Cell Phones, Web Browsers to Get VOIP Feature

By Ben Charny, eWeek

An Internet phone service called JaJah will become standard on a significant cell phone operating system, and the Opera Web browser for computers and cell phones, the company announced April 5.

The announcement was expected from the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, and the enhancements will be available in June.

With the moves, JaJah is advancing its VOIP (voice over IP)-based feature further than a lot of its competitors have.

While VOIP is common on personal computers and home phones, cell phones remain relatively virgin territory.


JaJah is seeking the benefits of being first to try a particular market, but also risking the equally as spectacular first-mover pitfalls.

VOIP is a way to make phone calls using an Internet connection rather than a traditional home or cell phone.

VOIP's attraction is how cheap calls are, due to the efficiencies of using the Internet over analog telephone technology developed a century ago.

Many VOIP operators piggyback a basic free service with premium features to call cell or landline phones at per-minute rates.

There are scores of VOIP operators, the biggest being U.S. cable providers, which are using VOIP to sell unlimited monthly calling plans that compete against local phone companies.

There's also Vonage Holdings of Holmdel, N.J., and Skype, the peer-to-peer VOIP operator based in Luxembourg and owned by eBay.

In the case of JaJah, by June, a version of its Internet telephony will be part of the Symbian operating system.

For now, Symbian phones represent a minuscule fraction of the nearly 2 billion cell phones in circulation, and many are used by mobile professionals.

Symbian is significant despite the low market share because major cell phone makers control the company that owns the operating system. The handset makers intend Symbian to serve as the basis for next generation handsets to come.

JaJah is also to become an addition to the Opera Web browser for both personal computers and cell phones, which is distributed by Opera Software, based in Oslo, Norway.

Opera has small, cult-like following among personal computer users that, in comparison, pales to the market share of the leading browsers.

But it's a brighter story when focusing on cell phones. About 20 million cell phones, many of them using Symbian, come with the browser already loaded.

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