YMAX Corp., the parent company of magicJack, officially announced they will soon launch a wireless carrier agnostic femtocell product. MagicJack is a VoIP bypass service which uses a USB dongle connected to a computer and a regular phone, allowing consumers to buy landline telephone service for $19.95/year.
MagicJack has its detractors and critics, but according to YMAX, has sold “over 5 million units” at a recent rate (2009) of “200K per month.” MagicJack is available directly from www.magicjack.com or through a variety of retailers including Best Buy, Walgreens, and even 7-11.
YMAX hopes to replicate this success with a femtocell product. YMAX doesn’t offer much detail on their pending femtocell launch. There are a few interesting tidbits though. They claim the femtocell will work “with mobile phones from potentially any carrier” even including old GSM phones that aren’t currently contracted with a wireless carrier. They also claim that registered femtocell users will be able to use any magicJack femtocell (at a friend’s home or a business), after a one time registration event which automatically occurs once they are within eight feet of the magicJack femtocell. They don’t offer any pricing or firm launch date in their press release.
Femtocells route voice calls over a customer’s broadband network using IP technology. Given magicJack’s underlying technology, it’s kind of a natural progression for them to go the femtocell route. In effect they are hoping to disrupt the wireless business in much the same way they’ve done with wireline.
As we’ve noted before, the femtocell trend is far from conclusive. Previous femtocell attempts by wireless carriers have fizzled for the most part. We believe that’s partly due to their high costs. If the magicJack femtocell is priced in the same way as their magicJack, they may inject some life into this trend.