10 Free (or Cheap) Tools for Start-ups

Inc. magazine recently published this list of 10 free or cheap tools for Start-ups. I use Skype, Zoho and Google Docs. I would add TaDaList from 37signals and Evernote. Easy to use free software.Did they miss any good ones?

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MXit launches iPhone app

MXit is a South African social networking company with 12 million subscribers around the world. According to MXit it is “a next generation Mobile Instant Messenger that connects you to a world of expression, using both instant messaging and social networking.”

MXit iPhone app

MXit iPhone app

MXit recently launched an iPhone app. I’ve been a beta user for a few weeks. With MXit you can send 1,000 character multi-media messages (MMS) to your MXit, Yahoo!, MSN, Gtalk, AIM or ICQ buddies. It seems to work well, although I still cannot get my AIM and Gtalk accounts to work. Yahoo IM works great! In summary: It works well, however this first version is still too buggy. I’m sure the MXit guys will update it quickly.MXit is also available on most mobile phones running Java, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and they have a PC beta version. You can win ~$10k (ZAR100,000) for developing the best PC MXit client. So get cracking…MXit is a great way to send free or low cost messages to friends around the world. Different from Fring and Skype it doesn’t provide VOIP calling capability.I would like to know your experience with MXit especially if you live in North or South America.

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Cheapest international call rates from your iPhone

These days you can make really cheap international calls directly from your iPhone. I’ve used VIP, Jajah, ATT Wireless, Skype and Google Voice. All these services will use your mobile minutes, with the expection of Skype’s iPhone app in WiFi mode. In this post I’ll give my experience with each service from a cost and ease-of-use perspective. I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments.Here goes…

  • VIP has many low cost rate plans available. I’ve used VIP for many years and it continues to be my fall back provider. It’s not very user friendly to use, i.e., no integration with the iPhone’s Contacts app. You have to dail a tollfree number and then you can dail your international number.
  • Jajah has an iPhone dailer web app that works well. You can add contacts to you Jajah address book via the web site. Unfortunately Jajah’s iPhone app doesn’t integrate with the iPhone’s Contacts app. Jajah on the iPhone only works when you are in 3G or/and WiFi mode.
  • ATT Wireless: Adding ATT’s $5.99 p/m World Connect service to your plan allows you can make international calls directly with your iPhone’s Contacts app at much cheaper rates (e.g., 28c p/min to a UK mobile phone vs ATT’s standard $1.69 per min.). This is by far the most friendly solution although not the cheapest. ATT World Connect and Standard Rates lookup.
  • Skype recently launched it’s own iPhone app. With the Skype app you can make FREE (only in WiFi mode) calls from your iPhone to any Skype user around the world. The rates below apply when make calls to landlines and mobile phones. Skype’s app works well and a huge plus is that it integrates directly with the iPhone’s Contacts app, so I don’t have to duplicate my contact info in Skype. Skype’s VOIP calling competes with
  • Google Voice: In a previous post I wrote about Google’s new Voice service. Google Voice has the lowest rates for international calling! You can access the service in one of two ways: (1) Using Google’s mobile web site — also only works in WiFi and/or 3G mode, or (2) by calling your own Google Voice # and using voice prompts a-la VIP mentioned above. One great thing about Google Voice is that all my contacts are sync-ed with Google automatically using my Mac’s AddressBook. Calling from the mobile web site is fairly easy. Definitely not as easy as Skype or using World Connect.

This table compares call rates from the US to land lines in different countries (click on a title to sort each column):

ProviderUKGermanyFranceSouth AfricaAustralia
Google Voice0.
ATT Wireless (World Connect)
ATT Wireless (Standard)1.491.491.492.693.49
VIP (SANZAR Economy Rate Plan)
Skype (incl VAT)0.0240.0240.0240.0780.024
The following table compares call rates from the US to mobile phone numbers in other countries:
ProviderUKGermanyFranceSouth AfricaAustralia
Google Voice0.
ATT Wireless (World Connect)
ATT Wireless (Standard)1.691.661.622.863.64
VIP (SANZAR Economy Rate Plan)0.2390.
Skype (incl VAT)0.2910.2830.2330.2680.233

To summarize:

  • Ease of use winner: ATT World Connect. For ease dailing you cannot beat dailing directly from your iPhone’s Contacts app. Skype is a close second, followed by Google Voice, Jajah and then VIP.
  • Low cost winner: Google Voice is the cheapest. Skype is the cheapest (FREE) if you have access to WiFi.
  • Overall winner: For me Google Voice is the overall winner — fairly easy to use and the cheapest rates. If cost was less of an issue then I would’ve picked ATT’s World Connect as the winner.
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Free and Low cost cell phone calls – Jajah, Soonr, Jaxtr, Fring, Lypp, MaxRoam

Skype is not the only game in town anymore for free or cheap local and international calls. I use Skype a lot for making international calls when I’m connected to the Internet with my MacBook Pro. When I only have my Blackberry, I use VIP’s local and toll free access numbers to make international calls. Recently I started using Jajah’s local direct dial. On Christmas day Jajah is offering FREE calls.

Here are a few options for making cheap or free calls from your cell phone:
Jajah: Jajah has been around for about a year and I’ve used it on and off. Their new Jajah Direct service works great. They link an international number to a local US number. You dial a local US number and the phone rings in the foreign country you’re calling. This way you can make cheap international calls from your mobile phone. At the moment they have local numbers for most large US cities, e.g., Chicago, New York and San Francisco. I hope they add Atlanta soon. Jajah is very easy to set up and use. You can also use Jajah Mobile Web to make calls from your mobile phone. BBCalls integrates Jajah functionality directly into your Blackberry’s phone book app.

Soonr: I posted about Soonr before. Soonr brings your Mac or PC desktop to your cellphone. With Soonr Talk you can call your Skype friends from your cellphone. If they are online the call is free, else you pay the SkypeOut rate. I haven’t used this recently, however when I used it, it worked great. It does take some time to set up. If you have a lot of Skype friends and you have a browser enabled cellphone with a data plan then your calls are free, cool! This “SoonR Talk workaround enables VoIP on your iPhone” — post from Engadget.

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SoonR – Use Skype on your cellphone

OK, another entry for the day. Do you ever have the need to have access to your desktop, but you only have your web-enabled phone with you. Well, now you can. Have a look at: They support both Windows and Mac — great!The best part is you can use Skype on your cellphone!!! Have a look at the following Techcrunch review.Let me know what you think of this?

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