T-Mobile Takes Aim at Skype with Their New Bobsled Free Calling Update

T-Mobile launched their new bobsled product earlier this year in case you aren’t familiar with it (which I wouldn’t expect you to be). I myself didn’t pay much attention to it (even though it’s preinstalled on my current device). But a press release today, finally caught my attention.

Essentially, it seems that T-Mobile and Vivox, Inc. (the company behind the technology of the Bobsled program) are trying to take some of the VoIP market from Skype. This new update to Bobsled allows users to make calls from their web browser, Android/iOS device, or even Facebook profile to any mobile phone or landline in the US, Puerto Rico, or Canada for free. Not a bad deal, and notice the iOS compatibility, they obviously aren’t just aiming for T-Mobile users, they want anyone they can get.

Also, there’s a line in this press release that I’d like to bring attention to:

In addition, Bobsled provides users with free calling to any mobile or landline phone number in the U.S, Canada or Puerto Rico from inside or outside the U.S. from their desktop browser.

Notice the “outside the U.S.”. This could also be a great alternative way to call back home when traveling overseas (which we all know is ridiculously expensive if you use your roaming plan on your cell phone to call home). So that’s a nice bonus as well.

What’s the catch? Well, at the moment, not much that I can tell. One thing, they don’t mention is receiving calls, so this won’t be replacing your landline any time soon. Also, I’d think it’s safe to assume that there would be some kind of advertising revenue they’re making from this instead of subscription fees since you have to sign up for an account (so expect ads of some sort at some point), and maybe down the road some paid product add-ons (calling other countries for cheap rates, add on features, etc.). Either way, free for now is still free. Check out the full press release for yourself:

Bobsled by T-Mobile Extends Free Calling to the Web, Android and iOS

New Dial-Out Functionality Allows Bobsled Users to Place Free VoIP Calls to Mobile and Landline Numbers from Across the Web

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Oct. 11, 2011 T-Mobile today announced enhanced and expanded functionality for its Bobsled™ by T-Mobile® service. The new Bobsled functionality provides users with an easy, seamless way to call Facebook friends from most desktop browsers, Android™-powered smartphones and tablets, and Apple® iOS devices, including iPhones®, iPads® and iPod Touch® products. In addition, Bobsled provides users with free calling to any mobile or landline phone number in the U.S, Canada or Puerto Rico from inside or outside the U.S. from their desktop browser.

“Earlier this year we brought voice to social networking with Bobsled for Facebook. Now we are expanding the capabilities of Bobsled, allowing users to easily communicate with friends from anywhere on the Web and even dial out for free to mobile and landline numbers,” said Brad Duea, senior vice president, T-Mobile USA. “Users can also now jump on Bobsled from Android phones and tablets as well as from Apple iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch. Bobsled allows users to be heard across borders, websites, carriers and platforms.”

As the way people communicate transcends networks and devices, Bobsled provides users with new ways to connect regardless of where they are online, the format of their message or what device they are using:

Bobsled on the Web

Bobsled is available for most Internet browsers. Once signed into Bobsled on their browser, users can call, message or voice message with their Facebook friends at any time while using their Mac or PC. Bobsled eliminates the need for dialing — you simply click on a friend’s name to start the conversation. There’s no need to remember screen names or to input numbers. Users simply click the phone icon to initiate a call with friends and family or message via Facebook Chat.

Free Calling to Mobile and Landline Numbers

Bobsled users can now call any mobile or landline number in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico for free. Users simply open Bobsled from their browser on a Mac or PC and dial a number using an open Internet connection from anywhere in the world. Also, users can add mobile or landline numbers to their existing Facebook friends.

Bobsled for Apple iOS and Android Devices

Bobsled is now available from the Apple App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and from the Android Market™ for Android smartphones and tablets. Bobsled allows users to call or voice message their Facebook friends from their mobile device for free.

Bobsled’s browser and mobile applications are powered by Vivox Inc. Together, T-Mobile and Vivox, with its compelling VoiceEverywhere technology, areushering in a new era of voice communications — online, on the go, virtually wherever and however users want to converse.

“Vivox’s partnership with T-Mobile and the Bobsled product is a stellar example of evolving the way we communicate,” said Rob Seaver, founder and CEO, Vivox. “As evidenced by Bobsled, VoiceEverywhere creates massively scalable conversations across devices, platforms and experiences andmakes digital communication more seamless and natural, regardless of the context or location.”

What do you guys think? Something you might use? How do you think the revenue model works?