Just like text messages, calls on mobile networks have been eclipsed by third party apps like Viber and Skype that allows users to make free calls over phone data. But a significant drawback that puts off users from using such apps is the fact that they’re required to open the app in order to call somebody — which doesn’t turn out to be a handy process.
Looking at a solution to this, a Gurgaon based startup has taken a different route for such VoIP apps. Claiming it to be the “next step in Voice over IP telephony”, this recently launched Android app named Awaaz runs more like a smartphone plugin rather than an app.
It automatically takes over any calls where both parties are connected to the Internet, and have it installed. All a user is required to do is dial the other person using his/her regular phone dialer, and Awaaz figures out if it can take over the call.
Applications like Skype and Viber already exist, so why would anyone use Awaaz, which comparatively is having far less users onboard? “The reason is quite simple. People don’t want to use an app, and still prefer to just dial someone instead of checking their statuses before making a call,” claims Anuj, Founder, Awaaz.
Talking of its competition, Awaaz currently competes with other VoIP apps like Skype and Viber. “It is a highly competitive space, but I believe all of them are heading in the same (and wrong!) direction,” added Anuj. He further claimed that applications like Awaaz offer a significant market opportunity. “There really is no bigger opportunity imaginable than voice telephony itself. It’s an integral part of all our lives, and revenues run in the tens of billions of dollars.”
So where applications like Viber and Whatsapp monetize from a dozen different ways, what plans do Awaaz has in mind to make money, given that its a free application and doesn’t support ads on its platform, at least for now.
According to the team, they are considering a number of possible revenue streams. This will (possibly) include — an yearly subscription; a “freemium” model where certain features like conferencing, voicemail etc are offered to paid subscribers; and limiting call length to a duration (like 10 minutes) for free subscribers.
Launched it in December 2013, through an XDA forums thread Awaaz claims to have acquired some 6500 users — a majority of which is coming from US, Australia and other European countries.
Awaaz uses Opus codec for voice compression. It encrypts a call with a 256-bit AES key exchanged using 2048-bit RSA, with new keys generated for every call. Currently available on Android, the team is building an iOS app to be rolled out in future.
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