Talkster, another mobile VoIP player – part 2
Posted by talkster on October 14, 2006
Today I had a very interesting conference call with Talkster’s founder, James Wanless. To be honest, through this chat I got most of my questions answered. The final result is that I now think Talkster is one of the most promising companies in the FMC market.
I’ll tell you why.
In a nutshell (and as already described here), Talkster let you make calls from your mobile phone to PSTN/Mobile worldwide or to Google Talk and MSN contacts. There are two methods: “Call in” and “Call me back”. With the former, you place a call from your mobile to your contact; with the latter, Talkster server calls you back and connects you with your called friend. You can manage all this settings from your web based interface.
The “Call in” method should be the most used, because it’s the cheaper one. When you click on a contact in your Talkster address book (that you can populate from the web), the Talkster web application “asks” your mobile phone to call a local PSTN number which corresponds to the contact you’re calling. The most interesting point here is that, unlike services like Rebtel, there is just one unique number (corresponding to a local gateway) which is dialed, always the same for all your contacts, and you don’t have to remember it, because it’s automatically dialed by the Talkster’s web application. James explained that in fact there are two numbers: one is used when you call a PSTN/Mobile number and the other one when you call an IM contact. Those phone numbers are provided by carriers in most west european countries and US, he said.
This said, on the technical side, I believe that the approach used to perform the call logic above is really smart and solves the Rebtel issue (to me, of course). I asked James some clarifications and he explained that it works this way: when you agree to “Call in” your friend, your mobile is “forced” to call the proper local phone number described above and, at the same time, the Talkster’s web application sends a particular “authentication” message to Talkster’s server, something like: “hey server, you’re going to receive an inbound phone call from this number (i.e. your mobile phone number or one of the numbers you provided when signed up) and this call must be redirected to this contact”. So, when the Talkster’s server receives the phone call, it can properly manage it. I’d say fantastic.
James agreed that a Java client, well-integrated with your mobile phone and address book (like Fring) would be better. But he explained that, at the beginning, their goal was to make the service widely available, to ALL the mobile phones. Anyway, a Java client is under development.
This said, a quick summary of some of the mobile VoIP services I’ve tried during these weeks:
Pro: easy to use, mobile app well done (even if not so usable, to me)
Con: not so cheap; only call back available; not pure “over IP” calls available; no presence;
Pro: money savings
Con: many new phone numbers to remember; too complicated for a “normal” customer; no presence;
Pro: pure VoIP service with presence; calls among Fring community are free; you can call Skype contacts as well;
Con: you need a data flat rate plan on your mobile
Pro: easy to use; when a Java client will be available, it will be far better; money saving; presence; GTalk and MSN peering available;
Con: still in alfa, so there is still some work to be done to improve the user experience and so on.
In conclusion: take a deep look at Talkster. It’s the best VoIP service I’ve ever tried from my mobile so far, a great step forward for the (still confused ?) FMC market.