With the introduction of microphone support and an external speaker, the gap between the iPhone and the iPod touch was becoming increasingly narrow. It was really only a matter of time before it happened, but one company, JAJAH is now claiming to have bridged the space between the two, and brought phone features to the iPod touch, going beyond what even existing VoIP apps have done in the past.
Specifically, JAJAH will allow you to not only make calls with your iPod touch, but also send and receive text messages. Of course, since the device lacks any kind of cellular antenna, you’ll have to be in a Wi-Fi hotspot in order to use JAJAH’s phone features. You’ll also have to have an iPod headset with Mic, and you aren’t actually able to do any of this yet, because JAJAH is not currently available in the App Store. Just like the MMS solution we covered before, JAJAH is a white label service that will be offered for sale to other companies.
Companies who do purchase JAJAH’s white-label goods will get everything, from a custom-branded app to payment infrastructure. The idea is that an interested company will take the product, turn around, and sell air time or service bundles to consumers. In their press release, JAJAH mentions students as a potentially lucrative target market, since they seem to always have Wi-Fi access and they have ample reason to use an affordable long distance solution.
I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but I’m not entirely sure this kind of thing will get App Store approval, although JAJAH seems pretty confident. They do suggest in their materials that carriers might want to offer this to extend their reach beyond iPhone owners, but I think they’ll be far more likely to pressure Apple into blocking the release of these kinds of apps where iPhones are sold.
On the other hand, it could be an opportunity to grab long distance customers from traditional, land-line based phone companies, since many now only have a home phone for those types of calls. If rates are good enough, people could end up buying iPod touch talk time instead of using long distance cards, which would appeal to students, businesspeople, and international travelers.
Apple could end up approving the apps because of the potential revenue they stand to gain from iPod touch purchases encouraged by the additional service, but it’ll depend on how much they think they stand to lose from cannibalized iPhone sales. Whatever happens, nice to know the ability is out there, just waiting for corporate buy-in.