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Touchring is one of 70 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2010 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.
More than 500 million people use Facebook to communicate through text, pictures and videos. A startup called Touchring wants to add voice communication to that list, and is unveiling its service to the world today at the DEMO conference.
Touchring allows users to communicate by voice through any website. Users embed a Flash widget on a site. By clicking on the widget, site visitors call the user’s phone or computer. The service, now available worldwide, had previously been available only in South Korea. The startup is also launching Touchring Desktop, a new product that allows users to send and receive calls from a downloadable desktop client.
According to John Kwag, Touchring’s global team lead, embedding a Touchring widget is comparable to embedding a YouTube video on a site. Users can also post a link to Touchring on sites where Flash does not work. Calls between websites and desktops will be free, but Touchring plans to charge users for calls to mobile and landline phones. Touchring has also considered charging users for Touchring Biz, a product for businesses that it aims to launch early next year.
In April 2009, Touchring collaborated with Coca-Cola Korea on a calling widget. Using Touchring technology, more than 1 million users made phone calls and sent SMS messages from a Coke website. Touchring also partnered with Korea Telecom, a telecommunication provider, in October 2009 to create an iPhone app for its voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) service.
Like Skype and Google Voice, Touchring allows users to make phone calls from a computer, but Kwag compared these competitors to phone booths, saying they require users to seek them out. “Touchring is like your mobile phone,” he said. “We’re where you are instead of asking you to come to us.”
Founded in 2007, Touchring has raised $2 million in funding to date. IDG Ventures invested $1 million in 2009, while E& Networks, a South Korean firm, invested $1 million more earlier this year. Touchring is headquartered in Seoul, Korea, and has plans to open an office in California next year.
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