3jam has been sitting at the top of our list of mobile social networking services since last year. Up until now, it had been a pretty smart little service for creating custom SMS groups that could send each other mass texts, like a Yahoo Group. But with the launch of a new voice service today, 3jam has stepped directly into competition with Google Voice
3jam shares many of the features of Google Voice, with some advantages and some disadvantages.
We got this list of key positive differences between 3jam and Google Voice from Andy Jagoe, 3jam CEO and Co-Founder:
1) 3jam lets you take calls not just on phones, but also on Skype or IM clients (you can make these calls through various services from the 3jam web portal)
2) Phone numbers for groups: including sharable voicemail, group text messaging, and micro-PBX features
3) Receiving and responding to text messages via email
4) Number portability
5) Free developer API for each phone number
6) International support
7) White label availability (this has been sold as a white-label service to a company called Peek, which makes dedicated mobile email devices)
What we think?
Some of the points up there are very interesting. I really like the idea of the extended group number. That number you used to use for sending texts to your group can now also be used to store group voice mails, and allows internal call conferencing and other services thanks to the micro-PBX feature. The “number portability” issue has been a big thing for Google Voice – all the services it offers are great, but most people won’t want to buy a new phone just to get them. Being able to port your 3jam number onto your current handset offers a way around that… even if it can take up to 45 days.
Of course Andy doesn’t go into the negative aspects of the 3jam service. It’s not free, for starters. Google Voice is a free service, but 3jam requires 5 dollars a month from subscribers. And according to TechCrunch, 3jam won’t be able to offer the advanced call screening functions that Google Voice offers. But it’s not so surprising to hear that a small start-up won’t be able to offer all of the icing that Google does. The question is, does this service stand a chance to grab market share from Google Voice?
I’m not sure. To be honest, the main appeal of this service is that it allows very cool “group” functions. It allows you to turn a single telephone number into a really cool private picnic for you and whatever circle you like. But first you’ll need to find a group that a) doesn’t mind forking over 5 dollars a month for the service and b) is happy to either get a new phone or wait 45 days for their number to get transferred.
They’ve also got a really slick presentation about the service here that you really should check out, if only to see a cool presentation.