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Why Truphone on iPod Touch Isn’t Exciting To Me

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I would expect someone like Andy Abramson to be excited about his client, Truphone, getting an application on the Apple iPod Touch that makes it possible to make VoIP calls over WiFi. Eventually, according to MarketWatch, you’ll be able to receive calls as well, though I’m not sure how that will work given Apple doesn’t allow background apps on their iPhone and iPod Touch.

However, when I look at it in the bigger picture, I go “meh.” It’s not exciting to me. Turning something that isn’t a phone into a phone is old hat. That’s been a reality on the Nokia N800/N810 for a while thanks to Skype. I’m sure you can think of other examples of this as well.

I don’t see a lot of “average” people go through the trouble of downloading the Truphone app from Apple’s App Store, getting the necessary microphone adapter from Apple, and using this to make calls versus some other method. No doubt some people will do it–perhaps people aided by geeks like me, perhaps not.

Most of the people I know can barely use their mobile phone. Anything more complicated than making a call, receiving a call, and perhaps using the camera requires assistance from someone like me. I helped my wife’s aunt over Thanksgiving with her LG Dare, never having seen the phone before.

Now granted, not everyone has an iPhone, or an iPod Touch. Apple does make it dirt simple to get apps onto the handset. I’m sure the smart guys at Truphone guys have also done a brilliant job of making this application dirt simple to use, much like they’ve done on the Nokia handsets.

I am struggling to see the market for this. It might seem like there is with 300 Million applications downloaded from Apple’s App Store. However, what percentage of Apple’s iPhone/iPod Touch user base have actually downloaded an application and installed it? How many Apple iPhone and iPod Touch users are actively using third party apps on their devices? My gut says not nearly as many as people are thinking.

The other niggling question is: of the people that download Truphone’s iPod Touch application, how many will turn into paying users instead of just using the free features of the application?

I would love to be wrong and have this be a mainstream game changer. I’d love to see more people using VoIP, but I’m having trouble seeing how this vision will work. Can anyone help clarify it for me?

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