VoIP in India is very hopeful and is witnessing a number of players. This is being said across plausible internet sources and is now supported by the thoughts of Yusuf Motiwala, CEO, TringMe.
TringMe’s range of diverse services: Call Widget, Mobile VoIP and use of web-based messengers, has won them a strong consumer base in the last 2 years.
biz-news.com blogger correspondent Jolsna Rajan spoke with Yusuf Motiwala about TringMe’s success, its ongoing initiatives and a lot about the status and outlook of VoIP market in India.
Biznews: Firstly, VoIP is a very young market in India. Potential seems to be high despite the recession. What would your opinion be on VoIP s outlook in India? Will we see any continual change in the offerings like the way TringMe has – no phone or a landline but just a microphone with Gtalk?
Yusuf: Yes, VoIP is a nascent market in India, but a lot is happening around it including, as you know, the guidelines from TRAI to legalize VoIP. VoIP has a lot of potential and the recession is not going to hurt it since the need to communicate is only growing. The continued penetration of Internet, the increasing need to integrate voice over IP and the need to provide telephony to the masses for even better prices than what exists today will only help VoIP in Indian market.
We strongly believe that as the means of communications increase (Phone, Internet, Instant Messenger, Mobile), the need to unify them will become a key to manage them. The caller does not need to know all the forms of communication devices/IDs that I carry/have. Instead, the caller should only know my one and only one ID to reach me and I should be able to receive calls on any device that I choose to. Isn’t it more intuitive?
|Yusuf Motiwala, CEO, TringMe|
To be precise, TringMe is not just microphone with Gtalk, but a lot more. As captured in our product offerings (TringMe products), we were the first ones to demonstrate web-based (Flash-based) telephony. TringPhone and our Push-N-Talk widgets enable anyone to call directly from the web. Our MobileVoIP intelligently uses any available data network including WiFi, GPRS, 3G networks to make and receive calls for next to nothing. Our SMS-based calling "brings VoIP to the masses" on the lowest end phones which are meant for only Voice and SMS. Coming to Gtalk, our platform enables Instant Messengers like Gtalk to do telephony. When you are calling from PC (Gtalk,TringPhone, Push-N-Talk widgets), all you need is microphone/speaker and when using a phone, you will not need to learn anything new. The idea is to leverage current devices and integrate them in an intelligent way. With TringMe’s platform, one can use any of the above mentioned ways of calling to call on any device. So, for example, one can call from Gtalk to a mobile device, from browser to a landline, from mobile device to a browser etc.
Biznews: Very recently, has TRAI made VoIP in India to be legal. However, usage of VoIP has always been high and therefore with it being made legal can we expect an exponential shift in the usage of the service?
Yusuf: To be precise, TRAI has made the recommendation to DoT (Department of Telecommunications)) to legalize VoIP. This is a big "key" step for VoIP in India. Although VoIP is being used in several forms, there has been some notion of it being not completely legal and hence we haven’t seen services that utilize VoIP to the fullest. Officially legalizing it will open the gates for usage that were potentially in the "gray area" with regards to the legality of VoIP.
Although, it’s tough to say, predict the quantity of increase in usability, there is no way, but up for VoIP to grow. We believe that any technology that can be used to bring services to the masses is the technology that wins. VoIP is one such service since it now enables the bottom of pyramid – the common man – to make worldwide calls for a few paisa. This has never happened and as a lot of potential. Only time will tell the extent in which VoIP affects each and every one of us.
Biznews: There are many players in the VoIP segment, so it seems. Do you agree with the statement? Is it a very competitive environment? Are players forced to reduce costs of their offerings because of competition or is the market purely driven by the customer level support / convenience?
Yusuf: Yes, there are many players in VoIP segment and it is a competitive environment. But if you look closely, there is a major difference when compared them with TringMe. Most of the companies are "VoIP providers" – i.e. the ones which sell VoIP mins – and VoIP mins is becoming a commodity and hence you see cut-throat competition and price-wars amongst them. TringMe is in a different league – we have built technology that is used by those providers and hence we eventually benefit because of price-wars amongst the "VoIP provider". Our technology and algorithms to utilize VoIP and provide a unified way to communicate across the web and mobile has created quite a disruption in the market space given that we were the first ones to demonstrate web-based (Flash-based) telephony.
Given the competition in the market, customers have a choice and they will not accept mediocre products for an extended duration. For a brand, it’s important that certain quality be maintained. We believe in it whole-heartedly. Infact, although VoIP has usually been associated with "not-so-good-voice-quality", Andy Abrahamson, a noted VoIP expert has commented that TringMe’s voice quality is even better than Vonage, a leader in VoIP services ( TringMe Conversations – Phweet, Aircell & TringMe Traffic Patterns). Customers and Companies are quick to "understand" such usability aspects and hence today, we are proud to say that TringMe is serving millions of customers. Big companies have embraced TringMe’s products and services which only underscores our belief that quality and the right way to use technology sells.
Biznews: We also hear that VoIP prices are not regulated in India. Does TringMe see this as an advantage when every competitor is trying to fight their own space in the low cost market?
Yusuf: Given that we are a technology platform provider, de-regulated VoIP prices is only a boon for us. Our technology leverages VoIP providers and hence we only benefit from such a competition. In general, competition is always healthy and we welcome competitors who want are looking to enter the same domain as ours.
Biznews: With the increase in the market potential, can we expect a greater focus on marketing initiatives? In other words can we expect a lot of advertisements (online/ print/ TV)? Is TringMe planning on it?
Yusuf: We have been lucky that our users have been our best marketing campaign. Almost all the market that exists for TringMe today are as a result of work-of-mouth marketing from our users. We have allocated some marketing budget for the near future to propel TringMe to the community which hasn’t yet tried TringMe. So, yes, you can expect marketing initiatives from our end. At this point, we cannot disclose the details of marketing plans since some of it is still in the works.
Biznews: We did a quick user perception about VoIP and the question asked was: what is the first thing that comes to your mind when one says VoIP? It was interesting to note that there were no much diverse opinions. Most of them said – Skype and cheap calls. And some said low quality.
Yusuf: Skype has been a big revolution to make Internet calls common-place. Given the precedence of calls over internet when compared to the PSTN calls, associating "cheap" with it is understandable. Since Internet was never designed to carry voice, the early attempts have yielded low/bad/not-s-good quality at the end-points.
It’s reassuring to hear these comments since we started with similar thoughts when building TringMe. The idea was to definitely change the "low quality" perception and we have successfully demonstrated that quality can be improved with algorithms, even in the low bandwidth scenario.
Biznews: If you could convey a message about VoIP to the same audience, will it be cheaper calls or would you like to better the perception in the minds of people?
Yusuf: Everyone has realized that with time, the call rates have dropped and they will continue to do so. It’s important for folks to realize that TringMe’s call quality is much better than what they may perceive. Andy Abrahamson, a noted VoIP expert has commented that TringMe’s voice quality is even better than VonageAs you may seen or heard, Alec Saunders’s Calliflower replaced the PC calling solution from multi-million dollar funded Truphone to TringMe’s flash widget for convenience and quality.
TringMe is like talking on regular phones. This, we believe will go a long way in making users realize that TringMe has taken the VoIP calls to the next level, to a place where cheap calls need not be low quality calls.
Biznews: Also, does TringMe view the market as a challenge since most of the users rely on Skype, Jajah and Jaxtr?
Yusuf: That’s no longer true. TringMe platform is serving 4 and half million customers everyday and hardcore Skype users moving to TringMe indicates emergence of new player. To give you an example, Phweet founder is Skype veteran and adapted to TringMe’s technology when he founded Phweet (and now skype – Phweet & TringMe connection), meet8 is an old Jajah customer now moved their entire network to TringMe, the quality speaks.
Why? TringMe’s platform is much more diverse and covers a diverse range of spectrum than the competitors including the ones you have mentioned. We offer all of what any of our competitors provide and more. You can look at our portfolio to get a better idea of our offering which will help you better understand the overall competitor’s space and our position.
Creating a website like Jajah, Jaxtr or Grandcentral is a matter of few minutes using TringMe’s powerful API (TringMe Blog – Roll-out your own click-to-call service). Complete source code is available.
Biznews: A last question which is again on TringMe – If the large audience could know about TringMe what would it be?
Yusuf: For a common man, TringMe is easiest way to stay voice reachable from anyplace in the world using any device and at anytime. For developers, integrating voice and telephony to any web-application is just a matter of few minutes.
Biznews: Can we expect more? Will we see more features and any ongoing change?
Yusuf: Yes, innovation is one of the core hallmarks of TringMe. As you may have known, we have released a lot of products/features in the last one year of our existence. New features, innovative solutions and interesting applications built on TringMe’s platform will definitely keep us busy and we will bring some of these applications to the market soon. Our goal is to establish TringMe as the de-facto voice platform of the web and empower everyone from a small developer to a big organization to easily deploy voice enable solutions. We have several patents (for e.g. Enhanced Click2Call) and the team is encouraged to file patents for novel ideas and algorithms. . TringMe is a small focused team with an ability to be amongst the top players in this industry.
About TringMe: TringMe is based out of Bangalore, India & having marketing presence at San Diego, US & Singapore. TringMe was launched in October 2006. They offer call widgets, web based SIP phone, mobile VoIP and connects IM users. These solutions are offered to enterprise and home based users. The company website gives a clear message that the company is set to make calls simpler and easier; a VoIP service for the next generation.
About Yusuf Motiwala: Yusuf Motiwala carries with him 14+ years of experience in communication and multimedia industries and is the Founder and CEO of TringMe