Jajah: The calling card killerMonday, October 09, 2006
Have you ever used a calling card to get good rates to your friends and relatives in foreign countries? Then you know about the hassles of calling their toll-free number, then entering your 10 digit PIN, followed by the number of the person you're actually trying to reach. Not to mention you can only talk for as long as the card allows, and they sometimes bill you in 3-minute increments!
If you don't have a broadband connection, or you don't like using a microphone headset, then calling cards were just about the only option for making cheap calls from your normal phone line.
Enter Jajah. On their website, you simply enter your phone number and the phone number of the person you want to talk to and press Call. Your phone will ring. When you pick up, the other phone will start ringing. When it's picked up, the billing counter starts and you can talk to each other. Pretty simple. Depending on the zone you're in, your international calls are free or at low rates. It also helps if the other line is also registered with Jajah.
They also have Jajah Mobile, which is a transparent way of making Jajah calls from your cellphone, if you have a Symbian™ phone. Otherwise, there's a Java application you can use to make calls from your mobile phone which is admittedly more complicated, but still allows you to make Jajah calls without going to their website.
The question is, can this work? I mean in the long-term business sense, can they continue making money off of the infrastructure of established telecom providers? Jajah's genius move is relying on the fact that most people don't pay for incoming calls. This cost is usually picked up by the one who initiates the call. Since all Jajah's calls become local calls, with the long distance part going over IP, I'd imagine that the big telecoms wouldn't be too happy about this attempt to cut into their profits. Might they sue, or demand fees, or possibly enforce bandwidth regulations? We'll have to wait and see what happens.