Doug on IP Comm – An independent voice on VoIP, telecom, and IP Communication

Free phone numbers, free web calls and the return of bad ideas

Posted on: October 5, 2009

There’s been a slew of announcements fluffing a second wave of anonymous-style phone calling via the web. Nobody made money on the first wave, so I’m not sure where the beef, er, green is the second time around.

Three and four years ago, it was all the rage to A) Give away free phone numbers for web usage and B) Provide anonymous phone calling between two parties over the web.   Two and three years ago,  smaller companies went into the tank while larger companies just ditched the idea of “free.”

Digitrad, making a big push at DEMOfall ’09, seems to be the latest of the guys marching down the old trampled path to doom, offering up a free “multimedia” phone number, a .tel domain name and “free call forwarding” and a flat fee to “free” dialing to locations around the globe.

If your business model is JUST providing voice via the browser, I can kinda sorta get it.  C2Call (www.c2call.com) has got a Friendcaller.com app, but then it slips into the “Gee, you can also call phone number for only pennies (well, Euros) per minute” mode… which didn’t end well for very many of the Telecom 2.0/Phone 2.0 wave…

Vivox may have the most interesting play in the space, just having announced its beta launch in Facebook and using a wideband (but not G.722) codec for all of its logged minutes on SecondLife and multi-player games where part of the fun is talking smack in real-time.

Hmm, I’d love to leave short voice messages to certain people in “Mafia Wars”…

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