Truphone phones a friend
Expansys to pre-install Truphone client on Nokia handsets
Expansys, the first port of call for the technically-literate UK gadget buyer, has launched their own VoIP service in something of a departure from their core business, though on closer examination it's a branded version of Truphone.
Expansys VoIP will come as a pre-installed application on Nokia handsets sold by Expansys, at least those with a Wi-Fi capability. The user just runs the application on the handset, it then collects their information and configures the phone's SIP client to use Truphone's VoIP network.
Many users who would gain from Wi-Fi VoIP services are put off by the complexity of installing software or configuring the service, and Truphone has gone a long way to simplifying that process. Pre-installing the client removes a major step, and should encourage more customers to try VoIP on their mobile, but getting an operator to pre-install Truphone would be difficult to say the least.
Getting the software pre-installed isn't technically easy either: Nokia require significant volume commitments before they'll pre-install anything on a handset, and opening the boxes is a logistical pain - though there are companies who can perform that service with minimal fuss.
It's most likely that Expansys is using such a company (though they weren’t available to comment), so offering this service is costing them some money, and they'll be wanting to make that back from some form of revenue-share with Truphone.
At the moment every call made to a Truphone number by a T-Mobile customer loses Truphone money, if they have to route it to a mobile. T-Mobile won't pay a mobile termination fee, and the two companies are grinding their way towards a court case which is unlikely to happen until next year. Truphone's business model largely depends on the outcome of that case, which is being watched with interest by the industry.
With femtocells already being trialled, and quad-play operators able to guarantee quality by reserving portions of an ADSL connection, the window of opportunity for an independent VoIP company like Truphone isn't wide, and while the service is undoubtedly impressive, the company can do with all the friends it can get. ®