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12/13/2006
06:38 PM
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Jaxtr Brings Free Calls To Blogs And Social Networking Sites

The service lets users of social networking sites connect with a phone call initiated from a Web page. It will leave messages, too.

Touch-tone phones can now be dialed without touching the keypad and, in some cases, without paying for international calls. Social communications company jaxtr on Thursday plans to introduce a new service that lets users of social networking sites connect with a phone call initiated from a Web page.

The jaxtr widget lets users embed their phone number on blogs or social networking pages without revealing the actual number. Visitors to that page who want to contact the page owner by phone can click on the widget, a small graphic, and then enter their own phone number into a Web submission form. Jaxtr then dials the visitor's phone, and upon detecting an answer, connects the caller to the page owner's hidden phone number, moving the conversation from the Internet to the phone network.

The first time a visitor makes a jaxtr call, jaxtr displays a special phone number in the caller's country that can be used for future calls to reach the jaxtr user directly, without using the Net. Those with free domestic calling plans can thus make free international calls, provided they're in one of the 29 countries where the service is supported.

If the intended recipient of the call isn't there, the caller can leave a message. The caller also can choose to leave a voice message without ringing the call recipient's phone. In either case, there's no charge for leaving a message.

Another nice feature: Unwanted callers can be blocked. Try getting your phone company to do that.

Jaxtr users can send a link to their jaxtr widget via e-mail. Clicking on the link in the message will launch the recipient's Web browser and present the widget for browser-based call initiation.

As part of today's announcement, Konstantin Guericke, co-founder and VP of marketing at employment-oriented social networking service LinkedIn, is joining jaxtr as CEO. "I'm happy to say they found me through LinkedIn," he explains, "so LinkedIn worked, maybe a little bit too well."

Jaxtr is available for Blogger, Friendster, hi5 Networks, MySpace, Tagged, and Xanga. The company plans to offer premium services to generate revenue. That's not to say the company is without income: Jaxtr collects a fee known as a termination charge from phone network operators when someone calls into the system.

Says Guericke, "In the long term, we're really building a new kind of phone company here."

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