Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fring is so great on GPRS!

Today one of my favourite mobile phone applications, Fring, got kicked by some VoIP experts. It was a classical blog circle, where someone throws a bone in the ring and the others can't hold back from chewing it through as well.

The starter was David Beckemeyer, alias Mr Blog. He is CEO of TelEvolution, the producer of the PhoneGnome, which connects normal phones to VoIP and to Skype. He got quoted by Andy Abramson, daily blogger and CEO of Comunicano, a Californian public relations firm. Another piece came from iotum's CEO Alec Saunders.

The circle of argumentation reminded me of what Thomas Anglero, yet another big VoIP expert, said in december:
As I read through the VoIP blogs, it is clear that VoIP bloggers and the VoIP community itself, does not allow for just anyone to become a member. VoIP bloggers talk about each other (over-and-over), and the VoIP development community only respects those who have done something so glorious before in code. This mindset will kill our industry.
Although blogs are open for comments and trackbacks, the matter of VoIP still seems so difficult to understand (or is it so boring?) that sometimes near incestual relations between blog posts arise. Today everyone seemed to agree on that Fring sucks. Which I see totally different. That's why I feel the need to comment it in my blog as well.

Andy Abramson said:
I think Fring is cool, but I question its utility, especially in GPRS and even EDGE markets where the audio sounds so muddy that its not what you would want to use for a business call.
And David Beckemeyer:
Like many other cell phone users in the US, I have GPRS data service rather than a true 3G data service with my carrier. My first experiences with Fring over GPRS were not very good.
Alec Saunders followed up by criticizing Fring's monetization strategy, arguing that Fring might have some cool features but the guys don't know how to make money with them.

I think they all have lost the point: Fring is the best application to control nearly all important chat and VoIP applications together in just one program. In Europe the mobile networks are as fast as DSL connections. Fring's voice quality is no big deal anymore.

Also you have to see that Fring is much more than a VoIP client. In fact you don't need an extra VoIP client on Wifi enabled mobile phone. The congfiguration of a Nokia E61 is fairly easy and there are loads of web pages which explain how to do it.

The really cool feature is that Fring is a chat client for MSN messenger, Google Talk and Skype at the same time. It is the only way to bring Skype on a Symbian phone and on my Wifi the Skype calls sound great. Isn't that marvelous? I even tried in on GPRS. The voice is understandable. Only the delay is too long.

I use Fring to chat with my buddies. We send text messages instead of SMS. One SMS costs me 15 Euro Cent. But for the same price I can send thousands of chat text messages, since my no frills mobile operator Simyo charges only 24 Euro Cent for 1 MB. Overall I will have to pay 2 Euros for GPRS this month.

Thanks to Fring.

(Disclosure: I work for none of the companies mentioned in this blog post.)


  1. Hi Markus,

    I think it's great that you enjoy Fring and I for one cetainly welcome you to the VoIP blogging community. And I'm sure Alec and Andy would as well.

    I appreciate your comments on my blog and I look forward to more.

    Best regards,

    David Beckemeyer (aka Mr Blog)

  2. BTW, I didn't intend to start a "Fring sucks" thread and I'm hoping my post doesn't say that. Note that the sentance after the one you quote about poor experience on GPRS says "More recently, I have had much more acceptable call quality ..." and I also said "The entire Fring application is really well done, clean, and slick"

  3. Markus,

    So you know, my comment about Fring is nothing that I haven't already told their people face to face at VON.

    Also, to Thomas point about closed circle, he's been linked to by me in the past so I guess he's part of it too :-)

    We in the USA do not have the luxury of real 3G which I admit clouds our view. I'll have a different point of view I'm sure after being in Europe the last few weeks.

  4. So, hello friends and thank you for the welcome in the VoIP blogging community.

    Excuse me if my yesterday's blog post seemed a little bit unfair. It's just that the way of the discussion reminded me of Tomas Anglero's words. Every time the same guys having their opinion.

    We have to make sure thate everyone produces genuine content and we have to be open for other views, especially for non-company approaches to VoIP. If not I have to read the nearly same text in my RSS reader again and again. That's what sometimes happens when I do my daily VoIP blog review in the morning and it sucks.

    But maybe I am already part of the closed circle. I just got an invitation to work as a panel moderator at the next VON in Stockholm.

    And BTW: I love my Fring. I think it has a great future ahead since 3G and Wi-Fi are developing so well.

  5. Markus,

    I don't think you're being fair. I did not criticize the Fring business model. I haven't got any idea what it is, and haven't ever used the product. I reacted to David's comments about whether features would sell telephony. That's a general question.


  6. Hello Alec,

    sorry for being unfair. I didn't mean to.

    It's just that Fring seems a great product to me and so I wanted to defend it. My opinion comes only from a user's point of view since I am no entrepreneur, but a heavy user. I have no idea from what the company fringland Ltd. is living. But I hope they do.

    BTW: Does anybody understand the Skype business model?

    To me it seems that the majority of the VoIP bloggers uses their blogs as a marketing tool and speaks only from a company's point of view. That often bores me.

    Of course it is important for a company to find a revenue model. But the blogs often seem to leave out what the costumer wants and try to sell him extra features that he doesn't need. I see myself as a consumer and my main interest are cheap prices and intelligent, legal hacks for free phone calls. But in the blogs they treat "cheap prices" like something dirty and hail fancy add ons like precence, privacy or website buttons.

    Look at the forums at Voxalot, Tpad or the IP-Phone-Forum! There are thousands of people interchanging information about providers, dial plans and Asterisk configurations to save on phone calls. These are the VoIP costumers. To me it seems that they have few interest in fancy features but are keen on low prices.

    And for that reason I try to find solutions which save money. Like using Fring on GPRS instead of sending SMS messages.


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