Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fring-mVOIP startup works up an edge

Fring, the Israeli company with $10m funding (from Pitango Venture Capital and Veritas Venture Capital) launched its first Mobile VOIP (mVOIP) service back in January 2007, and since April this year has made its application available on the iPhone.

Fring works well with flat rate data tariffs as well as Wi-Fi. The nice aspects of the application are that you are able to see who is online before you call and to do so, you simply click on Fring’s green button icon.

Some debate exists as to which company is likely to make it in the mVOIP sector, where notable players include jajah and truphone (see my earlier post in January). Fring may have the edge, given that it is truly free (it works completely off the operator data plan with no extra charges) and also seems to have a clearer and more aggressive strategy than the others.

Truphone, though initially much hyped, initially set out to deliver mVOIP exclusively over Wi-Fi, a bold move but ultimately the wrong one, as it was later forced to additionally offer its service through the 3G network. It was also behind fring in offering its service on the iPhone, only releasing the app in July this year.

Fring has now also opened up its API to third parties, allowing it to build up something of a community in the future. It now features a Facebook add-on and encouraged microblogging through its FringOlympics promotion in the summer. The Fring-me widget is one the later additions to the stable of add-ons, allowing those connected to the web to see when a Fring user is online .