Iotum – Facebook’s Global Free Conferencing App

February 27, 2008

in VoIP

Alec Saunders has been writing in the VoIP space now for as long as I can remember. He’s also seen his company Iotum go through a number of iterations. So its interesting today to see how a group of small VoIP companies Truphone, Abbeynet can collaborate to provide a product that none of them could individually provide. For in their “mashup” of capabilities the future of VoIP is one step closer. No question that Andy Abramson had a big hand in this too.

Take a look at the Free Conferencing App on Facebook and my demo view. Consider the options. All which are providing different methods of making a free conference call. All of them may actually incur some minor cost to the user. We have

1. Call Back Model (perfect for Mobiles where inbound minutes are unlimited) Abbeynet
2. PC to Conference (perfect for users comfortable with headsets and PC based telephony) complements of Truphone
3. Direct Dial: This is the traditional dial a local number approach and Iotum’s starting point; similarly leveraged more recently by Mobivox and followed by Jajah Direct.

The conference service is agnostic to how individuals decide to join the conference. In fact most companies could learn a thing from it. The same model could be on their web page for support calls. For most it is still a little complicated in this form; however it will become simpler.

What makes the interface nice is you can see who is in the conference.

Alec says:

We also explicitly took a partnering approach to build out the FREE Conference Calls service. We did not want to build out a network the world over, nor did we have the expertise to interact with carriers all over the world. Instead, we chose to work with companies who had already built those relationships. Alec Saunders

It’s an interesting choice when it comes to working out where next with the business model for Iotum. There are ways to support it. In the meantime Alec needs a thousands of new daily users to be successful. So get your friends on Facebook and use the Facebook Free Conferencing app to arrange your next call.

In closing I think conference calls are underdeveloped as a category. “Free Conferencing” takes us closer; more must still be done to change behavior. Multi-party calling can be magic. It can also be useless. It’s worth a separate post another day.

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