Sipcall, a Silicon Valley start-up, will offer a free Skype and SIP calling service dubbed Hipsip that enables users to make their voice-over-Internet calls from any mobile phone’s web browser.
The interesting thing is that you don’t need a 3G data or WiFi wireless networking connection on the phone in order to do this. You could, for instance, use Hipsip to make a free Skype call on an Apple iPhone.
This won’t make AT&T, Apple’s cell phone carrier happy. AT&T would rather earn revenue from you using its own voice plan. In any case, the calls made with Hipsip still require a local call. So AT&T gets those local phone call minutes, even if they are a mere pennies per minute. Overseas calls are normally far more expensive on a carrier’s network.
A user installs the Hipsip application on a PC. Then he or she can open a browser on a mobile phone and go to the Hipsip site. There, the user can see his or her personal Skype contacts. To call a Skype contact from the mobile phone, the user can click on the name in the Skype directory.
Once the user initiates the call, the phone places a regular cell phone call to a local Hipsip number which the user doesn’t have to memorize. The user simply clicks on the name and the service finds the local number to call and dials it. Then a Hipsip server converts the call into a standard VOIP call and transfers it to Skype. The Skype service then completes the call to the Skype user.
That’s simpler than other services. But as this German blogger notes, Hipsip places some complex burdens on the user. First, your Mac or Windows PC has to be on and it has to be running software dubbed the Hipsip Bridge in order to complete the call. The company says it is working overcome this inconvenience.
The calling service will initially be available in seven countries, including the U.S. and six European countries. Hipsip has to acquire more local telephone numbers in order to add more countries. In addition, users in any country can make free Skype calls from any SIP (the session initiation protocol technology that enables VOIP) compatible phone, such as the Nokia N series and E series phones.
The company competes with other mobile Skype companies such as IM+, iSkoot (our coverage) and Mobivox. With IM+, a user pays for a Skype callback on his mobile phone. iSkoot requires an application to be installed. And Mobivox has an audio interface. The latter just made push-button calling easier by announcing today that it has a “Call Me” widget that people can place in their e-mail signatures or web pages.
Sipcall is based in Menlo Park, Calif., and has just six people. It has raised angel money so far and plans to raise another round later.