Sunday, December 21, 2008

Does free voice calling still work?

Free is word that will attract hordes of user. Most of the folks are spoiled by freebies. When I read about Jaxtr new feature that allows free voice calls, it just occurred to me that they are still struggling to find the revenue making business model. The management shake up has not done much to their business strategy. What we are seeing from jaxtr is the “me too” play, which many other competitors are already providing.

Jaxtr announced a new service called FreeConnect.Using this service, members can make unlimited free mobile or landline calls to other jaxtr members worldwide. This is achieved by providing local numbers to both jaxtr members. This is not something new that has been invented by jaxtr. Rebtel, another mobile and landline VoIP startup has been supporting this model for a long time now. They started selling this feature for $1 unlimited weekly. Not many countries were supported when I checked them long time back. Jaxtr claims to have more than 10 million users in 220 countries.

I’m not sure how jaxtr is going to support this free calling. The international calls could be routed via a VoIP backhaul network. However, there is money involved in connecting a mobile or landline via local PSTN network. Other clients like Skype use P2P, and between skype users it’s free because the call is carried all the way via internet. There are lots of other companies like mig33, jajah, fring, mobivox etc that also support similar service with some variation.

The fundamental business model behind free service is weak. The users who like free service will always look for free service. These are like spoilt kids who will not change their habits. Free doesn’t generate revenue for the company. Free model is adopted by companies that look for registering tones of users and look for some bigger player to acquire them. With the economy going south, I’m skeptical this will be a viable option. Though freemium model has some credibility and is a proven model, iam not sure if that can be applied successfully in the case of jaxtr. Om has an excellent article on this topic. Some of the companies like jangl, talkplus, eqo that treaded this path either closed or they are struggling. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, social voice apps are as good as dead.

For international calling cost comparison, check out the following website LowCostMob. Good job guys!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Finally back from India after a long break

Wow! This was one of my very hectic and awesome India trip. I had good family moments to relish. The memory will linger for a longtime. We had two marriages in our family. I sometime wonder why we spend so much money and time on Indian marriages. I guess we could cut down spending lavishly on these marriages and instead use some of the money to help people in need. I know I didn’t do that. Maybe, I will, in future.

Another incident that hurt me the most is the Mumbai terrorist attack. The attack was very catastrophic and brutal. I don’t have words to express the horror. I was glued to the TV for almost 3 days. The pictures and videos still linger in my mind. I’m angry and helpless, so are most of the Indian citizens. I’m not an expert on terror, so will refrain from making any comments on the topic. However, killing innocent people and justifying the act should be condemned by every religion. People who justify such ACTS are fanatics and don’t deserve to be called human being. My thoughts and prayers are with all those families who lost innocent lives.

One thing I missed the most is blogging. With all these activities, was not very active with my blog. Hope to catch up with all that I missed. Stay tuned! .

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