Friday, June 20, 2008

iCall: Opportunity or Threat

A couple weeks ago there was news about a new application for the iPhone called iCall. In the clever video demo below, the founders describe iCall as an application for the iPhone which enables users to make calls for free over any Wi-Fi access point. The video how theiCall application works:

  1. User starts call on GSM
  2. User goes into Wi-Fi
  3. Phone detected/attaches to Wi-Fi
  4. iCall application asks the user if they would like to switch the call to Wi-Fi
  5. Phone switches networks

If it sounds a lot like a UMA-based dual-mode handset service, it is. The only difference between iCall and T-Mobile’s HotSpot @Home service is step 4: User intervention.

So, is this an opportunity or a threat for the mobile operator? (Ed note: UMA Today’s position is always from the viewpoint of the mobile operator, UMA is for mobile operators)

There is a threshold for subscribers between ‘actions’ and ‘cost’. At what point does a user change their actions to save on costs? (Ed note: Here in San Jose, it’s when gas hits $4.60/gallon...)

Will users actually stop a call, press a button, and switch it to Wi-Fi to save money?

Or would users rather have a call that automatically switches to Wi-Fi and saves money? If so, then T-Mobile, Rogers, Orange, Cincinnati Bell, Telia and others already have this covered.

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