Talkster

Changing the way the people communicate

Free international calling to 30+ countries from Google Talk

Posted by talkster on July 1, 2008

TORONTO—June 30, 2008 Voice 2.0 company, Talkster (www.Talkster.com), today officially launched its integration with GTalk2VoIP, offering callers worldwide free international, long distance and group conference calls. Talkster
’s partnership with GTalk2VoIP extends the company’s ad-supported free calling service from 30 countries to cover the Globe

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Talkster featured in this month’s Oprah Magazine

Posted by talkster on February 29, 2008

Talkster is featured in the March issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
The article is titled: 14 Solid-Gold Ways to Save…Without Giving Up Your Latte

Talkster.com lets you chat for free with people around the world for as long as you please. Enter your home or cell number and a friend’s number at the website. Talkster issues a set of local numbers you can call to connect.

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Talkster featured in trendwatching.com – March 2008 Briefing – FREE LOVE

Posted by talkster on February 29, 2008

Read about Talkster on trendwatching.com:

This month, we’ll be looking at FREE LOVE, which is all about the ongoing rise of ‘free stuff’, and the brands already making the most it. Not to mention the millions of consumers who are happily getting into a free-for-all mindset. Absorb and apply!

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Staying in touch with loved ones on Valentine’s Day

Posted by talkster on February 14, 2008

By Maria Puccio
Marketing Manager at Talkster

It’s Valentine’s Day, a time when everyone’s thoughts turn to love, relationships, flowers and in my case – chocolate!

But here at Talkster, since communications are what we do, and most of our time is spent assuring that people can communicate easily and seamlessly, Valentine’s Day makes us reflect on our users (I like to call them “talksters”) and how they keep up with loved ones who are far away.

We’ve had lots of people write us to say that Talkster has helped them stay in touch with a long-distance loved one – be it a boyfriend, girlfriend, parent or sibling – by giving them the opportunity to call more often and feel closer to that person. We are always pleased to get those comments and notes because it shows us that people are using Talkster and liking it.

Patrick wrote to tell us that after having lived in Berlin for a over a year, he made lots of friends there, and now uses Talkster all the time to stay in touch now that he’s back in Australia.

But one of my favorite notes is from Catherine, who writes:

“I found this on Facebook, and honestly thought this was too good to be true… that there had to be some catch.

I looked into it as much as possible, read up on some reviews, and realized this might just be legit.

So someone extremely special to me lives in London, while I’m in the US. I haven’t heard his voice in over 3 months, and can’t see him for another 5. I prayed that this would work, because it would truly be a dream.

So I dialed, got the number to call….the phone is ringing…and he answers. My heart skipped a beat. We were able to talk for multiple hours.

I love this service, and thank you so much. You offer a truly amazing service that has given me the best Christmas present I could ever ask for. I got to hear the voice of the one I love again, thanks to Talkster.”

Since so many talksters are in long distance relationships, I was curious to know more about long distance relationships and communication. I did a bit of research to see what the experts say.

According to relationship expert Dr. Laura Berman, in her article, “Long-distance love: How to make it fly”, communication is essential.

Dr. Berman outlines how one of the problems long distance relationships face is not knowing where the person on the other end is, not being able to reach them and then worrying about what they’re up to. Dr. Berman’s solution to this is to always agree on a time when you are going to call each other.

“When your partner is miles away, it is easy to jump to conclusions when he doesn’t answer his phone….Even after you find out the truth (he was taking a nap and didn’t hear his phone), the stress and anxiety you created during those incommunicado hours have already taken their toll,” Berman says. “To avoid this problem in the future, agree on a time when you and your partner will call each other, no matter what comes up. Pick a time that is convenient for both of you, whether it is first thing in the morning or on your respective lunch breaks. Keep your phone date at all times, and if you must break it, be sure your partner knows ahead of time.”

Another problem Dr. Berman addresses that can arise in long distance relationships is loneliness. Dr. Berman’s solution is to “stay connected”. One way to do this is to find “a free online telephone service that lets you call land lines and cell phones all over the world”, Berman says.

And if you’re not in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is a great time to get in touch with friends or family and remind them that they’re important to you too. May from Toronto is planning a big Talkster conference call, where she can speak to family members in Vancouver, Hong Kong and mainland China all at once. Now that’s pretty sweet!

Wherever you are, and whomever you’re calling, Talkster wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Stay in touch!

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Posted by talkster on February 7, 2008

Celebrate the Year of the Rat with Free Calls from Talkster

By James Wanless
COO of Talkster

2008: The Year of the Rat

A Rat year is traditionally known as a time of hard work, activity and renewal. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2008 will be a great year to begin a new job, get married, launch a product or make a fresh start.

This seems fitting as Talkster has just announced the launch of free world dialing to or from anywhere in Mainland China! Now families can stay connected for the New Year for free by using the Talkster service, which is now available in Mandarin at www.talkster.cn.

With one-fifth of the world’s population residing in China, the addition of this country seemed a perfect fit for Talkster’s mission: to make telephony free—period. There is no catch here.

While other companies are offering special reduced rates as part of a limited time promotion, they won’t be offering free calls to China after the New Year’s Lantern Festival like Talkster will be. And, of course, there are talk time limits and hidden charges with those other services.

Talkster wants to make international, long distance and group phone calls free for all residents of China, as well as their friends and family in other countries around the world, year-round, with no restrictions on how long you can talk.

If you can’t make your New Year’s reunion dinner this Thursday, why not try free conference calling from Talkster to connect the entire family for the cost of a local call?

Don’t want to miss Shou Sui? Talk with your family members for free the night after your New Year celebration to reminisce about the events of the passing year and welcome the year that has arrived, without having to worry about expensive long distance calling or your calling card minutes running out.

Make sure your 吉祥話 (Jíxiánghùa) are heard loud, clear and inexpensively! Use Talkster to visit with family and friends spread across the globe for years to come.

May your New Year be prosperous and full of luck,

James Wanless

yearoftheratz.gifIn China, the Rat is considered a courageous and enterprising animal example. People born in a Rat year are said to be realistic, perceptive, charming, ambitious, logical and creative. To learn more about the Chinese animal zodiac and find out what animal your birth year corresponds to, visit http://www.c-c-c.org/chineseculture/zodiac/Rat.html.

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Cheap calls – doing the math

Posted by talkster on January 18, 2008

By James Wanless
COO of Talkster

An interesting post this week from our friend Luca Filigheddu comparing Talkster to a number of other (VoIP) services prompted me to put on my blogging hat. The services Luca compared were categorized as VoIP services but to a user of these services it’s not VoIP that makes it as interesting, rather it’s the cheap price.

Luca wrote a very good subjective piece that leads into a broader discussion about the cost of a call and the attempts to make it ever cheaper.

I have often heard it said that quality counts and at a certain point, trying to shave off a cent here and there on the cost of the call substantially reduces the quality. If you can’t shave the cost then how does a business create margin? If they give away calls between their users (calls that costs one of these businesses money) how do they in the long term make any money? We can all wait for the Skype/eBay acquisition fairy to come and visit us one night, but let’s face it, that’s not likely to happen.

In our experience (even long before starting Talkster) there’s nothing like free to acquire customers. Don’t get me wrong; you still have to give an acceptable level of quality, but free definitely “sells.” But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if something is free if its quality is sketchy.

Also, adding value (e.g. convenience, new features) to the call allows a voice service to differentiate its “free” service over the next company’s “more free” offer. Talkster has some things up our sleeve in this regard as well, but I am going to save that for another day. :-)

I’ve written it many times here and discussed at length in interviews and at industry speaking opportunities – - Someone has to pay for free calls. Talkster believes that when we balance the issues of credit control (especially outside North America) with the minimal margins that cheap calls generate, our ad-supported model is the way forward for consumers. Advertisers pay for calls on the Talkster service. Because they pay for the call, we can ensure we are delivering the quality people expect when they place calls.

JaJah made an announcement about an ad-supported beta offering well after we launched our service at the CTIA show, and it certainly seems to be a bandwagon that a number of other companies are jumping on.

Advertising seems like an easy play but recognize that beyond the technical issues there are some fundamentals that need consideration. For example, advertising becomes annoying if it’s not relevant. Do I really want to listen to a commercial for discount car insurance for seniors if I am a 20 year old university student with nothing but a public transit pass? The answer is no.

If it’s targeted and relevant an ad becomes an offer. When an ad is regarded as an offer by the consumer on the receiving end, they no longer view it as obnoxious and are more likely to engage with it.

Equally, the advertisers need to reach the right audience in order to increase brand awareness, inquiries and ultimately sales of their products or services. Beyond targeting, to maximize the effectiveness of a campaign there can be “calls to action” within the advertising channel that allow callers to interact with an ad and bring immediacy to an offer.

At Talkster, our team has individuals with more than 30 years (yes, some of us – not me — are that old) of direct marketing experience and know how to make this work. Being able to effectively communicate the offer and deliver the mechanism to close the sale is at the core of what we have developed for advertisers.

For now we are satisfied to be recognized in the same pool as a number of VoIP players. But in the near future, we will be viewed in another light as we build on our Ad Supported Communications Platform and extend our reputation as more than just another cheap or free phone call.

Posted in Perspective, Talkster News | 10 Comments »

Bringing families together for the Holidays

Posted by talkster on December 19, 2007

Holiday JamesIt’s that time of year again where if you (like me and many others I know) have family spread around the globe you figure out how you can possibly get everyone together in one place at one time or else you spend the whole holiday season driving and flying from place to place to see them all. For the record, when I have grandchildren, I expect everyone to travel to me!

Joking aside, it’s tough to get one’s entire family in one place to catch-up on all that happens while we are apart. It doesn’t matter which time of the year it is, the family news gets passed from one person to another in a series of one-on-one conversations as the phone is passed around from person to person. This year will be different though. The Talkster family is very proud to play a part in connecting families this holiday season with our “Talkster Free World Dialing” service we launched this past October. With Talkster’s Free World Dialing friends and families can set up group calls with up to five other people from around the world.

It’s really easy to use and best of all the calls are free! All you do is go to the Talkster site from your PC or mobile phone, enter the names and numbers of the people that you want in the group call and each of them is assigned a local number to call to join the conversation.

When we built Talkster’s Free World Dialing we knew it had to be easy to use, even for people who don’t have a computer. This means when it’s time to make our family group conference call, I don’t have to rely on my old Uncle to remember what time the family call is going to start. All I do is dial the local number, record a short message telling my family to all to get on the line so we can chat and Talkster does the rest. Each of my family members gets a call from Talkster where they hear my short recorded message. They hang up the phone and dial in to their local Talkster number. Once they have connected, we are joined together. We all listen to a 10-second targeted audio ad that fully subsidizes the cost of our call, and then we can talk as long as we want.

It doesn’t matter if all of my family members don’t all call into our group call at exactly the same moment. They can join at any time the call is in progress. We can talk for as long as we like and people can come and go as they please.

This year there’s less traveling needed yet my family and yours can still share their news and good wishes together. I know nothing is as nice as being there, sitting around the table together with loved ones; but Talkster is a good alternative to keep families connected when you can’t all be in the same place at the same time.

Happy Holidays to you and yours from all of us in the Talkster family.

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EU Roaming Mandates take effect – HIGHER COSTS!

Posted by talkster on August 29, 2007

By James Wanless
COO of Talkster

Yes, I did write higher costs. While everyone was basking in the sunshine feeling happy about the EU’s recently enacted mandates to lower roaming charges that would let European vacationers call home from the beach in Spain for 49 Euro Cents and receive calls for 24 cents or less, there is one little detail that has been missed: for many operators the cost of a call within the country you are roaming has actually gone up! I have posted on this topic before, and this result is not entirely what I expected.

The EU mandate was to lower the cost of calling home and receiving calls while roaming. But the EU regulation left open a very large door into which many mobile operators have stepped – in country call rates. The unfortunate thing for people traveling in Europe is that your operator is not inclined to share these new rates with you. So in order to find the truth, I did some grassroots research on my own.

I did some digging with Belgian and UK Operators and here is what I found. With the Belgian Operator BASE, when you are roaming in the UK and want to make a call home to Belgium the old price of about 1 Euro has been changed to 49 cents. That’s great. But now, should you want to make a call in the UK (for example call a restaurant, hotel, local office, customers, etc .etc.) it used to cost you 28 cents a minute. But with the new EU roaming mandate, the cost is now 49 cents a minute – nearly double!

The other big money spinner is the cost of sending an SMS. 54 cents to send an SMS is a HUGE mark-up over the wholesale costs. And if you want to use the mobile internet or get your email? Euro 5.50 per megabyte.

There was a lot of talk about where the operators were going to make up the lost revenue from their roaming cash cow. I think that I have discovered some of them.

Here is a useful link to the official EU roaming site with further links to the individual operators (often outdated) sites on individual roaming costs http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/implementation/benchmark/index_en.htm

Talkster of course has been working to help people using mobile phones to keep their roaming and long distance costs in check. We are on the cusp of unveiling our new service that will mitigate a lot of these roaming costs. Stay tuned for our announcement this Fall when we take the wrapper off our new service. We now know that roaming Europeans will LOVE it!

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The Team is Growing at Talkster

Posted by talkster on July 30, 2007

By James Wanless
President and COO of Talkster

As Talkster moves closer to unveiling our new, groundbreaking communications service we are expanding our team, complementing the excellent group that we already have. I am very happy to be able to announce (we’ve been keeping him under wraps for some time now) that Jim Ferguson has joined the company as president.

Jim FergusonJim is a seasoned business professional and in his role as president will be working closely with me in all aspects of the business. In particular, with his depth of experience in the telecom industry, he will be instrumental in building teams and directing Talkster’s finances, business development, marketing and sales. Jim has worked in executive roles with some of the big names in telecom. He has succeeded in building the value in companies he was involved in leading to successful exits for investors. Jim’s expertise and long list of respected contacts and references will accelerate our go-to-market strategy.

Expect that there will be more news and insight from Talkster as much of what we have been working on behind the scenes so far in 2007 is unveiled. Once Jim has had time to catch his breath, I look forward to him joining me here to blog about relevant topics on Talkster, the industry and the world at large.


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InformationWeek Reviews Talkster

Posted by talkster on July 9, 2007

InformationWeekInformationWeek just ran a group review of six companies positioned as “Skype Alternatives.” The review was quite favorable to Talkster, stating:

“Talkster’s technology has an immediate benefit — it lets you pick the least expensive way to reach your contacts — and it’s got long-term potential as well, because voice communications are moving away from reliance on the 10-digit telephone number and over to Web 2.0 addressing schemes, such as IM handles that can be resolved to IP addresses. Talkster is positioning itself for the future.”

You can find the entire review here.

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