FriendCaller, a Skype alternative which, let’s face it, we haven’t heard much from in years, is today launching new web and mobile apps that support up to 7-way group video chats at once. The addition comes on the heels of FriendCaller’s earlier expansion this year into multi-point video and voice conferencing, the company says.
In addition to the seven video participants, the new apps also support 20 participants in a voice-only chat.
For those unfamiliar with FriendCaller, it’s a service from C2Call, a company founded back in 2008. Like Skype, it offers free services for users calling other FriendCaller members, but charges for other things like making calls to external phones, for example.
A couple of years ago, the company was touting a total of 1.4 million subscribers, and today, that number has more than quadrupled to 6.5 million. The application is available for Windows, Mac and Linux web browsers as well as on iOS and Android-based devices. (FriendCaller is available on over 1,000 different Android devices, in fact).
Today, FriendCaller is officially announcing the launch of its mobile chat apps, which feature text/SMS support, Caller ID, support for “real” phone numbers and support for calling over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G. The company says that it’s able to offer this new service because its algorithms require “extremely low resources” on both the mobile client and cloud server side.
The new app appears as a separate download than the original FriendCaller app in the iTunes App Store, but in the
Android Market Google Play store, the new app is the only one listed. It’s also available here online for web users. All three apps support using Facebook to sign up and find friends, although you can also use an email address instead, if you choose.
FriendCaller’s earlier iOS app has a four-star rating, but a few reviews are negative, seemingly due to user confusion as to what’s free and what’s paid. To be clear, in-network calls are always free, but users have to pay for premium features like a “real” phone number, dialing out to external lines, and soon, text messaging (it’s listed as free for a “limited time”).
For users who don’t want to pay for credits, FriendCaller also allows them to watch videos or download apps to earn those credits, via its “offer wall” (a pay-per-download scheme). The app also runs a banner ad to assist in monetization efforts.
[Sorry, but I couldn't line up 7 friends to test the video chat before this news broke. It should be interesting to see how it does.]
C2Call has angel funding from Michael Brehm (former executive director of StudiVZ , a European social networking site) and Tapesh Sinha (founder of Acctel Group of companies). In October 2009, High-Tech Gründerfonds became the lead investor for the company. It’s a leading start-up venture capital group backed by six of Germany’s largest industrial groups including BASF, Deutsche Telekom, Siemens, Robert Bosch, Daimler and Carl Zeiss. C2Call raised a $2 million Series A in 2010 from Draper Investment Company, High-Tech Gründerfonds and Mr. Klaus Wecken, co-founder of KHK Software AG.