiming squarely at that space, Gary. 
  • The gorilla of social networking blogs, Mashable, wrote us up late in the afternoon
  • In addition to Mashable, Facebook blogger AllFacebook also picked up the story, saying "if you make conference calls for your small business or for personal reasons, I highly recommend checking out the Free Conference Call application."
  • Ken Camp takes us to task for ignoring our BlackBerry application Talk-Now while we worked on our Facebook launch.  No worries Ken, Talk-Now is going to get an upgrade this fall which will integrate the conferencing system we've built.  You'll be able to see at a glance who can participate in a conference call, not just a one-to-one call.  Moreover, we're going to bring the Talk-Now presence feature set back to Facebook, and deliver iotum Relevance Engine style presence to the Facebook community.  It's coming!
  • Irish blogging sensation Pat Phelan also picked up the story, as did Dameon Welch-Abernathy at the VoIP Weblog

I'm sure I've missed some blogs.  Know that it's not intentional.  There are a lot of folks interested in this.  Thank you everyone for the attention and kudos you gave to what our team has produced.

It was an exhausting, and pretty cool day.  It was well past midnight when I got to bed after talking with everyone from VC's to bloggers to facebook friends, and even my parents about what we just launched.  If you want to try the application out, you'll need a Facebook account and you'll need to install the iotum FREE Conference Calls application

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Alex Rootham September 5, 2007, 5:47 am

    Cool idea.
    It's not completely free – there's no 8xx number to use.
    The conference service does not call you (no click2call).
    Also needs Outlook integration to be used in business contexts.

  • Alec September 5, 2007, 6:21 am

    Absolutely Alex. I'm quite careful about the "free" characterization. You will pay for the charges you would normally pay for on a call — airtime if you're on a cellular phone, and long distance on a land line. It's free in the sense that you don't pay anything additional. For most cell phone users, that means you're only paying airtime, since coast to coast or North America wide LD minutes are commonly included in your plan.

    Agree on the outlook integration.

    Re: click-to-call, we actually think that users will prefer the text message reminder, and a call in. There are numerous scenarios where it's just inappopriate to receive a dial-in (previous meeting is running a little late, etc), where a text message reminder makes more sense.

  • Peter Childs September 5, 2007, 7:56 am

    This is great Alex.

    I've long believed that conferencing will be a killer application for any web application that has a social component – and you'd be suprised how may of those there are.

    Off now to add it to my Facebook apps list.

  • Shai Berger September 6, 2007, 12:09 pm

    Alec: Great work and congrats!
    A very savvy move for you guys.
    I just scheduled my first test conference call.

    – Shai

Leave a Comment