The recent Mobile World Congress, held from February 15-19 in Barcelona, featured more than 50 Israeli mobile-technology companies, hawking their wares to industry leaders and the more than 50,000 people who attended the event. By bringing all of the major mobile players together under one roof, the conference provides the best opportunity for small companies, much like all of those from Israel, to meet with potential partners, customers or investors. Additionally, with the more than 1,000 members of the media in attendance, many of the companies hold important announcements until the event to take advantage of the global setting.
A number of Israeli companies took advantage of this strategy, including Petah Tikva-based Skuku, an international communications company specializing in network-based telephony solutions. Skuku announced at the conference the launch of a Mobile Windows application for its revolutionary roaming solutions. The Windows application will enable users with smart phones to use the Skuku roaming service on their own cellphones, independent of a laptop.
Users with this service will be free to make and receive calls on their own phones without incurring high roaming costs and will be allowed to retain cellphone features such as contact lists and text messaging.
"The launch of this application gives Skuku users 'one-number one-rate' contactability anywhere in the world - whether in the GSM or IP environment," said Colin Blou, vice president of sales and marketing for Skuku. "Additionally, the Mobile Windows application will allow Skuku to reach out to larger markets across the globe and provide our customers with a simple solution to eliminate costly roaming charges."
Skuku has also developed a unique best-in-class USB handset and USB stick called Skuku roaming, which allows customers to place mobile calls and send text messages over Internet connections using their GSM mobile SIM card, significantly lowering costs for mobile subscribers.
Customers who take advantage of Skuku's solutions are only required to pay their local airtime charges when making and receiving calls to and from their home country. Skuku's unique solutions transform the user's PC into their personal cellphone, keeping all of the phone's features and allowing low-cost VoIP.
Skuku products enable the placing and receiving of international calls from anywhere in the world at low IP tariffs, while inter-network calls are free between Skuku users.
Last month, Skuku announced that its products, including the phone and the stick, are now available throughout Israel. The Skuku products are distributed in Israel by BUG Multimedia System Ltd. and can be purchased in all Bug stores countrywide, as well as at the Ben-Gurion Airport Duty Free store.
"Bug Multimedia System has always been a supporter of local start-up companies and Israeli inventions, such as the Skuku phone," said Ofer Moren, CEO of BUG Multimedia System. "With its clever design and breakthrough technology, we are confident that it will be a popular item in our stores, as it appeals to many different target audiences."
Local customers will pay NIS 50 per month for the Skuku service, and their call will be charged according to the tariff rate of the mobile operator, with no additional roaming charges.
The Skuku Phone is priced at NIS 199 within Israel and will be sold for $40 at the Ben-Gurion Airport Bug store.
The company has also set up its network in the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, the US, UK, India, France, Holland, Turkey, Mexico and Lithuania. It plans to announce additional points of presence in South Africa and the Philippines. Skuku also offered its roaming services to mobile users from Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Russia during the Mobile World Congress.
The establishment of Skuku's additional points of presence will enable all GSM mobile users from these countries to make use of the Skuku roaming service when traveling outside their home networks. The company anticipates that by the end of 2009, its services will be available in close to 30 countries.
Matthew Krieger is a senior account executive at Ruder Finn Israel and a former business and economics reporter for The Jerusalem Post.