The merger earlier this year of VoIP pioneer VocalTec with YMax, the parent company behind the magicJack, has netted its first new product and service offering. Rumors about the new offering, dubbed magicTalk, emerged several weeks ago –and as rumored, magicTalk is a softphone-based offering that supports free calling, at least for now. Several unique features about the offering could make it just what is needed to open up the softphone market beyond its current base of tech-savvy early adopters.
According to an announcement from VocalTec issued yesterday, magicTalk is scheduled for launch on Christmas Day and can be activated in seconds through a dedicated magicTalk web site. The softphone market is currently dominated by Skype and Google Voice, and in its announcement, VocalTec positions magicTalk as a superior alternative to both of those option.
One of magicTalk’s hooks is that, unlike with Skype and Google Voice, magicTalk users get a free phone number, enabling them to receive calls from traditional phones, as well as to place free calls to numbers in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands for free. VocalTec also claims its service provides better voice quality, perhaps because unlike its competitors, VocalTec has its own network.
That network—and the fact that VocalTec is certified as a CLEC throughout a large portion of the U.S.—also may be key to how it is able to offer service at no charge. Ironically, although the original VoIP business model was based largely on saving costs by avoiding the payment of terminating access charges, VocalTec likely will cover at least some of its service delivery costs by collecting terminating access charges on calls to magicTalk customers. That’s a revenue source that neither Skype nor Google have because they do not give customers phone numbers and do not operate as CLECs.