How A Little Hack Can Be Lifechanging

One of the things I love about mobile browsers is they recognize phone numbers and activate them. You search for a store on your mobile phone, you find the phone number, you click on it, and you place the call.

I've always wanted to work like that at home, but I really don't like calling on my laptop. I love the ability to roam around my home or office with my mobile phone or cordless phone and as much as I love my laptop, it makes a lousy phone.

On Thursday I posted about voice in the cloud and SIP phones. And Ken Berger left this comment letting us know about a Firefox extension for OnSip.

I installed the Firefox extension on my laptop yesterday morning and now every phone number I come across in Firefox is activated just like in my mobile browser. When I click on the number, my wireless SIP phone rings, I pick up the call, and I am connected. I can walk around my home and do the call just like I was on my cell phone.

This is a little hack. It wasn't a huge amount of effort for OnSip to build this extension and the extension has only been downloaded 902 times as of this morning at the Firefox add on service. So in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big game changing web service.

But it is a lifechanger for me. It simplifies making calls and makes the wired experience mimic the mobile one.

All of this is possible when your phone becomes a device on your network and the Internet just like your computer. As I said yesterday, this convergence is a big deal.

As Ken said in another comment, "Fones are finally fun."

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Comments (Archived):

  1. paulhart

    Sometimes the smallest ideas make the biggest impact.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, that’s exactly my point.

    2. Justin Herrick


  2. Maulik

    Great idea! I wonder if there is something similar to this that uses Google Voice? That is, phone numbers in your browser are still “activated” but instead of ringing a SIP phone, it connects you through your GV account.

      1. fredwilson

        sweet. i love fone hacks

      2. kenberger

        the thatsmith add-on *used to* be a champ, but now does not work (it may work when you first install, but then collapses soon after). Google blocked it about a year ago, the same time that they also blocked the erstwhile awesome GV iPhone app (which now headlines much of the apple-google litigation).the chrome GV extension, OTOH, *rocks* (no surprise there).

  3. David Ashwood

    Good idea but would love to see a better adoption of micro-formats. A proper context allows the information to be used by users more widely.

    1. Rocky Agrawal

      Agreed, especially if you’re trying to detect/link to international numbers. Trying to do pattern matching is a real kludge.

  4. Eric Leebow

    This sounds like a neat service, would be interesting to see how something like this could be integrated in Zemanta or other semantic search tools. This is the epitome of the semantic Web linked to real life telecommunications.

    1. Jared McKiernan

      What is considered the “semantic” Web?I’ve been seeing this usage everywhere, but don’t quite get what is defined as such. Would like to know the semantics behind the semantic web/search etc.

      1. Eric Leebow

        Good question, to mathematically describe it: “Semantic Web” = “Meanings Web” Whereas you can find a meaning for anything on the Web. If you can add meaning to something, then it’s semantic. Services which you should use to better understand it, would be Zemanta or GetGlue. For instance, with Zemanta works when you’re writing a blog post by placing meaning with the words you have written, and then providing images that match the meaning of those words in the post, so that you can embellish your blog post. Likewise, this concept can be embedded into your email, if you have have Gmail (it might work in other email providers as well). All you have to do is click the “Add Zemanta” button and you can add images to the email. With GetGlue, it has an understanding the sites you visit. So, if you are on a Wiki related site, it will know that you have visited this site, and it will provide book images relevant to book titles, music images relevant to music, and so forth. The power of the “Meanings Web” is that you really can get information at the point of interest or browsing, without having to do further research. The above examples are just two examples, yet there are certainly other concepts on the Web. I like these two because they are simple, easy to use, and make your browsing experience a great one.

        1. paramendra

          There is no blogging without Disqus and Zemanta.

          1. Eric Leebow

            True, sometimes I take Zemanta and don’t even think how great the service is, yet it’s amazing to think how I can be typing a paragraph about basketball and a picture or an article is shown. Likewise, with Disqus and don’t even think I’m using it, yet it triggers a comment back. It’s services like this, that you can use and they really make a difference, and you don’t even have to think much about it, or how much of an impact. Just install them, and you’ll be glad you did!

          2. markslater

            zemanta is awsome its one of my favorite investments in the USV portfolio

          3. Eric Leebow

            Yes, USV makes a lot of great investments, Zemanta is just one of its many.

        2. David Ashwood

          Semantic isn’t just about meaning – it’s also about context & relationship of a data-point (word, post or person) to everything else. Unless this is your definition of meaning – humm – maybe we need some glue 😉

          1. Eric Leebow

            I agree, yet it’s the easiest way to explain it to people. Meaning covers all of that. Is there meaning in a relationship? Is there meaning in a word? Is there meaning in a post? Can meaning be extracted from a conversation, a search result, etc. is the question you need to ask. Semantic can apply to GetGlue or Zemanta. I’m also seeing it applied to the Web in general. I’m a visionary in this space, and know what semantic means. There’s a lot that can be done with the semantic web that has not been done.

  5. OurielOhayon

    Interesting. i like it. We created something that does this with the iPhone called http://Pastefire.comDoes it with phone numbers, sms, maps, pictures from Flickr, youtube videos…Demo here…I am a big believer of creating bridges between your computer and other online devices (the phone being one of them)

    1. fredwilson

      pastefire looks really cool ouriel

      1. markslater

        maybe slightly off topic but the Iphone SDK has a push feature that mimicks the realtime nature of SMS. I(t works through your data connection. I recently saw an app (konnexxus) that makes very effective use of this.I raise this because its another small example of application development that chips away at carrier incumbence by essentially ‘freeing’ the power of push based micro communications – think atomization of aggregator business and related onerous restirctions on shortcode use…

  6. Rocky Agrawal

    I think you may be in the minority on this, Fred. I’ve been following click-to-call for 10+ years and people generally haven’t taken to it. I’ve seen it offered as customer service (e.g. talk to a CSR at an airline). Google offered it about 3 years ago in Google Maps — you looked up a business, clicked on a link and they would call you and connect you with the business. (see…It is definitely a convenience but it is battling against a well-ingrained behavior.

    1. Dylan Salisbury

      Rakesh (Rake?),I’m also in this industry. One difference is that in Fred’s example the user controls the feature, and when the time comes to make the call, he knows exactly what to expect. A user seeing a C2C feature on a web site may not trust that the experience will be well delivered.It’s sort of like Twitter for customer service.. companies didn’t use it just because the technology was available. Customers moved to Twitter first, often discussing their experiences without regard for whether the company was there.

      1. Rocky Agrawal

        It’s certainly true that users who seek out the integration will be heavy users. I’ve got the Chrome extension for Google Voice installed and will use that because I know the experience flow. But we’re both at the extremes of technology adoption.I’d be curious to see one of the triple-play providers try this with a mass consumer audience. e.g. you get FIOS triple play. The installer configs your browser to automatically hyperlink phone numbers to your FIOS phone line.

        1. aswath

          I postulate that the revenue model is for ad display provider, I anticipate likes of GV and its “motivated” users will provide/install the extensions. Primary providers may not be involved in this at all.

          1. Rocky Agrawal

            Agreed. That’s what I was referring to initially. The revenue that could be generated here would be on a pay-per-call model. Google tried integrating click-2-call into Google maps 3+ years ago and ended up pulling it off. (They were doing it for all phone numbers on Google Maps, not just advertisers… but you could see what the ad model could be.)I think part of the issue might have been reluctance to actively provide your phone number. When you clicked, it asked you for your phone number, which is obviously necessary to connect you. (See… for a screenshot.) My hunch is that that creeped people out. (Even though you passively provide your phone number through caller ID when you call a business.)There is the possibility that the feature was so enormously successful that Google didn’t want to pay for all those calls and that’s the reason it’s no longer around… but that seems unlikely, given the low awareness that Google offered it.The most successful provider attempting to do this that I know is Ingenio (now part of AT&T Interactive), which would publish alternate trackable phone numbers and people would manually dial them.

          2. aswath

            There were two probs with the previous approach: one is consumers’ hesitation with sharing number and the second is C2C were greedily priced. GV solves the first one b/c GV number is kind of gatekeeper with caller specific controls. Google is planning to charge C2C the same as pay per click. Together the game changes drastically.

          3. Fernando Gutierrez

            A few years ago I was working in a yellow pages company and we tested this call-me-buttons in our website. We were really interested in them because they would give us information on the ROI to our advertisers. However, we found that users didn’t click and advertisers didn’t like it.After some study we concluded that most users simply didn’t trust the system and thought that the call was not going to be initiated in that moment (maybe later, when they could not talk) or that they were going to be charged something (they weren’t).Regarding the advertisers they didn’t like it because they felt that they were losing control. We included a number of calls in the price of the ad, but they felt that it could turn expensive (in Europe all the call cost is paid by the caller, so calling to mobile phones can be costly). The agreed that if the calls were initiated by clients it would be a good business to pay for the call, but they were worried of competitors or curious people calling all the time for free just to disturb (a new variation of click fraud). We offered to let them turn the feature off whenever they wanted, but still they didn’t like, so we finally decided not to fully roll out this.

      2. onsip

        Thanks Dylan. Just for further clarity on the subject: The feature works this way:You are an OnSIP user with a registered SIP phone at your desk and you browse a web page with a phone number on it. With the plugin active, phone numbers become links which when clicked, place an outbound call on behalf of your phone. This is NOT “click here, tell us your phone number, and we’ll call you back.”

  7. Antonio Tedesco

    Is Onsip your new provider? Why did you decide on them?

    1. fredwilson

      for a few reasons1) they were one of a handful of providers that were most frequently mentioned in the original post and comment thread about moving to a cloud based voice service2) they were active in that comment thread and other places on the web (twitter, blogs)3) they have a big point of presence at 60 Hudson in downtown manhattan, very near my home4) i made some calls to people i know and they checked out best5) they can work with a wide variety of SIP phones and most of the other providers i talked to want you to work with a small set of SIP phonesthere are a bunch of strong providers in this sector. I like, ringcentral, and fonality a lot too.

    2. paramendra

      Looks like you just missed out on a blog post. 🙂

  8. Mihai Badoiu

    Yes, the integration between all devices is in its infancy. Apple does an ok job. They took the more traditional route of syncing. But is that going to scale for non-Apple products? Probably not.The click to call extension is nice, but you can’t expect users to search and install extensions for every little integration feature between devices.Syncing is one of the sale points for moving to the cloud. I just love how my mail can be accessed from several devices, and it’s in sync. 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      yup, exactly right

  9. Justin Herrick

    Its great that we are at the time where someone will be able to supply such a service for little to no charge. Most Lifechanging hacks are about an idea and a dream and not millions of dollars and loads of engineers.Sometimes is good to recognize the little programs we find everyday.

  10. Mark Essel

    Is this where killer services are headed in the future? A tiny not so scalable specialized service that makes a huge difference to just a handful of users with a very narrow usecase. Because if it is, I’m pretty excited about micro customization. How do folks not as popular as yourself use social search to reveal tools like the above extension? And can we train the web to understand our major pain points and actively seek out solutions?I hope so, and believe that the utilities that make up a suite of me-centric projected interests will be provided by many different social web players and lesser known startups. We’re still working on the killer intelligent search app. Maybe the answer isn’t trying to write more apps to understand social, but people that get a small affiliate share by problem solving pain points.High five to you and the guys that lent a hand to solve your need. At the very least a small tip or link love is a nice way to say thanks. Pro social web move :Dps Tim O’Reilly liked this on Buzz so that’s like another million people giving this a thumbs up (Tim’s got quite a fan base).

  11. Adam Hoffman

    The Google Voice extension for Chrome works pretty much the same way. Except when I click on a highlighted number on a web page, it gives me a choice of which phone of mine to ring – cell, home, office, etc. I agree that it is extremely useful and changes the way you interact with communication.

  12. NI

    Are you able to sync your new phone system’s contacts with something like google contacts or plaxo? That would be a pretty cool feature, especially if you could tag or categorize contacts. Even managing the phone’s contacts in a browser with an import/export feature would do the trick.

    1. onsip

      Onsip has a my.onsip browser app which contains all of the contacts within your organization for presence, click to dial, transfer, IM, etc.. Import/Export to manage additional contacts from outside OnSIP is on the list for development. Here’s what my.onsip looks like:

  13. Samuel Ian Rosen

    Fred,the google voice extension in chrome even one ups by also being able to SMS.Downside is that it’s from your GV number. Until I can port my “real” number to Google, I use GV less that I would, but for now it’s great to quickly make calls to places/people who I don’t care if they have my real number (e.g. dry cleaners, bars/restaurants)

    1. aswath

      According to GV, soon we will be able to display other phone numbers.

      1. Rocky Agrawal

        Is there a link for more info on this?

        1. aswath

          Settings -> Calls -> Caller ID (out)

          1. ShanaC

            Thank you (that’s awesome)

    2. paramendra

      Hello Sam.

  14. Mark Essel

    I left a lengthy comment on Buzz (Disqus + Mobile loading issue, and smart phone copy paste fail).I would take this fortuitous event as a sign of distributed human problem solving that can and will take place with greater frequency as social search develops. One would expect a niche solution with a hardly known software patch would be far from practical and beyond scale. But this is the hidden pearl and promise of the adaptive web, ultra narrow specialized vertical problem solving. Connecting user requests and answers has been a challenge of many companies : Yahoo, Google, Aardvak, Mahalo, Hunch and Quora amongst others. The meeting of two unknown surfaces, specific need and specialized solutions invites a huge variety of finder services that survive by earning a fractional share of the solution cost or in the case of free solutions, social marketing credit.

  15. aswath

    For the use case you describe here does not require VoIP or that phone be device on your network (but then again phone has always been a device on a network). For example Google Voice and Ribbit have browser extensions that convert any number sting to a clickable link and when you click on it, they will call one of your phone number(s) and complete the call. You provision your numbers and they can be PSTN or VoIP numbers. With this form of implementation, you can make the call from any phone. Even though GV and Ribbit proclaim that they are VoIP, for this use case it could be a PSTN platform as well.I want you to reconsider whether it is a game changing thing or not. GV simplifies click to call application for its users and consequently has a beneficial effect on Adwords. This they are rolling out. Now consider MS Bing, AT&T Buzz, Yelp and countless others. They all will be forced to offer click to call functionality in their ads. This suggests that they all need this kind of capability (which is not full fledged GV, by the way) and suggests additional activity in this segment.

    1. fredwilson

      so you are suggesting that this may in fact be gamechanging? if so, i’d love to see that happen. if every wired browser could behave like every mobile browser and activate phone numbers, that would be a big leap forward

      1. Dylan Salisbury

        Fred, I think this feature is a lot more important to you than to many consumers — otherwise it would already be common. I’d like to hear more about your use cases where going from web to phone was really helpful. Are they situations that consumers find themselves in on a daily basis?I see people use the web at times when they are not prepared to talk on the phone — in meetings at work, on mass transit, while their kids play at the mall, late at night.. just not situations where it’s natural to switch over to a phone call.

      2. Ellie Kesselman

        I just read through this comment stream about social networks, telephony-to-other platform connectivity e.g. wired browsers. As a group, do not forget that you collectively are a case in point of @Mark Essel’s “handful of users with a very narrow usecase in search of a tiny not so scalable specialized service”. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a relevant market driver. Consumers with your purchasing profile no doubt contribute a disproportionately large and vital share of revenue to technology providers. In addition, your specialized needs have long-term benefits to the larger population, as you provide impetus for technological innovation. But don’t lose perspective, and forget that this is clearly an instance of niche technical customization. I saw @Dylan Salisbury’s comment and that’s what motivated me take the time to write this. Because he reminds you, @FredWilson in particular, that your as yet unmet product functionality needs are constrained due to majority user preferences than any technology limitation. Why do so many people still like to text? I hate it, it’s like writing a sonnet and takes far longer for me to reduce my thoughts into a series of 160 character Q & A’s than a phone call would. However, there will ALWAYS be the demand for the veil of privacy provided by an interface of some sort. Do you use your webcam as often as you could, say, four or five hours a day? Probably not! The need for audio privacy is similar, and just as significant. In a programming development workplace, many of us interact almost exclusively with MS Office Connection,(or is it MS Office Communication, works remotely and on-site), even with coworkers a few feet away, because it is less disruptive to concentration and reduces stressful interactions for some. No snide comments about poor social skills, please…..The only “communication interface” innovation I really enjoy is the ability to text from Yahoo Messenger via MSN Live email to Blackberry users. I can comfortably type away on my full size keyboard, while the recipient gets my messages as a combination of texts and patched emails, usually while driving on the freeway…..

  16. DylanFyallSalisbury

    This is another step in the gradual teardown of the PSTN and its assumptions about call routing (simple), audio quality (low), and reliability (very high).

    1. aswath

      This doesn’t portend the teardown of PSTN since this and many other VoIP features can and have been done in PSTN as well. More importantly we have to recognize VoIP with a service provider model is no different than PSTN. When we run our own VoIP “servers” and able to federate with others, then we have fundamentally changed the model.

      1. Dylan Salisbury

        Ordinary consumers do not want to run their own servers, so there will always be a service provider model to some extent (or you can think of it as having a provider “run your server in the cloud”). I agree with you that a lot of VoIP features are made available over PSTN lines, but I see that as the PSTN network breaking apart with the ‘last mile’ delivered from the service provider to the consumer over PSTN.

        1. aswath

          I don’t think I fully grasp the last point. But as far as ordinary consumers running their own servers, I grant that is the generally accepted sentiment. But my counter point is that Ford anticipated that individuals will like to drive their own cars. I have been driving one for now more than 30 years. But I know no more than steer, break and press gas pedal. Likewise I imagine the consumer industry developing a “server” based on a Plug computer. For a few years an initial prototype has been available at . Granted it is not what I am advocating but it is a great start. So I am hopeful.

          1. Dylan Salisbury

            The number of people now willing to run WiFi routers/DHCP servers also backs up your point — a phone server doesn’t have to be any more complicated than a LinkSys router.My other point was just that lots of calling scenarios ‘portend the end of PSTN’ even though a PSTN leg is part of the application. One example is a videoconference hosted on Microsoft’s Office Communication Server where one party is connected from home with a poor connection so she calls into the PSTN number for reliable audio. In that example, one audio leg is a PSTN call but the other audio legs and all the video connections are IP. Another example would be using Skype to call my grandmother’s land line while I am at a coffee shop.

  17. Tereza

    I stayed on the periphery of this discussion other than to lob in an occasional joke, because it didn’t really turn me on…..<“VOICE blah blah CLOUD blah blah SIP blah blah PSTN blah”>But wait! This caught my attention.I suppose with SIP I can rig it to access my Contacts database too, so I barely have to dial anymore? yes? no?This is veering toward a totally different discussion and may just prompt me to ask Darling Husband to look into it.IF I can find a decent looking handset at a reasonable price…

    1. Mark Essel

      <“VOICE blah blah CLOUD blah blah SIP blah blah PSTN blah”>haha, Fred’s in this weird phone cult

      1. markslater

        i agree – he sais his moblie does all of this so elegantly and he then wants another device to do something that is already available? What coud a SIP phone possibly provide that your mobile is not doing? you cant just say number porting.

        1. Mark Essel

          In Fred’s phone cult defense, he did mention there’s weak signal in his neighborhood (he just moved, but same area). I (along with many others) am awaiting the data/voip solution for a low month fixed cost.It’s funny but recently I’ve switched from phone conversations to skype a couple of times just to improve the conversation quality.

        2. RichardF

          Perhaps it’s more about the carriers than the device. Not sure what the US mobile tariff landscape is like Mark but as you probably know in the UK you wouldn’t use a mobile for making or receiving international calls on a regular basis because the cost is punitive for both parties.Also sip sits in the cloud whereas mobile at the moment remains in the carrier networks which means that the possibilities for convergence with other services on the net are more limited at the moment.

        3. fredwilson

          my mobile is not on my home network or my office network. and as a result it can’t do things my sip phone can.

          1. aswath

            I am not sure I follow that. Your SIP phone is doing this not because it is on your home/office network, but because OnSip is taking signaling from your browser and then acting on your SIP phone. So somebody like Google Voice, Ribbit or many other providers can do the same thing for your mobile phone.

      2. fredwilson

        see my response to tereza directly above to see why i am in this “weird phone cult”

        1. markslater

          ok. so let me see if i understand. Your well documented ‘dislike’ for mobile carriers (see many conversations from some years ago now that described your firms view on mobile investing (especially from brad if i recall)) and your ‘love’ for web based services has seen you conclude that voice, and specifically IP based voice presents a far greater opportunity harvest if its in the cloud and not shackled by carriers? Fair enough (even if i am close 😉 – my question would be – how long before a roaming WIFI IP based phone sees carrier based communications extinct?because if you solve that problem then i buy it. If not – then i retreat to my neat little very powerful and beautiful carrier based mini computer that provides me access to hundreds of thousands of applications and that functions essentially as a SIP phone through wifi when i am home.

          1. fredwilson

            i don’t think we are going to put the mobile carriers out of business anytime soon

          2. kenberger

            in 2000, I was a founding member of, a west coast counterpart of nycwireless. We were a bunch of wireless enthusiasts having fun with evolving standards like the fledgling Wi-Fi. We all got endless media attention as the headlines proclaimed “a bunch of kids are taking down the Telcos!” And we all knew that was absurd.But the point is and was, when small pockets open up due to an open standard evolving, or an enabling company opening up an API or some way for others to innovate, big things can evolve from it. Things that don’t necessarily kill the encumbents but do add utility to many, if not all.

    2. paramendra

      Rig it.

    3. ShanaC

      Actually skip this- I really want it so I click on a name I get a popup that says “Call, Email, or SMS” without even knowing the number.And I totally agree about the <“VOICE blah blah CLOUD blah blah SIP blah blah PSTN blah”>And I grew up with it…I’m not hacking IT yet…

    4. fredwilson

      i think the answer to your question is yes, but i want to make a different point tereza.15 months ago, our portfolio company Twilio came in and pitched us for the first time. we liked the team and the technology very much but we weren’t excited by voice. the conversation we had at that time is well described at the end of your first paragraph above.but over time, we started to realize that voice was undergoing an important shift as it converges with the other data we have in our lives and on the we revisited twilio and made an investment that i think will be among the best we’ve made so far in our second fund

      1. Tereza

        I want every contact from all my graphs at a single push on any device and any medium (voice, text, email, chat, groups).

  18. paramendra


  19. William Mougayar

    That’s a cool & convenient feature. Skype has also a somewhat similar plugin that dials on Skype of course, and tells you if your friends name appears on the web page, if they are online on skype.This gives another dimension to Presence.

  20. Keenan

    This is happening in the Enterprise space at a much faster clip.Called “click to dial” Avaya and Cisco have this integrated into a number of their calling sofware platforms, for small, medium, large and call center businesses.It’s a great feature for sure. Maybe in this case, work will drive personal adoption.Although, I’m not sure folks will continue to want two communication devices in the home.I think SIP for personal use is a small, niche, market. One mobile device in and out of the home will be enough for most people.I do see devices like the IPad and similar, soon to be launched products that are smaller, and more mobile enabling IP calls.I am definitely more open to taking a call on an Ipad while reading or wathing TV than I am on a Laptop.Convergence is a very cool thing, just not sure I see it on a “phone” SIP or otherwise.

    1. ShanaC

      Do you think we’ll move away from SIP in an enterprise context if people day to day at home aren’t using similar devices? Won’t the guys on top feel it is useless eventually?

      1. Keenan

        Not for those reasons. Most people have an work phone that is VERY separate from their home phone.What you will see is more companies furnishing their remote employees with SIP phones for their home office.//keenan

        1. ShanaC

          People are already starting to see their lives merge- it’s making overtimequite complicated.

  21. Fernando Gutierrez

    I do a lot of international calls and travel frequently between Spain and the US, so for me calls over the internet are a must. Many times I use a company called Jajah ( which connects two numbers you provide so you can move away from the computer (you tell it to call to your house/office/mobile and to the person you want to talk with, both telephones ring and you can forget about the computer). You can even configure a few frequent international numbers and they assign them a local number so you can just dial them from your home/office/mobile at a local call cost.They had a Firefox extension to do just what you describe, but they haven’t updated it to the newest Firefox versions (maybe I was the only one using it!) and it doesn’t work any more. They also have mobile apps and pluggins for Mac and Outlook.

    1. markslater

      jajah was great. Skype is an essential part of what i do. One example – i was sitting in dubai airport on my way to Vietnam on a layover from london. I logged on to the network in the emirates lounge – launched my skype application on my iphone and joined a voice conference call with my colleagues in various parts of the world. I can assure you from prior trips that using whatever local network, however seemless the roaming capability of the phone is – is highway bleepin robbery.So this is my phone acting in an “IP” fashion very effectively. I guess i am trying to understand the difference between a SIP phone and my cell phone using WIFI to connect to the same data network, and by default being able to access that networks capabilities.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        Jajah is still around (you say they were great), although since they were bought by Telefonica O2 I think they have slowed down a little their innovation. I use their service daily:-When I’m in Spain I make local calls from my Blackberry and they are deviated by Jajah to the numbers I call frequently in the US. Sometimes this is cheaper than Skype, and I can do it when I’m away from a computer.-When I’m in the US I go to their website in my Blackberry (I have a world tariff so there’s not an extra cost) and tell Jajah to connect my American prepaid phone with unlimited minutes to a number in Spain. This way I have very cheap international calls on the move with a cheap prepaid phone without internet capabilities.

  22. falicon

    As a developer, this is the sort of moment you live for…getting funding, building a ‘popular’ service is all well and good…but to build something, even if it’s for a super niche community that a user will refer to as “life changing”…to me, that’s what it’s really all about.So thanks for sharing how excited and happy you are about this. It’s good to see people get these kinds of wins! 😉

    1. onsip

      Good comment! Yes we are very grateful for the positive feedback. Like Fred said, our plugin isn’t game changing in respect to our phone service, but we are passionate about improving the end user’s experience and software development (especially open source, which OnSIP is built with.) We also strive to keep our services open and have developer API’s (XMPP and REST/JSON):…. Our hope is that as VoIP moves further mainstream, developers will want to build new stuff without needing to deal with the telephony layer. Thanks again!

      1. kenberger

        EXACTLY. The real beauty that Fred and I and other “weird tech phone-ies” see is that this platform is built around a *standards-based* and *open source* spirit.The OnSip firefox extension available today is very basic. But that’s kind of the point– you don’t want the users to expect that this company will provide them with everything, much more powerful to inspire the public to customize endless permutations of functionality themselves (also a reason that Twitter largely stayed out of the twitter app biz). For example: you can today google any number of downloadable firefox generic SIP click-to-call add-ons and use it with both your OnSip and vonage numbers, because both services are SIP and allow this. Or if you really had your heart set on, say, a Chrome extension, you could hire someone on oDesk to code one in a matter of hours.I like this company’s name, because you could think of it as “things you can build ONSIP”.(PS disclosure: though my voip knowledge is rusty now, I came super close to becoming Vonage’s CTO in 2003)

      2. kenberger

        one further thought to Nicole (OnSip): if i were you guys, i’d go out of my way to expose the idea that “here’s a couple quick and dirty tools for y’all to use, but here’s the tools/inspirations to innovate your own stuff on our platform”. I would also get an “ODG” (onsip developers’ group) going, or at the very least a forum going. My pal Dave McClure once had that job at Paypal. give someone a fish / teach someone to fish type of stuff. (you probably already have some or most of this)

        1. onsip

          Thanks, Ken. These are great ideas.

  23. ShanaC

    I think it is also how your behavior was already ingrained that this is an awesome thing to need: Had that not been the case- I think like a ton of people, you thinking this as an awesome hack would not be the case.So this is about the convergence of boxes- not a cool hack until boxes converge, and your mental model of how they work converge too. And that is why you don’t see a ton of people needing SIP phones that allow you to cross call from your computer. It’s still too weird…..

    1. fredwilson

      that’s right, this is about the convergence of devices and data

      1. ShanaC

        I wish you would say I was wrong- then I would learn something different…

  24. RichardF

    Skype has had this ability since 2005 with their browser and outlook plug ins.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      Yes, but with Skype you can’t take the call out of the computer. Even if you have a Skype capable phone, it won’t ring.

      1. David Ashwood

        *confused* I use skype on tablets & mobiles without problems. It rings when there’s an incoming call ok.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          My bad, I didn’t explain myself properly… Yes, when there is an incoming call in Skype it will ring without a problem. What I was talking about is that you can’t replicate with Skype what Fred was describing in his post: you find a number in a website, click on it and your phone and the one on the other side of that number will ring so you can move away from the computer. You are initiating the call from the computer, but you are talking on a phone.With the Skype extension for Firefox or the Outlook plug-in what happens when you click on a number is that Skype calls that number, but from your computer, so you can’t move away unless you take the computer with you.

  25. jose n

    it’s 2010, this is insane that it’s not more widely deployed. the future seems increasingly far away. i posted about this back in 2005:…it’s insanity that so many devices are so disconnected without major hacks. i had a greasemonkey script that did this in FireFox but it was leaky and didn’t interact well with a bunch of other numbers on the page. i wound up disabling it.glad to see someone else has picked up on this, and glad to see that desktop phones (cisco, avaya) can do this.

  26. Sue Marks

    Fred, Skype has had all of these capabilities (and more) for a while. At home we have had a Linksys Skype phone for several years. While a bit outdated now in terms of connection technology, it offers much the same connectivity that the M3 offers and more (it is 2 line capable so it is connected to our POTS line making it a cordless handset that can use our landline or VOIP) Additionally, Skype has Wifi phone capability which goes much beyond what the M3 does. With this capability, you can carry a handset that brings you VOIP where ever you have wifi without needing to have a base station. Also, Skype is available on many cell phones for additional connection freedom. Why carry an extra device if you do not have to?SIP may be better if you need PBX type features but for a single line, Skype is cheaper with a much larger installed base and well established capabilities. For $14 a month for unlimited World, you can make unlimited landline calls to USA and Canada and 40 countries around the world.In your post you said “I then walked down the street to our new apartment. I plugged the base station into our internet network in our new apartment, picked up the M3, and made a call.”If you had a lower cost Skype wifi phone, you would not have had to plug anything in. It would have worked as soon as you arrived in wifi range. Also, you could go to his favorite Internet cafe and it would work there too. Why be tied to a base station?Love reading your blog, Fred. Hope to meet IRL some day.Sue Marks

    1. fredwilson

      i want the PBX features, so that’s why i like SIP over Skype