Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Call Your Friends Without Knowing Their Phone Numbers

In today's Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Morgan Stanley's Mary Meeker presented some internet trends. Amongst them is
  1. Mobile Internet Usage Is and Will Be Bigger than Most Think.
  2. Apple Mobile Share Should Surprise on Upside Near-Term.
  3. Next Generation Platforms (Social Networking + Mobile) Driving Unprecedented Change in Communications + Commerce.
Also that AT&T’s mobile data traffic has increased by 4,932% over the last three years; and there will be over 1 billion "heavy mobile data users" by 2013. Most of her 68 page presentation shows that social networking + mobile are driving big changes in communication and commerce.

OrganIP Logo
Enter OrganIP. The name initially lead me to believe it had medical or musical applications; but I think that perhaps it's supposed to be a play on the word "organize." Who knows. What matters is that the service talks to Meeker's trend analysis and may help make phone numbers a thing of the past. OrganIP makes it possible to speak anyone’s name and call them using voice over IP (VoIP) technology. A company called Digitrad developed the service by combining its Yes.tel unified identity technology and its messaging services — just as Digitrad says it wants to destroy the business card with Yes.tel, it now says you may never have to remember a phone number again.

The idea is compelling: if tens or hundreds of millions of people make calls to their social network "friends," someone will be able make a lot of money from it. So far, though, no one has had much success in appealing to such users. That is, until France-based Digitrad presented at last month's DEMO conference trying to turn social networks into giant phone books.

Here's a video of the presentation from youTube:

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3c-GsUryyQ

"OrganIP solves two problems I have. I can't remember anyone's phone number and there are too many ways people can connect with me," said Chris Shipley, Executive Producer of the DEMO Conferences. "With OrganIP I have a single, easy to remember way for people to connect with me. What makes this great is that OrganIP finds me - whether I am in a social network, surfing the net or on my mobile phone, and connects with me in the way that makes the most sense for me. Simply type my name and OrganIP will find me."

Basically, OrganIP requires users only to know the name of the person they're trying to call. Once they type it into the OrganIP Web interface, the service will look the person up in Facebook and other places. If the person is logged into Facebook at the time, it will pop up a screen. Clicking will let recipients accept the calls via headsets or computer speakers and microphones, or send it to voice mail. They can also choose to have voice mail messages transcribed and sent to them as text. OrganIP uses Flash technology, which is built into almost every browser in the world, to deliver the audio streams. Calls can also reach recipients on landline or mobile phones through PSTN gateways.

Users can initiate OrganIP calls in one of two ways. The first is by accessing the service's Website through their own browsers. The second is through mobile client software running on smart phones. The software is currently available for Android, with BlackBerry, iPhone, PalmPre, Symbian and Windows Mobile versions to come. If the user is connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi, OrganIP provides a SIP URI for them to access. Otherwise, it gives them a temporary local phone number to ring to make the connection.

Besides Facebook, OrganIP currently looks up names in Google contacts, as well as via the open .tel directory system. Unsurprisingly, OrganIP parent Digitrad is in the business of issuing .tel addresses. The service will soon search LinkedIn, Plaxo and MSN as well. The goal is to provide instant access to over 700 million social network users. If it succeeds in reaching only a fraction of those, it will be well on the way to replacing phone numbers with names.

Based on their press release, OrganIP's service was suppose to become available in open beta yesterday. Unfortunately, their site says nothing about it, the delay or any other info. that I've found.

Jajah logo
It's worth mentioning that other newcomers are sure to follow suit. Although I personally fail to see its usefulness, another socio-mobile (if I can call it that) service is JAJAH. The service, a month or so ago, launched in beta its @Call feature. The calling service works when a member tweets “@call @twittername.” The tweet will cause both phones to ring, and the Twitterers will be connected without the service sharing either telephone number.

JAJAH@Call also works independent of the platform you use, so whether you use the web, a destkop client, or a mobile application when tweeting, the tweet-to-call service should work without hiccup.

Though pretty unique, JAJAH@Call has some interesting conditions associated with the service, none more interesting than the 2 minute talk time limitation, which the company considers the verbal equivalent of a tweet. Also, in order to work, both parties — caller and recipient — need to be members of the JAJAH@Call service.

I'm curious, are you likely to use either or both services? Let us know in the comments.  ▣

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anthenor said...

OrganIP launch has been delayed of 1 month. i confirm that the first version to come will be for Android. You can receive updates by following http://twitter.com/organip

Vincent said...

And do not forget to registrer on http://organip.com to be invited to the first trial around november 19th !