Check Out Nimbuzz — A VoIP and Chat Aggregator That Doesn’t Suck

nimbuzz.jpgI’ve been spending a while playing with Nimbuzz, a service that aggregates IM and VoIP for your mobile (currently S60 and Java). I’m really impressed, particularly as there have been so many other aggregators with similar goals that have failed miserably. It pretty much does what you’d expect and hope: you enter in your details for your various IM accounts, and it pulls them all into the Nimbuzz app on your mobile, where you can text or voice chat from them.

It does this stuff better than native apps in many cases — for instance, I think it does Skype better than the official Skype mobile app. It’s worked well for me over a Wi-Fi connection (voice quality of a chat from a Skype user on PC to my mobile was perfect), and I imagine it would do well on 3G. For those of us on 2.5G nets, you can switch from pure VoIP to a local dial-in bridge (much the way the 3 Skypephone works, etc.).

One additional feature Nimbuzz offers that I think is quite cool are a selection of widgets, which you can use to integrate Nimbuzz into your social-networking profiles. For instance, the image here is from my Facebook profile. By putting the Nimbuzz app in my profile, people can click on the various buttons to contact me in different ways. The widgets currently work with more than 20 social-networking sites, and you can also use them in your email signature. So somebody could click on the “call me” button, and if I’m logged in on PC or mobile, they can start a VoIP call with me, and so on. It’s nice to see this sort of integration with existing social networks, rather than trying to force users to adopt something completely new. It’s also great that Nimbuzz can extend these networks to mobile, often in more complete ways than the networks’ native mobile services offer.

Nimbuzz said this week that they’d raised a second round of funding of $15 million, which they’ll certainly need to negotiate this crowded market, but I think they have a good shot as I’ve been pretty impressed with the service thus far. The business model — of course — remains the biggest issue, but they’ve said they’re looking into white-label services as well as some mobile advertising plays. One other sticking point: the S60 client is a 1.1 megabyte download, which is pretty hefty.

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