Globe7 Launches Softphone with a Difference

Beta 3.0 of new voice/video vehicle has aggressive, ad-supported business model.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Aug 4, 2006
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You might call it the anti-Skype. Well, functionally, it combines pretty much the same elements—free voice over IP and instant messaging to other members, PSTN calling capability, and video support—but the details of the offering are surprisingly, perhaps shockingly, different.

"Take Skype," Globe7 vice president of operations, Jayesh Patel told VoIPplanet.com. "I don't say their business model is a liability, but there have to be some costs associated with maintaining that huge membership, [for] Skype to Skype [calling]. It's the same with other VoIP services. They don't make direct money when people use the service. Our business model is totally different," he asserted.

The Globe7business plan really revolves around the video piece, rather than voice. The company has aggregated numerous types of video content—news, sports, drama, and more, from a variety of sources—including Reuters and the Associated Press on the news side. This content is offered to members for free, but with each video offering, users also view an ad. According to Patel, the ads are tightly targeted to interests subscribers communicate during the sign-up process.

"Any time I click on a video clip that I want to watch," Patel explained, "before the clip starts, we play a video commercial. It can be 10 seconds, 15 seconds, or 30 seconds, depending on the advertiser, and based on the length of the clip." "Advertisers can be very picky, say, 'Only show this to guys in California,' for example. We can geo-target, we can target by age range, even by people's personal interests," he concluded.

Targeting advertisements to a prescreened audience allows Globe7 to charge high rates—rates high enough to pretty much support the voice end of the operation. Members are encouraged to watch videos (and the associated ads), and earn talk-time credits for doing so.

Another way for users to defray the modest cost of VoIP calling with Globe7 is to participate in sponsored interactions, say a $2 talk-time credit for filling out an auto-loan application, or taking a survey.

Whether these commercial interactions succeed in offsetting the VoIP costs for an avid talker we can't say, but it is a novel concept in the softphone world that has clear appeal for some. "We just launched Globe7 3.0 Beta two days ago, and already we have had 1,000 hours of video viewing," Patel told VoIPplanet.com.

Indeed this is the third incarnation of the software package, which was first launched worldwide back in February of this year, with significant uptake in China, Morocco, and elsewhere. According to Patel, the plan was not to go for much visibility in the North American market until now. Among other differences, version 3.0 has a much lighter code footprint than its predecessors.

One of the perqs of membership, is a 1 gigabyte online storage folder where each member can upload their own videos, images, and files. Members can then grant permissions to their Globe7 buddies and share the contents—a social networking sort of feature.

"Gold" members (there's no charge for Gold status, members just have to affirm their registration information) get a free direct inward dialing phone number, so all calls coming from the PSTN are cost-free.

As with other softphone services, on-network calls—calls to other Globe7 users—are free. For PSTN connectivity, members can purchase Extra Talk minutes to pay for calls not covered by free credits. Increments are $2, $5, $10, $25, and $50.

Globe7 offers call termination in the usual array of hundreds if not thousands of offshore countries, cities, regions. Rates are here.

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