FriendCaller Puts Seven of Friends in the Picture

By Peter Bernstein April 18, 2012

Remember FriendCaller?  If you don’t you are not alone. It was back in 2010 when the VoIP offering of C2Call made some news as a Skype and Jajah alternative with a difference when it received a fresh round of venture funding. The money was be used to hopefully make the capability go viral. And, while the company, founded in 2008, now claims roughly 7.4 million users, that is still a drop in the bucket. However, with an interesting announcement all of that may be about to change.

On a blog today stated the following:

Hey there Android Users! We got a treat for you, again!

Guess what? FriendCaller is now adding support for more video and audio participants; 7 video and 20 more audio participants, which makes a total of 27 concurrent users communicating altogether in a Group Video Call. WoW!

Hold on, the best part is yet to come!

The unique feature (unlike other Group Video Calling apps for mobile platforms) is that, you can see everyone LIVE on the same screen without toggling among the contacts and yes, you can do this all without any extra fees or hidden cost!

And, if you read further down the blog you will see they are also offering the same capability for Apple users. 

So what makes this different?

Aside from the touted benefits from the new functionality, it is worth a trip back in time to understand what was and remains FriendCaller’s difference from other VoIP services. In brief, the big difference is that users do not have to install a local VoIP client or even use a phone. This is web browser-based and cloud-hosted. That means users can call directly from the web via a light Java and JavaFX applet on C2C’s peer-to-peer free phone service off of the FriendCaller website.  

The value proposition remains as it has been from the start: no installation, OS barriers, requirements, registration, or username exchange. Plus, the company touts the fact that users can generate a unique link and post it into an email, IM, website, blog, Twitter post, Facebook update, or any other social network site which activates a phone call through the browser. Emphasis on development was on ease-of-use and interoperability.

Pardon some confusion

The ability to have seven simultaneous video streams on a chat is part of FriendCallers’ official launch of a series of chat applications. But, don’t get confused. This is a new application and not the one that has been in the iTunes App Store. It is also now listed as a new app in Google Play and can be downloaded for PC use by clicking here

As a point of clarification, as with other VoIP services, if you are contacting other FriendCaller users there is no charge for the service. However, things like calling non-users and text messaging (for a limited time has no charges) are billed for based on the usual “pay-for-credit” model.  

At first I was skeptical as to why on a smartphone screen where I have enough challenges with feeling good about the user experience would I want the confusion and possible mayhem of having seven windows open and up to 20 conversants. I have been assured by the more digitally adept, and albeit substantially my junior, colleagues and family members that this is “COOL!”

The market obviously is going to be the judge. This is already trending nicely on Twitter. So bookmark the FriendCaller home page, and check back in a few days to see how fast their user count is rising. I suspect it will be impressive just from sitting and watching for a few minutes. 

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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