Can Fring take on Skype?
Fring - the new VoIP Player
Actually, Fring isn't really new. It's been around for a while and I've used it often on my iPod Touch to keep in contact with some of my friends when wifi connectivity is available. It's hard to categorize Fring's offerings apart from saying it's a "VoIP" company since the business offers just about every communication service imaginable. It works by installing the Fring client on your phone - so far it supports the iPhone, Android and the Nokia marketplace. From there, you can log in to all your important social networks - Google, MSN messnger, ICQ etc and use them to chat with your contacts and even make free calls over the Internet.
In addition, it has a service called fringOut similar to the SkypeOut functionality which allows you to make calls to any phone in the world at ridiculously low rates. For example, you can talk to UK landlines for just 1c a minute. It literally doesn't get cheaper than that. Furthermore, Frings seems to be a very nimble company (they all are when they're starting out.) They listen to customer feedback and actively develop new features which makes their primary application even more attractive.
Stacking up against Skype
Notably absent from Fring's list of social networks is Skype itself. Which is a bit sad because it did support Skype at one time. But a very public war between the two companies saw Skype cut off Fring's access and the two firms have been at loggerheads ever since. Prior to that, users could use their Skype minutes to make Skype calls through the Fring application itself.
However, even without Skype integration, Fring offers quite a range of services which Skype has been slow to develop. For example, it was only recently that Skype developed a program for Android which was capable of using the phone's 3G connectivity to make calls instead of just wifi. This has been available on Fring from the very beginning. Perhaps part of the problem lies in the fact that Skype is a big name and it has to conspicuously stay on the side of the other big fish like Apple and AT&T while Fring can get away with anything.
In any case, after Skype was taken over by AT&T, Fring has attracted further rounds of funding which means it's not just the Fring team which thinks that it has a bright future but the investors as well.
Fring also allows users to connect to their mobile hosted PBX systems through a proxy server which makes it an ideal application for SIP users. If the call is made entirely over the Internet, users can take advantage of mobile HD voice services too.
It's interesting to see the rise of Fring and watching it battle Skype feature for feature will be even more engaging.