French startup lets you call people on Skype without needing Skype

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Now here’s something amazing. French telecoms startup Manifone has launched a service that lets you call Skype contacts directly, from any fixed line or mobile phone, with no Skype account, additional software, PC or handset required. They claim their Mani-Sky VoIP service is a first in the telecommunications industry, and by golly, I think they may be right.

Mani-Sky assigns alias telephone numbers, which they call ‘direct numbers’, to Skype contacts; these can be saved to your phone memory and called the usual way, at the price of a local call.   The catch is that it’s only the first three minutes of the call that are free.

Beyond that, the company’s business model kicks in; anyone wishing to place longer calls can opt for a six-month subscription that offers unlimited calls to Skype for $10. The company makes its money on the parts of the calls that are switched between fixed line and IP networks. Manifone is offering Mani-Sky free to all users in the 11 supported countries in Europe and North America for a promotional period.

On the face of it, the service is not all that different from SkypeIn or Jajah.Direct – the primary differentiator is that it opens up Skype, which, let’s face it, is still the market-leading VoIP service, in a way that Skype itself has yet to achieve.

  • Peter Urban

    Seems like the (some) phone companies are finally starting to read the signs of the time.

    • Terry White

      the bigger they are, the more it takes for them to read those signes it seems

      • JeffBones

        It’s completely natural. Small ones develop, big ones acquire. That’s the IT foodchain.

  • Love

    It used to be every home needs a land line.

    Now its going to be every home needs the internet

    • Laurence

      More like every home needs broadband.

      • Adrian Eden


    • Sean John Bigg

      Even more like the internet providers neeed every home (as their clients) :D J/K, I fully agree.

  • Shanky Baba

    This would be interesting. Now the phone companies are adapting to VoIP service providers. Good for customers.

  • Andras

    This has great potential. But I wonder about the model – for a small fee I have a skype in number that people can call me at from their normal devices as well.

    Still, something to monitor for a while.

    • Envy

      Yeh I think most serouis skype users have this as well.

      It will be interesting to see how they do with this model, and how long before skype shuts them off.

    • Manifone

      Actually Mani-Sky is quite the opposite of Skype-In. It’s me as a caller that can call any Skype user, even those who don’t have a Skype-In number. And for a $10, 6 months flat fee, I can have up to 20 direct numbers to call my Skype contacts (and those numbers I can change to call other Skype users at any time).

  • john r

    The phone companies are going to become like the news papers.

    On a different note here is a site i stumbled upon where anything goes no filters, nothing. Only limit 140 chracters

    • Joseph Dudash

      Can you explain what you mean by ‘companies are going to become like the news papers’ ?:)

      • Norman Sherman

        I think he means that they’re forced to adapt, they’re moving online, evolving, and so forth.

      • Terry White

        No, I think he means that most of them will go bankrupt!

  • arif

    Google Voice is still cheaper for international calls and I’m not sure why would I call someone’s PC (Skype) through land/mobile line. Anyways, thanks for sharing.

    • JeffBones

      Never had a friend who keeps sitting at his PC with his headphones on, music on loud, skype running in the background? IM is often the only way you can reach such people :D When you’re on the run, it’s quite useful to have these phone2skype call utilz.

      • Joseph Dudash

        I have few friends in Serbia who works for an international company. They are connected with boss primarly via skype! :) Probably that is the most cheaper, because other parts of the company are based in Canada and Russia. Probably the company does not wants to buy Mani-In for each of their employee, and for them this ManiSky would be very good :) I mean, for the bosses :D

    • Joseph Dudash

      As I see at official google voice site: “Google Voice is currently open only for GrandCentra”….

    • Manifone

      Most phone calls are made from mobile (cell) phones. It’s something like 60% of worldwide calls are now made from mobiles. So it seemed quite obvious to us that Mani-Sky had tremendous potential. Up to now, you had to wait to be back in the office or back home to place a Skype call. This is now history. It’s just getting used to it that will take some time.

  • Mark MacLeod

    Mobivox has had this functionality for a long time

    • Joseph Dudash

      I’m geek, that’s no secret :) I tried and try every new stuff, and i tried mobivox as well :) and ManiSky too… the main difference is,at mobivox it requires 2 steps to reach the contact… call mobivox, tell who you want to call, and then it rings…
      at manisky it is faster, because for each skype contact I have a direct number, which I call from my mobile as every other contacts. no need to change habbits :)

  • François

    I clearly see the interest of this: as a company doing business in many different countries, I can be reached on my Skype via local numbers, without having to get a Skype-In number for each country….. as long as the callers know about this service (which may be the real issue)

    • Envy

      not to mention if your customers talk to you for more than 3 minutes they will have to pay. I don’t think customers will want to foot a bill just to tlak to their supplier, they would move to the next supplier that has 800 number..

  • Technogati

    Communication companies are fooling to people by giving free offers in starting but after they charge a lot of.

    • Andy Phelps

      Isn’t that the same in every industry? IMHO it’s still better than providing no free test at all.

      • Manifone

        Thanks for your support Andy :)

        We are not planning to charge anything more than a $10 fee for a 6 unlimited subscription to Mani-Sky. Who can say this is exagerated?

  • George

    Is this post for real? Hopefully, this author will learn how to cover tech news or stop reporting for TC. And what’s a “France telecoms startup”? Meh, very weak post. Boo!

    • Terry White

      you’re welcome to do better if you can

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  • Michael Robertson

    Gizmo5 previously offered a service that does this and more. It’s called OpenSky and you can read about it at:

    It gives every Skype user a SIP address.
    It lets users call any Skype user from any mobile phone by sending a text message.
    They offer free calls for up to 5 minutes and longer calls require a $20 annual fee.
    OpenSky also works great with Google’s Voice service so those calls can be forwarded to Skype as well.

    Manifone seems to have copied some of the features of OpenSky, but it’s not new.

    • Jonathan Frederickson

      Ah, yeah, I was going to mention this but… yep. Problem is, it’s so expensive, why not just make a Skype account anyway?

      And the Google Voice part is nice, but… since Google hasn’t opened it up yet… =/

    • François

      Isn’t it stupid to pay for an sms (40 eurocents to place an international SMS) to then get a callback (and pay Gizmo5 a per minute fee for the callback) and be connected to the Skype account? This seems way too expensive for me. I prefer paying for a local call, much cheaper.

  • SS does this already

    • FranÃ�§ois

      Yes, Iskoot is a pretty nice application, but it’s a software that needs to be downloaded to the mobile phone, which makes is more complicated. Iskoot also need a dataplan, and can obviously not be used from a standard fixed line phone.

  • Carie

    I’m rather confused now. What’s the big difference between this Manifone thing and SkypeIn? :/

    • FranÃ��Ã�§ois

      the difference is with Skype-In, it’s the called party that needs to purchase an International number. Manifone gives the caller several international numbers to call any Skype contact.

  • FG

    Thanks for the info. Tested it and the only negative aspect I can see is that ther’s no way to check the online status of skype friends.

    • Terry White

      There is: call him, and if he answers it means he’s available! :D

  • JeffBones

    so the only question remains (haven’t tested myself) what does the called party see who’s calling? Will they know it’s me?

    • François

      The called party sees “Manifone” as caller, they don’t know who’s calling.

      • François

        sorry I was wrong on this one. Actually the called party receives an instant message just before Skype rings that shows the caller ID of the caller with a message that says something like “you are about to receive a call from XXXXXXX (CID)”. So if you recognize the number, you know who’s calling.

  • Joseph Dudash

    I think this is good idea, only problem is, that this service is not available in my country, Serbia :(

    • rebreb911

      I feel your pain mate, used to live in the ukraine for 2 years…

  • Pinkman

    Why would I pay for a local call to call my Skype contacts if I can call them for free from my computer? This doesn’t make sense to me.

    • Joseph Dudash

      I assume, the difference is, that you can call your skype buddies with your mobile phone, from anywhere :) while traveling, etc… without internet. If I get this ManiSky thing correctly.

      • Gloria

        You got it!

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  • Szabadi Csilla

    Great post, things seem to be moving in the traditional telecom industry. They are finally taking voip seriously

    • Norman Sherman

      Yep, it was about time…

  • Sergio Fogel

    JetNumbers provides a cheaper SkypeIn than Skype, and has been providing free SkypeIn plans for almost one year.

    They are about to launch a cheaper skypeout as well

    • JeffBones

      Jetnumbers requires a token to sign up, well, I’m not sure it’s the right strategy these days when (nearly) everything has an alternative…

      • Andy Phelps

        Matter of fact, Google doesn’t have one.

  • emoci

    Well it seems like the ManiFone base service is no different than LocalPhone, or Talkster and Rebtel…

    They map your Caller ID + local access numbers to dial a specific LD number…

    In this case they’ve gone ahead and either deployed their own Skype for Asterisk (, bought into the newly released Skype for Asterisk service ( or have a deal with Gizmo for OpenSky (

    It’s always cool to see the masses become reachable on more than just a phone number

    PS. Did you know that any DID mapped to will ring your MSN messenger

    Now if someone let’s say wanted to try this at home…becoming reachable from worlwide on Skype…and you don’t mind being limited to a 5 minute call then give this a try:

    -Get yourself a SipBroker Alias acct.
    -Create an alias for
    -Have your callers dial any of 200+ SipBroker Access numbers around the world and enter the *011xxxxxx alias you created…
    -Expect Skype to ring

    If you have the patience…and want something with no limits than try this instead

    • Manifone

      Nice response emoci.

      Manifone has developed its own Skype gateway. Expect many more new annoucements to come soon regarding global network interconnection using Manifone’s Direct Numbers technology.

    • Sean John Bigg

      I think the question is not if you can bridge the different IM/VOIP services but if you can make it seamless and easy to use. Most services designed by tecchies who like the challange of achieving the impossible. Everyday people like using the usable.

      • rebreb911

        Very true!

  • astrophyzz

    As a big Skype user, I (and probably a lot of other users) don’t accept unknown incoming calls. The problem I found with this new service is that when I call a Skype friend through this service, he sees “Manifone” as caller, and often the call is therefore rejected. So in order to use this service efficiently, one has first to tell his friends they have to accept Manifone as caller.

    I guess this is not an issue when calling business Skype users as they always accept unknown callers. A nice feature would however be to be able to use this service with my own Skype ID…

    • Manifone

      You are right saying that this is not an issue when calling businesses because they accept anonymous incoming calls anyways.
      Being able to use your own Skype ID on Mani-Sky… hmm… interesting… :)

      • astrophyzz

        Yes, would be very interesting!

  • Christina

    This feature should have been added to Skype a long, long time ago!

    • Terry White

      Skype was meant to be a free PC2PC calling tool and that’s what it does best. Let’s not try to make it into an entire OS.

      • Sean John Bigg

        Yeah, but it doesn’t mean that no development should take place. I think the possibility of adding plugins makes it really useful!

      • Andy Phelps

        and sometimes quite painful :)

    • MJ

      I wonder if anyone who has commented here has ever come across Skype To Go which has been around for a while and does essentially the same thing…

  • Alberto

    Olla! Nice job, hope it will soon work in Mexico as well.

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