eqo's Mobile-to-Skype buddy list solution

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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eqo's Mobile-to-Skype buddy list solution

eqo (pronounced same as 'echo') came to TMC to pre-brief me on their mobile-to-Skype buddy list peer-to-peer (P2P) solution. Essentially, eqo acts as the "glue" betwen online communities such as LinkedIn, MySpaces, orkut, or Skype with mobile carriers such as T-Mobile, Cingular, Vodaphone, etc. Their architecture is a patent pending core IP that uses proprietary call signaling, that is P2P-based and cross device/network domain. It leverages mobile data (SMS) to control the signalling and the mobile voice network for the media stream to the mobile phone, so you don't need the Skype client running on your cell phone. Essentially, their software client is a J2ME application that resides on your cell phone and which keeps your buddy list synched with Skype. eqo did a good job at keeping the application small since it's only a 121k JAR file, most of which is the graphics for the user interface.

Some background on eqo is that their founders developed the first mobile softswitch, their CEO (Bill Tam) started the most successful CLEC in Canada (MetroNet), and their VP of Marketing Ian Bell was formerly with BuzMe, a product TMC Labs reviewed in 2002. Colin Quon is another one of their founders and CTO formerly with UTStarcom and Nortel.

eqo's primary goal is to extend availability and "connectedness" of your online communities when you are away from your PC or laptop. Using their software you can for instance view your Skype buddies, their presence, and initiate a Skype call. You can also call PSTN numbers and receive calls to your Skype username.

Although Skype is currently the only supported "online community", eqo told me that they are working on adding other popular online chat communities such as MySpaces, MSN Messenger, AIM, Yahoo Messenger, and others.

Once eqo adds support for other popular IM communities, this software will be similar to Tello, which is a service-based (and fee-based) model that lets you "rent" aggregated presence information across several popular IM services. The major differences between the two are that eqo is currently free and eqo is designed for mobile phones where as Tello is a Windows application.

Finally, here are some screenshots of the eqo software in action on a Nokia mobile phone.

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