PhoneGnome Open to Mashups
The fine folks at PhoneGnome have come up with an API that will allow you to control your PhoneGnome service from anywhere. To demonstrate the power of this API, a sample J2ME applet was created that will allow you to “click to call” using your mobile device.
Your mobile phone logs into PhoneGnome and downloads your phone book. You can then scroll through the entries in the phone book and make a call. PhoneGnome calls your cell phone (currently this is configured in the My PhoneGnome portal), then makes a call with the party you selected, bridiging the two. The downside to this is that you’re potentially paying for two call legs through your chosen Internet telephony service provider. Of course if the call is free to make through PhoneGnome, you’re only paying for the one to your mobile phone. The practical upshot this has though is that you can use this to essentially avoid paying large International call costs from your mobile phone.
The J2ME applet also allows you to send a voice message to any contact in your contact list via email. PhoneGnome calls your cell phone, records the message, and then sends it via email to the recipient. Great for when you’re driving and don’t want to have a long, drawn out conversation.
The J2ME applet is rough around the edges, but it does hint at some very powerful capabilities in the future. David Beckemeyer tells me that they had a lot of things they wanted to put in this applet, but “eventually we had to stop and call this a first release.” Fair enough.
With an open API, PhoneGnome is making it possible to be integrated into a wide range of services. It also provides a whole lot of control over where and how you use your PhoneGnome. Think of the various ways people are using Google’s services (e.g. the various mashups with Google Maps). Click-to-call is one application. Toll bypass from your mobile is obviously another. I could think of more, but there are people out there far more clever than I.
I think the trick for PhoneGnome is going to be getting people and companies to actually use the API. There’s very little inherent value in an open API if you can’t build a community around it.