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Blackberry Mobility Featured Article

April 07, 2010

Free Conferencing Service Powwownow Launches in the US, Now Available on iPhone

By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

UK-based conferencing service provider Powwownow has launched its free conferencing service in the US. In addition the company has announced a new application for the iPhone (News - Alert)that allows road warriors to join a conference call with the single click of a button.

During an interview with TMCnet, company CEO Andrew Pearce explained that ever since Powwownow launched in the UK five years ago it has 'always offered the opportunity for our UK conference holders to have American participants join by dialing a US number. That meant that they could get into our conference calls very easily - without having to dial a UK number.'

'Basically these customers liked what they were getting so much - they liked our customer service and the fact that we listen to what they want - they asked if we could bring the service to the US,' he said. 'So that was why we came into the US market - however initially it was only for those people who asked us. Out the back of us coming into the US market, our customers have asked us to provide an iPhone application that is unique and different from the competition.'

The new iPhone application, he said, is different from others in the market in that it allows a user to join a conference call with a single click of a button.

'Our competition in the conference world offers an iPhone app that allows you to schedule conference calls and control the conference calls - but what our users said was, 'well, that's all well and good, but the problem we have is actually knowing that we have a conference call coming up, so we need a reminder, and we need a way to join the conference call simply,' Pearce explained. 'So we did some user reviews, both in the US and in England, to find out exactly what customers were looking for. And what we came up with was an app that allows the user to schedule a conference call, but then reminds them, and any other user scheduled for the call, one minute before the call that you have a conference coming up. And then by simply touching a button on your iPhone, which dials a standard telephone number, you can instantly enter the conference as it will automatically enter your PIN in the conference call bridge.'

Pearce said Powwownow will initially launch on the iPhone, but the company also plans to bring the application to BlackBerry (News - Alert)and Android devices in the US by the end of 2010.

One thing that differentiates Powwownow from other free conferencing services, Pearce said, is its excellent customer service. Most free services, he said, offer inferior support.

The service also sports several key value-added features - including free recording, desktop sharing and the ability to choose your own hold music.

With the Powwownow iPhone app, users can set up new conference calls and invite participants from their contact lists with automatic email invitations. In addition users can edit their scheduled conferences and view details of conferences they've been invited to join.

The Powwownow iPhone app also features a 'least cost routing' feature: Using GPS to determine the user's location, it automatically connects the user with the best local dial-in number - avoiding international calling issues and unexpected fees.

In a release, Frederik Nieuwenhuys, COO, Fredhopper, said his company switched to Powwownow two years ago after trying more expensive options like WebEx.

'We made the change because of the free payment model and ease of use, but what was most impressive is that the customer service is excellent - the free model hasn't meant any sacrifice of quality or peace of mind,' Nieuwenhuys said. 'Powwownow pays close attention to its customers' needs and they know joining a call on a mobile phone can be frustrating - the new 'one touch' iPhone app sounds like exactly what I need when I am travelling and out of the office.'

Pearce said currently Powwownow has more than 120,000 users -and already about 10,000 users in the US. 'But that's growing at nearly 1,000 a month - and we expect more than 1,000 a week once this iPhone application is launched,' he said.

Pearce added that 'a lot of the larger organizations in the US that have their own conference bridges, or which outsource to our competitors, have employees who prefer to use us because of our simplicity of use.'

The Powwownow iPhone App is available for download in the iPhone App Store, on iTunes or on the Powwownow site at http://www.linktoapp.com/powwownow

Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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