Voice app provider Truphone is releasing an updated app for Android which is compatible with Google’s Nexus One handset. That makes it the first VoIP client for that phone. In fact it turns out the Nexus One is going to be very important to Truphone’s overall strategy.
The update for Android device (version 3.0.2) also makes Truphone compatible with the T-Mobile Pulse, taking it to five Android devices now. Truphone worked closely with Google on the app.
It’s the latest in a line of new moves by the UK-based company, which a year ago was not looking quite so happy. Revenues from VOIP calls are still a tough nut to crack and although Truphone has a great tech-focused team, until recently it lacked business and commercial savvy. The arrival of new – ex-Yahoo mobile- CEO Geraldine Wilson in late 2008 has stabilised the company and set it on firmer footing, although the jury is still out on whether VOIP apps really do end up getting anywhere in a market which likes “free”.
Crucial to Truphone’s strategy however is the gradual emergence – especially in the U.S. – of mobile phones not locked to a carrier. If you can swap out the SIM card you can capture a market. That’s why Google’s Nexus One could be the start of a hugely important era for VOIP startups like Truphone. And here’s further evidence why:
This week Truphone announced a strategic MVNO partnership with Vodafone UK. It will rebrand Vodafone UK’s network for the Truphone Local Anywhere customers of its SIM-based mobile service. It also launched a new iPhone app for global calling. Other regional MVNO deals are in the offing.
The service allows customers to make use of local rates in countries where Truphone has wholesale partnerships. They also have the option of having local mobile numbers for those countries all on a single SIM. For those countries where Truphone does not have operator agreements, Truphone Local Anywhere offers roaming rates that can be 40 percent cheaper than standard mobile operator charges and international call at up to 90 percent cheaper.
Truphone also has an app which works on the iPod Touch, effectively turning it into a phone.
UPDATE: As per some comments below, it is of course worth pointing out there are other VoIP apps for the Nexus One (e.g. SipAgent), but these are generally SIP clients which don’t have the full functionality of Truphone’s app not it’s SIM integration.