T-Mobile is heading down the slopes with a new offering today called Bobsled, a free application that allows users to make calls to Facebook friends. “Bobsled brings your voice to Facebook,” according to the company’s Web site. The offering is being powered by Vivox.
Promises of voice chat have been around for a long time. And Facebook itself has its eye on making sure that its 600 million members communicate in the most seamless way possible.
Bobsled does require a download, but it is pretty simple in terms of installation and getting connected with friends. T-Mobile also is working on rolling out the functionality for mobile phones and tablet computers, creating potential competition for the likes of Skype and Google Voice.
“Bobsled by T-Mobile takes our communications services innovation to a whole new dimension, bringing simple and cost-effective connections to more than half a billion people overnight, allowing people on Facebook to more easily connect and giving voice to social networking,” said Brad Duea, senior vice president, T-Mobile USA, in a press release. “Our new Bobsled brand will evolve in the coming months to provide even more ways for people to connect, no matter what platform, device or mobile provider they are using.”
In fact, T-Mobile said it plans to include video chat and will offer applications on smartphones and tablets across various mobile platforms, regardless of the carrier.
I just gave the service a quick try, and it was pretty easy to use. You pick a friend from your chat list, and up pops the option to make a call. No one I called picked up, but you could certainly see the promise of introducing voice chat to the mix. When no one answers, you are also given the option to leave a message, which I did. No word yet on whether that made it through or not.
UPDATE: Actually, on another attempt, I was able to connect with Dan Anderson, a spokesman at T-Mobile. The call went through just fine, and while the quality was a bit scratchy we were able to go back-and-forth pretty seamlessly.