Voice startup ‘hello’ wants you to say goodbye to Skype

A new Indiegogo campaign by the name of ‘hello’ launches today, with its founder claiming he wants to create “the Mozilla of telephony”.

Paul Grimshaw, the company’s founder, claims that the peer-to-peer voice startup is unique in that it offers complete customisation and branding, with users being able to connect between different providers and move freely between them.

For instance, Canonical could set up an Ubuntu-branded service, or Samsung could bundle hello and its own call packages when selling Internet-enabled televisions.

“All the technologies exist in various forms to make this happen,” Grimshaw writes on the company’s official website. “We need to collate and fold it together into a simple to use, consumer (and business) friendly package.”

No pricing structure has been announced yet, but it appears like it will be based upon a subscription model from the $100 Indiegogo perk level which states: “As FIRST DIBS, you get a limited edition hello tee shirt and 1 year platform subscription.”

In an interesting spin however, hello will be offering disposable phone numbers which you can “rent” by the day for incoming calls; and dial out internationally at much lower rates than at home.

The filters are indeed “advanced” through taking an IFTTT (If This Then That) approach. A couple of examples given are; redirect mum to voicemail on Sunday mornings, or trigger a receipt when your best client calls you.

Like Skype-to-Skype, hello-to-hello calls will be completely free. But that’s not where comparisons between the startup and the Luxembourg-based provider end.

Grimshaw asserts that hello will be “ethical” and “secure” – and calls out Skype as a main challenger.

“hello is like Skype, but it’s smart, open and secure,” Grimshaw says. “It’s encrypted, so no-one can listen in, and because it’s peer-to-peer, there’s no central server to spy on.

“It’s far more than a Skype replacement though,” he continues. “It blends open source applications with a commercial platform to create advanced telephony features and a competitive free market. Skype better watch out!”

With planning to launch cross-platform across iOS, Android, WP, Windows, Mac, Linux, ChromeOS and via a web app; the team has you covered (providing you help with some funding!)

Whilst the application is clearly still in very early planning; the concept is certainly appealing. Alongside the privacy concerns amidst their closest rival’s owner, Microsoft, hello may just have a chance at gaining some widespread appeal.

In a blog post addressing Microsoft’s involvement in the NSA’s PRISM programme; the company writes that it: “[assumes] that all calls, whether over the Internet or by fixed line or mobile phone, will offer similar levels of privacy and security."

You can help fund hello on Indiegogo here.

What do you think about the proposition of ‘hello’? Will you be helping to fund?

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