Jajah @call @stuarthenshall service misses the Phweet spot IMHO

September 16, 2009

in Knowledge Innovation, twitter, VoIP

Daniel Terdiman of Cnet  reports that Jajah will enable Twitter to talk. There’s a few hints in their announcement. There’s also material differences in what the experience is likely to deliver vs Phweet which was launched 15 months ago and remains in PublicAlpha as we never believed in giving free calls away to grow the business. Here are the key announcements. Then my quick assessment of the differences @call vs Phweet and my summary. While this announcement frustrates me at one level, I’m also glad the time is approaching where really innovative solutions can be implemented.

Phone calling coming to Twitter | Geek Gestalt – CNET News

Jajah@call is expected to go into beta Thursday morning that will allow Twitter users to initiate a two-way voice chat with other users by typing “@call @username”–where “username” is someone’s Twitter ID–into any Twitter client.

My Interpretation:
Jajah will search Twitter updates. When it notes an @call @username it will check to see if the Tweeter is registered with Jajah. Then it will check the caller. If both are registered Jajah users and the caller has a balance then the call will be raised.

Phone calling coming to Twitter | Geek Gestalt – CNET News

According to Jajah, an Internet communications provider with tens of millions of users, the service will allow a user to place a call to any other user, so long as the second person follows the first on Twitter and both have Jajah accounts.

This is key. Before any call is made the “receiver” must be following the caller. It’s not clear from this how the call will be routed to the receiver. Unless you know or are certain that you are being followed this call structure will potentially disappoint. Eg I tweet it and the call doesn’t happen. I expect in that case Jajah will send the Tweeter a DM with reason for failure. If the call goes through it may ring a location or device that may or may not reach the receiver.

Key Differences vs Phweet

  • There was no need in Phweet to create or have another account. A TwitterID is all that is necessary. Jajah requires a Jajah account. This extra step will cause friction in both setting up calls and gaining traction as a service. (What’s a Phweet?) (Phweet Twitter Integration)
  • Phweet is SIP channel agnostic, you can use any SIP account of your choice, and doesn’t restrict you or force you to become a Jajah account holder.
  • While @call simplifies and solves two current Twitter problems it fails to provide any context before the call. The Twitter issue is latency in the flow of messaging updates. So under the Jajah scenario users will be getting calls without context or an obvious caller ID. This does overcome the “latency” limitation that exists in the Phweet alpha.
  • Phweet guaranteed context before the call and the capability to pass your own (chosen) callerID. In fact the receiver is in charge. They determine whether to accept or decline the call knowing the context and the person that is making the call.This system in the alpha also suffers from latency. (see conversational paradigm)
  • As the Jajah receiver must be following the Tweeter. Using @call there is no opportunity to rapidly escalate calls with people outside your current buddylist. At Phweet we believe that rapid escalation to voice calls with “new contacts” will be of prime importance to location based services. (see Phweet Technology)
  • The receiver channel is likely present on Jajah solution. By contrast Phweet enables the user to select the call channel before accepting the call and thus maintaining their privacy and low cost calling where ever they are.
  • Perhaps Jajah will add a conference capability. Something Phweet provided from the get go. However it is important to have an exchange to manage and share data around an event. In Phweet we use the URL to connect and manage access to the call.
  • Phweet also demonstrated how call records can be used / shared in Twitter to escalate to conferences and or to manage response to “persistent” calls. (Phweet Coffee Groups) or ad based solutions we’ve commented on in other places.
  • If Jajah would give Phweet a SIP interconnect then we could make both services complementary. We could enable quick and easy calling to tweeters outside one’s follower list without breach of privacy or their need to have an account. We could do this in hours rather than days or months! (see how Phweet works with Gizmo)

Some 15 months after Phweet was launched (see what they said then… demand still there) I’m thrilled to see some innovation coming into the Twitter space and similarly on Facebook. I think @call is more of a gimmick than real telephony play. Call limitations (2 minutes) quickly make programs like this and GizmoVoice, PR exercises. Technically, Jajah’s solution is simpler than Phweet (my guess) and still requires “minutes” to make it an interesting business. By contrast Phweet is establishing a contract or “url” for the exchange between the parties. The value added services that can exist around a URL signal the future for telephony.

I believe Phweet remains one of the most interesting solutions in telephony. We have a head start on learning and what we’d do next with mobile social networks and telephony. If you want more details talk to me @stuarthenshall or @mrblog.

Other notes:
To get in on the beta send a message to twitter@jajah.com.

Via Mashable: Make Phone Calls on Twitter With @Call

We’re quite intrigued by the voice-over-Twitter idea, though we do think it could create funky situations where you receive phone calls from Twitterers you don’t really want to talk to. In some instances, this could be a great way to immediately contact someone you need to reach on a pressing matter, but in others, it could turn into a big if not awkward distraction.

We can just envision the uncomfortable greetings now. Hello, I’m so and so, and I follow you on Twitter, my Twitter name is XXXX. Do you want to go out on a date sometime? Or, say for instance, you’re in the middle of a sentence and reach the 2 minute limit and you’re both cut off from each other. One saving grace is that calls can only be made to people who follow you, which means should a particular caller annoy you, you can unfollow them on Twitter to prevent future voice communication.

Twitter/lessallan: (note: could be possible if you both use Jajah and you follow the caller)

Do you want random sales calls from strangers? Quick sign me up! http://www.jajah.com/produc… #sarcasm

JAJAH Gives Voice To Short Messages – JAJAH Blog

For example, if you would like to call @username, tweet: “@call @username ”. Make sure there is a space between the two user names and that no additional text is added to your message. JAJAH will call you and your friend and connect the call.

  • Stuart,
    I honestly don’t think friends at Jajah will get much traffic from this.

    The point, IMHO, is that the fact you are chatting with someone on Twitter doesn’t mean you want to use Twitter as the mean to originate a phone call. Most of the time you DON’t want to make a phone call. Twitter is twitter, a phone call is another completely different way to communicate and these are both valid and effective but belong to different contexts.

    It is ok to try to leverage it to increase traffic/users but I doubt the % of user that will actually use it will be high (better, I doubt it will be relevant). My 2 cents 😉


  • Luca,
    Thanks for the comment. I’m generally in accord. Jajah @call won’t generate a lot of call traffic for Jajah. The Jajah model is only one that would work with close friends and then a number, Skype etc has usually been shared.

    Where we probably differ in our beliefs is the opportunity that exists to escalate twitter exchanges to voice. I think you already know my beliefs around location based Tweets (like classifieds) and the benefits that can be had when the “system” provides the users with additional control. Eg CallerID, content re why want to talk. In Phweet we were conscious that we needed to change the way telephony works for it to be an effective part of Twitter. Eg the receiver is in charge. The receiver will never take an unwanted call etc.

    Since Twitter and Phweet were launched Twitter has changed their focus and “messaging” significantly. Eg SMS no longer used / available in most parts of the world and changes in the visibility of conversations (eg #fixreplies). There also remains significant “latency” in Twitter. It’s not “real-time” like SMS or a voice call. However… many voice calls are made as a result of info… and many Tweets would like to escalate to calls and “persist” in importance. Search proves they will. Twitter just has to move to GPS tweets to make this really relevant.

    Re Context. Context/status updates are the future. eg MotoCliq in some form. The elimination of the number / number exchange between parties is likely to become more relevant not less. We are names / not numbers. I’m also not interested in aggregating all my networks/directories under one mobile number. I am interested in managing these profiles/services from my mobile. Neither my handset manufacturer or my mobile operator has any right or necessity to have access to all my profiles. Just another reason that call escalation is really a contract/understanding between two or more individuals.

    A “progress” example would be a Phweet like service running on an iPhone using the APPLE notification server. I have others…

    What still excites me is Jajah reopening a conversation. Should Twitter talk? I believe YES it’s a value added service that can generate dollars. However I don’t see longterm solutions in “minutes” sold.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Jajah @call @stuarthenshall service misses the Phweet spot IMHO | stuart henshall -- Topsy.com()

  • Doug

    Limiting the caller to calling only his followers prevents this service from becoming the ultimate robo-call mechanism. Thanks Jajah…

    I don’t see much demand for this service, mostly it looks like Jajah is trying to sell minutes.

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