I have been a frequent user of Truphone since it launched its mobile VoIP service over two years ago. What started as a simple VoIP client for Nokia Symbian S60 devices is fast becoming a unified client that does it all. You can make low-cost calls using Wi-Fi networks, utilize the wireless networks for call-back services and send SMS messages on the cheap.
The company is now taking a big step toward becoming an all-encompassing service by announcing support for Skype and other instant messaging. If you have Truphone installed on your iPhone or iTouch you can make (and receive) Skype calls and send instant messages to other Skype users by downloading the updated software on Jan. 12. So far, accessing Skype on an iPhone/iTouch has been hard. (According to our commenters, you can use Fring for iPhone or Nimbuzz iPhone apps to access Skype.)
I had tried to wrestle Skype CEO Josh Silverman on when he was going to release a client, but failed to get an answer from him. So, from that perspective, this is a welcome upgrade by Truphone. The company is also adding support to other messaging services as well. You can also access Twitter using the Truphone client. The offering is exclusively for iPhone and iTouch for now.
Geraldine Wilson, who was recently appointed as the chief executive of Truphone, told me in a conversation earlier today that Truphone wants to “offer our users a comprehensive communications experience. We started out as a voice app but now we are broadening it to other applications.”
By doing so, Wilson and Truphone founder James Tagg believe that they will give Truphone users a reason to stay insider the application longer, creating more opportunities to make phone calls and bringing in much-needed revenues. “In a mobile environment it is hard to switch between different applications, and that is why we are creating a single application environment,” Tagg says.
As we have noticed previously, iPhone and iTouch have been saviors for Truphone. Wilson told me that the company has more than 100,000 subscribers who use an iPhone, and iTouch has started to see an quick ramp as well. “Since the iPhone introduction, we are seeing our subscriber base double every month,” she said. In Fall 2008, I spoke with Truphone’s CTO, Alistair Campbell, who told me:
Truphone for iPhone now accounts for about one-half of the total number of Truphone users. And while he wouldn’t disclose the total number of downloads, he did say that the company is focusing more of its resources on Apple’s platform.
OK, now I have another reason to use Truphone.