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It feels like the Grinch who stole Christmas has arrived here in the land where mobile is king. Quite possibly the blocking only occurs with pre-paid SIM card customers (pre-pago) but it's not like the experience I had in Portugal where everything just worked.
But, given the noise level I'm expecting as people wander the halls at Mobile World Congress, Yoigo's 1.20 euro a day rate for data is something that can't be beat email and IM messages will be fine for me.
by Andy Abramson at February 14, 2011 07:02 AM
Apple doesn't need to be exhibiting at Mobile World Congress to be present. They are, by their show floor absence, there in droves. Apple in 2007 changed the entire mobile phone business with the iPhone and now, every manufacturer tries to out Apple Apple. Perhaps the most envious is Samsung, with their sleek Galaxy S II based on Android, or their upcoming Galaxy Tab II. But the trends they started, or helped to kickstart such as Smartphones as more than the enterprise devices, apps, an app store and a developer program, all ideas that pre-date the iPhone, all are now front and center part of any handset company's eco-system play.
But low and behold, the news out of Cupertino, where leaks are still a daily, and I would suggest, a part of their communciations strategy, comes to the surface of new smaller and lighter iPhones. And, a story like that disrupts all the other news.
Respected analyst, Michael Gartneberg, recently with Altimiter Group tweeted something dead on about Apple last night, summing it up best when he typed "The long shadow cast over Barcelona comes from the company not exhibiting there. That's now become common."
He's right. Even as the organizers try to find a way to have Apple "there" the reality of the situation is Apple is more omni-present by not being in attendance than being here in Barcelona.
So for this years' Mobile World Congress I expect the following to be the core stories:
1. Android, Tablets
3. Optical Networking, traffic management and all involved to move data
4. Video both content and communications, the problems and the potential solutions
5. Apps, apps and more apps, but with an enterprise twist leading the way
6. Services-yes, there is a cloudy future and it's got a silver and green lining
Here's to another week in "Wonderland!"
by Andy Abramson at February 14, 2011 06:55 AM
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Telappliant has a rather obvious poke at the misunderstanding of the way the mobile world of communications is going. It's no longer about voice. It's about IP based traffic and you don't need to be a genius to figure that out.
What that means with the looming worldwide arrival of LTE is that voice applications providers and developers finally have the playground they always wanted, and for the most part the traditional carriers will care less about the "minutes" and start caring all about the byte. All the bytes that will begin to take a bite out of your wallet.
Sure there will still be those folks who need only a minutes plan, but as the mobile operators look ahead, they're information and content delivery carriers, not simply a phone company without wires.
Those that are both wireline and wireless have the best opportunity, which is also why the cable folks like Cox Communications and Cablevision are jumping into the mix chasing voice calling with more vigor as the year goes on in mobile, and not only landline replacement.
Oh, and before I forget, video is likely going to become a big part of things, if not in some cases augment or even replace those old person-to-person voice calls. Skype, is just the start of things.
by Andy Abramson at February 11, 2011 02:35 PM
Looking at the tealeaves today partnership effort between Nokia and Microsoft is likely the first step towards more that will come from the two giants.
Both need a swift kick in the pants, and some housecleaning, and yet at the same time have a very common allie in Yahoo who is ripe to be part of a three corner deal.
Well for starters, Yahoo is and has been always tightly tied to both companies. Yahoo's IM platform and Microsoft's can talk. Nokia and Yahoo Mobile have always been almost Siamese twins. What's more the fit of Yahoo as the consumer online play, dovetails perfectly with Microsoft in areas of search, advertising sales, and more, while the Nokia mobile efforts mirror that as well.
In the area of content, each owns complimentary platforms, and in the past Microsoft and Yahoo have worked very closely together using Windows Media, as has Nokia to deliver content. The overlaps are also minimal there, and with mobile and desktop, laptop and tablet screens taking center stage, the manufacturing know-how of Nokia, the reference design buiilding of Microsoft and the online audience reaching abilities of Yahoo fits like a glove. There's one more piece to this. All three are Intel friendly now so the fit between the three, plus a home, pc and mobile underlying technology partner on the chip side equally plays to the strength of a larger partnership or in effect roll up by the three.
This may be crystal ball gazing, but it makes too much sense not to happen.
by Andy Abramson at February 11, 2011 02:02 PM
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For me, their Global Unlimited plan is all I need, but one thing tha helps is knowing locations that are Boingo enabled. The hotel where I'm staying outside of Lisbon, Portugal is a Boingo hotspot, running over PT (Portugal Telecom.) While the hotel provides guests free access, for visitors, the Boingo access is a welcome addition.
by Andy Abramson at February 11, 2011 08:37 AM
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Back in 1999 when I was wet behind the ears, and just getting into voice and VoIP, Jacob Tirosh, then the founder and CEO of Comgates, an Israel based softswitch developer gave me a lesson in protocol. TDM, h.323, Megaco and SIP he proffered all needed to be interoperable, and the softswitch had to manage all that went on, as the brain of the communications mix. Well softswitches and media gateways still play a major role in making sure IP calls can talk to the PSTN world, but those days are drawing to a close as the world gets more and more IP centric. Back then we had competing protocols. Now we have competing brands using simplicty and features as the difference, but where the community of users is being divided by, you guessed it, technology.
What we are seeing is the rise again of voice (and to a bigger extent video) Balkanization, something former Skype UK executive Michael Jackson's tweet, and a post by telecom disruptor Pat Phelan drew my thoughts to surrounding upstarts Viber and Tango. In his tweet Jackson sounds a wake-up call to Skype to buy up pieces of the competitive landscape to not lose the ground it gained by having others take it away in pieces. Hence, the use of the term Balkanization here.
I agree. With their move to embrace SIP, Skype is the ideal company to bring so much thats un-aligned together. Their work with Avaya will really be the first push in that sector, as I'm already aware of at least two live customer trials they are doing via the SIP based voice and video communications company which came about because of the parental role Silver Lake Partners, the investor in both Skype and Avaya plays. Those trials, and more are designed to help propel Skype more deeply into the lucrative enterprise market, where the money made becomes more predictable.
Unfortunately, as Jackson has realized, that dream quickly fragments as more and more players enter the game, carving up the market and making being reached more and more difficult as technical barriers are either erected or more layers are put into the communications mix. That will result in more jobs at Skype for engineering and business development.
For the end user or business telecommunications decisionmaker having lots of choices becomes a far cry from the single source we basically all had in the 1980s, but with competing standards things become a real mess. Let's take video conferencing and calling. Very little of it interops easily with one another, yet SIP could be that neutral ground, and smartly Skype decided years back to be SIP interoperable at its core.
Skype can either buy Viber, or duplicate the features and simplicity Viber has implemented. That's the same with Tango, which has simplified cross platform video calling on iPhone's and Androids but not solved the desktop issue any more than FaceTime has. Skype grasped the interoperable need on video device platforms and addressed in their most recent iPhone update, but it's not yet there on Android, nor Windows Mobile, and thus the concern. For communications technology to be non-Balkanized, companies need to role out simultaneously on all leading platforms otherwise you have pockets of usage, but not fullscale adoption.
by Andy Abramson at February 07, 2011 09:42 AM
With AOL buying the Huffington Post we're seeing the start of a media buying media spree.
This is all about ad serving, not about content. Don't be deceived. AOL's future is in serving up ads something they are deperately trying to do by aggregating pop-culture content on a global level and with Patch.com on a local level.
The combination of Global and Local while very compelling, may not be all it's cracked up to be, in the opinion of Om Malik, who has analyzed the deal.
by Andy Abramson at February 07, 2011 09:39 AM
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I landed on Friday in Lisbon, where for the next week I'll be working from a seaside garret in the town of Cascais, looking at the Atlantic with the next stop across the water being the tip of Maine from all accounts local. When I first landed, I immediately grabbed a pre-paid SIM from Vodafone (15 Euros) and added 15 more to have connectivity in my unlocked iPhone (legal unlocked purchased in the UK last trip) as the thought of being disconnected, or paying ridiculously high roaming fees just didn't sit well with me.
In the shop the customer rep said, "we don't have micro SIM's" but immediatly whipped out a SIM cutter that reminded me of a Swingline stapler, cut a SIM to fit and said, "you're all set." And he was right. It worked and not only for voice, but also for DATA, something that was a challenge in France last trip (and still not resolved.) While Vodafone offered me the connectivity I needed, and for most people it would have been enough, I'm not "most people" when it comes to "staying connected" as we say on the World Technology Roundup each day on KenRadio.com
The next morning though I found joy on an unparalled level when I visited the local chapter of the The Phone House shop (a sister company to Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy through investment). The Phone House was a short three minute walk from my lodging. There not only did I once again realize that the their sales staffs remain the best source of information, but the consistent level of care I've found in their shops in Spain, France, the UK and here in Cascais, make a visit to the AT&T or Verizon shop in the USA a visit only a masocist would enjoy.
There I got tricked out, pimped up and primed for a week of being and "staying...connected."
First up was getting the iPad Portugal friendly. A quick buy and a top up and I was good to go using Kanguru from Optimus where they give you Internet for about a Euro a day after paying for the SIM. Optimus has built out one of the fastest networks in Portugual, offers very competitive prices and seems to have very fast speeds, both up and down. The advice from the sales person was for the iPad and any tablet, when in Portugal, go with the Kanguru.
Then came the Android based Nexus One that has been a global paperweight for sometime. I've decided to give the Android platform a workout this trip so I picked up a SIM for that also and was good to go on TMN from Portugal Telecom.
Then came the iPhone, and the purchase of second SIM, also cut down and ready to go on also on TMN (Portugal Telecom.) Basically, their voice coverage is better and cheaper than Vodafone and according to the guys at the Phone House the carrier of choice to use for Voice in Portugal, so who was I to argue....
For my Novatel MiFi it was a full size SIM, being a data only device, the SIM of choice was back to Optimus-Kanguru. Unfortunately, they use dynamic assignment and CHAP to authenticate and the Novatel was not able to connect with the SIM to their authentication and signup page, no matter what we tried. However my unlocked T-Mobile Wireless Pointer that I grabbed last time in the UK, at the suggestion of Truphone's wireless sorcerer James Body, which is made by Huawei, was not daunted, and within a few minutes it was active as well. (Note this is how to unlock it simply and easily-but you need a Windows PC) meaning I can jump in the car and go do some sightseeing and always pull out the laptop and get connected. The Pointer is a lighter, sleeker clone of the MiFi, and in PocketSpot parlance, a way to connect multiple devices and a hotspot on the go.
Data connectivity overkill, um, not really. Staying connected has been a way of life for me on the road since 2000 when I bought my first Nokia Communicator in France and signed up for a year long contract back then with SFR. Not paying high roaming fees is another. Is the process as simple as it could be? No. But having learned the ropes of how to do this after so much travel, I pretty much resign myself to the fact that the first thing one has to do in a country that you haven't been to recently is to SIMply get the cards and TopUp.
So, if you visit Portugal, go first to the closest Phone House shop, spend some time with their staff, and then, know you ended up with the best of everything vs. SIMply going into a carrier's shop and getting what you thought was best. These folks consistently know which carrier and for which device, what is best.
P.S. Yes there are services out there that offer you the convenience of a single service, single bill, which for some is the right model. But as someone who likes the challenge of figuring out how to do it, and what works where, with the ability to share the knowledge this is a game of sport for me as I get to understand more and more of what we have and don't have back in the USA and how different each mobile operator works. Thus, the cost is all part of ongoing tuition in the school of LIFE.
by Andy Abramson at February 06, 2011 02:23 PM
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James Kendrick, who left JK On The Run at GigaOm for a more focused writing role at ZD-Net at the end of last year comments on the 16 percent return rate in the USA for the Samsung Galaxy Tab, tablet device being sold around the globe.
James cites the 2 year locked in contract terms as being the big turnoff for consumers. While I think that's the symptom, I don't think that's the root cause.
The real issue is that in the USA the Galaxy Tab is a data tablet only, but in Europe where I saw (and considered buying one) it's both voice and data on one device.
Thus, my hypothesis is that people want to carry less. Less devices. Less expenses. Less bills to pay.
Had the USA operators not been looking to only add more "data" contracts to their revenue rolls, and instead looked at how the consumer and business market wants to carry less, but do more, the overall impact of the sales would be higher, and the returns caused by remorse would likely be lower.
by Andy Abramson at February 02, 2011 04:21 AM
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I like Dean Bubley's quick analysis (with more to come) on Cisco's just released data on mobile data.
The reason-he's cutting through the b.s. and calling it as he sees it. As a former DataMonitor analyst in his past, numbers form the basis of all he, and most analysts really do.
The numbers reveal the obvious but don't really say wires are a thing of the past. Quite the opposite, what they tell me is that more plumbing is going to be needed and more management of the packets are going to have to be put in place. Demand is growing, and shifting from laptops and desktops to smartphones and more and more "connected" devices. Those devices, which make up part of what AT&T is calling their nScreen strategy, require more and more real-time connectivity. Tablets are only the start as financial transaction devices and health care reporting and monitoring all move into the mainstream wireless world, in addition to M2M data that's being sent.
Of course this is good for Cisco, but it also means more OPEX and CAPEX spending by the mobile operators, so the next time you see a great deal on a SmartPhone or a network connected device with a contract it's all being done to subsidize the network's costs.
by Andy Abramson at February 01, 2011 01:56 PM
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First there was TalkPlus, a company started by Jeff Black and John Todd. Then there was Jangl from Michael Cerda who pretty much handed the intellectual property to Jajah (now part of Telefonica) so it would have a home. Others have been around too, and now one of those which has lasted called Vumber is seeking to make their mark the way Line2 has and TechCrunch has the story.
Second lines on mobile phones in theory were a good idea, but that was in the days before 3G and for the most part before the Android and iPhone smartphone explosion. The use cases today remain the same as those that we worked on with TalkPlus and which Jangl pioneered. Both looked at the dating market as the ideal scenario, but both also had grander designs on where they could go. Now with services figuring out how to do things using 3G networks and Wi-Fi connections, the need for a second line service is not as meaningful, as you can use softclients like client CounterPath's Bria, or other softphones on a SmartPhone to do the same thing, or make use of the free GoogleVoice service which in essence also gives you a second line if you choose to use both their number and your number for different types of calls.
Sure, the likes of those also allow you to make or receive your late night booty call, or hook-up, but the real value of second numbers on a mobile phone are obvious. To keep your work and personal life separate without having to carry a second device. With LTE now here, and the ability in a week or so to be able to use an IP based calling app like Bria, Skype or Truphone, and each having the ability to provide a second number assigned to them from various sources the whole second line concept becomes a real me too, not a very much me different offering. In essence the terminal value of companies built around the concept just got crushed. In reality, with Bria you can have more than two, or three, or four DID's on your iPhone or Android, if you needed them, and make calls over Wi-Fi or 3G with real clarity. That's not just a second line, that's a whole desk phone experience if you set it up that way with a reliable hosted PBX provider so I guess it won't be long before we have line3 and line4 on them either.
by Andy Abramson at February 01, 2011 01:44 PM
Credit Ralph De La Vega with seeing the way to the future. In the last quarter the mobile group has put on 2 million new devices. Note the shift from "cell phone" subscribers in this story by Kevin Fritchard over at Connected Planet Online.
The change in language is all about demonstrating that AT&T is NOT a phone company any longer. They are changing their mantra and becoming a connector of information services and entertainment in my book, and that means voice is no longer a main focus. While voice minutes will continue to be a revenue center, minutes are going to be thought of as much as dial tone. It's a commodity service, that sells itself.
Going forward I see AT&T chasing all new forms of communications in more aggressive ways, using all those connected endpoints as attractive potential buyers. Watch as they evolve their N-Screen, mHealth, mFinance and M2M business lines while also having to fight more and more regulatory oversight.
by Andy Abramson at January 30, 2011 02:20 PM
Wireless Moves had a very informative post that skipped by my radar due to travel that helps frame out which mobile operators will be ready for Voice over LTE.
Here in the USA we have T-Mobile, but they are not moving ahead with LTE that quickly, and pushing HSPA+ as their standard of choice so while they show up on the list of which carriers are considering it, the current push, and the tenor of the company today, one which looks like they are slimming down expense into new technology and trying to make money on what they have before selling the property off, makes this revelation more interesting in my book. It implies that T-Mobile has a broader vision, and that what we're seeing today is not the true direction the company is going. HMMM..
by Andy Abramson at January 30, 2011 02:12 PM
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So while I think the slowdown has everything to do with figuring out how to make money, not just gain more users and some looming regulatory concerns. Stating the obvious about the key challenge at Skype today is to get the users currently on Skype to start paying Skype for outbound calls and inbound numbers. two services which Skype basically sells separately, or treats as two different transactions as their way to wiggle around the regulators. That two part segmentation approach keeps Skype from saying "we're a phone company" in many countries, but since it also doesn't really pass the duck test, any more than Vonage didn't back in the early days of VoIP marketing. Thus the how do you make money question, or really how do you make more money, and regulatory encroachment are questions the new CEO, Tony Bates has to tackle.
Those regulatory challenges will continue to swing over Skype's head, as they currently sell calling minutes separate from receiving phone numbers approach removes the burden from them having to pay into the Universal Services Fund, something that takes a reported 14.1 percent of telco's revenue here in the USA which has to be one of Skype's larger markets globally. This becomes a financial concern.
The core challenge is the conversion of people to start "paying" vs. making calls to one another for free. The conundrum is thus in getting more people on Skype, who not only make Skype to Skype calls, but Skype to the PSTN or Mobile networks. Given Skype to Skype calls are free, the more people who sign up for Skype, the less people you need to call by a paid call. In essence, the more people they get to make Skype calls the more they eat up their own market.
The second issue is getting those people to "pay" for things, like multi-party video, something Skype is making noise about as a revenue stream. As someone who helped tell the same kind of story for SightSpeed, prior to their exit to Logitech in a down market, selling multi-party video to the public isn't easy. Thus when you take GigaOm's Simon Mackie's perspective on video conferencing, and the recent Forrester report, one has to think that Skype's current approach to selling where the money isn't ready to buy what they have to sell, which is their pursuit of the Enterprise as THE market vs. trying to own the small business sector which is already much more ripe for disruption, is at the crux of the real issue. In this arena Skype marketing has been almost invisible other than through PR which drives a lot of attention through the influencer channels, but which isn't backed up by the advertising and promotion necessary to be taken seriously by the enterprise. In essence Skype doesn't pay into the USF any more than they pay into the advertising channel. Those costs, plus the costs of being a public company begin to eat away at profits.
So, as a company that is challenged by customer acquisition, having the weight of some 700-800 employees around the globe, marketing expense, software updates, engineering (Skype likely employs over 400 engineers by now) all requires a lot of cash, or in startup parlance, contributes to a lot of cash burn each month. Even with revenues approaching a billion dollars a year and with 8.1 percent of the users now paying (I pay for Skype Unlimited) the costs keep going up for Skype as they add more people to keep the business growing and operating.
Next is the focus on where the growth will come from. Rightfully so, Skype has a focus on the enterprise as their cash cow in the future. But the route to the enterprise customer is not one that happens as fast as adding a single user, or even a small business. Those decisions are made in a second. Enterprise decisions are made over years The Enterprise decision take longer than small business decision to buy/switch because of many different reasons, most of which deal with the culture of the company being asked to switch or buy. That means the sales cycle is measured in many months and multiple years, as in fiscal years. Miss the budget cycle, and you miss next year.
The small business market and the SMB sectors move much faster and wanta to compete upmarket, and thus is more primed and ready for Skype as their carrier of choice than the slower to decide Enterprise customer market. That is the yet another hudle Skype needs to overcome, because as the cable operators begin to broaden their reach into the small business market with offers like what I've seen with Cox and Cablevision, the cost of calling keeps getting smaller, while the services they offer using SIP based architectures, the same SIP standards that Skype is using for Skype For Business/Skype Connect, means the value proposition of being more efficient in calling gets whittled away.
Cheaper calling isn't a business model any longer, and with companies like Google offering "Free" via GoogleVoice and companies like client Truphone, Viber and Rebtel offering free on-net calling between their own members, one has to realize that companies will give away minutes to get the international long distance market, a market that Skype has been growing each year with, but which has become a big target for everyone else now as their way to attract customers too.
The next hurdle Tony Bates has to solve is the almost hidden from the outside world of the revolving door of executives in key hires since the SilverLake led LBO that took Skype outside of eBay's foolish grasp. Skype has now gone through two Engineering leads in as many years and likely has a new one coming in. One was ex-Sun, the other ex-Yahoo, neither lasted. The hiring they have done in the SilverLake era, David Gurle, head of their Enterprise play is ex Microsoft and Thompson Reuters, Tony Bates, CEO is ex Cisco, further suggesting that Enterprise envy is at the heart of all Skype's business moves coming from the board level, and has become a company that requires a far different wax job on the car, than the kind you get at the drive through. Internally, teams have been rejiggered, and reshuffled, with some people in the UK given the option of moving elsewhere (as in the USA) or moving on. These shifting of bodies and recruitment of new blood thus has the unsettling effect of plans being stalled, or worse, tossed out the window, all under the guise (i.e. spin) of broader "strategic" goals that are being sold up to or by the board of directors, or down to the line personnel.
Taken as a whole of the sum of their parts, Tony Bates' decision as CEO to slow down the IPO is the only decision he could have made. He's walked in just four months or so ago to a company that has at least four operating spheres of influence (USA, UK, Luxembourg, Estonia) some of which suffer from a big case of NIH (not invented here) syndrome, a marketing issue of conversion from free to paid, partner products and programs that don't add many new paying users, an SEC S-1 that has led to lawyers, in addition to the investors and the board having a very deep reach into how the company was being run. He has an under marketed company, that needs to play ball a whole different way to compete against the proven Enterprise sales organizations, with longer standing relationships with the customer segment they're pursuing, and he's got to make the right hires to not be judged like his predecessor.
I would go one step further, and suggest that the IPO should go on a longer term hold, and while the investors may want an exit, or some liquidity for the company, that the IPO and the requisite filings are only making it harder, not easier for the company to be the nimble, growth oriented entity they were enroute to. In my book, staying private, gaining market share, putting in management team stability and delivering new services better than anyone else, all of which were Skype's stock in trade for many years are really what Bates is looking to accomplis. By pushing the IPO back he's now buying time to get the company back to its disruptive roots while navigating the regulatory minefields thrown up by the investor and technology worlds that are around him as an IPO candidate.
by Andy Abramson at January 30, 2011 01:08 PM
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In my view if you're using an Android phone, then the deeper integration of GV makes it less of a hurdle, but on RIM Blackberries and the Apple iPhone the apps are not as woven into the phones as much as they enable people to make use of the free service.
by Andy Abramson at January 30, 2011 11:30 AM
I have been a friend of Dean Bubley's for quite a few years, and consider him one of the world's leading Blogalysts (an independent analyst who uses the blog format to share perspective, insight and opinion) This past week he took to task another respected analyst, Gabe Brown article, that surrounds VoLTE and IMS. Dean, who is usually mild-mannered clearly had a nerve struck.
The points Dean makes in his post are nothing new to be reading from him. I've been hearing those points (and reading them in his musings) for years, usually over a nice cold cocktail in one of London's better mixology establishments or over an ethnic meal.
IMS is a pipe-dream that continues to be pushed by some long time bureaucrats/technocrats inside the NEPs and the GSMA. And, VoLTE is really as Dean points out, a very big misnomer, as for now its going to be telephone calls over LTE, as the concept of voice as a service has yet to really be embraced by the mobile operators.
by Andy Abramson at January 29, 2011 01:52 PM
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If you want to move your mobile number to GoogleVoice, now you can. Earlier this week Google made it official last Tuesday.
While this is great for those who swap carriers or who like to use pre-paid phones, shopping and swapping for the best deals in mobile, the real value here arrives when landlines can be ported.
by Andy Abramson at January 29, 2011 12:10 PM
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It may have snowed in the Northeast last week, but this coming week, the VoIP world heats up in Miami with IT Expo from TMCNet. Already promising to be one of the biggest IT Expo's ever, the four days of action in Miami begins Tuesday.
by Andy Abramson at January 29, 2011 12:02 PM
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I'm about to go on a road trip this week with three of my team members. We'll all flying at almost the same time, but on different routings to take advantage of low fares and our closest airports. Staying in touch with each isn't hard by email, but it lacks the immediacy of. Calling means reaching each on individually, or a call chain, and with weather being what it's been like lately, the risk of flight delays has to be considered, so communications between one another becomes rather important.
Thankfully there are services out there now which make keeping in touch easier and far more convenient.
The new services that tie group texting and group calling are both born and bred in Silicon Valley. One is GroupMe, a graduate of the StartUp Camp program held during IT Expo last fall and client CallVine, which grew out of Vello.
Both in essence do the same thing. They allow you to text to a group of people and to immediately group call all the members on the same list. But while GroupMe starts the call, CallVine's package is very complete, something TMCNet's Publisher Rich Tehrani pointed out, but of course the difference is you pay for CallVine. And in paying, that's where the added value comes in. With CallVine since the work off of the mobile number as the identifier, if you're on a call and the call is dropped, all the dropped party has to do is dial back into a toll free number and they're reconnected to their call. Given it's a mobile service, that's a big plus, especially on the iPhone and the challenges sometimes presented by a network operator.
Ironically, the core idea of group conference calling was started back in 2006 by Alec Saunders and his company, iotum, which is now called Calliflower. Saunders, and then co-founder Howard Thaw, had developed a service platform based on relevance of knowing which number to call you on, and if you would be available. They added in a service overlay called "Pronto" and made it the conference calling service that would call you, winning a DEMO God award along the way. Now these services and others like Beluga and Fast Society are ready for breaking out, with the likely forum being conferences and events like the SuperBowl in Dallas this year, followed by SxSW a few weeks later in Austin.
For Saunders, who was the original Product Marketing lead at Microsoft for both Internet Explorer and Windows Mobile, being first is nothing new. Since that time he's evolved Calliflower into being one of the most complete desktop and mobile collaboration platforms around, offering even Skype integration via the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and desktop.
These innovations in group communications highlight a growing trend for the mobile worker. The ability to do things on the fly, quickly, easily and conveniently, where ever you may be. What's more, the concept of distance, timezones and an office keeps being farther and farther knocked down as new solutions to problems come into play.
For my traveling party this week, CallVine and GroupMe will likely come in very handy, as we coordinate our post landings meet up in the airport, and gathering each morning for coffee. No more relying on hotel switchboards to call between rooms, and as a matter of fact, more use of SMS vs. BlackBerry Messenger, as the iPhone is rapidly becoming my device of choice when traveling, now that I have a legitimately unlocked iPhone 4 that I purchased in the UK. Plus, only two of us have Berry's while three of us have iPhones, and all four have SMS--Got it?
That in and of itself speaks volumes, and with more and more use, I'm finally beginning to question my need for the RIM Blackberry in my arsenal of phones, largely because of RIM's hard to penetrate concept of a developer program, or in providing tools to developers that would make things easy for them to deploy new ideas when they really were new. Now if RIM would open up the BBM platform to allow others to communicate with it seamlessly, there may be extended life, but their proprietary approach to it, likely leads to their own extinction over time with it.
All this leads to the idea of radical simplicity and radical clarity in communications being upon us. Services, applications, smartphones and tablets/iPads are bringing those ideas to the forefront, and the developers and minds behind companies like Calliflower, CallVine and GroupMe are clearly seeing the future of collaboration and group activities in the era of "i".
by Andy Abramson at January 24, 2011 03:20 PM
Longtime friend, and CounterPath founder, Erik Lagerway now runs the voice division of ZipLocal up in Vancouver. He has just announced the release of an open platform voice calling solution called ZipRing for the Apple iPhone.
Personally I'm happy to see Erik get this one out the door, but my guess is that what he has next in mind will be even better :-) Last fall I did some consulting to Erik around ZipRing as I've always viewed him as one of the top product development minds in our space. Basically, Lagerway has consistently built products and applications that just simply work. He, like PhoneGnome's David Beckemeyer simply understand the basic so well that when it comes to deployment, the product or app does what it's supposed.
You can check out ZipRing in the Apple iTunes App store.
by Andy Abramson at January 19, 2011 12:23 PM
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With every airplane ticket I purchase, included in the total price is the "Passenger Facility Charge." But more times than not, I often don't feel very facilitated.
For example, have you ever gone into the rest room at the airport and had any of the following experiences:
1. Broken stall or toilet
2. No toilet paper
3. They are out of hand towels
4. The Hand dryer is broken
5. The rest room is filthy
6. The rest room is unavailable.
Okay, enough with the bathroom humor. Here are a few more things that you're paying for and may not be supplied:
1. The elevator isn't working-->Walk down the steps. The baggage handlers are outside at baggage claim and with more people carrying on, and more families with kids doing the same have you ever seen the lines of a family of five trying to get strollers, babies and more down a flight of steps.
2. The up escalator isn't working but the down is. They do work both ways but that means someone managing them.
3. The airport supplies hand sanitizer but it's always empty.
4.The trash cans are full of trash, but no one is emptying them for hours.
5. There's no one else parked at the curb, your pick up is waiting and as you're walking up the traffic marshall chases them away as they are pointing at you. Or worse, you get chased and the other person who has been there longer is allowed to wait without any official markings.
6. Some of the dining (um that's a stretch) are never open for the first flight out or last flights in. Worse, take a red eye and starve. The excuse is that concession operators can't afford to stay open. I say, lower the rent so they can stay open and SERVE the public, not be empty and NOT SERVING.
7. The so called "free Wi-Fi" isn't working or is so slow it's not really there for most of us who need speed.
Year's ago growing up watching Adam-12 on TV I recall the saying, "To Protect and Serve." Well public facilities have been yelling about reduced tax subsidies, but in this case, the travel public is paying every time we fly, and yet, being facilitated seems to be going out the window.
What triggered this? Another "surprise" at San Diego International Airport today. But it wasn't with TSA which has since the "incident" a few months back, gotten uber friendly. I even had a very kind TSA agent offer to help move my bags to stimulate traffic flow through the belts.
No, it was the fact that because yesterday was a holiday things like restrooms weren't as clean as they should be first thing in the morning, and the hand sanitizer was empty. Things like that are too easily fixed, but management wants to earn higher salaries, while the working stiff who works for minimum wage can't earn holiday pay because of profitability. Yet, we the travel public pay the "fee" with every ticket and yet, we end up feeling un-facilitated.
by Andy Abramson at January 18, 2011 02:40 PM
My friend Larry Lisser, with whom we've helped exit Mobivox to Sabse and have collaborated on a few other startups together directly and indirectly (Momentum Telecom, IfByPhone and Fonolo) had a big idea a bit more than a year ago when he came up with the concept of Startup Camp Telephony, that would be run inside the always well attended IT Expo in Miami Beach every winter. It spawned StartUp Camp Comms Edition last fall at IT Expo West in Los Angeles and demonstrated that new ideas are clearly alive and well. With the help of sharp minded sponsors, like Twilio, and speakers who have done the startup thing successfully a few times to kick things off, like Jeff Bonforte and Jamie Siminoff StartUp Camp is one of those ideas that falls into the "why didn't we think of that" mindset. Kinda like the iPhone app store, if you were the Product Manager for Windows Mobile prior to the iPhone being introduced.
This winter's event in February features another multi-exit venture veteran as keynote, Craig Walker, co-founder of GrandCentral, now Google Voice, who has sold companies to both Yahoo and Google, along with Google Ventures, Wesley Chan, who was the guy who brought in Grand Central and many of Google's key acquisitions over the years.
So like any great idea, someone had to come along and put on something similar but in a different light. The folks at Enterprise Connect saw a good idea and turned to Enterprise and Unified Communications maven Dave Michels to pull together something along the same lines, but more for established companies that have a new idea, vs. the startups, so Innovation Showcase was born and will be held in Orlando from February 28th through March 3 during the trade show and conference that's aimed at the "big boys" of IT.
So with events like this, one thing is certain. VoIP sure isn't dead.
by Andy Abramson at January 17, 2011 01:12 AM
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The new Apple iPhone for Verizon is going to cause a shift in the the collaboration market, as services from Citrix's GoToMeeting, Cisco's WebEx and pal Alec Saunders company, Calliflower all have been building what the future needs, not living in the past.
One of the major FUDs being spread by GSM loyalists is that CDMA means either voice calling or a data connection. Well, folks, VoIP is data and with the three collaboration tools mentioned above all have the ability to work over IP, but it's Calliflower which can win with Verizon.
Some time back, Alec smartly designed in a Skype SILK codec based bridge into Calliflower. That means super wideband audio, which just so happens to be what Skype has put into their latest versions of iPhone and iPad. Since the iPad and iPhone 4s are iOS 4 and now feature multitasking, that means voice and data can work at the same time, because while you may be limited to data or circuit switched voice on the Verizon network, no one said you can't have multiple data sessions running at the same time. Web browsing, email, IM, collaboration, all at once do work.
Thus the key differentiator between Skype on a Verizon Android phone and on an iPhone is Skype is Skype and since Skype is voice over the IP side of the house, and since Alec's platform can work in sync with a Skype call, while seeing the collaboration activity, I think his forward looking plans are pretty bright, and with some additional development Calliflower could have Skype inside it giving Skype and Verizon a very sweet play to compete with others on the iPhone and iPad this year that would be attractive to those on the go.
(Note-my agency has provided services to Calliflower and I hold options in the company)
by Andy Abramson at January 13, 2011 03:14 PM
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After working with Peter for four years on SightSpeed, where he led them to his third exit, (and one of my 21 to date) --having it happen in the down market I might add--the Rancho Santa Fe, CA resident got immediately back in the game with Sorenson Media, already then the market leader in the video production tools space. When Peter was considering joining Sorenson he clearly had a vision that was not where they were then, but where they needed to be. Some may have said, he had his head in the cloud, and he was right, even if two years or so back the idea of cloud encoding and cloud production wasn't even close to being relevant. Well it is today, and Peter's guest post on Streaming Media pretty much nails the facts the way a good lawyer builds his case.
As I sit here at the AT&T Developer Summit and listen to Ralph De La Vega tell us that there will be twenty new 4G devices on the AT&T Network this year, and as Motorola Mobility's CEO and San Diego area resident, Sanjay Jah unveils the new Atrix Android phone, or as Samsung and HTC talk about their next new devices, I keep flipping back to Csathy's article about the need to be able to be future proofing and have flexibility when it comes to the devices and the codecs they use. As the networks get faster, that means more and more content comes out in richer, more HD formats. Terms like HTML5 are coming out of every mouth over every speaker and that follows on the Apple iPad, iPhone model of being Flash light. But yet, Flash is still the desktop/laptop flavor for streaming, along with QuickTime, Real and Windows Media. H.264 remains the best for HD, so being able to stream, or download HD content means more than producing in just three formats these days. It also means having the ability to write once, encode in many formats on the fly and deliver it as the end points need it.
And that's the case Peter has built saying, we're ready today for what's coming tomorrow. If he had been at today's AT&T Developer Summit he would have been smiling ear to ear, saying to others, "bring it on."
by Andy Abramson at January 06, 2011 02:43 AM
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No one has spilled the beans but here's a SWAG before flying off for CES this week.
Here's what leads me to that conclusion.
1. Skype has been working with Verizon for over a year now, and back in February 2010 announced their relationship at Mobile World Congress. Since the announcement of voice calling, over circuit switched came out, nothing other than a few more phones has developed here. I think it's time for something new, and video is it.
2. Skype for Android recently came out, but it lacks video. With Verizon making such a push with LTE at CES, and with the recent roll out of video on the iPhone and iPod touch, Skype can't afford to leave that market to others like Tango or QIK to rule the roost on the Androids but what's more this gives them cross platform capability and will likely also work on existing Android's with cameras, like the Motorola Droid, who they already have a voice client working on.
3. Samsung and Verizon just dropped the price on the CDMA version Galaxy Tabs, the iPad like device that has webcams and even gave people who purchased them within the last two weeks a refund of the $200 dollar price break. That tells me a next generation Galaxy, likely with LTE is coming out and will be debuted at CES.
4. Skype already works with Samsung and LG with those suped up TV sets that have Skype on board. While you can't send video to those today from the iPhone, it's on the roadmap, and the relationships are there.
For Skype and Verizon, it's a match made in heaven. Video loves fatter bandwidth, and Verizon Wireless wants to fill up the the LTE pipes as fast as they can, thus it's a mutual aid opportunity. For the hardware folks, CES is all about "consumer" products and what's new, so for Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG all of which work with Verizon Wireless, this is a way to sell more new phones.
by Andy Abramson at January 02, 2011 07:14 PM
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We're heading into the annual trade show season, where events seem to come up and out of nowhere for some, and for others are part of the business of their business. For me the seasons starts with the AT&T Developer Summit which is just one day before CES, moves to IT Expo which includes StartUpCamp Communications and then Mobile World Congress in February, before ending up with one of my favorite trade shows, Rhone Discovery Week, a bi-annual opportunity to taste the best wines from France's Rhone Valley.
Honestly, after the first five events, plus all the regular work I have over the next two months, which event do you think will provide the most fun....
by Andy Abramson at January 02, 2011 02:35 PM
Today, Skype has joined Apple’s FaceTime and Tango at making video mobile on the iPhone and other iOS 4 device from Apple. After a week or more of rumors, Skype has set the stage for a different announcement at CES next week by making their news today in Engadget and elsewhere.
With the availability of Skype 3.0 for iOS4 users can place Skype video calls with their iPhone over both a 3G data connection or WiFi. The new Skype for iPhone app is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPod touch 4th generation with i0S 4.0 or above. Video receiving capabilities are available on the iPod touch 3rd generation and iPad. Calls can be made between devices using the new Skype for iPhone app and desktops including Skype for Windows 4.2 and above, Skype for Mac 2.8 and above, Skype for Linux and ASUS Videophone.
A couple of key facts not in the announcement but important to Skype users. Due to codec issues, Skype mobile users can't have video calls with users of Skype on TV monitors where Skype is built in. This includes the LG, Samsung and Panasonic units announced at CES in 2010 or shortly thereafter but Skype iOS mobile app users can participate in video conference calls, but as audio only. Another nice twist is the abiility to have the video call in either portrait or landscape mode, taking advantage of the iOS positioning sensor technology. Maybe most importantly though, is the key addition of screensharing reception to the iOS devices, where you can receive screen shares from Skype for Windows/Mac users.
This is a welcome feature as someone who is making extensive use of Skype on the go, being able to see someone's screen while talking with them on an iPad makes for an even more engaging conversation. Often I'll collaborate with a team member and suggest changes to designs or layouts of a PowerPoint deck using my Mac Book Air while talking to them over Skype. With this feature added to iOS 4 devices, I can now do that on iPhones, the iPod touch and the iPad.
You can find the app easily by starting at the Skype web site,
by Andy Abramson at December 30, 2010 06:49 AM
The news about hot zones in NY and SF, as well as elsewhere was great news for the app developers. But, in the words of the late Clara Peller, "where's the beef?" By the "beef" I am saying, where's the calling?
Well, that would be SIP based VoIP using Bria for the iPhone or Android, Truphone, Viber, Nimbuzz, Skype, or FaceTime, all of which work just perfectly over Wi-Fi. The funny thing is that in all the stories and blog posts no one mentioned the fact that not only does data coverage suck eggs in those locations, voice is just as bad. I guess AT&T didn't address that point yet as the Femto cells don't work with any phone, only those programmed for them. And, these Wi-Fi hotspots aren't pico cells. They're just plain old 802.11 Wi-Fi and that means VoIP or Skype.
by Andy Abramson at December 28, 2010 10:30 PM
AT&T is touting how they are bringing more public hotspots to New York and San Francisco to help with what is called Wi-Fi offload for connected devices, like the iPhone and iPad. ClearWire has lit up San Francisco officially,
What does this mean.
For folks with iPads and the 5th generation iPod touch with only Wi-Fi more places to do things like uploading photos. This is very common over in London where BT OpenZone's and my Boingo Mobile Account let me log on without the need for 3G. That said, my 3G MiFi and the iPod touch help eliminate the need for an iPhone to do FaceTime so if you're not inclined to want Internet access all the time or don't mind carrying an extra small device then a MiFi or OverDrive capable of 4G plus the non-contract Wi-Fi only iPad or iPod touch is for you. But lets look at what this means for those with the devices that natively connect.
1. The Sprint EVO-I've been looking at this as a slick iPhone replacement. More and more slick looking iPhone competitors are coming, mostly with Android as the OS. The move by AT&T is defensive to keep their iPhone loving customers with them, and also to fend off the Apple incursion/insurrection that really is being led by Verizon Wireless that started with the iPad and MiFis.
2. ClearWire-they have the network, but their device plans remain obscured. You have to look at Sprint's plans for devices to get any sort of idea. On the otherhand, an Overdrive from Sprint and any device that works on Wi-Fi, is a rocking best deal, especially if you work in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento on a regular basis. My only caveat with the Overdrive is how it overheats sometimes, and there's no real solution other than having it sit on it's side.
3. LTE from Verizon. It's really a beta and while I fully expect all of VZW's news out of Las Vegas to be LTE, LTE, LTE and what it means, the devices today that get you hooked up don't work on Macs (no software yet from Smith Micro, the company that writes that for VZW) and the devices themselves are very early. The dongles/USB sticks are mutil-radio, not one single chip like device. In essence to work on both LTE and CDMA Rev A. the device has to switch radios inside itself. They are also big and bulky. In a nutshell, not very Applesque. My feeling is waiting for LTE Generation 2 devices is going to be a far less painful experience for early adopters unless your an early adopting Windows OS user.
The above said, getting connected, at faster speeds is going to get easier. You just have to have the right accounts. Over in Europe when you buy a 3G plan you get hotspots tossed in for free or public establishments like coffee shops and restaurants offer it to their guests as a means to keep them there longer....which now that it's breakfast time here in London, I'm off to find.
by Andy Abramson at December 28, 2010 08:07 AM
Om's post about the best gadgets of the year got me thinking about how similar we both are and for the most part we agree, 3 out of 4. I don't use SONUS but I do have Apple TV, and the three other gadgets he mentions.
So here are my top services of the year:
2. Boingo-i connect more easily in more places. I actually have begun to wonder why I still have a T-Mobile Hotspot Account but there remains some hotels where they are still only T-Mobile that I stay.
4. Facebook-I have reconnected with more friends who I had lost touch with each year. It's the SOCIAL Network that actually has business benefits.
5. Linked In-It is how to find and manage business relationships. Nothing else comes close.
6. Google Voice-I can forward numbers anywhere with it (and even Internationally with some tricks)
7. Skype-sure it's got the risks of being free, but the size of the "community" and how good the video is now...it has become an essential, especially with the FreeTalk Everyman Hands Free head set on my iPod touch or iPad.
8. TripIt-I travel 200+ days a year. I rely on this to know where I am, what I'm traveling on, where I'm staying, when I'm eating, etc. I also share the data with my trusted circle.
9. FlightStats and associated apps/services-with weather delays, flight delays a part of life, this helps know your options.
What's amazing here is that most of these are SaaS (software as a service) or CaaS, communications as a service. Sure there's a client for some to access the data but for the most part they are all web apps, and I predict that in 2011 we'll see Skype as a browser app not only a desktop app. That supports the iPad, Mac Book Air and even the Android devices, though my feeling is Android is like VW and Apple is like BMW or Porsche in the way they are made. Both provide reliable transportation, but the latter give you style, performance and turns heads. So do most of these apps and most of all, they make my life easier.
Honorable, but very deserved mention--My entire staff at Comunicano. They are the best (at) service a CEO can have and they're totally virtual all the time.
by Andy Abramson at December 26, 2010 05:05 AM
The Skype black-out of last week proved something I have been saying all along. You can't run a business on FREE.
For me, I saw first hand what happens, as my team and I were on a client call using HiDef Conferencing (a client), which provides both dial in and Skype In options to reach their bridge. The result was proof positive that having a dial in option saved the day. Had we all be conferencing via Skype or Skype Out the call never would have continued so the $40.00 per month we pay per bridge is clearly money worth spending, even when Skype keeps improving their multi-party calling capabilities, and at some point will likely roll out their own "pay" conferencing service as a "business" or "Connect" service, the fear of what happens when you use "free" is too great.
Ironically, the one service that's sort of "free" our email, which is hosted on an Exchange server, became the equivalent to the emergency phone in the elevator when it stops running and you're trapped behind the closed doors. Email became the route that got the call restarted by reminding everyone about the dial in number so work could continue without interruption.
This same issue of "free" could apply to any service, like GoogleVoice for example, where nothing is really paid for, so there is no assurance of "uptime." Of course if reliability falters then your audience goes away, something GoogleVoice has not suffered from, as Vincent Paquet and his team have proven they can build something that scales. But reliability comes at a cost, and the cost of reliable Telecom and IT services is not free. It's like the difference between "amateur" and "professional."
Ken Rutkowski, with whom I co-host the World Technology RoundUp likes to say this. "A professional's expensive, but an amateur costs you a fortune." The Skype black out just proved that free is for amateurs and pros pay for the tools they need. Will I keep using Skype? Sure. Will we keep bridging in using it to reach the conference bridge? Sure. But we've got back ups with for pay mobile phones, landlines and all the things a real business needs to operate. It's called a back up plan.
Does your business have a telecom back up plan in place? If it's based on FREE you may want to think about it again.
by Andy Abramson at December 26, 2010 04:09 AM
GoogleVoice (aka GrandCentral) is clearly the gift that keeps on giving. While my earn out payments have come to an end, it's great to see that its still going to be free for calls to the USA and Canada in 2011.
Hat tip-Charles Hamilton, GigaOm.
by Andy Abramson at December 21, 2010 10:29 AM
Today's New York Times has the "first" interview with Skype's new CEO Tony Bates. In the article there is the very direct message of how Skype see's its future growth coming from the Mobile and Enterprise usage. In the same New York Times edition there is the article on the F.C.C. and Net Neutrality. The two articles could not paint a more conflicting picture if someone had handed brushes and canvas to Monet and Renoir and said, paint that view. As a matter of fact toss in Degas and Cezanne, all from the era of Impressionist art, and the views would be even more strikingly different.
In the Bates article, his interview limited by the SEC S-1 filing about going public, mobile is viewed as a growth area, and points to the Verizon wireless agreement in the USA as an example of how Skype and mobile operators work together. Yet, in the F.C.C. article, it's clear that the cost of doing business with the mobile carriers means they make money and Skype sells it's soul for access. In an interview I conducted last February with former CEO Josh Silverman, the enthusiastic Silverman pointed out how working with the likes of Verizon got Skype "closer" to the handset manufacturers than they ever could have sooner, as Verizon's leverage with Motorola, RIM, etc. would speed up handset adoption. So while it did help with an initial number of handsets and provided inner working knowledge to speed up application development, Skype's efforts to innovate in mobile were thus hog-tied by what Verizon wanted, (i.e. no Wi-Fi calling on their devices-as the NY Times points out) further supporting the weaker F.C.C. Net Neutrality position towards wireless Internet. In essence, the framework of the Verizon deal, did more to seal Skype's fate than staying the fierce independent, and now they have to message around it.
In fairness, Bates inherited that thinking, and now has to live with it. He also inherited thinking about the Enterprise, and how that's the business market that will grow Skype's fortunes, just like he inherited the Silverman desire for a Windows like look and experience within the Skype client on the Mac (an abortion in its own right that is being fixed.) That giveaway on the point of Wi-Fi ends up be nicely countered by the T-Mobile and Cisco right now with a UMA solution announced recently that provides a very easy solution, and embraces the existing enterprise buyer, while also giving Cisco's Call Manager one more leg up over Shore-Tel, which has yet to deploy the Agito Networks solution they acquired, as the Cisco-T-Mobile carrier relationship helps further cement the reality of the concept of UMA/FMC.
So while Skype now has the "endorsement" of Verizon, for the other three major carriers in the USA, Skype remains an over the top play. So while Skype provides a user a better solution set, they still yet lack the other carrier's "endorsement" and thus with the pending net neutrality laws, runs the risk of being "blocked" or needing to be paid for. That's something the more draconian mobile operators in Europe did for a while, but now are loosening their belts when it comes to VoIP over 3G. They can begin to do that because as their network capacity and speeds increase, they are also seeing they can manage their networks better, with technology from companies in the wireless eco-system, which enable the mobile operators the same kind of packet level management now used by their wireline brothers in law.
After watching a presentation a few weeks back on Microsoft's Lync, their unified communications platform, I find it hard to fathom that Skype's got a snowball's chance in hell to best the Redmond giant. Microsoft, like Cisco, already has the IT departments' permission to be inside their network, and what's more, works with all the same equipment providers Skype would like to be "partners" with. What's more Microsoft's relationships with the likes of AT&T, Verizon, Level3, Global Crossing and the rest of the International telcos gives them a line of defense that Skype has to cross. That line of defense is, would the carrier rather work with the company that wants to reduce their margins and take business away from them, or really work with someone who only is interested in selling the solution, not the services itself. To go one step further, the Skype-Avaya partnership likely hurts Avaya in this area more than it helps, because of the application of the "enemy of my enemy is my friend rule" in reverse. That means, the friend of my enemy, is now my enemy too, so while Skype trumpets the success of having a deal with Avaya (both are Silver Lake invested companies) the competition to Avaya (Cisco, ShoreTel, NEC, Panasonic, etc.) can all yell and scream to their carrier buddies--"why do business with Avaya? Why help them sell?" as all Skype wants to do is play take away, even with the dangling of some token SIP trunking minutes as bait to the carriers.
Be not mistaken. The big bucks for carriers comes from the enterprise. The second chunk comes from consumers paying for landlines on a monthly basis, that require little, if any real care and feeding other than moves, changes and installation. In the middle is where Skype should be focusing on growth, and that the Small Business person, something TMC's Tom Keating has recognized around the launch of FreeTalk Connect. Why should Skype focus on the obvious and very reachable market, vs. going upstream? Well for the same reason eBay buying Skype was a bad idea. The audience. In the case of eBay, their sellers didn't want to talk to buyers. In the case of Skype the small business person loves Skype because it lets them compete with the bigger, more robust enterprise, but giving them parity and in some case nimbleness, something that with all the layers of IT management, policy and security, the enterprise folks treat as a foreign invasion. As such for Skype to be successful, and to make their IPO worth something for the future investors, vs. the current ones, Skype should readjust it's focus and work on getting more paying business from their core users-outside of minutes. That's where Skype's Jonathan Rosenberg's web services efforts come in to play. But the adoption of those services are far more easily seen by smaller more nimbler business owners and consumers, than by the gatekept enterprise size organizations, meaning it's easier to sell to the customer you already have, than to the one you don't.
Skype has the opportunity to keep being the disruptive force in the telephony and even Unified Communications sector, but to do that, they will need to start showing they can upsell to their existing users, put those dollars on the board, and then get the bigger game, the Enterprise on board, as the slower, longer lead buying cycles of those customers work counter the core DNA that built Skype. They don't like to buck the status quo, and the last time I looked, the traditional telcos were still the status quo. That shift is not hard to make, and if Tony Bates can move the rapidly growing Skype ship into that direction near term, those revenues that keep growing will look better and better to Wall Street, versus the dream that may never come to life of the enterprise being their best customer segment and thus Rosenberg's vision can become a reality versus a seriously misguided hallucination.
by Andy Abramson at December 21, 2010 09:57 AM
Not only do i post here (with greater regularity) but I also am one of the seven voices over on Voyces.com along with some industry insiders who like to share our perspectives now and then.
Over the past ten days or so I've shared thoughts on:
by Andy Abramson at December 20, 2010 06:17 AM
TechCrunch is reporting that Google plans to go into the video conferencing space in a big way. Here's why they can do it.
1. Google purchased Marratech back in 2007. This gave them a platform that enabled multi-party video calling and presentation
2. Google purchased my former client GIPS this year. GIPS gives the incredible understanding of video codec and video conferencing. It also helps makes them independent of Vidyo at some point in the future. Google previously acquired On2, a video compression technology company.
3. Google acquired Gizmo5 this year too. Everyone forgot that Gizmo had SIP based h.264 video built in. But Google got more than a softclient, they also got a network that could handle video call routing.
So, for far less than Skype has ever been bought and sold for, Google has all the makings of a standards based IP video calling business, which can also handle having video (IPTV) run over with some very pristine looking video that can be HD from the get go.
by Andy Abramson at December 18, 2010 04:05 PM
Skype may want to look at how they bill all of us in 2011, as taxes are about to hit online calling companies as states and municipalities get tougher to make up the lost revenue from landline and coin box pay phones. This is not the first time we have seen this type of thing come down the pike. In the past, the National League of Cities pushed for this as it foresaw the pending change to the calling landscape.
What's the answer? Just plan on paying more as the other options are more trouble than it's worth.
The news comes at a time when AMI Consulting says that VoIP use will become "critical" in the coming years.
by Andy Abramson at December 13, 2010 09:50 AM
With all the concern about WikiLeaks wouldn't it be funny if someone started a TelcoLeaks Wiki or Blog, ala the style of F*ckeCompany of the bye-gone era.
by Andy Abramson at December 12, 2010 08:15 PM
I've been saying that Sending Party Pays will come one day, ever since pal Martin Geddes explained it over dinner. Well it looks like that day is about to arrive.
With Sprint now adding 4G roaming, this makes the model a lot more attractive to the carriers.
by Andy Abramson at December 08, 2010 07:45 PM
I have to always chide pal Alec Saunders who a few years back was on the VoIP is dead bandwagon. We all know in serious tones that not only is it alive. It's growing as Junction Network's news of them signing their 10,000th customer proves.
by Andy Abramson at December 07, 2010 03:06 PM
When Google bought Gizmo, they shut down the apps aspect of the business. Last week Viber came alive, and for those who know Zipring is also in the App store, as is Truphone and a revitalized Fring that has video, as does Tango.
When it came to battling Skype, only Gizmo and to some extent client Truphone had/have the kind of reach and traction to put a hurt on Skype. They each offered reliable, low cost calling, and had the imagination that was necessary to introduce new services based on VoIP that met the Voice 2.0 manifesto standard. Now, with Google pursuing a browser based approach to voice, and a mobile strategy with Android, the gap that Gizmo left means all the rest can fill the void.
So, are any of the companies doing much different with their iPhone apps? Not really. In essence each is offering a spin on staying connected for free, or offering lower cost long distance, with better rates than anyone else for international long distance. But what each are doing is counterpunching Skype and forcing the issue that the incumbent carriers are not really going forward, and are almost willing to abandon the low hanging minutes fruit to capture the newer and fresher pie. Data.
With data pipes going mobile, Viber, ZipRing, Truphone, Fring, Line2, Tango and yes, Skype will all be your next phone company.
by Andy Abramson at December 07, 2010 02:54 PM
It's back. And it's back faster than ever. The IT is the restored Lufthansa in flight WiFi service that for about a year was, well pardon the pun, like being in pure heaven for those that constantly need to "stay connected."
Back in the day when Lufthansa and a few other international airlines offered in-flight Wi-Fi the service was a dream come true. I recall heading to Europe on a flight from SFO to Munich just after the launch of our agency's originated Nokia Blogger Relations Program back in 2005. I was watching as the news coverage took hold, and right before my eyes knew we had a hit on our hands. During the flight I was in constant touch with our web master who quickly realized we needed a bigger server, which required my approval (which I immediately gave) and in turn I contacted my then Nokia client contact to get the additional costs into the budget. While on that same flight I also managed some questions about the program, replied to bloggers who were skeptical and basically managed the whole program while "up in the air" while my staff managed the physical aspects and coordinated a few other matters that arose as easily as I did.
Fast forward a bit later, the Boeing Wi-Fi service failed, largely due to lack of usage and high cost of installation and in-flight Wi-Fi went away. For me that meant a continuation of red-eye flights domestically, and a return to sleeping on International flights, something that actually wasn't such a bad thing. But what also reappeared on nights I took international flights was the dreaded arrival inbox of hundreds of emails that needed to be "actioned" in some way shape or form, and some which may have been more critical than others.
With the restoration of in-flight Wi-Fi on their planes, Lufthansa worked with Panasonic to build out the inflight system and Deutsche Telekom in Germany for the Internet. Other airlines, like Virgin Atlantic are expected to add the service too, meaning more flights to get work done more conveniently, as in my book, connectivity equals convenience.
You also have to applaud Lufthansa, and their team which stuck with the idea of in-flight Wi-Fi for four years after the original deployment was killed off. Many companies turn their back on an idea that failed, the same way H-P's board turned their back on CEO Mark Hurd, and near term to their detriment. Not so for Lufthansa, whose team along with Panasonic seemed to since day zero been looking for a solution and was reportedly working publicly on the idea as far back as 2007.
For those who have experienced the peaceful and stressless exiting of an airplane, knowing their email inbox is at ZERO in a far off land, the feeling is pure joy. It's the same joy of having Wi-Fi on a train, like the Heathrow Express or the Amtrak Acela and some Amtrak Surfliners here in California. For me, it's no longer about being simply "Always On." What it's about is the ability to be able to GET ONLINE , and GET OFFLINE as the trip progresses, making sure things that need to be done are getting done, and that nothing that's unexpected arises when it could have been managed. It means no one waiting around, and it also means that as we enter the era of a more greatly accepted remote workforce, as iPass pointed out in their report, and as we'll see it this week's GigaOm Network event, it's access to connectivity, not solely being mobile or having infrastructure is what matters, so having in-flight connectivity is one link in that NetWork chain that matters, and over time, will play a more important role as the business which is conducted remotely, needs to get done face to face, from no matter where one is.
by Andy Abramson at December 05, 2010 03:37 PM
From past briefings with Jonathan Rosenberg, aka Father of SIP, and from the moves of ex Microsofter David Gurle has been making with the likes of Avaya, Cisco, Shortel, all of whom cater to the SMB and Enterprise space, these job reqs further point that Skype is planning to mount an attack up-market. While they do that though, they're be very well served to keep an eye and apply some added effort in the small business market too. Here's why.
Enterprise IT and Security folks are not fans of "new." They want safe. Secure. So while they buy Cisco, Avaya and ShoreTel, they also have a security type who will be far more resistant to change. Smaller market companies are more risk willing. Small business likely already uses Skype and a proof point is Citrix' HiDef Conferencing (a client) which continues to grow as their direct +99 connection via Skype makes for unlimited wideband (hence HiDef) conference calling.
Small business wants bigger business features and are more willing to try new things. Lastly, and most importantly, small business is likely more distributed and less likely to be dependent on the carrier. And the carrier, usually the local exchange carrier (AT&T, Verizon, Qwest) already has the sales relationship with the largest companies while the small guy is less entrenched.
Bigger isn't always better. Sometimes, smaller is faster.
by Andy Abramson at December 04, 2010 04:14 PM
I've been using OpenTable since pretty much day one. I've also convinced enough restaurant operators I have gotten to know to go with it vs. other far more limited solutions. But I'm thinking it's time for a rival. One that's more opened, and not, um, closed.
The biggest peeve is the stupid fact that despite booking online, I always get a phone call to "confirm" I'm still planning to keep my reservation after booking via OpenTable. You see, Open (um closed) Table doesn't pass my email address on to the restaurant. Just my phone number, unless I've done something somewhere to allow them to provide it. Candidly, I'd rather my email address be provided than the phone number. You see, those calls always come in when I'm in a meeting, on an airplane or busy doing something I'd rather not be interrupted.
But there's more closed that makes me less in love with Open (closed) Table than I once was. For starters the guest reliability history isn't shared with establishments. That means for those of us who know how to keep our commitments use there web and app based engine to manage our dining reservations. We don't need to be called if we use Open (closed) Table properly.
In my book, Open Table may be useful, but I suspect there's more cooking elsewhere that will have restauranteurs licking their chops.
by Andy Abramson at December 04, 2010 06:14 AM
Wired.com' s Ryan Singel in Epicenter has a very detailed account of Silicon Valley Wi-Fi hardware provider Ruckus, and how their equipment is changing the wireless landscape.
In a nutshell, Singel reports on how the new Ruckus technology makes public space Wi-Fi work and also sheds light on why earlier efforts never did. As someone who has used Wi-Fi on three continents in the last 14 months, and who spends a lot of time on airplanes, in airports and public workspaces, I can see how, as the global mobile workforce expands, that Ruckus' better radiating Wi-Fi radio systems will only make for a better end user experience. At the end of the day, the better the experience, the happier the customer is, and the lower level of customer service issues that arise.
While LTE is one of the hot buttons for 2011, especially as we will see come this coming January from Verizon Wireless here in the USA, good old 802.11 is not rolling over and play dead.
As a matter of fact, with technology like what Ruckus is putting out it only bolsters what companies like client Boingo, iPass, Aircell with GoGo Inflight, Row 44 and NomadDigital are all doing to keep us all better connected. In the world of eco-system competency, this is only good news for each of them, as the better the experience, the more likely road warriors and the leisure user will have that better experience, resulting in more users and longer sessions wherever the access may be. For the companies that make the connection, it also means more revenues, and likely, lower costs with these new access points.
by Andy Abramson at December 01, 2010 12:58 PM
Video is making strides forward and it's not in the corporate sector, yet. It's in the personal sector. More and more people each day are using video in their one on one communications, largely due to apps like Skype, Sightspeed, ooVoo and DimDim. But the biggest accelerator is FaceTime which more and more often I'm getting FaceTime calls from friends with the new iPhone 4 OS and the front and rear facing cameras.
Why? It simply works. It's having the same impact that Skype has on voice communications. It simply works. That's a far cry easier and in both cases, no IT guy is required. Now let me go one step farther that will totally change the game. It's the next generation iPad which will more than likely have front and rear facing cameras and FaceTime which will (officially) have AirPlay capability. That means I'll be able to use my iPhone or iPad or even an iPod Touch with front and rear cameras on my desk or coffee table and have a video call on my widescreen monitor on the wall or some small, lightweight monitor that's not my PC that I use for scrolling content. As more AirPlay friendly software comes along that supports what I don't need to have on my PC/Mac laptop screen comes along, and the more I can move wirelessly to a second screen, the more video becomes an active part of the conversation and collaboration mix.
Right now, Skype doesn't support video on the iPhone, and only other app that has any traction at all in the two way mobile sector is cross platform Tango that's working on both the Android and iPhone, but on the iPhone it's not yet multi-tasking ready, nor is it likely to be Airplay friendly very soon.
If I was Apple the first thing I would do for 2011 is make all Apple apps on the laptops and iOS devices Airplay ready. Already Airplay in my home office is changing how, and where and with what I use to stream music and video to the 42" monitor on the wall. In less than a week, it's gotten me back into music. Next would be to open up the iOS API's to those companies that get the idea of multi-platform collaboration. Now if you could be pushing your Citrix Online (a client) GoToMeeting sessions from my iPad (where they have a killer app) or Cisco's WebEx presentations using Airplay, cords further get cut and the whole concept of being part of the remote workforce comes greater in to being for even more people.
Next bring personal video into the equation using FaceTime, integrated into (or around) all the apps with multi-tasking, first as one-on-one video, and then as multiparty (think Hollywood Squares frames) and all of a sudden real time collaboration with face to face video is happening on everything from the iOS devices to the Airplay enabled screens around the home and the office, or on a Mac or with none at all.
This kind of capability exists within the Apple eco-system, and some would claim is coming from inside the Cisco world, and we all know Cisco wants to be a world changer in collaboration. Their UMI and upcoming CiUS are based on their Tandberg and Flip camera acquisitions but I would contend that it's easier to get an iPhone or iPad purchase approved and running on the network with Airplay and all I've described above, at a far lower cost, than to go out and buy Tandberg, Polycom, Lifesize or any other full size video conferencing system, and have it work, anywhere versus in a room where it is full time. So while CiUS is portable, it's a divergence device, meaning it does one thing well. The iPad and to its credit the Android powered Galaxy Tab, are multi-trick ponies and when combined with Airplay will do far more than what Cisco is proposing with UMI and CiUS, WebEx and Tandberg systems, at far lower costs, over more networks and at lower bit rates TODAY. If Cisco wanted to really change the game they would work with Apple on cross pollination of FaceTime and Tandberg's video, make their software on their devices Airplay friendly and recognize that the more Apple users collaborate, the more routers and switches the networks need.
Now that would be game changing technology.
by Andy Abramson at November 28, 2010 04:55 PM
Time Warner Cable is now testing faster speed, unlimited VoIP and HD video in Charlotte, NC. This brings with it higher prices.
Here's what this means:
1. Docsis 3.0 is here. All the major cable MSOs are starting to roll it out.
2. Watch for more cable cutting by people who watch what they want to watch using Hulu, iTunes and Netflix
3. The era of the cable bundle is just beginning. Watch for more diverse offerings including more "services" like hosting, back up, security, etc.
4. Business cable services will be on the rise.
5. Relationships with cable companies will matter. Having an MSA with a cable company will mean access and the ability to sell in new services. This is great for Momentum Telecom and IBBS (recent acquirer of SinglePipe)
For AT&T and Qwest, it spells problems as the cable guys are moving in a much more complete solution offering, while only Verizon seems to be thinking like a cable company with FIOS where it's offered.
by Andy Abramson at November 23, 2010 08:03 PM
Cisco recently launch UMI, their version of TV set video calling. Today, one of the VoIPWatch Voyeurs spied just watch the Silicon Valley giant is doing in Atlanta at the Lenox Square Mall to market UMI.
This is called experiential marketing and for Cisco it means following what mobile operators have done for years to build awareness. I have to wonder just how far from the Apple Store Cisco took space :-)
by Andy Abramson at November 21, 2010 08:49 PM
Well last week the cable guys came out and replaced my cable modem and gave me an upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0.
As a business customer of CoxBusiness I learned a few years ago that we just get treated better than the residential customers, so the extra $60.00 a month or so has never been a concern. I get multiple IP addresses that are static, not dynamic, 4 hour service calls with a real technician showing up on site, and premium level service by their support team, plus most importantly, the service that works. In the last five years I can think of only two times we had a service outage, and one of those was caused by the AT&T folks doing something down the street that caused an outage for me and over 1000 others by accident. That was fixed overnight by Cox.
Well now I'm on 3.0 and my speeds have come close to 100 megs down and almost always a solid 7-8 megs up. Downloads are faster, but more importantly video calling is really, really good, as is VoIP regardless of the provider. Cox made a decision to roll out 3.0 to business customers first, and I'm thrilled they did. As someone who uses collaboration in real time with my team and clients around the globe, having a service provider who gets it right is worth their weight in gold. For me 3.0 is one more step towards the truly remote workforce being an even truer reality for many more.
by Andy Abramson at November 21, 2010 06:02 PM
Last month, GigaOM posted the news that Apple is working with SIM card manufacturer Gemalto to cut out the carriers. A new embedded SIM card from Gemalto would allow the loading of the operator-specific data onto the SIM after the phone was purchase. This week, there was news of the GSMA working to allow this type of SIM and of a potential war between Apple and European carriers over this. I’ve researched this type of SIM for the equivalent of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in The Netherlands as a solution to overcome business problems of large-scale, Machine-to-Machine (M2M) users. In itself, M2M is worth an article, but this one focuses on what Apple could do.
If what Apple and the GSMA are proposing ever comes to be, mobile operators as we know it become pipe and delivery men. Imagine if you can use a Google Voice like service to simply point all your phone numbers to whichever country specific number you have.
This is many ways is like client Truphone's Local Anywhere service currently up and running in the UK and USA which is likely where Apple got the idea from.
by Andy Abramson at November 21, 2010 12:13 PM
A survey in the UK shows that a lot of Brits will be looking to connect to the net with a mobile device. That's giving rise to the sale of pocketspots, also known as the MiFi.
As someone who uses both data dongles and 3G/4G Pocketspots from Novatel Wireless and the Sprint Overdrive made by Sierra Wireless, I can attest to their allure and attractiveness for those on the go, especially those of us who carry multiple devices and have urge, need and desire to be connected all the time, even in places some would never wish to be connected.
by Andy Abramson at November 20, 2010 04:38 PM
Tom Keating drew my attention to Konnect, a new Peer 2 Peer telephony system. Years back one of my first VoIP clients inside my agency was a company called Popular Telephony. The company fell on hard times and the intellectual property was eventually sold off for very little money. The idea was simple. A P2P solution for business. The way it works is using the concept of distributed hash taobles.
Based on Tom's account, Konnect seems to be Peerio brought to life.
by Andy Abramson at November 20, 2010 04:34 PM
For years the mobile operators have avoided the reality of the situation when it comes to coverage and solutions. Now comes a report from the New York Times that the leading mobile operators in the USA are contending that wireless boosters interfere with the smooth running of their networks. What's ironic is those "boosters" and some from larger more established technology companies have been around for a few years, and were often used at large technology events to enable coverage in the past. But now, with an investment in femtocell made, the mobile operators are screaming foul, and seeking assistance from their trade body, CTIA and the FCC to limit or eliminate the use of the wireless boosters when in reality the solution to provide coverage in many places really has been Wi-Fi.
The genesis of this craziness stems from something called IMS, a failed idea that was to bring IP and Mobile worlds together, fostered years ago. IMS purists continue to pound away on their idea, and in turn, support/defend their entire approaches over the last ten years or so when it comes to how the mobile world operates. But while IMS may be at the core the right idea, it isn't the solution, and has not proven to be. Femtocells stem from that thinking. Why someone needs to buy a Femtocell to boost coverage, or even a wireless booster to fill in the gap inside a house or office building is even needed is the real issue because for many years Fixed Mobile Convergence technology has been offered to the carriers, and only T-Mobile in the USA, and Orange in France has even dipped their toes in the FMC water, with a UMA solution from Kineto Wireless. This all plays into the idea of Voice Call Continuity that enables a seamless handover between the mobile/cellular network the way the technology from client CounterPath does, based on it's acquisition a few years ago of BridgePort Networks (a former client) which was demonstrated by CEO Donovan Jones this past spring at eComm in San Francisco.
The answer lies in FMC, with the mobile operators and broadband suppliers working together to enable the enterprise, small business and residential customers the ability to use what they already have, and what works to have complete coverage not in Femtoland, where the customer has to buy one more piece of hardware to use at the edge, when FMC technology can solve the problem at the core. For years smartphones have had both 3G and Wi-Fi capability. The software for the phones to be able to switch has been around too. Rather than to have people keep spending more money to solve the problem, all the network folks have to do is let the solutions that are already available come alive. Then, the problem of coverage holes begins to go away, and less and less duplication and overspending goes away too.
by Andy Abramson at November 18, 2010 01:40 PM
It was a Long and Winding Road, but today Apple decided they could just Let It Be. Yes I know. the service's application that almost started a Revolution and wasn't available Yesterday has surfaced today for real, and nobody had to hold a Revolver to anyone's head to make it happen. I mean, every time I was asked if I thought it would be out soon, I would simply say, Tomorrow Never Knows when it comes to Apple and what will come out in the App store.
I'm referring to the new and official GoogleVoice app that's now available in the App Store. Do you think Tim had a Little Help From My Friends to have this day happen? Either way, this means no more Hard Day's Night or Helter Skelter like days and nights around the two tech giants HQs because with the release of the app, GoogleVoice fans now have their Ticket To Ride, and that's alright. Even better. It's free. No paying the TAXMAN, and with the way the app works If You Know My Name, (you can) Look Up My Number.
P.S. I Love You.....
by Andy Abramson at November 17, 2010 06:44 PM
IntoMobile is reporting that Nimbuzz had to drop another Instant Messaging platform, ICQ which is owned by AOL. Previously Nimbuzz dropped Skype under threat of legal action from the Skype attorneys.
I'm not surprised and would expect to see similar noise from Yahoo and Microsoft at some point in the future, not because I agree, but because it makes business sense to be able to control the Voice experience which is how they make some money, not off of the IM chat. No one cares about the chatting, its the minutes that matter. Then again, is either Yahoo or MSFT selling many minutes of calling through their messenger clients?
About the only company that likely won't yell about Open being the new closed is Google, who pretty much doesn't care how someone gets to Google, as long as they do, and with GoogleTalk and Voice, calls are mostly free anyway (except for International calls. One has to realize why companies like AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft all got more deeply into the IM space. It was to get people to SEARCH using their search tools. Well AOL with WebCrawler went nowhere fast. Yahoo, which invested initially in Google, has pretty much lost it's way, leaving really only MSFT's BING as a potential option to Google from the big brands. Even ASK.com is pretty much gone these days.
by Andy Abramson at November 15, 2010 01:00 PM
Friends who know about IT outsourcing like my pal Tony Greenberg of RampRate, have been telling me for years that it's more than just price and SLA's that you have to look for when enterprise scale companies look to make decisions on their purchasing of IT services.
Well it looks like Netflix has taken that type of thinking to heart when they made a decision to shift their Content Delivery Network (CDN) business over to Level3.
For years Akamai has had a vey good run at taking hold of the CDN market, but upstarts like LimeLight and stalwarts like AT&T and Level3 have robust networks of their own and the ability to offer the CDN and more. But Netflix isn't the only content company that is going away from Akamai. A few weeks back Apple announced their deployment of their own data distribution center in North Carolina. For a long time Apple was very loyal to Akamai, but the winds of change are upon companies in the data services business, and while some may call it the Amazon effect at the bottom where their Web Services based offering CloudFront are causing market shake up with startups, companies like RackSpace, SoftLayer with a CDN offering and Joyent are all delivering benefits that previously Akamai was the only kid on the block peddling.
The Netflix move to Level3 at the high end is the tip of the iceberg, or may even be the unwanted tipping point the other way for Akamai, which may see the hockey-stick growth curve, turned upside down. If that happens, Level3, may really be the bigger goal scorer in 2011.
by Andy Abramson at November 13, 2010 05:49 PM
According to Walt Mossberg in this weeks AllThingsD and the Wall Street Journal:
It’s a serious alternative to the iPad and one that will be preferred by some folks. It includes the three most-requested features missing in the iPad: a camera (two in fact); the ability to run Web videos and applications written in Adobe’s Flash software; and multitasking, though, to be fair, the latter feature is coming to the iPad imminently via a software update.
Does this mean the iPad faithful should think about switching? I don't think so. But what this means is the race for apps and app revenue is on, and it also means that companies that are also in the Web Conferencing space need to add the Android OS to their mix. Personally, I love using Citrix OnLine's GoToMeeting (client) as it has streamlined my life when using only an iPad. Like GoToMeeting, Fuze on the Android has VoIP as part of it, so the need for only one device remains.
by Andy Abramson at November 11, 2010 02:38 PM
Phone.com has announced they're now supporting automated speech to text translation services. The new service would be slightly different than PhoneTag, which was purchased in 2009 by Ditech Networks, as PhoneTag is reportedly combining automated transcription with some level of human intervention to insure accuracy. Regardless whether its all automated or has some human help, more and more we're seeing transcription services being an "add-on" to telephony based services. ZIPdx, a company in the conference calling space that is making it's mark with g.722 conferencing added the same feature to their line of conference calling services back in January, 2010.
My view is that the GoogleVoice grade transcription only goes so far for the business user. Often times their transcription services leaves a lot to be desired, with some very obtuse "transcriptions" that are not even close to the message that was left by the caller. Many will also recall the decline of SpinVox, the UK company that raised a fortune, promised all kinds of successes and ended up being picked off by Nuance for peanuts compared to what was invested. SpinVox and PhoneTag have both demonstrated by their subscriber level interest that transcription of voice mail is wanted by a select group of people, and thus the entry into the market by Phone.com can be viewed as a way to differentiate themselves from other SOHO phone business focused providers.
by Andy Abramson at November 11, 2010 09:58 AM
Well, it looks like Sprint will be getting more money from me soon. Not only am I exploring the idea of a new Galaxy Tab, but now it seems the PEEL from ZTE is coming down the pike in a week or so. For me the PEEL may be the first item acquired, as I fully expect better and faster Android based tablets to be released, or at least debuted in a few months time at CES in Las Vegas, and since i'm using my iPad less and my Mac Book Air 11" more, I'm thinking that the iPod touch and a PEEL could cause less use of my AT&T iPhone and with an iPhone likely reportedly coming out on Verizon, who needs the challenging coverage issues of AT&T. Nez pas?
With the Peel and Sprint here in the USA an iPod touch and a soft-client from Truphone (client), CounterPath's Bria (client), Yahoo Messenger, ZipRing or Skype becomes a phone over 3G or WiFi.
by Andy Abramson at November 10, 2010 03:26 PM
As a fan of HD audio and video, it's always heartwarming to see how HD Voice is making its impact around the globe. Over in Egypt, Mr. HD Doug Mohney reports, that Orange is rolling it out on their mobile services. That means the French can call the Egyptians, demo them some more new Mirage fighter planes, and actually let them hear the roar of the sonic boom without ever leaving the bistro.
All kidding aside, HD Voice will make calling over 3G a better experience than over landlines and circuit switched cellular. And just think, it was only a year or so ago that some pundits were penning that VoIP may be dead. Guess they were wrong, because HD Voice is VoIP and it seems to be growing, thriving and making its way around the globe.
by Andy Abramson at November 10, 2010 03:14 PM
Samsung and Polycom are linking up to bring HD video conferencing to the Galaxy tablet. This brings a whole new level of face to face communications.
by Andy Abramson at November 10, 2010 12:15 PM
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