Saturday, May 24, 2008

TringMe Sucks! Not Really :)

I started using TringMe yesterday. Signed up, added credits with PayPal, things went through quickly. Tried to register my cell-phone, so I could make calls by sending SMS. Stupidly I made a couple of typos in my first few attempts. The other problem was that unlike most other sites, where you register and provide a password, TringMe very insecurely emails you a random password. So I had to type in this long random string :)

On my fourth attempt, when I finally managed to send everything correctly, I immediately got a confirmation SMS. The previous times, I would have been happy to get a "reject" SMS, but didn't. So I was left wondering whether the registration had failed.

Call setup was simple and quick. Their SMS telling me to expect a call usually came *after* their call-back, so was quite pointless :). Once I got the call-back, I got two beeps, a burst of some music, and then a ring at the other end. Call was crystal-clear, no lag - they must have some pretty good bandwidth.

Suggestions for TringMe
  1. Take password during registration, use a temporary link to confirm email id
  2. Send SMS with call cost/details/balance ala prepaid, once the call is completed
  3. Put the instructions for signing up on the main page. Right now it's only on the blog. The FAQ actually doesn't have a section for SMS initiated calls.
  4. Use a SMS short number - easier to remember - although we'd need to pay per call-setup
  5. Why does the India leg of the call cost so much? My call of 1224s cost $1.048. I guess rounding up to a minute? Even then 5c/min ~ Rs 2/min seems quite high.
  6. Fix the reply SMS for the registration via cell-phone. If reg fails, send a failure message.
TringMe gives me the convenience to call the US at 6.3c a min from wherever I am. Most phone cards used for calling from the US seem to be in the 8-11c range these days. But TringMe allows me to initiate calls for much less than I could otherwise.

My main crib is about the price for the India leg. I can actually see some calling-cards from the US which charge 3.9c per min (admittedly with maintenance fees + 3m rounding). Why then should termination from inside India to an Indian cellphone cost so much? I can see bulk services at Rs. 1/min or less for corporates. Is that the margin that TringMe is making?

On an un-related note, I hope this service is legal under Indian telephony laws - they have some screwed up pro-BSNL, protective stuff left-over.

Thanks to Yusuf, I'm proud to say there's an innovative Indian product company, that's kicking ass on a global scale! Opening up their API to all is something that should allow for a wide variety of services to spring up, unconstrained by the imagination of only the TringMe team.

Best of luck to them!