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Summary:

Gogii, the maker of popular messaging app TextPlus, is launching a service called TextPlus Free Calls that enables a host of devices, even Wi-Fi-only devices, to make and receive phone calls for free or very cheaply. Free Calls joins a growing number of IP-based communications competitors.

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Want to pay less than $1 for phone calls? Shell out for an iPod Touch and make sure you’re near a Wi-Fi network. It’s possible with a new app from Gogii, the maker of popular messaging app TextPlus, which is launching a new service called TextPlus Free Calls that enables a host of devices, even Wi-Fi-only devices, to make and receive phone calls for free or very cheaply.

With TextPlus Free Calls, users will be able to make unlimited free phone calls to other TextPlus members. And because TextPlus connects to traditional PSTN phone systems, users can connect directly to regular phone numbers at rates starting at 99 cents for 40 minutes without a contract or plans. Free trial minutes will be available to users who sign up. Devices like the iPod Touch will now be able to serve as phone replacements through Text Plus Free Calls running over Wi-Fi.

There’s some caveats but it’s another sign that Wi-Fi calling is getting bigger and a lot easier for consumers. But it’s not just for Wi-Fi only devices:TextPlus can help cell phone users reduce their voice minutes to the lowest plan while running their calls over Wi-Fi and 3G data.

The iOS app, which is separate from the TextPlus Free messaging app, is available now and will be in the Android Market shortly. Users will be able to use one account across multiple devices and will be able to access their call history and voice mail from any device.

The move pits TextPlus against a growing number of IP-based communications competitors, dubbed NUVO or Network Unaffiliated Virtual Operators by Sybase.  Many of the group text messaging services fall into this category and a smaller number of providers also offer voice services, some that come with their phone number like Google Voice and Pinger’s TextFree and others like Viber that don’t. By connecting to the PSTN, Text Plus Free Calls can send and receive calls to and from phones that don’t use the app.

The rise of these services are forcing traditional carriers to rethink their business models. The messaging apps are helping wean users off SMS text messages by connecting users directly over the Internet. And voice services are increasingly offering direct connections that allow users to forgo highly reliable phone calls and monthly data plans, for pay-as-you-go voice services that can offer free or very cheap calls.

It presages a future where voice is just an app on the data network, something carriers themselves are also slowly learning. Sprint has teamed with Google Voice to let people use their Google Voice number while AT&T recently released an International VoIP calling app. Republic Wireless, a division of Bandwidth.com which connects Pinger and Google Voice to the PSTN, recently launched Republic Wireless, offering users a $19 a month voice and data plan that relies heavily on Wi-Fi calling.

Scott Lahman, CEO of Gogii, said carriers can still compete on delivering 4G and high quality, reliable phone service. But he said there is a growing market for simple voice calls that can connect people. And that will change what consumers need from their carriers: fewer or no voice minutes and lots of data. Carriers such as T-Mobile also appear to be responding, offering a plan with just 100 minutes and data.

“We’re on the cusp of the most interesting time in the brief history of mobile,” said Lahman. “The internet has not done its thing in mobile until recently.”

TextPlus, which launched in 2009 and has hit 20 billion messages sent to date, also provides social elements inside its communications apps. Gogii has raised $28 million to date including a $15 million round earlier this year.

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  13. gigaom: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/1CLWq7Ik

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  14. RT @gigaom: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/uAr15piZ

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  15. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/V9tB1lP3 via Ryan Kim

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  16. RT @gigaom: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/bUOxyI3a – good to see some healthy competition! #cheapcalls

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  17. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app: The messaging apps are helping wean users off SMS text mess… http://t.co/zidxKJRH

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  18. Goggi, parent company of @textPlus joins wi-fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/ARiIUCN7 #fb

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  19. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/l0IK2mXK #Apple #iPodtouch

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  21. RT @gigaom: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/uAr15piZ

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  22. Cuma butuh wifiiii m/ RT @gigaom: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/uIA366pR

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  24. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app:
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  27. RT @gigaom: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/W8kwXngt chamadas via wi-fi

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  32. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app — @gigaom http://t.co/EZ1zSeAD

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  33. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app – GigaOm: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new ap… http://t.co/CVUNpEq0

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  35. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/b8oGIkHd #Apple #iPhone #iPad

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  36. RT @oryankim: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/2k4kYYi8

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  39. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app: Gogii, the maker of popular messaging app TextPlus, is laun… http://t.co/h2CFU95B

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  40. The Apple Blog – Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/OzKBaxZG

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  41. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app: By connecting to the PSTN, Text Plus Free Calls can send an… http://t.co/1GW4Bl44

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  42. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/K6OZKPot

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  43. what would be a huge hit is this:

    a simple phone(not fancy touchscreen smartphone) that combines free or very cheap wifi calling with a sim slot for a per minute prepaid service. cellular would be available but only as a back when no wifi is available.

    so far everything is smartphone oriented. but the reality is that people who understand smartphone technology are not the most price sensitive. the people who are most price sensitive would prefer the simplicity of a basic phone.

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  44. [255] Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app
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  46. RT @gigaom: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/uAr15piZ

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  54. RT @HennArtOnline: Goggi, parent company of @textPlus joins wi-fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/ARiIUCN7 #fb

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  55. RT @HennArtOnline: Goggi, parent company of @textPlus joins wi-fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/ARiIUCN7 #fb

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  58. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app: Scott Lahman, CEO of Gogii, said carriers can still compete… http://t.co/g2SVRXM0

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  61. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app: 13, 2011, 5:30am PT No Comments Want to pay less than $1 fo… http://t.co/p1s3Qn1E

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  62. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/7JeRT57z #KasiTopShayela

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  63. Thanks Ryan for the awesome story about the launch of textPlus Free Calls. If anyone has any questions– please feel free to tweet us @textplus.

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  64. I just commented on “Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app” @gigaom: http://t.co/5Q4SPbM4 via @gigaom

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  74. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app — #textPlus Free Calls http://t.co/7SiAWL0b via @oryankim

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  75. RT @textPlus: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app — #textPlus Free Calls http://t.co/7SiAWL0b via @oryankim

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  76. Just as it should be! Double the pleasure of hearing your loved one’s voice for FREE! Yay Goggi @textplus & Thanks! http://t.co/ARiIUCN7 #fb

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  77. Thanks! RT @HennArtOnline: Just as it should be! Double the pleasure of hearing your loved one’s voice for FREE! http://t.co/anDDqvXF

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  78. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app: But it’s not just for Wi-Fi only devices:TextPlus can help … http://t.co/CS39YQoc

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  79. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app — Tech News … http://t.co/3xMto7C9

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  80. RT @textPlus: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app — #textPlus Free Calls http://t.co/7SiAWL0b via @oryankim

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  81. Not sure which but a NUVO is going to blow up and disintermediate the mobile carriers $VZ $T @gigaom @GOGII http://t.co/8f6vHaaU

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  83. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app – GigaOm http://t.co/EqxUO0vD

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  84. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new @textPlus Free Calls app http://t.co/J9lD5x9b

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  85. Check out what GigaOm’s Ryan Kim has to say about the launch of #textPlus Free Calls. Hint: he likes! http://t.co/ASV4jGB8 cc @oryankim

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  86. #NUVO Gogii (of @TextPlus fame) joins the Wi-Fi Calling Pioneers with New App (from @gigaom) http://t.co/9tNjb705

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  87. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app: Many of the group text messaging services fall into this ca… http://t.co/DSYp8i8M

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  89. GOGII (makers of @textPlus) becomes wi-fi calling pioneer with new app http://t.co/3M7CSLPD

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  90. RT @MatrixPartners: GOGII (makers of @textPlus) becomes wi-fi calling pioneer with new app http://t.co/3M7CSLPD

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  93. Gogii se une a las apps para hacer llamadas vía Wi-Fi – http://t.co/lvMH2Ecm

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  94. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  95. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  96. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  97. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  100. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  103. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  104. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  105. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  106. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  107. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  108. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app – GigaOm http://t.co/RJ2tFPMY

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  109. RT @gigaom: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/daDoQ6Wd

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  110. Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/dTknyfvS – Wi-Fi is getting bigger as wireless LD rates get arbitraged

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  111. Wifi calling and text on Apple http://t.co/udCOQZX1

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  112. Business Management Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Curious, how does this differ from the app already offered by Skype? I haven’t used it in a while, but I thought it did the same thing.

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    1. The difference between textPlus Free Calling and Skype is that Skype doesn’t allow it’s users to call actual landline or cellular phones (unless there’s a feature that you have to buy to be able to, which I haven’t seen anything like that, but not completely sure). While, on the other hand, textPlus Free Calling allows it’s users to call each other (app-to-app) for free, and to landline/cellular phones for minutes (you can buy the minutes pretty cheap: $0.99 for 40 minutes, $1.99 for 100 minutes, or $9.99 for 550 minutes). Also, you can earn free minutes by downloading apps or watching videos (not sure, it’s either of the two).
      So in simpler terms, Skype doesn’t allow landline or cellular outgoing calls, while textPlus Free Calling does, just for a cheap price.

      Hope this helps!

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      1. But Skype DOES have that feature. You can either buy minutes or subscribe for a flat monthly/annual fee. So if that’s the difference, there’s no difference!

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  113. RT @louiebaur: Gogii joins the Wi-Fi calling pioneers with new app http://t.co/9WnAlUbE

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  114. The future of voice communications : simple applications on the data network http://t.co/c4FbXUJX http://t.co/sHUyPR6o http://t.co/5L1kVB5f

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