Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Blackberry Communications

RIM Offering Free Voice Calling In Attempt to Remain Competitive 134

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the last-ditch-effort dept.
zacharye writes "In version 7, RIM has added a voice calling feature that will allow BBM users to speak to each other for free when connected to Wi-Fi networks. While similar third-party solutions like Viber exist and extend the free calling feature to cellular data connections, an integrated solution that will eventually be baked right into the BlackBerry OS offers clear advantages over third-party options. It also can be counted as an advantage for RIM’s platform over Android and iOS, at least until RIM’s rivals begin to roll out similar solutions."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

RIM Offering Free Voice Calling In Attempt to Remain Competitive

Comments Filter:
  • So what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by torkus (1133985)

    It's hard to find a cell plan without unlimited minutes unless you're buying a minimal-use, no-frills line...in which case you won't get a BB anyway. Might as well give a corpse a gym membership to stay healthy.

    I can see it being somewhat useful in corporate situations where you have many BB users - but you still need to have everyone on WiFi. Sorry RIM, find a better way to stay relevant.

    The carriers probably won't care - much - given above but I can't image they will be thrilled about it either. Everyo

    • Bingo. Useless.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Where you live perhaps.

      In other countries unlimited minutes is practicly unheard of even for land-lines, but data-plans of several gigabytes / month for cheap is no problem.

    • I have a smartphone, and only 450 minutes. There are, in fact, people who don't talk on the phone enough to justify the cost of unlimited minutes, but still want the connectivity of a smartphone.
      • Okay, my family is a bunch of luddites, I'm the only one with a cell phone. Brother would have one, but he's unemployed and had to give it up. Thus, all of my calls are to landlines, thus charged minutes. I do get the standard 'free weekends', and even with my small plan I always have excess minutes.

        Unlike AC, I could see somebody 'trading down' plans if they're virtually always within range of wifi good enough for their voice. A number of the points close to me(such as the food court or bowling alley)

        • I've told lots of friends to get an Android device and use Google Talk / Skype to make calls rather than paying for minutes. Its just logical.

      • by SeaFox (739806)

        I have only 300 minutes, and often have half of those remaining at the end of a usage cycle. I'm on a grandfathered rate plan I've kept for a decade now because it gives me free first-incoming-minute and 50 free incoming text messages (which I use for automated alerts from my bank mostly).

        I sometimes wonder if I should just move a prepaid plan instead.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @12:21PM (#41980857)

      It's hard to find a cell plan without unlimited minutes unless you're buying a minimal-use, no-frills line.

      Yes - I think the carriers did this in response to skype on mobile devices gaining popularity. They jacked up the prices for all smartphone data plans and gave you basically unlimited calling.

      It's the same thing for texting, iMessage on iOS gave you the ability to send messages to other iOS users over data, not SMS. So again they just baked unlimited SMS into the price for every smart phone plan.

    • USA != world (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @12:25PM (#41980933)
      Outside the US, it is very easy to get cheap contracts with limited voice time. RIM is actually expanding outside the US - I suspect some of their problems there are caused by the carrier monopoly. I'm amazed that US customers put up with the restrictions on the phone models they can use, and the inability to get a decent SIM-only contract.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But Canada == a shit hole. At least when it comes to how carriers are allowed to advertise.

        They all loudly announce that they have plans with UNLIMITED VOICE MINUTES and UNLIMITED DATA. Then, in teeny, tiny print, smaller than fly shit, they define unlimited as 100 minutes of voice and 1 GB of data. Telus is a Canadian carrier that is particularly good at lying about the terms of their contracts.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Canada is worse than that, the carriers are not forced to invest in decent infrastructure, so they can cherry pick markets and coverage, and invest their massive profits from price gouging into the sports teams they all own, bought so they can monopolize content on their TV plans.
      • by kamapuaa (555446)

        But of course in the US we can use any phone model we want. Unlocked cell phones are easily available off of Amazon or whatever, and if we were to purchase a phone model in a foreign country we could use it in the US no problem, except for some extremely low-end models.

        RIM is doing shit business around the world.

        I can go to the local grocery store or convenience store in the US and get a limited contract. There's maybe 15 places within 10 minutes of my house where I could get a phone with limited voice ti

      • I suspect some of their problems there are caused by the carrier monopoly.

        Agreed.

        In January of this year, RIM put Wi-Fi calling into BlackBerry 7.1 OS. This using the carrier’s Wi-Fi calling service (aka UMA-lite or GAN-lite). The caveat on that particular feature is "check with your carrier for availability." Looking forward to this, I upgraded using the Verizon image (if you will). I then did not see that feature. I called Verizon, whose business model is built around pay per minutes used. Th

      • I'm amazed that US customers put up with the restrictions on the phone models they can use, and the inability to get a decent SIM-only contract.

        And what exactly would you expect us to do? Stop using telephony services entirely? Monopolies and cartels are neat like that. Our government has failed us utterly in this respect.

        That being said, I buy my phones internationally and I pay for the entire cost up front. Regardless, I am still beholden to T-Mobile as the least abusive, but still very abusive carrier, in America. Their fucking 2 year contracts keep extending and there is no way to stop them. I am honestly considering just paying the $800 early

    • Even if you have unlimited minutes, do you still pay long distance charges? In the affirmative case, this could probably save you money if you have many far away friends/partners/clients.
    • by Guspaz (556486)

      It's hard to find a cell plan without unlimited minutes unless you're buying a minimal-use, no-frills line...

      This is not the case in RIM's home country. That said, this is not a huge selling point; you can do this with stuff like FaceTime, although that's video, or third party apps, although those don't integrate as smoothly (they can on Android though). Apple already did it with text (where when you text a phone number of somebody with an iPhone it automatically uses the free iMessage instead of SMS), they do it with video (where any call can be converted to a data-only video call), it's probably only a matter of

    • Exactly - does ANYONE care about voice minutes anymore? Hello - 1999 called and they want their cell phone plan back. Never mind, even then intra-company calls were usually free. Make that 1989.
    • It's hard to find a cell plan without unlimited minutes unless you're buying a minimal-use, no-frills line...in which case you won't get a BB anyway. Might as well give a corpse a gym membership to stay healthy.

      I can see it being somewhat useful in corporate situations where you have many BB users - but you still need to have everyone on WiFi. Sorry RIM, find a better way to stay relevant.

      The carriers probably won't care - much - given above but I can't image they will be thrilled about it either. Everyone will just bake the cost into the "blackberry data plan" anyway.

      Unlimited plans on major carriers like Verizon are extremely expensive. Like close to $200/mo after all the fees get tacked on expensive. That's why most people I know aren't using unlimited plans unless they're with some company like MetroPCS that has lower quality but much cheaper service.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @11:55AM (#41980555)

    So facetime and gtalk are just figments of my imagination?

    • by BlueBlade (123303) <mafortier@gm a i l.com> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @12:01PM (#41980625)

      I think it's mostly about integration, as in, you'll still go through the wi-fi connection even if you dial the number, as long as the target number belongs to a BB. For those other apps. the other user needs to be using them, along with a separate account, etc.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        For gtalk at least it comes with every android phone and logging into the market I think logs you in to gtalk as well.

        • I see gtalk as a big problem for Google right now that's gone seemingly unnoticed. People will more and more be switching to free VOIP services as carriers more and more become dumb data line providers (it's coming whether they like it or not). In trying gtalk, people are probably experiencing what I've experienced which is utterly crappy service, especially for video chat. They're going to have a lot of catching up to do if it isn't fixed quick. I think BB is on to something if they can produce a *quality*
          • by BLToday (1777712)

            I still have like $18 in my Google Voice account. I needed to make some calls while out of the country a year ago, I couldn't get it working without latency or echoing. Had to switch to Skype, worked mostly OK. It's like Google is not even trying to fix their VoIP issues, just have it so some manager can check a feature off a list somewhere.

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Awesome, if you get everyone BB user online at once you'll have ... a three way call.

      • by dgatwood (11270)
        No, that's basically how FaceTime works, too. You call someone on the phone, and if the other end is an iOS device, there's a button you can push to switch the call over to FaceTime. It might require an iCloud account (I'm honestly not sure), but they're free, so that's not particularly important....
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          No, that's basically how FaceTime works, too. You call someone on the phone, and if the other end is an iOS device, there's a button you can push to switch the call over to FaceTime. It might require an iCloud account (I'm honestly not sure), but they're free, so that's not particularly important....

          By default FaceTime uses (on iPhone) the phone number and Apple ID as keys to determining if a user can use it. So no iCloud/Apple ID/etc account is required (though I think you need one anyways when you set you

      • I think it's mostly about integration, as in, you'll still go through the wi-fi connection even if you dial the number, as long as the target number belongs to a BB. For those other apps. the other user needs to be using them, along with a separate account, etc.

        Android already has this, it's called gmail.

        Through gmail, I can use Google talk, which uses both video and voice, and which also works on mobile data (not just wifi), and I can also use Google Voice, which intercepts my long distance phone numbers dialed on my phone to go over voice over ip.

        With Android, the integration is already there. And everyone using Android already has a gmail account, so there is no need for separate accounts.

    • by carlosap (1068042)
      and facetime works with 3G, LTE
  • by OhHellWithIt (756826) * on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @11:58AM (#41980593) Journal
    Even with a teenager on our family cell plan, we never use up our monthly allocation of voice minutes. Now, if RIM could figure out a way to convert that voice to data bandwidth, then we might have something to talk about.
    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @12:19PM (#41980831)

      Perhaps someone could invent a way to modulate a data signal into something that would fit onto a voice channel. Then your phone could call that device and use this voice link for data transmission. Surely one day such a technology will be invented.

      • by Andrewkov (140579)
        I don't think anyone under the age of 40 will have a clue what you're talking about. It would be funny to see a coupler for cell phones like we had in the rotary phone days! :)
        • OMG - I feel so old now.
      • And perhaps cell phone companies could apply lossy compression to the audio stream, so that they can carry more conversations on one frequency band, and fine-tune their codecs for voice so much that your "acoustic coupler" concept would become unworkable.
      • by rwise2112 (648849)
        So... let me get this straight. modulate at one end and demodulate at the other. That's so crazy it might just work. I wonder what such a device could be called?
        • How about "A device for sending digital data down a telephone line"? Sounds like a catchy title to me.
      • by Mechanik (104328)

        Perhaps someone could invent a way to modulate a data signal into something that would fit onto a voice channel. Then your phone could call that device and use this voice link for data transmission. Surely one day such a technology will be invented.

        Yes... some sort of MOdulator/DEModulator. Now all we need is a catchy name for it.... (sorry, my capslock got stuck)

    • by vlm (69642)

      Now, if RIM could figure out a way to convert that voice to data bandwidth,

      Bell 103 modem modulation with acoustic couplers.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_103_modem [wikipedia.org]

      This was what my first modem around 1982 used to connect to compuserv. It was a TRS80 "modem 1" direct connect modem and I remember the answer/originate switch. Yes I'm a noob compared to some real old timers.

      • I had to check to make sure you and I weren't the same person. I remember the dial string just because, in particular case, it rhymed.

        **ODT5499403X

        So I'm probably a couple years younger than you, because the modem was given to me. I stuck my Radio Shack Model 4P (the luggable with the handle on the top) onto a rolling desk chair, put the modem on top of that, and rolled down the hall in the dorm to get to the payphone. Unlimited local calls for a quarter, right? Worked pretty well.

        I'm becoming everything I

    • by grumpyman (849537)
      I actually thought about the exact same thing: why is there a boundary around voice/data? Based on my rough estimate, the 'voice minutes' translate to very little data.
    • Now, if RIM could figure out a way to convert that voice to data bandwidth, then we might have something to talk about.

      No need to wait for RIM to do anything.
      Get yourself an acoustic coupler [wikipedia.org] and you're set to go.
      Ok, speed may be a little sucky by today standards but hey free data bandwidth is still free data bandwidth

  • Only over wifi, so this isn't much of a feature. And it's only to other Blackberry users who also happen to be on wifi, making it even less useful. And in general, voice is on the decline which is why some carriers are moving to unlimited voice & tiered data. Personally I've had over 4,000 rollover minutes from AT&T for 3-4 years, and that's with many expiring each month and with my wife and I sharing their smallest plan (500 shared minutes/month).

    So this is cool, but I can't imagine this will sw

  • *Disclaimer I work for Vonage*

    The Vonage app allows you to call other app users over 3g/4g/Wifi for Android and iOS and make free calls to US numbers. So color me unimpressed.
  • by dnahelicase (1594971) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @12:06PM (#41980677)
    Rumor is that internet browsing will also be free while on wifi, and will even support pandora streaming! You can use that wifi data in nearly unlimited ways!
  • Just want business customers wanted, lower sound quality and congestion issues they can't control!

    No one on the planet WANTS VoIP over the Internet, it absolutely sucks. They only use it because some sales person or TV commercial convinced otherwise. When I can't tell within 5 seconds that you're on a VoIP connection, I'll change my mind, but thats not going to happen anytime soon.

    Stop trying to produce more low quality crap to retain customers, thats EXACTLY what put you in the position you are in RIM.

    • by jandrese (485)
      Maybe you need less crappy internet service. For me, I prefer doing VoIP because I can crank up the quality and get much better sound out of the phone. Regular cell phones have absolute shit quality (seriously, try reciting a product key over the phone without using a phonetic alphabet and see if it works. I bet you $10 if one side is on a cell phone that at least one character will be wrong, especially if they're in a noisy data center or car or something).

      The real problem is that a lot of older Voi
  • RIM did a great job for the time in which they really were market leaders.

    Now, the market has moved on. The proprietary technologies of yesterday have open and Windows equivalents.

    RIM needs to find a way to bring its unique interface, reliability and software experience to an open smartphone.

    I think that smartphones are what they do well, and they should continue to make them, instead of hoping they can make a tablet that will keep them "relevant."

    Do what you do. Do it well. Make it open, or Windows-based,

    • Make it open, or Windows-based, because either one is a market already waiting.

      Since when have phones running Windows Phone sold in numbers even close to those of the iPhone or even a single major Android manufacturer, let alone the entire Android ecosystem?

      • Windows would be a future option that would allow RIM to offload the OS portion of their product onto Microsoft, including maintenance. As to whether Windows phones sell, I don't know. I think I know one person who owns one and they seem to enjoy it.

  • Will this be a new form of rim to rim communication?

    Surely it's a niche market at best.
  • Ugh - this will do nothing to help RIM.

    The only thing that I can imagine RIM doing to stay competitive is to license their Blackberry software while they still can. Dump (or severely reduce) the hardware and OS business, it's clear to everyone (and it should be to RIM) they can no longer compete with manufacturers offering Apple, Microsoft, and Android-based devices.

    While RIM still has some foothold in the corporate managed mobile messaging arena, take that software and port it to Apple, Microsoft, and And

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      BES servers are already disappearing fast. The BES server is a big part of what is killing RIM. Why have another crap product between you and your email?

      No one wants to resend servicebooks or have to reboot the BES and disconnect all users when one stops getting his mail.

      • by j-turkey (187775)
        They are disappearing, but IMO, this is mostly due to user demand moving toward other devices. The BES is now the last vestige for RIM - IT managers and administrators still like the centralized management and security that BES provides. You're right that the BES is kind of a whore, but why can't this be fixed (so it works like Good does) - or fixed and licensed and/or integrated into an MTA (like how Microsoft has been slowly been rolling these services into their MTA)? It's only a matter of time until
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          My IT dept led the charge to kill the BES. We will not support any Blackberry device. We justified this via the man hours spent dealing with the BES.

    • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @12:40PM (#41981155)
      Fortunately for them, I guess they have a real CEO and not someone who plays one on Slashdot.

      Did you give your advice to Apple back around the year 2000?

      Blackberry hardware isn't bad when you consider where and how it would be used. Non-replaceable batteries and shiny fragile cases are fine for first world people who regard gadgets as disposable. Sub-one day battery life is fine if you are always near a socket. But in large emerging markets, phones are an expensive purchase, long battery life and easy replacement are still important, a degree of drop-proofness is very desirable and the Blackberry data compression represents a significant reduction in outgoings.Putting a BB OS on some generic smartphone hardware is going to result in something that might be a bit cheaper but will cause customer dissatisfaction.

      It took too long to get the new CEO on board, but at least RIM has a coherent strategy and a target market - the middle classes in South America, Africa and Indonesia, business users, and people who just do not like giving up all their data to Apple or Google. They may be about to go tits up, but they are at least avoiding your suggestion - which worked so well for Leo The Pharmacist at HP, and which was sensibly avoided by Apple.

      • by j-turkey (187775)

        The reality is that RIM is not building hardware that people actually want. Further, they are not able to develop on a competitive cycle. You mention two features which are nice (sturdiness and battery life). However, in my opinion, these two hardware features alone do not make a company competitive in this marketplace. This is not what made Apple a commercial success, and is not what caused HP to fail; I do not find these to be analogous. I guess that we'll find out soon enough if what you suggest is

        • by narcc (412956)

          The reality is that RIM is not building hardware that people actually want.

          Sorry, are you from the past?

          • by kamapuaa (555446)

            It's actually perfectly valid. Most RIM cell phones have a small screen and a huge keyboard, and in a time when having a large library of apps is a selling point, they don't. They look like such a relic. Nobody's lining up around the block for the latest RIM.

            • I dunno, I like my Storm2 (the 8550 model I think) from a few years ago. It's a full-device display, without a physical keyboard, but the screen physically "clicks" when it registers a keystroke. Turn it to landscape mode and it's not terribly difficult to type on.

              It's a bit long in the tooth now, but still works well enough. Was my lifeline during Sandy because all we had that worked was SMS service (voice was really patchy and often overloaded).
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Excuse me? What RIM cell phone has sold well in the past 5 years that I was unaware of?

    • by yabos (719499)
      I used to think it'd be a good idea if Apple integrated with BBM, assuming RIM would allow it. Now that they have iMessage, I don't think they care at all about BBM even if RIM offered to do all the work.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This actually might be quite interesting if it provides more secure voice communications similar to BBM. Rather than poo-poo'ing on RIM again because it is in fashion, maybe it should be looked at as an alternative to cell communications that the Patriot Act seem to be able to stomp on without any consideration for the rights of citizens. If that is the case, I welcome the alternative.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      You mean the company that gladly hands over the encryption keys to every tinpot dictator?

      I guaranty they already gave the keys to all the three letter agencies.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't have a bb, but I used to support some. If you have your own BES, RIM doesn't have your encryption keys so they can't hand them over. Sure, if you're using the telco provided BES, they will hand stuff over, but that's a given. If you run your own bes, you have end to end encryption controlled by you.

      • by narcc (412956) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @03:12PM (#41983109) Journal

        Wow, you're just impervious to facts, aren't you?

        If your a BES user, RIM can't hand over the keys because they don't have them.

        As always, RIM is the ONLY option for the security conscious.

        Go find some new talking points, preferably some with facts behind them.

  • They've been raging and stamping their feet, because their bloated margins have been propped up by ripoff voice and text traffic charges, and criminal scams like international roaming charges. They wanted to avoid, at all costs, to be a "dumb pipe" where they'd have to live with fair and reasonable margins.

    The chickens have come home to roost, the consumer wins, and the telcos get their long-coming, richly-deserved comeuppance.

  • What is this "voice calling" of which they speak? You mean there's now a way to project voice by cell phone? Stop the presses!

    (Not really. Don't stop the presses. This isn't news. Other cell phones have had this "voice calling" feature for years.)

  • What does this mean?
    The users can talk each other if they are connected on the same WiFi network? Don't think so.
    The users can talk each other if the application sees a non-public IP? Don't think so either. Operators can provide you with non-public IP to be NATed as public.
    Only over WiFI? Why? Why not doing that over any IP interface of the mobile handset?
    That statement by RIM looks like: let's do something, whatever, to move the water. Then we'll see ...
  • Considering RIM's small and declining market share hard to see how this helps.

  • by SuiteSisterMary (123932) <slebrunNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:41PM (#41981905) Journal

    It also can be counted as an advantage for RIMâ(TM)s platform over Android and iOS, at least until RIMâ(TM)s rivals begin to roll out similar solutions."

    Well, if you want free wifi voice calling from iPhone to iPhone, start FaceTime, and put your thumb over the camera.

  • Release a new product already.

  • I would much rather they worked with Microsoft to bring native Skype applications to their platform.

  • ... at least until RIM’s rivals begin to roll out similar solutions.

    Assuming RIM didn't file a patent for seamless and transparent calling over WiFi/VoIP when available.

  • I have a box at my house that signs into google voice to do VOIP. you can log into it (if i ever bothered to make the firewall work) with an iOS app and use that to make calls. This can call any phone endpoint, not just BlackBerries.

    So, as listed over and over in this forum, there are several different ways to already do this. By baking it into BBM, they're both making it slightly easier (and harder, you ever try to remember a friend's BBM ID?) and slightly less useful - this is limited to the dwindling num

  • Now the two remaining Blackberry customers can talk to each other for free...

Good salesmen and good repairmen will never go hungry. -- R.E. Schenk

Working...