Saturday, December 08, 2007

TringMe Develops Its Own Flash Phone

Augustine: getting very very close to just needing 1 unlimited data plan to do voice calls (VOIP) and all data - $59/month unlimited everything including international long distance

from TechCrunch by

tringphone.pngHere come the Flash phones. Most Web-based phone services require a separate application like Skype or Gizmo. Or, like Jajah, they use the Web primarily to initiate a call on a regular phone. But Flash-based Web phones are bringing VOIP calls directly to the browser. Last month we covered Russia's Flashphone. Now another SIP-based Flash phone is coming out of India's TringMe, which launched in October with a click-to-call widget. (Update: See also Ribbit).

The TringPhone, as it is called, really is more of a technology demonstration than a full-fledged service. TringMe is hoping to license the technology to VOIP providers and help make Web-based telephony as simple as visiting a Web page. It already works with any existing account on a SIP-based phone service, and can be configured for pretty much any VOIP provider. I tried out a demo of the TringPhone, and it completed a call to my U.S. cell phone. Starting later today, the TringPhone should be available on TringMe's Website.

The startup is also working on a mobile VOIP service that will let you make SIP calls from your phone's browser over a 3G data network. That one probably won't be based on Flash.


Paypal Launches Storefront Widget

Augustine: extending their reach much much further than eBay; on their way towards intermediating all payments everywhere.

paypalwidget1.jpgPaypal has launched the Paypal Storefront Widget, a web based widget that allows anyone to embed a store widget on a web site.

The Storefront widget offers a seamless e-commerce platform for those wishing to sell anything on their site, such as t-shirts, CD's or other items

The widget (see pic right) includes:

  • An Index page that shows thumbnail images of all the items for sale through the widget
  • a product page that shows a larger view of the items/ products for sale
  • A shopping cart directly within the widget
  • About and policy pages mean that any conditions are also contained with the widget

Users can set the widget to "sold out" or "sorry we're closed" from the central control panel, and comes standard with a sharing option; visitors are able to grab the html for the widget from the widget and display it on their own site should they so desire.

I spoke with Paypal prior to the launch and they emphasized that the product was focused on blogs and social networking sites. Paypal has a deal with SixApart that sees the widget being embeddable into TypePad blogs without the need to copy and paste, for everyone else though its no more difficult than any widget is to embed, presuming you know where to get at, and where to paste the html.

paypalwidget2.jpgInitially there are some limitations with the service, for example you only get the choice of one size for the widget, and it currently only supports sales in US dollars. Paypal though will be seeking user feedback once the program takes off and they are open to expanding the options available in the future.

Paypal sees a lot of possibilities for the widget; for example it provides a seamless shopfront for bands on MySpace who may want to sell recordings. It may also be a substitute for donation buttons that are occasionally used by bloggers as well; Paypal admits that some of their previous embeddable shopping options haven't been as user friendly as they'd hoped, where as the Storefront widget is focused on being simple to use for everyone.

I've had time to play with the setup features for the widget and there's little doubt that Paypal got the easy part right. Drop down menu items for navigation compliment sample products to get users started.

paypalwidget3.jpgThere are some parallels to Tailgate, in that both are transaction on the page. The difference with the Paypal widget is that like any Paypal transaction payment is made on the Paypal website itself to guarantee a secure transaction; the widget is fully transactional only to the last purchase point. This is functionality usually delivered by often expensive merchant solutions where as Paypal is offering this service for free, except of course they get a standard cut from the sale itself.

I know when I first heard about Paypal's Storefront Widget that my thoughts were: here we go, yet another widget offering, but this is impressive and quite unique in the marketplace. I'd think that this product will be warmly received by those with something to sell, or those who haven't offered items for sale previously on their blogs or social networking pages due to the cost and technical knowledge required in doing so.


AdMob + iPhone + LandRover = Good Results

A iPhone focused LandRover campaign powered by San Mateo based mobile advertising startup AdMob has seen some interesting results (video demo above).

AdAge has some details on the campaign here, but I obtained some raw figures from AdMob. Of those users who clicked on the Land Rover advertisement, 23% responded to at least one call-to-action on the landing page. 88% of those users watched the video, 9% entered their zip code to find a nearby Land Rover dealership and 3% used the click-2-call action, all of who were highly qualified leads. Of the 3% who clicked to call through the advertisement, 50% of the calls lasted more than 30 seconds and 20% of the calls lasted for more than a minute. Sales figures from the campaign were not available, but consider that the campaign was only 400,000 impressions; if LandRover had managed to sell one or two cars it would make the campaign more than effective.

The results would seem to indicate that the iPhone has become a more effective means of targeted mobile advertising campaigns than regular phones; the integration with Google Maps and the display of video provides a richer experience for both the viewer, and for the company seeking to expose their product.


iPhone Delivers: Bigger Browsing Share Than Windows Mobile

iphone.jpgWhen Steve Jobs first announced the iPhone, he promised that it would revolutionize the mobile browsing experience. Roughly 1.4 million sales later it barely registers than more than a blip on global mobile phone sales charts, but its users a making their mark.

According to figures from Net Applications, the iPhone now holds a 0.09% browser market share; a small figure perhaps but remarkable when compared to the market share of Windows CE on 0.06%; this despite at least 20 million Windows Mobile devices having been sold. Simply iPhone users are using their iPhone to surf the web far more often than users of Windows powered mobile phones. Symbian phone users (S60) rank at a lowly 0.01%, despite Nokia having sold hundreds of millions of phones worldwide.

In perspective the iPhone still only holds a small marketshare in the area that counts (sales) but those users are becoming a far more influential and reachable target audience than users of other phones, such as the LandRover iPhone campaign in our earlier post also shows. With a 3G version on the iPhone due in 2008 that will finally deliver broadband mobile browsing speeds to the handset, this is a product that will just continue to grow in importance.

(via Computerworld)


Visible Path Sees Its Way To An Acquisition

visiblepathlogo.pngCorporate social networking application Visible Path is set for an acquisition soon. The term sheet has been signed and the acquirer, says the company, is a “multi-billion dollar international company with established sales and technology operations.” No word on the terms of the deal, but a worthwhile exit price would be high considering the $22.7 million already invested in the firm.

Visible Path differs from other business social networks like LinkedIn or Xing, by creating your social network out of your email inbox. The service is based on an Outlook plug-in that impressed us earlier because your connections are based on the frequency of your real interactions and not random friending or pokes. These relationships are mapped online and make up a directory of people you can search through by skill or relationship. It’s a useful feature that I imagine a service like the “email utility” Xobni implementing.

Visible Path never saw as great a level of adoption as LinkedIn, which launched around the same time and has effectively cinched the U.S. corporate social networking scene. Maybe their new partner will give them some much needed exposure.