Truphone Launches Local Anywhere Service

As a matter of course I don't follow the news coming out from Mobile World Congress. It's just too much, and most of it doesn't speak to my day to day coverage. With that said, though, this is the first of two posts I have about announcements made at MWC yesterday that are on my radar these days.

This one pertains Truphone's big news about their Local Anywhere service. It was announced at MWC with a presentation by their CEO - Geraldine Wilson - which I got an advance preview of earlier in the day. It's really well done, and I'm only going to share the key details here. They've made it available for download now, but it's quite large - 100 MB - you need to get it off an FTP server, so it takes a few minutes. All the details are provided on the Truphone blog, and it tells the story quite well.

In short, Truphone has integrated their two core businesses - mobile applications and MVNO (via their SIM4travel acquisition) - into a new service called Local Anywhere. It's pretty self-explanatory, and allows mobile users to make just about any call a local call with just one SIM card. This is a big deal for globetrotters and people who live international lifestyles. Keeping track of multiple SIM cards and mobile phones can be a real hassle, and that's the problem Truphone is addressing here.

It's a great market opportunity, especially in this economy. Sure, you can revert to text, SMS, even Skype, but many times there's just no substitute for talking on the phone. I've been advocating for some time that voice is still the preferred mode of communicating even when we have many other modes at our disposal. It's just the best and most natural way to communicate. So, even though I don't have a lifestyle that calls for Local Anywhere, I'm definitely a fan of the concept, and am sure it will be a lifesaver for a lot of people.

Before you get too excited, though, I should clarify the service has only been announced at MWC. A commercialized launch date has not been set - it will be sometime this year. The key here is for Truphone to get enough carrier partnerships in place to build a global footprint for the service. Remember - they may have a small MVNO presence of their own, but Truphone is not a carrier. To make this work, they need these partnerships. The good news is that they've been very successful developing mobile solutions for many of the hot smartphones. They know how to do this stuff, and Local Anywhere should be a natural fit for MVNO's looking for a better way to compete with the incumbent MNO's.

They made this plan clear in the presentation, and I'd have to say that timing this news for the huge stage MWC provides is every bit as much to attract carrier partners as it is to tell mobile roamers that help is on the way. Nothing wrong with that - being a savvy marketer is often just as important as having the right technology.

CODA - I just learned that local colleague Jim Courtney has moved on from Skype Journal and launched his own venture, Voice on the Web - cool! And of course, congrats, Mr. Courtney. I'm working this in here because Jim had a nice post about Truphone's news this morning, and as expected, it's got a bit more technical detail than this post. So, I'll steer you there for further reading, and his post includes links to additional coverage of this announcement.