« 'Ma Pitom?!', and other inscrutable Israeli expressions | Main | So we're a little nutty. So what?! »

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

In search of the 'Killer App'

Killer Application

noun.  (often shortened to Killer App.) 

1.  A term borrowed from the software development world and now used both on and off-line. It refers to the eternal search for next big idea.

2.  A computer application that surpasses its competitors.

Since moving to Israel, Zahava and I have been exploring various solutions to inexpensively bridge the communication gap between ourselves and the friends and family we left behind in the old country.

Obviously email is our primary communication tool since it is fast, cheap and reliable.  However there is something about actually hearing someone's voice that email can't hope to replace.  That leaves various incarnations of the old-fashioned phone call:

Dial Direct - This is the easiest and most intuitive way of hearing the voices of friends and family abroad.  Unfortunately it also requires that one have a money tree growing out back (heck, Israelis assume we Anglos all have money trees!).  Even with the cut-throat competition between international long-distance carriers direct dial is still a very expensive way to reach out and touch someone.

Calling Card - There are countless companies out there that sell calling card plans with blocks of minutes that can be used to pretty much any calling destination.  There are some real bargains in the calling card market, but the hassle involved with navigating a multi-level electronic touch-tone menu and then punching in a long list of code numbers before you can even dial your call is daunting, to say the least.  And I have yet to meet someone who hasn't lost their calling card or put it through the wash long before the minutes on it were used up.

Skype (et al) - We have been using this extremely inexpensive Voice over IP (VOIP) program for a year or so with very good results.  It is similar behind the scenes to Vonage and other VOIP schemes except that you don't need a special phone to make it work.  A standard computer headset and microphone is all it takes.  Sure, you can buy special Skype phones (even cordless ones), that are designed to be hooked up to your computer, but we always just use the headset.  However I couldn't help thinking there must be some way to get the computer all, or at least most of the way out of the equation.  Enter the killer App:  Jajah.

Jajah - A loyal treppenwitz reader was kind enough to send me an invitation to join Jajah (it is still in Beta testing so it is by invitation only).  Simply put, Jajah has almost everything I love about Skype... except that it has almost entirely eliminated the computer from the process.  Almost

Here's how it works (from the Jajah website):

"Unlike other companies that are trying to replace the phone with the computer, JAJAH believes that phones are great the way they are. Phones work. People are not interested in headsets, downloads or hotspots. They simply want to make a call. And we completely agree."

Calls between JAJAH users are FREE under the following conditions:

  • You and your friends have to use mobile or landline phone in Zone 1 (USA, Canada, China, Singapore, Hong Kong) or a landline phone in Zone 2 (mainly Europe, Australia & New Zealand, [Israel] Taiwan)
  • Your friend's phone number must be registered with JAJAH
  • Your friend's account must be "active" (an account will become inactive after two weeks of no operation, ie. a free call, a cheap call or sending a text message)
  • You have not exceeded the FAIR USE policy: 1000 minutes a month, five hours a week, 1 hour a day

Basically you only need the computer to initiate the call.  Jajah then calls your home or mobile phone (whichever you choose) and simultaneously calls the home or mobile pone of whoever it is you wanted to speak with.  Calls to most other Jajah users are free, and calls to non-registered phone numbers are pretty cheap (most are in the Skype price range and like Skype, you can buy blocks of time).  There are also free plug-ins you can download to your mobile phone so that you can initiate the calls from there (using an SMS) rather than via the computer! 

There are a couple of catches to the free call thing (see above).  For instance, the fair usage policy limits you to an hour of free calls per day before you get bumped over to the low cost rates... but still, an hour a day ain't bad!  Also, if a registered Jajah user goes more than two weeks without using the service, they are considered 'inactive accounts' and any calls to them are now cheap instead of free (but you can see this before you initiate the call by whether or not their home or mobile number appears green in your Jajah phone book).

So, perhaps referring to Jajah as a 'killer app' might be a very slight exaggeration... but for the long distance calls you make on a regular basis it seems to make a LOT of sense (and cents).  And not surprisingly, although the company HQ is in California... the development center for Jajah is right here in Israel!

I have no idea how many Jajah invitations I have to give out... but if anyone would like to give Jajah a try, just ask me in the comments and I'll try to send you an invitation to join.

Oh... if you leave me a comment AND vote for me in the Weblog Awards finals I'll really, really want to send you an invite!  ;-)

The 2006 Weblog Awards


Posted by David Bogner on December 12, 2006 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference In search of the 'Killer App':


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Me. Me, me :) Please! Me :)
Don't you want to earn my Ema's eternal gratitude? *grin*

Posted by: Yael | Dec 12, 2006 12:04:02 PM

ME ME ME. Please, ME!

Posted by: aidelmaidel | Dec 12, 2006 1:34:55 PM

My bro/sis-in-law will be making Aliyah at the end of the month. This would be great to keep in touch with them! I'd like to give it a try.

Re: voting, I have been voting for you. I can't see the total for "Global Voices Online" (runs off the vote display) but other than that, looks like you are in the top 3, and catching up to #2. (unless Global voices has more votes...)

Posted by: Nighthawk700 | Dec 12, 2006 2:42:35 PM

Since you brought up the hassless of calling cards, I just wanted to mention this.

I use an internet based calling card, located at http://www.onesuite.com

One reason I like them is that they offer "ZipDial." Basically I add in my home and work phone number. When I call the access number from one of these two phones, it "recognizes" me, and thus I don't need to enter my calling card number. Also, I can enter in up to 50 phone numbers (national and international) for it to remember. LD calls within the US (lower 48 states) are 2.5 cents a minute, calls from the US to Israel (landline) are 3.5 cents a minute.

Posted by: Nighthawk700 | Dec 12, 2006 3:18:57 PM

Can you drop me an invite if you have any left over?


Posted by: Ed | Dec 12, 2006 3:34:07 PM

I just signed up at Jajah.com (without an invitation). Thanks for the reference - my business partner is planning on aliya next summer and this sounds like it might beat skype.

Posted by: dov weinstock | Dec 12, 2006 5:32:02 PM

First place will be impossible, but the seconed place is!

Posted by: remeber me? | Dec 12, 2006 5:58:14 PM

Uhhh... Just thought I'd drop by on my way to the voting booth. Sure! Count me in on the killer app thing. It could be as much fun as the Great Zionist Underwear Airlift of 2006.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Dec 13, 2006 7:22:45 AM

What? You mean to tell me Skype isn't free in Israel?! Oy vey, I'd be in SO much trouble then... By the way, another problem with calling cards is that they take off money even if the card's inactive.

Posted by: Irina | Dec 13, 2006 7:34:05 AM

I'd love one if you have any left over.


Posted by: D | Dec 13, 2006 10:21:40 AM

Still seem to be some invites left (although someone mentioned that they aren't really necessary). Anyone?

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 13, 2006 2:54:33 PM

I pay 1.66 shekel per minute phoning to my son in australia. phoning for free would be nice :) On the other hand: if impossible, would anybody please explain me how skype works? If that's cheaper than regular phonelines? What I have to do to get that?

thanks in advance,

Posted by: tsedek | Dec 16, 2006 7:32:28 PM

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In