SMS is the new black

A review of mass market mobile apps

Chat with James Wanless of Talkster

Posted by Admin on January 29, 2009

Just before Christmas I had a chat with James Wanless of Talkster. To give you another chance to see it, I’ve re-posted the article here.

– – –

I  recently wrote about the launch of a service called talki. As it was launching I was lucky enough to be able to chat with James Wanless the COO of Talkster, the company behing talki.

We had a really interesting, although quite short, chat and although I’d not heard of either talki or Talkster before, both sound like they’re worth following.

James, a Brit, living and working mainly in Canada, wants to introduce a service offering cheaper or free international calls and messaging that everyone can use. So the service is designed to be not techy or complicated and doesn’t use Wi-Fi to access VoIP services. In fact in the subject of Wi-Fi, James said:

“I believe that’s a limiting factor in being able to offer a broad service.”

And I agree with him. If regular users need to understand how to access Wi-Fi on their phone before they can use a service then they won’t do it. They have to alter the phone’s settings, find a Wi-Fi location, login … and then use the service. Of course there’s a market of people who are capable / willing to do that, but as James says it’s not a ‘broad’ market.

Now, I’ve not compared the talki Java app and its interface with all of the other services and apps offering mobile VoIP or cheaper calls, but James claims that the talki service was designed to be:
1 – Easier to download
2 – Easier to use
3 – Cheaper
If they’ve got all three of those right then it can’t be bad.

James’s view about all of this is that “technology is a means to an end”. All the user needs to do is dial a local landline number to be able to enter the call – so you can give your mum a number which is a local number for her to call and she can reach you wherever you happen to be. And the ‘replacement’ numbers are issued as permanent numbers, so they can be entered into your contacts.

As well as voice calls talki also offers cheaper texts and MMS. The talki service treats your text message as simply a packet of data and not an SMS, which means that, outside of your bundle, it’s a much cheaper way to send messages. James also believes that talki should and is capable of offering “functionality beyond just lower cost.”

You can see a bit more on his blog here.

Thanks for your time James.

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