Lypp is a free conference calling service that will launch in September. It will not be the most feature-packed group calling service, but it may be the most simple. The app will utilize existing instant messaging networks (AIM, Google Talk, iChat, ICQ, MSN, Jabber and Yahoo! will be supported) to initialize group calls. To do so, users will send a message to the Lypp IM bot with a command like: call [phone number, phone number, phone number]. Lypp will then instantly call all the numbers on the list and set up a group telephone chat.
The service will be free at launch (and according to co-founder Daniel Gibbons it will even be air-time free for cell phone users since the incoming calls will originate from a toll-free 800 number). Users will be limited to 500 minutes of free calls per month, though they can earn more by inviting friends to the service.
Lypp intends to eventually release an API for the service that would hook into popular address books, as well as additional call initiation methods (namely SMS and email). But at launch they want to keep things as simple as possible. "Our philosophy is that it's difficult to create ad hoc group calls, particularly from mobile devices, and nobody wants to install software to do this," Gibbons told me in an email.
Before writing for Read/WriteWeb I wrote for a large political news website where the writing staff worked from home and were scattered across the country. We conversed with each other via IM and email, but once or twice a month the entire team would get together for a conference call using FreeConferenceCalls.com. It worked pretty well -- schedule via the web, dial in at the scheduled time, enter a 7-digit code, and go -- but undoubtedly someone would forget to show up, or would be away from their computer and have copied down the pin number wrong. A service like Lypp that calls you and is as easy as it sounds like it will be might have been welcome.