The guys from Skype have a bad day today, as two mobile industry experts from a Dutch town called Rotterdam launched a mobile application that brings free mobile VoIP calling to 500 hundred different types of mobile phones. Wow! This means that users can make calls around 50 countries and just pay for their local data usage. So you’d better use a flat-rate data plan.
The new Nimbuzz mobile VoIP application works worldwide on Nokia Symbian Series 60 devices when connected using a 3G or Wifi network – with a Windows Mobile offering for release in June. For GPRS/EDGE connections, or when using Java-enabled phones, Nimbuzz also offers its “hybrid-VoIP” solution, which counts for the 50 countries.
Co-editors Boris and Patrick at Nimbuzz’s HQ in Rotterdam
Although the Skype-bashing part is the most interesting, I gladly tell you that Nimbuzz’s app also includes conference calling, instant messaging, chat and group chat, and photo and file sending across multiple IM communities, including Skype, MSN, Google Talk, Yahoo!, AIM, Jabber and ICQ, plus 23 social networks, including Facebook and Myspace. Founder Evert Jaap Lugt received VC and strategic funding since 2006 by Mangrove Capital Partners (Skype investor), Naspers/MIH (Tencent, Mail.ru, Gadu-Gadu, Mweb, Sanook, Tradus) and Holtzbrinck (StudiVZ).
My expectation that for a while, this service will remain a niche thing – they now have 500,000 beta users -, yet after some enthusiastic “you gotta try this” conversations, the masses might pick it up. I know that for a lot of people downloading and installing a mobile app is still little too much to ask, but when Nimbuzz users tell them they can call for free, they’ll probably give it a shot.
The most interesting question here is: what will Skype do? Launch a similar new-and-improved service? Might Nimbuzz become really successful and Skype’s mother company eBay take the advice of their ‘Disruptive Innovator’ Rolf Skyberg – make Skype the third pillar in the eBay empire -, then an acquisition could be in sight. Don’t you also just love to speculate about the next (mobile) web?