No Thrash Zone

If I only had one word to describe the state of electronic communications today, the word I would choose is “thrash.” Here’s Wikipedia’s definition:

“In computer science, thrash is…used to describe a degenerate situation on a computer where increasing resources are used to do a decreasing amount of work.”

Sound familiar?

Talkster President and COO James Wanless had this insight in an airport while he was juggling a laptop and a mobile phone and trying to communicate on both devices.

“There wasn’t a really good way to do this,” he says. What was needed, “was a means to consolidate all the forms of communication used every day, on a device being used every day, in a way that can be brought under the umbrella of the IT department.”

That unifying device is, unsurprisingly, the mobile phone. And Wanless’ solution is Talkster, an Toronto, Ontario-based spin-off of IVR and SMS messaging company Software I.T. Inc. Talkster

When Talkster’s new service is fully realized sometime next year, it will connect mobile phones to landlines, VoIP networks, corporate PBXs, and Voice over Instant Messaging networks. In short, the service will connect with anything that can carry voice even if it doesn’t have a phone number.

But Talkster does things differently than you might expect. Calls are conventional mobile phone calls, not VoIP calls. And you don’t need any special client software on the phone. The only requirement is a Web browser application on the phone. You don’t even need a special data service.

Instead of connecting the call through the mobile network and carrying it as a VoIP call over the data network as many services do, Talkster connects the call over an IP network but uses the mobile network to carry the call. This design is based on what’s already out there working.

“There are billions of cell phones and everyone knows how to use them and how they’re billed,” Wanless explains.

Talkster ‘s enterprise-friendly architecture sets it apart from other applications that bring IM and VoIP to the cell phone.

Skip the analyst-babble about Web 2.0 and Web Services. Here’s the skinny: Talkster separates the service from the network. This makes it easy for organizations to integrate Talkster services into existing voice systems, network controls, IT policies and billing systems.

“You can take the service layer and put it on your network,” Wanless explains. “It allows you to bring cell phone into that world.”

Presence-awareness is an essential component of the Talkster approach. Follow-me and simultaneous ring features don’t really meet that need, according to Wanless, because they don’t tell you if the person you’re trying to reach is available at any of those places.

In the future, Wanless sees presence becoming as essential on the phone as it is to IM. “Presence is going to grow because many devices are starting to transmit that.”

Talkster uses the contact-centric approach of IM applications. “You choose the contact name and connect where the person is,” Wanless explains. Talkster’s menu shows you who’s available and where they can be reached. You can also ask Talkster to connect and call you back, similar to services like Jajah.

Talkster is offering a free beta test of its service for calls to MSN, Google Talk and Gizmo Project instant messaging services. You can sign up on the company’s website. The company plans to debut its enterprise mobility service in 2007.

“A lot of new things are coming in 2007 that will really show how we’re positioning ourselves as a company,” Wanless adds.