MINO’s mobile VoIP gets $7 million; What for?

The Sunnyvale, CA based mobile VoIP startup MINO Wireless has raised $7M in funding from Canaan Partners. This is Series B round of funding for MINO, which had earlier raised $1.5 million from in April of last year from TNP on the Road (Japan/Silicon Valley Fund), Freeze, AWE net, and few angel investors.

Last time I had written about MINO was when it had registered its100Kth user. That was 5 months back. A lot has changed in these ensuing months(Fring, Truphone, Jajah….to name a few) which makes it hard for me understand such a big investment. MINO claims that people can make cheaper international calls using its service from their mobile phones via a mobile app or WAP browser. Offering only cheaper calls to any phone, anywhere in the world, is a losers game. Jajah, Gizmo, SunRocket, and many more are already it. Once again for comparison purposes lets talk about cost of call to India from US. MINO -12.4 cents, Jajah – 9 cents, SunRocket – 8 cents, RelianceIndiaCall – 7.4 cents, Startec – 7.9 cents. All these are still much better than 17.7 cents that Skypeout charges or 17.4 cents that Gizmo does. Clearly MINO is not the winner nor the loser. Calling card route is not the easiest in the shorter term but it is going to be the winner as it seems. On the top of these higher rates, MINO also requires you to have a data plan or at least use date network to initiate calls. These are additional $$’s that go unaccounted for.

As compared to Vonage et al. MINO claims –

“However, with these desktop solutions, subscribers must purchase and install special hardware to take advantage of the lower costs of making international calls using VoIP.

I can understand the good intentions of MINO, but they don’t workout that well for MINO itself. Sticky point for Vonage is the phone number, that MINO doesn’t have. Once a consumer gets the VoIP number and gives it out to his friend circle, he/she is stuck with it. With no real easy know way to migrate VoIP phone number to another service provider, consumers are forced to stay with with the service even if the prices are higher. This is not the case with MINO, where an appreciable difference in pricing can cause users to switch.

My feeling is give the mobile device market another year as the WiFi enabled devices get wider acceptance and data rates fall. Then Fring, Truphone, Barablu, and Nimbuzz would be all set to shake up the international calling market.

On the whole, above stands true unless MINO has some other plans for the $7 million.

Links:
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4 Responses to “MINO’s mobile VoIP gets $7 million; What for?”

  1. MINO’s mobile VoIP gets $7 million; What for? | voip.thephonedog.com Says:

    […] Original post by Vivek and software by Elliott Back […]

  2. Tim, Truphone Says:

    “Offering only cheaper calls to any phone, anywhere in the world, is a losers game.” This is an interesting and valid point: what happens as prices fall towards near-zero? In particular, why would anyone invest in that case? In the case of Truphone, one answer is that Truphone has developed an all-IP connection: Wi-Fi to internet to Wi-Fi. Voice is just one service that can be deployed over such an infrastructure, and others can easily be introduced.

  3. Martin Smink - NImbuzz Says:

    “My feeling is give the mobile device market another year as the WiFi enabled devices get wider acceptance and data rates fall. Then Fring, Truphone, Barablu, and Nimbuzz would be all set to shake up the international calling market. ”

    I think this the right conclusion. But not only for the fact that data plans become cheaper and cheaper and the broader acceptance of WiFi enabled devices. There is something else going on my friends and that is called ‘community calling’; the ability to call your buddies on existing VoIP / IM networks. From your mobile. Against local cost or less. This will radically change the way we communicate.

  4. Rune - Briing.com Says:

    Despite many new comers and many a blog on the competitions and many attempts at Wiffi and other clever ways We have a steady growing databse of cusotmers who now use our access numbers and its growing daily and it works. Customers like us and it seems that the more competition out there the faster we grow. When you have an application thats ready and thats is accepted and starts to work then come see us.

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