VoIP technology has become very popular with Internet users and is making its way onto mobile devices. Cedar Holdings has introduced a new version of its mobile app, MobiVoip.
The app supports both iOS and Android, and promises cheaper calls to U.S. phone numbers than Skype. It supports all of the major wireless standards, including 3G, 4G, EDGE and Wi-Fi. Users can send texts and make video calls in addition to voice calls.
To save even more money on calls, the app automatically finds contacts in an address book who already have MobiVoip installed. MobiVoip calls are free to other users.
Users also don’t have to remember a username and password. A user’s phone number serves as the authentication, though if a phone fell into the wrong hands of someone who happened to know the user’s phone number, it would be possible to access that user’s contacts and make calls.
Over-the-top apps like MobiVoip could represent a threat to the revenue streams of carriers, since callers are making calls over the Internet instead of using the regular voice calling services. There’s not much the carriers can do short of actually blocking these services, but they wouldn’t really want to do that, since a lot of customers who use mobile VoIP apps would simply move to another carrier that didn’t block these apps.
Infonetics expects the number of mobile VoIP users to reach around 410 million worldwide by 2015, but there are challenges despite the optimistic projections.
“The adoption of over-the-top (OTT) mobile VoIP services is growing rapidly but it is not without challenges,” Diane Myers, directing analyst for VoIP and IMS at Infonetics, said. “With free applications and extremely low revenue from users, it is tricky for application providers without the deep pockets of larger companies like Google, Microsoft, and Telefónica to have a sustainable long-term business model. Despite the fact that we expect mobile VoIP subscribers to grow nearly 10-fold from 2010 to 2015, there is relatively little money to be made from it in the near term.”