Vancouver's Verb Exchange announced today the launch of Tabrio Mobile Web Beta, a service for making calls or sending text messages at cheap rates. How cheap? Internet cheap! That is to say, $0.02 a minute or $0.02 cents per text; not bad, but comparable to similar services. Tabrio enters a very competitive market. The biggest player, Skype, offers a similar $0.02 per minute rate.
Using the service was quick and straightforward, no software to install. Sign up on the web, receive a text message and reply, login to their site, and make a call. Within five minutes you're talking to your parents' voicemail. Tabrio gives you $5 of credit when signing up, that's over four hours of calling.
How can Tabrio offer rates as cheap as eBay-subsidized Skype? The answer seems to be that it is ad supported, with a single text link appearing at the bottom of pages. The press release reads "For advertisers, proprietary analytics technologies precisely target users with relevant ads based on detailed geographic, demographic and psychographic profiles." Let's see how that pans out, after the jump.
Here's the Tabrio login page. It's kind of a pity when you're using an iPhone, with the Bianchi of mobile browsers, but all the "mobile web" pages out there are designed for the training-wheels mobile browsers of yesterday. Hmm, that link on the bottom looks slightly out of context, lets click on it.
It seems the proprietary analytics technology has correctly identified that I'm a heterosexual male. Note how the ad-landing page is optimized for MobileSafari, these guys are always ahead of the curve.
And from there, you're only a couple taps away from a clip of French maids performing an unimpressive magic trick. Gee wow, the mobile future is NOW! I can watch French maids, right on my phone, while talking to my Mom for only 2 cents a minute!
I'll clarify that this (fortunately/unfortunately) isn't porn, and I'm not even clear on what's being sold. Tabrio: you have a good service, with cheap rates, that works as advertised, but I can't recommend this to colleagues or relatives if it's going to present these kinds of ads. It's good of you to place only a single text ad, but "HOT HOT FREE VIDEOS" cheapens your product. Beta fix #1 needs to be diversifying your ad inventory, or tweaking that "proprietary analytics technology".