RealTime IT News

Mobile Apps Now Arriving Before New Devices

Research in Motion hasn't even delivered the Bold, its latest BlackBerry, to the U.S. market, yet new applications for the smartphone are already hitting the market.

One is EQO's free mobile Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and multi-network compatible mobile instant messaging software. The software provides cheap calls and free texting capabilities as well instant messaging chat no matter which messaging platform is used.

"The value proposition is that it provides both business and consumers with cost savings with international calls as well as today's expensive roaming costs. Our software illustrates how much can be done using voice and messaging capabilities," Bill Tam, EQO CEO, told InternetNews.com.

New mobile application development is becoming a device differentiator as handset makers and wireless carriers wrestle for new users in the competitive market. Vendors, including RIM, are ponying up millions to spur development on specific platforms and handsets.

In May, RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) launched the BlackBerry Partners Fund, a $150 million VC money pool, for investing in mobile applications and services for the BlackBerry platform and other mobile environments.

Third-party applications arriving ahead of soon-to-debut devices illustrate how valuable new services and capabilities are becoming in the mobile device industry.

The EQO applications lets users make calls while chatting and texting, as well as switch from 3G network connections to Wi-Fi when necessary. The application is very similar to Skype, said Tam. It works on over 500 handsets and across various mobile platforms such as Windows Mobile and Symbian.

Once downloaded users import contact lists into the application's phone book. Calls made using the EQO application uses a local network connection to get to a VoIP network which reduces users' call costs to about 2 cents a minute.

"When it comes to avoiding roaming costs, the savings is even greater, near 50 to 70 percent, especially for those traveling internationally," said Tam.

EQO's application is now being downloaded an average of 10,000 times daily, and Tam says a professional level version, which let users track call use and costs, has 200 paying customers.

"The paid product lets companies keep track of service costs which can be huge when workers are traveling abroad," said Tam.