Every time we talk about our project with investors, potential clients, or partners, they ask us about competitors. People often want to know what’s the difference between our solution and other applications, and what are the advantages we offer. To answer such questions once and for all, we decided to compile an overview of existing roaming solutions.
We classified them in accordance with their operating principles and problems that they solve.
Messengers and VoIP applications
We decided to start with this category, because these companies are most often cited as our competitors. In this category, you’ll find applications and services that allow users to call phone numbers around the world for prices below phone company tariffs. In addition to cheap outgoing calls, the majority of apps in this category enable their users to exchange voice calls and text messages free of charge.
To summarize, this category includes apps with two principal functions: no-cost connection between users and billable outgoing calls to regular phone numbers.
Such applications are very popular, and it’s rather difficult to find a person without an account in at least one of them.
Unlike AVO, apps in this category cannot accept incoming calls from users who don’t use the application in question. This limits their usefulness as an alternative to roaming, since the users still have to pay for incoming calls or miss them altogether, if they decide to replace their regular SIM with a local one to have access to cheap mobile internet.
Here are some of the most popular apps in this category:
Local number providers
The next category of apps enables the users to make outgoing calls and to accept incoming calls from regular networks. But in order to do this, the user has to rent a phone number at a cost of $3-5 a month. If this option is chosen, the user gives up the ability to use his home mobile number. Even if call forwarding can be set up for incoming calls, for the outgoing ones the system will at best detect the leased number and at worst will show no caller ID. AVO’s advantage over this category of apps is that the users don’t have to buy an additional number to accept incoming calls, and that the user’s home mobile number will be identified when he makes an outgoing call from the AVO app.
We added Skype to this category, because in a number of countries it provides the service of leasing a real phone number and binding it to the account.
There are quite a few such companies on the market, and we list just a few of them. Such companies provide special SIM cars or 3G modems with international coverage for internet roaming. We consider such companies potential partners rather than competitors, since they provide inexpensive data roaming, and we provide inexpensive voice roaming. Using a combination of our services, the traveler will have a full range of mobile services for prices way below roaming tariffs. Right now we are working on the possibility of creating common products with some of these market players.
Last but not least are the direct competitors. These are the apps that from a user’s point of view provide the same functionality as AVO. The differences are invisible to the users and can be found in differing approaches to solving the engineering challenges.
Advantages: attractive and pleasant interface; ability to make and accept calls both via WI-FI and via a local SIM card without internet connection; in-house solution for data roaming.
Drawbacks: the need to set up call forwarding before every trip and to turn it off afterwards. There are no free-of-charge calls between users, and you have to pay a subscription fee for incoming calls.
Advantages: no-cost calls and text messages between users; unlimited number of incoming and outgoing calls (in the US) for a set subscription fee.
Drawbacks: available only in the US.
It should be clear that each of the aforementioned solutions has its market and its users. Some of the users are satisfied with inexpensive internet access, and don’t care for keeping the home number. Other users need the ability to make and accept calls from their home number, but don’t want to pay high roaming charges. As a rule, the latter group chooses AVO or one of our direct competitors for voice communications during trips abroad. This doesn’t mean that they won’t use Viber or Skype while there. These applications work great for keeping in touch with other users of the same apps, while AVO enables you to keep in touch with any client of any phone network. This means that anyone can contact you — even if they have an old Nokia or a landline.