July 01, 2005

The Joke That Was Jajah

A few days back I read about Jajah in a note written by Phil Wolff in Skype Journal. Based on that, when I visited Jajah’s website, some of the claims were outlandish. And when I read Om’s entry, I felt that we might have discussed this. (wink, wink). So I decided to elaborate on my thoughts, questioning some of the claims. As I searched for the exact references, lo and behold they were not to be found. Did I hallucinate reading these or they disappeared from the original site? I am not sure. What follows are some of the points I thought I read, but I can not locate them now.

  1. Jajah is a P2P phone, but unlike Skype will not use the resources of your computer. Of course this is not true. In their description of the network architecture, they do identify that they have supernodes and also admit that they have “bootstrap” supernodes.
  2. Connect to Skype users, even if the Skype client is turned off. I am sure I read this. Honest. But I searched their entire website. It is not there now. In any event, Stuart Henshall points out that they have a few Skype clients running that acts like a proxy. Still I am not sure how this thing works exactly. Surely this will not work for Skype to Jajah direction. But if my Skype partner will accept calls only from his buddies, won’t my Jajah invite get blocked by Skype, because as far as Skype is concerned it is coming from this Skype proxy. Finally let us assume that the session gets established. Since we do not know the encryption done by Skype, Jajah proxy has to deliver raw voice sample to Skype. This means there has to be double encoding, leading to increased delay. This should surely affect the quality.
  3. Talk to “millions of SIP and IAX phones for free”. Of course this applies only to those that have established a peering agreement. For example, I am sure Vonage is out.

But one amusing item is still available. It is the background story that is told via a press clipping. But there is no reference or even the date of publication. What is more, the accompanying picture seems to suggest that Bill Gates is listening to this mystic person very attentively. Is that supposed to mean something? If so, I am not sure what that is. Any currently I think the “founder” is not a real person, but a “Bourbaki”.

Given the changes, I am scaling back my total rejection. So here is a summary of Jajah. Like Skype and other IMs, the client is an integrated client that provides text, voice and video chat. The system is a P2P system (as if that bestows magical powers). They offer “Out” service. Some of the rates are much lower than available from other places. I hope it is not “an introductory offer”.

Of course I have neither installed nor used the client. People with more experience in usability aspects will eventually comment on it. But I have the same set of questions that I raised in reference to Skype: if I need to communicate with my buddies, why do I need to register with an entity and beholden to them? I am still rooting for Autonomous Communication.

Posted by aswath at July 1, 2005 04:58 PM
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I have had the chance to try Jajah-to-Skype calls, and they arrive at the Skype end with a pre-defined Skype name, that of the gateway computer. This means that the called party has no way of recognizing the caller. Also often the call can't get through, as all gateways are busy, and I am sure there is very little scalablity in this architecture.

You should try out a newly announced SIP softphone client Gizmo: www.gizmoproject.com

Posted by: David Orban at July 2, 2005 07:46 AM

Thanks for sharing the observation. This is in line with what Stuart says in his entry. Besides the scalability aspect, isn't there a basic problem - if you require Skype to accept calls only from authorized users, you must authorize the gateway name. This means then any Jajah user will be able to reach you violating your privacy preference. (By the way, do all gateways use the same Skype name?)

Posted by: Aswath at July 2, 2005 10:18 AM

Astute observation. You are correct. If only those on your buddylist can call you then Jajah won't get through. The "claims" that were written were really a shame for many parts of the product are better thought out than Gizmo that released a day later and has an "icon" behind it.

Posted by: Stuart Henshall at July 2, 2005 02:49 PM

think as an end-user:
we need video call, skype can't do
we need cheaper rate, skype not yet ready
we need sms, skype can't offer
and sound quality is more reliable than skype (5-10times)

these 4 are enough to try Jajah, no matter what you said.. technically is not so important to end-user perception..

try it, you 'll love it

Posted by: tommy at July 17, 2005 03:14 AM

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