Twitter's about to get a fascinating new tool in its social communications toolbox courtesy of Jajah: Phone calling. It's a VOIP solution that will work for anyone with a Twitter account. Does this signal a future as an extensive communications tool for the lifecasting app?
Jajah, of course, has been around for a while now as another competitor in the VOIP market (and VOIP to cell phone/landline mediator), but starting tomorrow it's going to be integrated into Twitter as a beta test. It'll work for anyone who Tweets, but they have to have a Jajah account as well. And while that sounds like a serious limitation, it's not—it only takes a second to sign up. The novel feature of Jajah is that it actually uses your physical phone to make the call.
And it's integration with Twitter seems pretty seamless: You simply Tweet with a message starting "@call" followed by the @username of the person you're trying to contact. Jajah's own system intercepts the message, and will then activate a person-to-person telephone call using its VOIP service. Amazingly, in this world where it sometimes feels like one pays for everything, the call is free (although limited to two minutes.) If Jajah gets this right it could establish itself as the de facto standard for Twitter VOIP calling (much like Twitpic has mopped up the Twitter photo-uploading game).
But there's something behind all this that could indicate how Twitter could evolve in the future—as a communications media hub. Think about it: While Facebook's busy expanding in all sorts of directions, aiming to be the one-stop solution for casual gaming, lifecasting, photo sharing and goodness knows what else, Twitter's simplicity is its key. Twitter's also a one-to-many communications network, versus Facebook's closed friendship system, and you could almost think of it as a global phone directory—every user who has public-access can be contacted with a short text message. Adding in VOIP capabilities brings a totally new focus on this mode of using Twitter...and actually makes it much more useful. In particular, the power of the Jajah solution is that you needn't ever know the person you're calling's phone number, and yours isn't broadcast either.
If you add in the soon-to-be integrated Tweet geotagging powers to this mix, then you've potentially got all sorts of powerful Google latitude-like, hybrid VOIP friend-connecting capabilities. Twitter is set to become very interesting indeed.