I can’t remember the last time I talked to someone on the phone. The phrases “text me later” and “let me know when a good time to Skype” drive my communications throughout my day. Occassionally, I even forget my own phone number – and even wonder, sometimes, why I even still have it.
Apparently, so does T-Mobile. Today T-Mobile introduced Bobsled, a new app for Facebook that allows users to actually chat with friends on Faceook using VoIP voice chat. T-Mobile found that in a recent sruvey 88% of Facebook users want voice chat capabilities within the site. Today, Bobsled by T-Mobile, is making that possible. Bobsled is a “a new brand aimed at bridging the world of traditional telecommunications with Internet-based voice and data services” according to the T-Mobile Blog. The first of T-Mobile products under this new brand is free voice calling within Facebook. That’s right – watch out Skype. Now, all 600 million users of Facebook have nearly instant ability to call anyone and everyone they are friends with on Facebook. Wihout a phone. And without a phone number.
T-Mobile’s Boblsed applicaton for Facebook is quick to download, install, and use. Simply http://apps.facebook.com/bobsledbytmo and install the plugin. Then, open Facebook again in a new tab or window in your browser, and open up your chat list. You will then see a phone next to each friend’s name. If your friend has also installed Boblsed, you can instantly initiate a free call, whether from Mac to Mac, PC to PC, or any combination, with your Friend. We tried to intiate a call with only one of us using Bobsled, but it didn’t seem to work. You should also keep in mind that you’ll need working speakers and working microphones on both ends to make the call successfull. If the connection fails, you are prompted by Boblsed to leave a Voicemail to your friend. T-Mobile suggest this feature is particularly useful for situations such as “instead of just writing Happy Birthday on your friend’s Facebook wall, now you can use Bobsled to sing Happy Birthday and post the voice greeting on their wall for all to hear.” (So for those who missed my birthday yesterday, I hope you are taking notes.)
Will this future of “T-Mobile as a provider of cloud-based communications services over the Internet” effectively kill not only other similar services like Skype, but the entire voice industry as we know it? If we can communicate within our social networks using data – instead of maintaining separate voice number identities – will we still need a phone number – and then, a phone plan? T-Mobile says their plans are to evolve to include video chat and the ability to place VoIP calls to mobile and landline U.S. numbers by offering applications on smartphones and tablets across various mobile platforms, regardless of the carrier that powers such devices. If we can make these types of calls, whether by voice on video, on any device – PC, mobile, or otherwise – will this revolutionize our concept of a “phone”?
To get started with Bobsled on Facebook today, visit http://apps.facebook.com/bobsledbytmo, or visit www.letsbobsled.com for more information.