Mobile VoIP companies try to differentiate

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Mobile VoIP operators are realizing the need to differentiate their offerings from pure voice to other services in the down economy. GigaOM mentions three specific mobile VoIP companies, iSkoot, mig33, and truphone, as examples of this trend.

The three companies have raised more than $100 million in VC capital combined, so they have decent runways to design and bring to market their additional services. Mobile VoIP is a commoditized market, with slim margins that don't bode well for small start-ups with a lot of debt.

iSkoot is betting that consumers who want the communications features of a smart phone without paying the hefty price will opt instead for the suite of features it's bundling for plain mobile phones, called Notifier. Notifier combines Gmail and Facebook access with an RSS reader, so users can keep up with news and social network happenings on their old-school mobile device. iSkoot originally focused on selling a Skype solution for AT&T customers, but it's difficult to get the carriers to play nice with Skype at all, which necessitates a move to other market segments in search of real profitability.

Truphone, on the other hand, has already begun branching out its services to include Twitter, Skype and other communications platforms. It's already one of the most popular VoIP applications on the iPhone, and it is looking to capitalize on its position with additional services, in addition to its out-bound call revenue.

The last of the three, mig33, is a mixed mobile VoIP and virtual goods company, which is very popular in Southeast Asia. It also offers an iPhone communications app, which melds a bunch of IM clients with Skype functionality. In the next six months, it is focusing most of its attention on its virtual goods offering. This market has proven to be lucrative on social networks, and mig33 is hoping it proves to be so on mobile devices as well. 

For more:
- see the Gigaom piece here 

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