Ina Fried

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Exclusive: Vonage CEO on His Company’s New iPhone and Android Apps

While the mobile calling game is stocked with big names like Skype, and start-ups like Pinger and WhatsApp, Vonage thinks there is still room to become a serious player.

On Wednesday, the company is debuting a new Android and iOS app, Vonage Mobile, that allows for free calling and messaging within the company’s network. International calling off of the network can be done for a price that the company says is far less than that charged by cellular carriers, and below that charged by Skype.

Like some of the start-ups, but unlike Skype, Vonage Mobile works with a user’s existing address book and phone number. And Vonage says its HD audio quality and brand should help it compete against the smaller rivals.

“We think there is a very large marketplace, and while it is fragmented right now, three to four years later, there will be a couple of winners,” Vonage CEO Marc Lefar told AllThingsD.

Last year, Vonage debuted several apps, although mobile has yet to become a big part of the company’s business.

“In the larger scale of a $900 million business, it is still a small part of our revenue stream,” Lefar said.

The new program, which incorporates some features of the older apps, allows users to call and text those with the app (and invite others to join). To call people outside the Vonage network, users can buy credits directly from the Android Market and iTunes App Store.

As an added enticement, the company is also offering free calling to numbers in the U.S. and Canada. Eventually, Lefar said, the company expects to charge about a penny a minute for such calls.

Perhaps more interesting is a feature that is still in development that would let one receive calls on their main number while traveling internationally without incurring steep roaming charges.

“We think we’ve cracked the code on that,” Lefar said.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work