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Summary:

Last few days there has been a lot of talk about Rebtel, Jajah, and a whole slew of VoIP companies which are essentially, as Andy calls them “minute stealers.” Jajah, which has introduced a mobile version of its call back service, well, at least that is […]

Last few days there has been a lot of talk about Rebtel, Jajah, and a whole slew of VoIP companies which are essentially, as Andy calls them “minute stealers.” Jajah, which has introduced a mobile version of its call back service, well, at least that is easy to use, and good to use in a pinch.

Rebtel is a head-scratcher, and would make you reach for a bottle of aspirin. There is a whole debate around Rebtel currently being played out on the B2blog.

Just because Jeff Pulver likes them, and Index Ventures and Benchmark invested a whole bunch of money in this company doesn’t mean its all that. Rebtel wants consumer behavior change. That is all right, when things are simple, but not when you have to call, wait for 20 seconds and then the other party calls back.

Jeff says they have something up their sleeve – if they do, why not talk about that right now. Otherwise to me Rebtel is nothing but a money stealer. The argument for these services is that they will save money. Well, calling cards save money, are simple to use, and no waiting required. I buy a card, program the number in my cellphone, call parents and well, save money. Pretty low tech, but pretty low stress also.

(PS: Can anyone comment on the impact of these minute stealers on termination fees, especially in countries where these calls are going to be ending up in? Those governments are not going to be happy about this…)

  1. Good post Om. I’m like you; these products may have good results, but it takes the techie and hoopla dance to get them to perform. Even I don’t subscribe to such nonsense.

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  2. JaJah is great for calls thats cannot be made over skype, say for instance I am in work and cannot use a headset or want some privacy. Skype in calls cost 16cent to my mobile in Ireland and JaJah costs 15 cent out so the difference over several twenty minute calls is worth the tiny hassle!

    Really that’s the best way to use it, as a filler for that gap. Otherwise or if Skype make their prices cheaper I would stop using it!
    Eoin

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  3. Jajah is very expensive compared to many of the calling cards available. I don’t know what the fuss is all about.

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  4. Nice Post

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  5. feeling kind of feisty today? :-)

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  6. Michael,

    Actually, this is an excellent post. This is the kind of stuff we readers like to get from you & Om, rather than just infomercials or rebroadcast of already published material in SJMN or WSJ.

    I am with Om. Some of these companies question average IQ.

    ?

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  7. Vikram: Can’t you see this is just another PR campaign?! ;)

    Jajah (except the latest mobile calling feature) is not an innovator at all. Neither by rates, nor by the rest of the functionality. They are popped in the Business 2.0 issue too this month. Looks like their marketing guys are having a blast these days! LOL :)

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  8. I don’t think these services impact the termination charges and so those governments (I think you are referring to those that have large termination fees) won’t even notice them. Jajah terminates the call at the called party’s country and so those countries continue to levy the usual termination charges. True that in the case of Rebtel, the two ends are made up of two outgoing calls, Rebtel can do these only in 30 countries. Indeed, they are those countries where telephony regulations are relaxed. For example, India is not one of them. This means India will continue to levy termination charges.

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  9. Om: I feel that I need to clarify a few things for your readers.

    With Rebtel it’s up to you to ask your friends to call back. If you do, there’s no extra charge from Rebtel over the $1 per week. All you and your friends pay for is the local minutes to your carriers. If you don’t ask your friend to call back it’s just a super low cost per minute fee. But it’s your call.

    Another thing that you forgot to mention is you only have to set up the local numbers once and we send those local numbers to your phones in text messages. Then you can save them in your phones’ address books and dial from your address books forever. And, that way you don’t have to remember the numbers.

    On another front I think you’ve confused us with another service. With Rebtel you don’t have to wait 20 seconds for a computer to call you back. We connect you straight away. But don’t just take my word for it. You and all of your readers are welcome to send me your mobile phone numbers and we can make Rebtel calls while I’m in Stockholm this week. The email address is greg@rebtel.com

    And I also think it’s important to note that Rebtel works with any mobile phone as long as it’s not broken. No software downloads.

    Finally, the only money we’re “stealing” is the ghastly international fees charged by mobile carriers, and we’re giving them back to the consumers.

    But as I said, it’s your call.

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  10. Go read my latest blog entry – http://rexdixon.wordpress.com/2006/09/28/rebtelcom-2-thumbs-up-free-call/ – Greg Spector is offering a free call to HIM directly using Rebtel.com – give it a try. The link to get your FREE call is in his post.

    I found the service easy to use, and the call connection was crystal clear. I did a short Q&A with him while he was walking down a street in Stockholm Sweden.

    Rex

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