BlackBerry users get first native VoIP client

TringMe, an Indian internet telephony firm, says it is the first to allow Wi-Fi VoIP on BlackBerry, but declines to give details on how it has cracked the problem

TringMe, an Indian internet telephony firm, has released the first third-party native VoIP client for BlackBerry smartphones that does not require the use of voice minutes.

Unveiled on Monday, the client allows the user to make calls over Wi-Fi — functionality that has been common on rival platforms such as Symbian, Windows Mobile, iPhone and Android for some time, but has been absent from the BlackBerry platform until now.

There have already been BlackBerry VoIP clients, but they use local access numbers and callback, both of which require the use of standard voice minutes. TringMe offers these methods where Wi-Fi access is unavailable, alongside free, encrypted calling over Wi-Fi when it is. It also provides features such as single-click conferencing.

TringMe already has web-based Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) phone and click-to-call products with over 1.5 million retail users, Yusuf Motiwala, TringMe's founder and chief executive, told ZDNet UK on Monday. He said it was "ironic" that the enterprise market "still uses the traditional cellular phone calls for its communication".

"Using Wi-Fi to make calls is a perfect fit for the enterprise customers," Motiwala said in an email conversation. "Employees worldwide can call each other over Wi-Fi (which is becoming ubiquitous) at no additional cost thereby tremendously reducing the call costs for the same calls over traditional cellular network — a big saving for enterprise of any size."

Motiwala was unwilling to give technical details of the TringMe BlackBerry client. He referred only to "technical hurdles and limitations", which he said had required his company to "innovate". "RIM does not provide enough platform support for making live VoIP calls," he said in an email. "As you can understand, solution is confidential."

Telecoms analyst Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis told ZDNet UK on Monday that the BlackBerry platform had "always been a tough one" for those looking to create native VoIP clients. He said this was partly because the platform has no SIP application programming interface (API) and partly because the general developer kit "has been either not prioritising VoIP or specifically trying to avoid it occurring".

Bubley noted that there would be a big enterprise market for a native BlackBerry VoIP client, but added that he would be "surprised if [TringMe] gets enterprise traction if it doesn't have a track record".

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