Truphone, the service that allows you to make cheap long distance phone calls using VoIP technology on a mobile phone, is now available to users of BlackBerry devices as a beta offering. This product is called Truphone Anywhere for Blackberry.
London-based Truphone’s service, which typically uses Wi-Fi connections for VoIP calls, has so far been available on the Symbian OS-based Nokia devices and Apple’s iPhone. The service doesn’t support Windows Mobile for now.
I downloaded early versions of the software on two WiFi-enabled BlackBerry devices — the 8801 and T-Mobile Curve — and it worked fine on both the devices. It was fairly easy to download the Truphone software using Blackberry’s built-in browser, and I installed it without many problems. Upon installation, it asked me if my device had Wi-Fi or not. (In case of non WiFi-enabled devices, Truphone behaves like any other callback service. )
As part of the sign-up process, I tried to use my existing Truphone account, but I ran into trouble, since it was tied to my Nokia device. So rather than jumping through hoops, I opted for a new account. The lack of seamless switching between devices and accounts is Truphone’s Achilles heel, in my opinion. When I tried the service on iPhone I had to sign up fora new account, as well. I think, as a company, Truphone needs to make an effort to reduce the number of steps between the download and setting up the service.
If you get past the minor setup hurdles, Truphone works as advertised. I am not sure what it says about the cell phone networks, but Truphone calls sounded clearer. The tight integration of the service with my Blackberry address book makes it dead simple to use, especially when making those international long distance calls. The service is smart enough to route your calls to whatever network is cheaper – GSM or Truphone’s service. This is what makes the BlackBerry version better than the Truphone version for the iPhone, which is not as intuitive.
For Truphone, the BlackBerry client could be the final push the company needs to become a major player in the U.S., where RIM’s devices are more popular than in Europe where Nokia is the market leader. Now, if it could figure local numbers that folks here in the U.S. could actually remember, it might become almost invaluable.
P.S.: 100 GigaOM Readers can get the early beta version of Truphone for BlackBerry by visiting this web site.