Barablu throws down gauntlet to Skype

Voice over IP (VoIP) player Barablu threw down the gauntlet to rival Skype at the 3GSM Asia conference, by demonstrating free VoIP calling between several Symbian Series 60 based devices and Microsoft Windows Mobile handsets.

The company is targeting two of the largest and fastest growing categories of wifi enabled mobiles with its offering. Barablu also enables IM sessions, video calls and conference calling for free within the Barablu community, as well as Barablu Out calls to fixed and mobile numbers outside of the Barablu network at rates that the company claims are competitive to Skype.

Skype itself has suffered some setbacks in the mobile VoIP arena. Niklas Zennstrom, Skype’s CEO was recently quoted as saying that its version of Skype for Symbian-based devices has no timetable because of technical glitches and a lack of suitable handsets.

Falk Muller-Veerse, managing partner at technology finance company Cartagena Capital said “for now, it’s [mobile Skype] not going anywhere.”

Skype’s mobile service was originally expected last year and although a Windows Mobile version is available it looks as though the Symbian version has been put on the back burner.

Barablu’s CEO, Pascal Isbell, said, “we’re doing what Skype has admitted it can’t do”. The company also plans to drive growth by strategically linking with additional wifi network providers, manufacturers, mobile operators and PC and IP phone manufacturers to offer more choice, therefore appealing to the widest audience.

“Millions of people globally now benefit from free PC to PC calls via VoIP. Now they want to add mobility to this facility. Barablu is the first company to provide consumers with this technology interoperably in the mobile arena by offering free cross platform mobile to mobile calls, utilising VoIP, via a wifi standard,” said Isbell.

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