Would JaJah on a Wi-Fi iPod spell disaster for the iPhone? - Macenstein

Would JaJah on a Wi-Fi iPod spell disaster for the iPhone?

Posted by Dr. Macenstein

CNET recently published a report on a deal between Intel and internet phone company JaJah that paves the way for JaJah’s free voice-calling-over-the-internet technology to be embedded in upcoming chips from Intel. JaJah’s eventual plan is to have its technology available for ALL CPU-types, allowing for free or low cost calls from any device with internet access.

This got us to thinking (which is always a mistake)…

Back in January, immediately after the iPhone debuted at MacWorld, JaJah issued a press release claiming it planned offer free or low cost VoIP calls via the iPhone later this year, including international calls. This was viewed by many (including us) as wishful thinking, as Apple would need to (in theory) sanction any software that would be installed on the iPhone. However, since JaJah’s calling features simply require access to a web browser, it is possible that the iPhone may come JaJah compatible out of the box. The main technological hurdle, as we see it, is whether or not the iPhone’s mouth piece will be able to be seen by the iPhone’s built-in Safari web browser as a microphone. Without a way to communicate directly with the browser, JaJah may be out of luck. It is unkonwn at this point how Apple is handling that.

And of course this then got us thinking about that oft-rumored “6th generation Wi-Fi enabled widescreen video iPod” that has been perpetually “just around the corner” for the last 2 years or so. Essentially, most folks envision it as being an iPhone without the phone, meaning it would have pretty much all the web features of the iPhone (Safari, mail, etc.) but no actual voice dialing or calling plans required.

If such a device were to exist, it is very likely that JaJah’s technology could be made to run on it. Companies like Griffin Technology and Belkin have made microphone adapters for current iPod models for years. If a true Wi-Fi iPod does indeed eventually become a reality as many predict (and even more hope) then you can be assured that many of these iPod accessory manufacturers will be attempting to tap JaJah’s technology and find a way to make it work with the new iPods to enable free Wi-Fi calling.

But why would Apple Allow it?

Of course, the major road block here would once again be Apple’s take on this. Just as with the iPhone scenario above, Apple would have to allow Safari to pass along and receive voice data to the hardware in order for this to work. And while you may think it is a foregone conclusion that Apple would NOT allow this to happen in order to stave off hurting sales of the iPhone, there are 2 reasons why they might think twice.

First, the fact is, if Apple doesn’t do it, someone else will. The Zune is more or less a joke in the MP3 loving community, but what if it had web access and the ability to make free phone calls? A good portion of the Zune’s target audience (as with the iPod) are students who have almost constant access to wi-fi in their homes, schools, dorm rooms, coffee shops… even some small towns now have blanket Wi-Fi throughout the city. There have been rumors Microsoft would enter the mobile phone market in response to the iPhone, but personally I think it would make more sense to add a free VoIP service to the Zune.

Second, most people looking to buy an iPhone are looking to do so because of the sleek design, and the seamless touchscreen controls. The odds are that if Apple allows Safari to utilize 3rd party add-on hardware to add voice capabilities to an iPod, they will look clunky, despite their designer’s best efforts. Additionally, the iPhone’s built-in touch screen dialing interface would be gone, so people would have to navigate to a web portal and dial from that interface to place calls. This is very likely to be a more complicated and slower approach that would put off the average iPhone user, but would still be seen as a beneficial bonus feature to many iPod users.

Apple could also use this as an opportunity for some free R&D. If it appeared that many users were taking advantage of such features, Apple could opt to include them seamlessly on a chip level with the 7th gen iPods, or perhaps merge the iPhone and iPod back into one product line down the road as flash memory prices drop and Wi-Fi becomes even more ubiquitous.

Ultimately it will be Apple’s decision, of course, and for the moment, we don’t see them letting it happen (at least not this year). But they have made it clear that new features will be added to the iPhone via software updates, and enabling Safari to be used for VOiP calls would be a relatively easy patch to add. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

3 Responses to “Would JaJah on a Wi-Fi iPod spell disaster for the iPhone?”
  1. ed says:

    “Would JaJah on a Wi-Fi iPod spell disaster for the iPhone?”

    Now THERE’S a line of text my grandmother would never be able to understand.


  2. Hammer of Truth says:

    I doubt that it would spell disaster as I tried to do the same thing with a HP PDA and use Skype over wifi on it. The main problem is the infastructure of wifi here in a lot of cities is spotty. Some places you need to pay, some are free but deathly sloooow. You have to preplan your day to find out where the free hotspots are so that you can take and receive calls using VOIP on wifi and right now it’s more trouble that it’s worth.

    Check back in another 10 years.

  3. Scott says:

    I suppose the iPod’s lack of a microphone might slow this down a bit too.

Leave A Comment


Click here to inquire about making a fortune by advertising your game, gadget, or site on Macenstein.