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Magic Jack, End Points & Cheap Minutes

There has been a little rumble of late in the blogosphere about Magic Jack. Ike Elliot had an good overview of the service here. And a little more here.

I first heard of Magic Jack literally a couple of years ago when visiting Durham, NC. It was the topic of conversation on an ABC radio talk show. The host was raving about cheap long distance calls using his PC, and paying $40/year for unlimited calling.

Ho hum. Cheap minutes. I don’t generally get worked up about such things.

Ike’s post describes the economics of their “Magic Jack” which is just a USB audio adapter with a soft phone client. It’s interesting to consider the business model.

It’s also funny how seemingly unrelated things cross paths. In examining the traffic to this site I find that I’ve been getting significant link traffic from the unofficial Magic Jack forum. The forum requires registration to login.

Not being a MJ user I figured why bother registering. I’ve written a lot about network QoS for home offices which is a broadly applicable subject. That’s probably the scope of their interest. Not so as it happens.

It turns out that some MJ users have decided to take HP T5700 series thin clients and mod them for use as Magic Jack hosts. They use the ones that come with XPe, typically the T5700, 5710 and 5730. There’s quite a long a detailed thread on the matter with tons of good information about modd’ing thin clients in general.

At some point I expect that someone will work out how to make a common ATA log into MJ. Thus relieved of the need for a PC the service may be more attractive.

But then, cheap minutes via SIP would appear to be pretty commonplace these days. And “unlimited” is never truly unlimited, so maybe those minutes are not so cheap for someone using enough to be justifiably concerned about it.

As ever it’s new applications that generate value, not cheap minutes. Show me how to do more, do it better, do it from the edge of nowhere.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Good post, Michael. It’s amazing what people will do with stuff once you put it out in the public domain. It’s not always what the maker expects!

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