Reality Check: Jajah

I must say that the “reality check” on Goowy worked better than I anticipated. Here’s another product to look at called Jajah.

Jajah is a VOIP company. It enables you to make long distance calls for about $.02/minute. Some people’s initial reaction will be, “I can already do this with Skype.”

I don’t think so. Jajah enables you to make a VOIP call from any phone to any phone. The call is initiated through the Jajah web site, but once initiated, the caller’s and callee’s computer are not utilized.

You can, for example, initiate the call for your cell phone, turn off your computer, jump in your car, and drive off. (You can’t do that with a Skype phone in a Wifi network.)

Key points:

  • There is nothing to download and install.
  • No one needs to get an additional phone number–eg, you talk on your existing cell phone (or landline phone) to your parents in China on their existing cell phone (or landline phone).
  • Your computer is not used as a node in a P2P network.
  • You don’t call an access number and get called back.

By | 2015-03-18T07:49:55+00:00 May 4th, 2006|Categories: Books, Cool Stuff|Tags: |55 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Thomas Promny May 4, 2006 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Great thing if it works. Just tested it and it really does.
    But I guess in the next few years phone calls are gonna get really cheap anyway, so I wouldn’t want to sign up there to save a few bucks in a month.
    But others probably would.

  2. r.renanda May 4, 2006 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Just an info. In Bahasa Indonesia (a country in South East Asia 😉 ), Jajah = invade, invasion.

  3. Vladimir Orlt May 4, 2006 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Here is a similar product, with additional general web features: You need a web-enabled cell phone, which I assume is extra $, but you may have this already. I assume that the Skype time is free.
    I am NOT plugging this, just came across it when going to the TechCrunch site.

  4. Jeff Lewis May 4, 2006 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Pretty cool, but I think that you need to be able to initiate the call from a phone.
    What if I start using this service, then one day, I need to call my mother-in-law in another country from my cell phone – while parked of course 😉
    Can I initial the call by SMS-ing with from:8015551212 to:8095551212? Or by calling, entering the other party’s number and hanging up?

  5. Alex Rudloff May 4, 2006 at 10:46 am - Reply

    I can initiate the call on my cell phone, which costs me minutes off my plan, and then I can pay 2 cents a minute.
    Why wouldn’t I just call using my cell phone and keep my two cents?
    International calls maybe?

  6. Michiel May 4, 2006 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Sounds pretty good.
    Like other commenters I’m pretty much convinced that increase in bandwidth on a global level, advances in technology and ubiquity of computers will kill off paid-for voice communications in the next decade or so.

  7. The Recruiting Animal May 4, 2006 at 11:15 am - Reply, Cheap Long Distance

    VoIP using regular phones My good friend, Bongo Rozenshveig, just called to tell me about a cheap, online long distance service he read about in Newsweek. It’s called JAJAH. The good thing is you use it on your regular phone

  8. Canadian Headhunter May 4, 2006 at 11:16 am - Reply

    I used it once and it seemed to work fine.
    The second time the recipient claimed that it was biting off the beginning of my sentences so I asked her to call me.
    She was still complaining so I think the problem was likely at her end.

  9. Doug Hanna May 4, 2006 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Confusing at first, but once you understand it, very cool.

  10. John Nguyen May 4, 2006 at 11:39 am - Reply

    This technology is very cool and I could see it used with a t-mobile sidekick or any other web equipped phone. But the only problem might be the voip competitors such as broadvoice who offer a $20/month plan that includes unlimited long distance to over 20 countries. I guess the real question would be, how often would someone need to call out of the country on the go? A very cool application would be to integrate a program directly onto cell phones or make it available for download, so users don’t have to be at home or near a computer to make a long distance call.

  11. Kevin May 4, 2006 at 11:48 am - Reply

    I haven’t tried it yet, but the functionality described is really the same as “call back” services that have been in existence for years. The only new touch is the signalling method to “kick off” the initial call.
    Does the service also allow for scheduling of calls?

  12. Jeff Lewis May 4, 2006 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Alex, I was thinking more about the international rates.
    .06 (the international rate for the DR) + cell minute rate still beats a direct international cell call.

  13. Efo3rd May 4, 2006 at 11:56 am - Reply

    I wouldn’t invest in someone that says, “hey, I’m cheating the system”, short cuts usually get terminated.

  14. Kevin May 4, 2006 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    In Europe and most of the rest of the world mobile GSM networks do not charge the mobile user for inbound calls, but they DO charge a premium to callers connecting to their users from off-net. I assume that Jajah is such a caller from the perspective of the wireless carrier – so their costs in those countries is going to be something like 10-20 cents per minute for just one leg of the bridged call. This seems to imply that this service is not a good fit for a mobile user in those areas unless the international or LD rates are sky high.
    Maybe this service is just focused on wireline toll avoidance in those countries? In the US most mobile carriers charge the subscriber for inbound AND outbound minutes of use – but an offnet caller connecting to a subscriber is not charged a premium as on non-US mobile networks. So the economics look a bit better for mobile users, but it doesn’t seem like there is much, if any, savings for a domestic call.
    It seems like Jajah’s target market is users that want to call internationally and that are willing to take additional steps to make a call in exchange for a better price.
    It might be useful to take a look at Gorilla Mobile that is addressing the mobile user that wants cheaper international calling. Is it alright to post a URL? I am not affiliated in any way.
    Gorilla’s call setup method is to do the customer identification and validation using the caller’s ANI. (Which has its own limitations and risks.)
    Oh, by the way, I think there are still a list of countries where callback (of any sort) is still considered illegal. There used to be a list posted somewhere on the FCC’s international bureau web page. I do know that if this type of service is marketed successfully (meaning that it becomes noticeable to the incumbent telecom provider) in certain countries where callback is prohibited, they will block the specific telephone number(s) that make the call back inbound calls.

  15. Matthew Wilder May 4, 2006 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    Most of the people reading blogs are smart enough to figure out how most things work. Well, most people are smart enought to figure out how most things work, but maybe what I mean is that we are more confident and willing to try new things. Moore would call us Early Adopters. Do you see what I am getting at?
    If I put myself in the shoes of your mainstream consumer or telephony client, I would say this is a complicated, and confusing service that doesn’t save me all that much money. The complicated call setup is a significant barrier for the porential customer to overcome.
    My vote: As an engineer (in telecommunications no less) I think it’s a cool product. As an investor, I would rather put my money in Nortel.

  16. JAJAH Blog May 4, 2006 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    JAJAH Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki

    None other than Apple and marketing guru, Guy Kawasaki, has registered his delight with JAJAH in his most recent blog posting on “Signum sine tinnitu”, a blog which is already ranked by Technorati in the top 100 of all blogs after only six months since go

  17. matt m May 4, 2006 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Why can’t I set up the call with the browser in my phone? Can I?

  18. Smittie May 4, 2006 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    That’s pretty cool. I just made a quick call home but it worked well. Very nice. I’d be more likely to use this than standard VoIP, I think.

  19. ninefish May 4, 2006 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Cool service, but what a hassle to pay, no credit card payment available and only bank transfer to an Austrian bank! Up until that point I’d had an easy, seamless experience, but now I’m back at a full stop all within the space of 15 minutes [5 minutes of which were the free international call]

  20. Smittie May 4, 2006 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Whoa! Bank Transfer to Austria!! OK then. Next!
    Someone needs to introduce these guys to PayPal or something.
    Take it easy. I think the way it works is that bank transfer can be set up in advance. Credit cards, however, can’t do this. Jajah waits until you owe enough (at $.02/min that could take a while) before the credit card option is turned on. Otherwise, Jajah will pay more for the processing charge than the amount it’s trying to collect. 🙂
    I’m sure they’ll take your credit card. This isn’t a typical Web 2.0 deal. 🙂

  21. Brian May 4, 2006 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    The product is cool and I plan to use it to reach friends in New Zealand.
    The “Open Link In A New Window”…not so cool.

  22. Greg Daniluk May 4, 2006 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    Just imagine how easy Skype and other less know VoIP companies can copy this solution. With Skype infrastructure, they probably need just a single additional web page to offer the same service. If phone calls are becoming so cheap, maybe it is economically possible to exchange fees for ads. I don’t know. Kevin said this is cheating the system. It is hard to find there something more.
    BTW Skype has not so much common with P2P networks like Kazaa. Skype founders used their success with Kazaa just to make buzz with Skype. Their key decision was to design their own protocol to make connections though firewalls, with just few simple hacks used previously in Kazaa. Well, Skype was in fact the first VoIP on PC company which treated end users with highest priority. Others were implementing H.323 protocols, silence suppression, using G.729 codec at best case. And other old stuff designed for telecoms, not for broadband users.

  23. Guillaume May 4, 2006 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Not much new … It’s pretty much the same thing as a phone prefix, with the extra burden of needing a computer. They are in a business with already a lot of competitors.
    Heise in germany is proposing a service to find the cheapest provider for your calls.
    What Jajah is proposing is just a nice front end …
    What’s a phone prefix?
    What other companies enable you to call any phone from any phone without making any party remain connnected to a computer?

  24. John May 4, 2006 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    Big trust issues here. I’m not sure every potential customer is going to take a rather thin websites word on charging them.

  25. Sven Kärr May 4, 2006 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    so simple, so smart, so easy. A great thing for my international calls. No more headset. Tried the 5 free minutes and the quality was very good, in copmarison to skype.
    could be the next high-flyer!

  26. Cem Dalgic May 4, 2006 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    fyi: Sequoia backed Jajah for an undisclosed amount. Or did i miss something?!

  27. Caligula May 5, 2006 at 2:13 am - Reply

    I checked the service’s rates and they are, for someone in Germany, not that great.
    What is a Phone prefix?
    In Germany you get numerous web sites giving you the cheapest number you can pre-dial.
    So for example if you intend calling 0123 456 XXX and you find out (via a web site) that 000 is the cheapest pre-dial option; you grab your phone and dial 000 0123 456 XXX
    The inland rates are very cheap 1-2 cents (even less). Calls to overseas are also quite cheap. You can even call mobile number overseas very cheaply, something JaJah does not even offer at this stage (so it says on their site)
    So no advantages for me in Germany by using that service

  28. Jay Westmark May 5, 2006 at 2:57 am - Reply

    Just curious. . How did you hear about Jajah?
    The founder contacted me out of the blue one day. He was referred to me by someone who knew me in Israel.

  29. Marc May 5, 2006 at 3:25 am - Reply

    Cool idea. Not cheaper than Skype but presumably easier. I may try it sometime though Skype has worked really well for me for the last year calling from Europe to all over.
    What is really lacking here is a comprehensive FAQ. The Flash demo was nice but I looked all over the site and couldn’t answer a lot of basic questions. I’d have thought that would be a obvious prerequisite for any serious company.
    I think that, like Skype, once they work out/regularize the billing issues a bit they may have something.
    Much more potential than Goowy, IMHO.
    Your blog is great, BTW. Keep it up.

  30. Lars May 5, 2006 at 4:42 am - Reply

    Good idea but the interface for the entire transaction has to move to the phone for widespread adoption to take hold. Jajah would then be on par with easy-to-use services offered by long distance carriers like onetel.
    The area that really needs focus is not making international calls from your mobile phone, it is receiving calls to your mobile while abroad.

  31. Strategic Name Development Product Naming Blog May 5, 2006 at 7:11 am - Reply

    Links Du Jour

    Reality Check: Jajah – Guy Kawasaki is finding some pretty cool examples of new products with unique names. This one, in his opinion, trumps Skype, the brand name of a competitor. Check out his first Reality Check blog post on Goowy communications soft…

  32. Alec Saunders May 5, 2006 at 8:21 am - Reply

    Reality Check: Why not just buy a calling card if all you want is cheap phone calls between landlines? Cheap phone calls are sooooo yesterday.

  33. gfox May 5, 2006 at 9:00 am - Reply

    I tried their 5 minutes free thing and made a couple calls. Interesting. It is a pain that you need your computer to place the call.
    Interestingly after a couple calls I only had 3 minutes left. I then deleted the cookie the site created, reloaded and had 5 minutes free again.
    I didn’t do much playing after that though.

  34. [email protected] May 5, 2006 at 9:39 am - Reply

    I already use at home. I frequently invite my folks from Asia to visit me and they have no idea what the Internet is. jajah won’t work for them but it’s great for people who travel a lot and need to make international calls.

  35. Rajat Garg May 5, 2006 at 11:13 am - Reply

    I have been reading a lot about companies in VOIP space lately. All of them are building one cool feature or another.
    Here is what I think a real value add is:
    1. A simple widget (javascript etc), which ppl can put on their website, say Josho Mo.
    2. Josho Mo can enter his phone no., blocked no. etc.
    3. Ppl visit his website, click on widget, put their own no and voila – They can talk with Josho Mo from their normal phone.
    Other value adds –
    4. Ppl can create events right on their website/blogs. Anyone interested can just come to their website and click on widget at that time.
    Premium services –
    5. Call 1-800 number / visit website and setup conf call for future. Everyone gets a call from VOIP center when conf is scheduled. Numbers can be international/inter – planetary etc.
    You have to have a revenue model, right ?

  36. Mike Sax May 5, 2006 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Close, and almost sigar!
    I don’t see much use from people initiating a call by entering information in a website… just too much hassle. But… the technology could be used:
    1. To initiate calls from websites or applications with one click… so they need a) an Outlook/Daylite/Now add-in, and b) a Safari/Firefox/IE add-in that recognizes phone numbers in web pages and turn them into “Click to call” links.
    2. I often want to make international cell phone calls, but the cell phone companies are just robbing me with their international rates. So I want to get an account that lets me send an SMS from my phone to Jajah’s with the phone number I want to call, and have my phone ring a few seconds later with the connection established.

  37. Kevin May 5, 2006 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Rajat makes an interesting point on the click to call, but unless there is registration by the party asking to be called this feature is almost certainly open to being abused.
    e.g. 1) put in phone number of party to be harassed, then click; 2) put in costly international number (for competitor’s website) then click.
    I am sure there are more clever, but not nice things that could be done if calls can be placed to almost any number at the cost of a click. Think about bots…

  38. Andrew Bennett May 5, 2006 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Phone pre-fix: I think a phone pre-fix is like the 1010 #s we have in the States. So you constantly have to monitor which 1010 # has the best value for the type of calls you’re making. (a few years ago one 1010 # company put the rates up by 5x on me and I didn’t notice til I got the bill, so I have trust issues now although I have used 1016868 for a while without any problems and good service).
    Who would use this?: The USA is a country of immigrants — and an awful lot of them have close relatives in different countries. The relatives also tend to be computer-non-savy, so telephone is the only solution. I have friends who call their parents in Asia 6-7x per week! So – these people are a great audience for Jajah.
    Costs: I don’t think I’ve seen any service (inc Skype) that has cheaper USA-International rates than jajah. I called England at lunchtime today for 80 mins for $1.48 — how else would I have done that for that cost?
    Billing: I suspect that free calls by credit card is simply a starter offer. If they used the Skype method of prepay, they’d have a lot more trouble getting traction.
    Jajah’s name: In most of northern Europe a ‘j’ is a ‘y’. But it seems that jajah seem to think that they have to be called ‘jar-jar’ in the USA (this is what their voiceover woman says when a call is initiated). Why can’t they embrace their name and say ‘yaa yaa’?
    Regardless of the name pronunciations, so far I think this service is awesome.

  39. Vincent Group Chronicles May 5, 2006 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    VoIP – the business models (and usefulness) keep evolving

    VoIP has been gaining steam for a while now and with Internet access nearing ubiquity models on how to use the technology keep evolving. One of the more interesting models sure to garner alot of attention is a small firm

  40. Rodolfo May 6, 2006 at 3:35 am - Reply

    This is a product designed for emerging markets, IMHO.
    One of the drawbacks of Skype is that telco operators in emerging economies are trying to block it. It seems like Jajah is targeted mainly at users in India & China, not to the average web2.0 fanboy.

  41. Kfir Pravda May 7, 2006 at 1:16 am - Reply

    I don’t like this one. The fact you have to go to a web page in order to make a call on your phone is not a good solution from usability point of view. The best thing Skype ever did is to release a simple product with straight forward GUI. My father uses Skype – he’ll have hard time using JahJah.

  42. Netanel Jacobsson May 8, 2006 at 5:38 am - Reply

    This is like scratching yourself on the left side of your head with your right hand…
    In Swedish, JaJa means – ok so what?…
    Not impressed.

  43. Tony Chung May 8, 2006 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    While waiting for my homebound train to depart, I dialed into a local hotspot on my laptop, surfed to the Jahjah page, and typed in my friend’s long-distance cellphone number and my own.
    The five minutes went by before I could figure out how to disconnect from the hotspot. But still, it’s a pretty cool idea that will probably take off more when WIFI services are widespread, and the PDA/PocketPC phone is the norm. Already I can hear hackers writing their Outlook/Maximizer/Act One/Notes add-ins (as mentioned earlier).
    Of course, with more pocket pc phones, what’s to stop us from just sticking with Skype-to-landline? Skype 2.0 already has the pocket PC port.

  44. Edwyn Chan's Weblog : web 2.0 | blog media | china May 9, 2006 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Jajah VoIP without a computer (almost..)

    CisteraNucleusBlog May 14, 2006 at 6:30 am - Reply

    Variation on a theme

    Yet another online VOIP service called Jajah, but with a twist. Jajah initiates the call for both ends. You then pay the going rate for a call which is less than 1c per minute. You can currently…

  45. RamsThoughts May 29, 2006 at 12:16 am - Reply

    Another VOIP access

    Through Guy Kawasakis blog I noticed a post with a link to a VOIP company (jajah[url:] ) that offers phone calls between any phones across the world. Only thing isa call needs to be originated through the website -…

  46. elsua: The Knowledge Management Blog June 2, 2006 at 3:28 am - Reply

    Reality Check: Jajah

    In the past I have mentioned how I always wanted to talk about one of my favourite VoIP offerings currently available out there and which has made things a lot easier specially when I am on the road or away…

  47. Retrophisch June 15, 2006 at 8:16 pm - Reply


    Guy mentions the web telephony service Jajah, which looks interesting, especially when compared to Skype. Unlike the latter, Jajah doesnt require you to download any software, and you use your own phone. This is just about as dead-simple telepho…

  48. VoIP News June 19, 2006 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Wow great article, we will be following this issue very close at

  49. susan September 7, 2006 at 3:41 am - Reply

    I was intrigued about JahJah but the following article about their privacy policies gave me pause. Should I be concerned?

  50. VoIP October 2, 2006 at 11:50 am - Reply
    Comparison of Skype Voipcheap Voipbuster Voipstunt Yahoo Voice Webcalldirect and more.

  51. Ashish Jain October 5, 2006 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Does anyone know what VoIP devices Jajah is using to make this happen?

  52. ex JAJAH user January 2, 2007 at 3:29 am - Reply

    New Year’s surprise from JAJAH: price hike by around 50%. Not announced in advance.
    Time to move elsewhere.

  53. tom April 26, 2007 at 6:02 am - Reply

    yes u do not need any web enabled phone like jajah to make calls thru skype(so u save some extra dollars here )..what u need is just a skype software…and that’s all what u want to make cheap international calls…I just have a skype software installed and can make calls to us ,uk a euro 2..check out(

  54. Ansi May 30, 2007 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    agree, but have you taken a look at Vonage recently, they’ve got a whole lot of more features than jajah and skype combined plus more….
    Is there still anything special that Jajah offer’s that I’m missing?

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