EQO launched a new Voice over IP service for cell phones this week. The downloadable software allows you to make cheap international calls from your cell phone. A call from the U.S. to London on EQO costs 2.3c per minute, compared with the 99c per minute your carrier probably charges you.
Although the dialaround service is how they plan to make their money, the more interesting part of the software is the built in IM client. You can use it to chat from your cell phone with buddies on AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger.
With the exception of Google Talk, IM has been available on cell phones for years. It’s just been a broken (and expensive) experience. Carriers typically charge $3/month for each service. If you use AIM, MSN and Yahoo!, that’s $9 a month, on top of $10-$15/month in data plan charges. Other methods of IM on mobile devices use SMS hacks that rack up messaging charges with each IM or browser-based services that are notoriously difficult to use.
The free EQO client brings them all together in one clean, easy-to-use interface. Unlike with the standalone solutions, you can chat with multiple buddies on multiple networks at the same time. You still have to pay your carrier for data access, but there is no additional charge for EQO IM.
When it works, it works well. Unfortunately, much of the time, I got connection errors, freezes and other problems. Still, I was able to IM for about an hour yesterday. It’s addictive enough that I need to cut back on my IM. Because the screen is on the whole time I was messaging, I had to recharge my phone twice during the day.
Given that Google Talk currently doesn’t have a mobile offering, this is a a great tool for Google Talk users. Once the bugs get worked out, I will be able to highly recommend it for others.
via Paul Kedrosky