Application Every now and then, the telecommunications industry needs a proper shakeup so that it begins to compete again, innovate again, and serve customers with innovative new options that cater to their changing preferences. This happened when landline providers were challenged by VoIP competitors last decade, and it happened just a few years ago when mobile service providers found users sending more iMessage and BlackBerry Messenger messages to each other than traditional SMS messages.
History looks to repeat itself with mobile VoIP calling this year, and Facebook is leading the charge with what might be the single most aggressive push into users’ routine calling habits. The company recently unveiled an update to its Facebook Messenger mobile application that allows users to place free calls to each other simply by tapping a contextual button within the application during a routine instant messaging session.
Few companies have the clout that Facebook does in terms of daily communication, or even minute-by-minute communication. The service currently is in use by more than 1.1 billion people around the world, and the company’s single largest demographic is the American user who has been with the service since shortly after it expanded outside of Ivy League universities.
That might explain why Facebook in April of this year unleashed a VoIP calling test to a handful of states across America, allowing users to get a preview of what it would be like to call over a data connection instead of worrying about per-minute rates and overages. With more than 1 in 2 Americans having an active Facebook account, this insurgent attempt could easily steal business from major mobile operators. Furthermore, the company allows access to the calling feature via a button labeled “Free Call.” If the word “free” can’t win over a significant portion of the population, certainly nothing else can.
While it might seem like Facebook is being the “good guy” and giving consumers a way to escape their per-minute overages, it’s worth noting that the company stands to gain just as much from the service as its users do. Facebook has long been known for monitoring how its users behave, interact, and communicate, and its VoIP calling option allows it to see who makes the effort to call whom, how long they talked for, and how often calls are initiated.
That gives the company a way to build better, more relevant social connections in its News Feed and Timeline products, and it means that Facebook will continue to be one step ahead of the competition when it comes to inspiring meaningful communication between friends who actually know each other and relate to each other. For that reason, Facebook’s push into Mobile VoIP is as ingenious for its own benefit as it is for users who are fed up with small monthly minute plans and per-minute overage rates.
Author Bio: This post was written by VoIP expert Jonny Grant, from UK VoIP provider Packnet. As well as regularly writing about the business use of VoIP, Jonny is at the forefront of new trends within the market.