With the frenzy on sponsored data catching up as more players step into the game, a San-Francisco based start-up TextMe just unveiled another addition to the family of 'sponsored communication' by unveiling its FreeTone service which offers unlimited free calls and free text messages to any phone number in the United States. The service enables anyone to make calls to any land-line, cell phone or desktop/web number via their free downloadable app on their iOS or Android devices.
While sponsored voice services are not entirely new, FreeTone redefines the service by creating a network-agnostic free calling experience that is not available on any other OTT applications in today's market. OTT applications require both parties, the caller and the recipient to download and install a common application before free calls are enabled. OTT applications that allow connection to landlines and mobile phone numbers typically charge users the same way traditional voice calls are charged, though the rates are comparatively more competitive.
Tara Neal from PCC Mobile Broadband spoke to Julien Decot, VP Business Development and Monetization on the 'too good to be true' offer. According to Julien, TextMe took the bold step to bring to market a service that truly caters for the need to bring down the costs of daily communication to the most affordable levels leveraging the company's expertise and internal capabilities built on the experience of its key management team. While volume game does come into play in TextMe pricing strategy, TextMe's commercial arrangement with carriers on purchase of routes and minutes plays a sigfinicant role in pushing down the costs borne by the OTT player, added Julien.
At the same time, TextMe's classic, Text Me continues to run on the sponsored model, where users can earn credits by interacting with brands with actions such as viewing an ad, downloading a content or participating in a poll and trade their 'earned' credits for free call minutes/SMSs or purchase of micro content such as stickers. On the far end of its service, TextMe allows callers to purchase credits directly via iTunes and GooglePlay and use these to make calls or send messages.
Users who want to experiment the TextMe and FreeTune can simply download both Apps from Google Play and Apple store. PCC Mobile Broadband's 'geeks' tried both Apps though it was too early in the morning to call anyone in the US, and found the Apps' interface neat, simply and straightforward. Apart from voice calls, FreeTone also features the Facebook Messenger-style Call Heads on iOS that allow users to customize their virtual personas and exchange photos and stickers while talking. The company said that to date, more than 20 million users have signed up for TextMe.