Vonage, the home voice-over-IP company, has introduced an iPhone app to compete with Skype. The new app, Time to Call, lets users make VoIP calls over 3G (in the US or Canada) or Wi-Fi (worldwide).
The app doesn't require an existing Vonage account. All billing is done via in-app purchasing, so users pay for calls using their existing iTunes account. The app is free to download and includes a free 15-minute call to just about anywhere in the world.
Vonage charges for calls in 15-minute increments, though "unused minutes may be used for additional calls to the same country or calling region."
We compared pricing between Vonage and Skype for a few different countries. Note that a number of countries charge different rates for calling mobile phones versus landline phones. Skype charges different rates depending on what type of phone is called. Vonage does not.
For calling France, for example, Skype charges $0.023/minute to call landlines, and $0.209 to call mobiles. Vonage charges $1.99 for 15 minutes or $0.133/minute for mobile or landline.
A call to China is $0.023/minute on Skype, and is $0.99 for 15 minutes or $0.066/minute on Vonage.
Calls to Russia on Skype are $0.052/minute for landlines and $0.089 for mobiles, though calls to landlines in Moscow or St. Petersburg are $0.023/minute. On Vonage, it's $1.99 for 15 minutes or $0.133/minute for mobile or landlines.
So, in some cases Vonage is cheaper, but not always. Its main advantage over Skype is in-app purchasing of calling blocks, and users aren't required to setup an account. Plus, new users get a free 15-minute call just for downloading the app.