Jaxtr Gives VoIP Users Something to Talk About

MENLO PARK, Calif. – After a wildly successful beta launch in terms of user numbers, VoIP provider Jaxtr launched its official 1.0 release today. During its 11-month beta period, Jaxtr said it attracted over 10 million users to its service.

A key element of the official launch is café jaxtr, a Web site where users of the phone service can find each other online and new people to talk to.

“When we launched Jaxtr last March, we said we’re a social communications company. We saw this as an emergent market,” Jaxtr CEO Konstantin Guericke told InternetNews.com at a briefing here at his company’s headquarters. Guericke has solid experience in social networks, as he is also a co-founder of LinkedIn.

But he also is quick to say café jaxtr is meant to complement, not replace social networks. He calls café jaxtr a “talk network” versus social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace which are relatively silent if not as interactive.

[cob:Related_Articles]Users can list photos of themselves and interests at café jaxtr and things they like to talk about. They can then use the Jaxtr service to call someone or some thing they’re interested in. However, user’s contact info is not listed by default, they have to proactively enter information to make themselves available should they choose to be.

In a demonstration of the service, café jaxtr pages had several ads for dating services and Guericke said that will likely be a big area of interest. But he also expects the site to be popular for certain professional segments, such as real estate agents and recruiters who want to be able to reach out and make a more personal connection with potential customers.

Forrester Research analyst Jeremiah Owyang thinks the service will have niche appeal and that most consumers will be wary of talking to complete strangers. “A phone call is on a level that’s so personal and time consuming, I can see this working more with people who already have an existing relationship,” Owyang told InternetNews.com.

“But it could work for specific situations or a need someone has to, for example, talk to someone knowledgeable in a specific area,” he added. He also notes there are many other places to chat on the Web even if it’s not audio.

To date, Jaxtr has seen most of its growth outside the United States where demand for low-cost and free alternatives to traditional long distance charges is highest. Guericke said about 15 percent of Jaxtr’s users are in the U.S., the second highest region to India at 17 percent. The United Kingdom and China are the third and fourth highest areas of Jaxtr use, respectively.

“Since we let you make international calls for free, we want to highlight café jaxtr’s global dimension,” said Guericke.

Thinking back to an exchange program he was involved in in high school, the German-born Guericke mused services like this might aid the cause of world peace.

“Maybe if we have more one-to-one exchanges we’d be less likely to bomb the country we’re talking to,” he said.

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