A Silicon Valley start-up is gearing up to embed free, Web-based telephone services on a variety of popular social networking and blogging services, including MySpace, Friendster and Blogger.
By contrast with existing Web calling services such as Skype that are typically computer-based, or require consumers to buy special headsets or microphones, Jaxtr plans to allows users to make inbound calls to bloggers from any phone in the world.
Jaxtr, a 14-month-old closely held company based in Palo Alto California, said it is beginning a test by private invitation of its new calling service, with plans to make it widely available to Web users sometime early in the new year.
In addition, Jaxtr said that Konstantin Guericke, co-founder of business social networking site LinkedIn, has joined the Web-calling company as chief executive. Jaxtr was founded by entrepreneurs Phillip Mobin and Touraj Parang.
For Jaxtr's target audience of young Web users, when they are not spending time chatting with one another on their social network pages, they are probably available on a mobile phone. "We bring those two phenomenon together," Guericke said.
Once registered on Jaxtr's site at http://www.jaxtr.com, a user can embed an interactive phone feature into selected blogs or social network profiles -- News Corp.'s MySpace, Tagged, Friendster, Hi5, Xanga and Google's Blogger.
Consumers will be able to click on any Jaxtr link, enter their own phone number, which triggers an instant call to their phone. Answering the phone connects the caller to the Jaxtr user's own phone. Callers then speak phone to phone.
The private test underway this week will be extended to friends of initial participants later this month. Jaxtr expects to earn revenue from power users, advertising and enhanced calling features, the company said. "I think this is going to spread very quickly," Guericke said.
The service provides local phone numbers that allow callers to eliminate expensive international long distance charges from any of 29 national markets in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Initial countries range from United States to most of Western Europe to Brazil, Chile and Mexico and Japan and Singapore.
While one of a proliferating number of voice over Internet companies challenging conventional phone industry economics, Jaxtr is not a direct phone company rival, as it still pays interconnection charges and encourages use of standard phones.
Jaxtr, a play on the phrase "jack your phone," promises its users can hear from callers through their Web site profiles while preserving the privacy of their existing phone numbers.
An alternative is for users simply to add a personalized Jaxtr link to their e-mail signature -- creating a second way to invite their friends to call them back for free -- by clicking on the link or by placing an inexpensive local call. Similarly, an Evite party invite could have a Jaxtr call link.
No special software needs to be downloaded, nor do users need to first sign up their friends or family to benefit. Only the recipient of Jaxtr calls need to sign up for the service. It's a Web-based version of the decade-old dial-around services that allow callers to bypass international phone charges.
When a call recipient is unavailable, the caller can leave a voice mail message. Recipients can block unwanted callers or only invite selected callers. Callers need not be registered with Jaxtr, only the recipient of the call needs to be.
A recipient gets to choose which of their phones receive the call. One can switch between a home, office or mobile phone, for example.
Source : Yahoo News