Cisco's Sparkboard For Collaboration Here and There

Cisco's Spark Team has been hard at work redefining their idea of collaboration. While first thought to be a Slack wannabe, Spark is far more than simply a messaging platform. Today's news around the SparkBoard bears that out.

So what is SparkBoard? Think of it as the virtual whiteboard you always wanted. It’s a wireless presentation screen, a digital whiteboard, and an audio and video conferencing system all in one. The Cisco Spark Board helps teams collaborate in physical meeting rooms, but also securely connects to virtual meeting spaces to facilitate continuous workflow before, during, and after everyone has left the physical conference room. The Cisco Spark Board draws its power from the Cisco Spark service, which combines meeting, messaging, calling, and new white boarding capabilities on any Cisco Spark app-enabled device.

What's this mean? With SparkBoard you can present to a group of people who are connected to your whiteboard session, but who don't have to be in the same room. What's more, with the mobile app, people on the go can be part of the session, both observing and participating. 

This also means the idea of remote collaboration really is coming true. I don't know how many times I've watched a presentation, and wanted to write on the screen my thoughts as the presenter is making a point. Or, highlight something on screen for others to pick up on, that the presenter may not be going deeply enough into. With the Spark Plus app features, the app becomes a remote extension to the presentation, letting the viewer become the participant.

Looking at what the Spark team has done, shows that Cisco is integrating their hardware and software teams together. Think WebEx and Tandberg meets Tropos and a few other acquisitions that they have made the last few years.  

How successful will this be? Pricing is key to the success of any service so hopefully Cisco employs a razor blade strategy, giving away the screens, and selling the service so adoption moves quickly.  

The Comunicano for Tuesday January 25th 2016

Andy Abramson
Happy Tuesday. Waking up to the news that one of the tech media’s best has left the building. Quentin Hardy, a fixture on the media scene in Silicon Valley, most recently with the New York Times, is joining Google Cloud.

This move continues the trend of media folks going corporate side.  In other news we have stories worth reading about Amazon, Google, Formula 1, Verizon, IBM, SNAP and AT&T. Those stories are all in today’s Comunicano.

A Big Change in the Tech Media
New York Times editor Quentin Hardy is heading to Google
Augmented and Intelligent
How Alexa Fits Into Amazon’s Prime Directive
From Jingles to Pop Hits, A.I. Is Music to Some Ears
Google Voice gets a new look for its first major update in years - The Verge
All Chromebooks debuting in 2017 and beyond will run Android apps | Ars Technica
The Axe Is Falling
Ecclestone driven out as Liberty Media completes Formula 1 acquisition
Verizon Lays Off Go90 Employees, Tasks Vessel Team With App Rebuild
IBM Touts Trump-Pleasing Hiring Plans While Firing Thousands - Bloomberg
Odds & Ends
How a concerned mother's lawsuit helped get Snapchat to crack down on media companies
AT&T International Pass Limits Phone Costs Abroad to $10/Day

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Sprint Buys Into Tidal-Music to Drive Brand

Sprint is taking a 1/3rd equity interest in Jay-Z's Tidal music service. With AT&T buying Direct TV, and Verizon stepping up to buy Yahoo (maybe), the face of the three telecom giants is quickly shifting from delivering voice and text into being the pipe that roars with content. All this is coming as 5G is around the corner and the battle for who has what on which service begins to rage on.

This move is designed in my mind to further push Sprint into the urban, Asian and Latin markets in the USA, especially with pre-paid, while Verizon goes for the corporate customer, AT&T aims to be all things to all people, while T-Mobile focuses on the consumer. The investment also comes at a time when services like Pandora and Spotify as well as Apple's iTunes all need to get an edge over one another. With Tidal, Sprint is staking its claim to secure some exclusive content that will only be available to its customers, or what's more likely, will be available first to their customers. 

Expect to see more of these types of investments and alignments as Comcast and Charter also start to toss their cash and stock war chests into the fray.

More Patents for 8x8

8x8 is a patent powerhouse when it comes to VoIP. Over the years I've been covering VoIP 8x8 has consistently filed for, and been awarded patent after patent at all layers of the VoIP stack. Today, the company announced that they have been awarded three more in the never ending battle to protect the turf they have established.

  • United States Patent number 9,473,452 titled, “NAT Traversal in VoIP Communication System,” was awarded on October 18, 2016.
  • United States Patent number 9,479,648 titled, “Intelligent Media Relay Selection,” was awarded on October 25, 2016. It is a continuation of U.S. patent number 9,148,519 awarded to the company on January 2, 2013.
  • United States Patent number 9,531,879 titled, “Networked Contact Center User Interface Approach,” was awarded on December 27, 2016 and is a continuation of patent number 8,972,885 awarded on August 29, 2008.

In their announcement they describe what each patent does and why it has value to them.  The first two address call control, or how calls are routed. Clearly, this is all about making sure that traffic is handled efficiently, and with the least amount of delays.

The patent related to network address translator (NAT) traversal in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communication system (#9,473,452) covers an innovation that enables a call control server to use an algorithm to select from proxy servers to route a VoIP session between endpoint devices.

The second patent (#9,479,648) provides a system for a call control agent to intelligently select the appropriate media relay servers that are located at geographically disparate locations relative to each other and then route and maintain the VoIP call through the media relay server

The third is all about the interface and the experience. The key here though is how 8x8 is signaling a bigger effort in the call center space by smartening up the interface that support people see, but dumbing down how to get that done.

The technology in U.S. patent #9,531,879 details how communications systems involving networked contact center interfaces present data in a selectable, user-friendly format.

The Comunicano for Thursday January 19 2017


Andy Abramson
Good morning from wet Los Angeles. We’ve had a good dousing of rain in the area, which in some cases is good, as we need the water. On the other hand, wet weather and Southern California are never really friends.
Today we have news ranging from a look back at the Obama Tech Surge; how governments use app stores as the front line of censorship; a story I’m quoted in on what makes for a great extended stay hotel; and why threaded messages are going to be the new normal. 
Those stories, an infographic on visual communications and more, all in today’s Comunicano.

The Final Days of Obama’s Tech Surge
Clearing Out the App Stores: Government Censorship Made Easier - The New York Times
Ellen Chang of reached out to me a few weeks ago to get insight on my experiences with extended stay type hotels, and to learn what makes for a great long term stay in a hotel. 
My comments fill the column, as it seems I gave great quote!!
5 Hotels for Business Travelers on Extended Trips
Slack is moving in a direction to help people make even more sense out of their messaging platform, but it wasn’t without its challenges. Over a year in the making, the next two stories give you a clear picture of just what was involved.
Slack adds threaded messages to take the clutter out of public channels - The Verge
The Unexpected Design Challenge Behind Slack's New Threaded Conversations
LinkedIn goes from being loved and needed, to being hated for their poor interface. It seems they’re listening and making great strides.
LinkedIn Desktop Redesign Puts Conversations and Content at the Center
3 Ways to Maximize Your Content Reach on LinkedIn
Delivering information the right way is crucial in all modes of communications. Our next three stories provide different ideas on how to best deliver the word.
The Consumers Have Spoken: How Brands Can Survive Crises
The Insider's Guide to Data, Personalization and Automation
Visual Communication: The Next Step in Marketing [Infographic]
Amazon, Apple and Oracle are in the news. Amazon and Apple over books and anti-trust in Europe, while Oracle buys up an API company.
EU antitrust regulators welcome Amazon, Apple audiobook deal
Oracle to buy API development firm Apiary

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The Comunicano for Wednesday January 18 2017


Andy Abramson
It’s Humpday. So let’s help you get over it.

Google is really working to be a major player in mobile phone service. The signs are all there. First cheaper phones. And more viral marketing of Fi. 

Qualcomm is in trouble. Again. FaceBook and France are Friends. Amazon patents the hiway. Evernote updates their app. Marriott takes you to their movies while Seinfeld marries up with Netflix.

Google's low-cost Android One program may expand to the U.S.
Google Extends Project Fi's $20 Referral Program
Want to put your startup in France? Two initiatives that go hand in hand may just make that possible, faster.
Facebook Is Launching Its First Official Startup Incubator
New 4-year French Tech Visa will fast-track foreign start-up talent
Qualcomm can’t get out of battling regulators somewhere. This time it’s in the USA.
FTC Charges Qualcomm With Monopolizing Key Semiconductor Device Used in Cell Phones | Federal Trade Commission
Qualcomm Responds to Complaint from U.S. Federal Trade Commission | Qualcomm
Other news of note!
Amazon patented a highway network that controls self-driving cars and trucks
New Evernote 8.0 is Organization Made Simple from the Evernote Blog
Marriott Takes You To The Movies, While Jerry Makes A Deal with Netflix
Marriott's New Two Bellmen Film Is Targeted Squarely at Asian Consumers
With Jerry Seinfeld, Netflix Might Beat HBO In the War for Stand-Up

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The Comunicano for January 16th 2017 Has Been Published

The Comunicano for January 16th 2017

Andy Abramson
Presenting the debut 2017 Edition of The Comunicano. 
We’re on a new platform, Revue, and the approach will be a bit different too. There will still be at least eight stories a day to keep you informed, and there may even be some commentary.

With each issue we’ll also be making some tweaks and changes so tell me what you think and most of all share the Comunicano.

Top Tech Noise
Top Tech Noise is what’s hot you need to know about today. Being a semi-holiday, not much is happening in the USA news. Here are a few stories to chew on, over that morning coffee.
Facebook rolls out fake news filter in Germany - The Verge
Amazon Echo vs. Google Home vs. Microsoft Cortana vs. Apple Siri
Cartapping: How Feds Have Spied On Connected Cars For 15 Years
Novel App Makes Events Better Using WebRTC
Two Tales of a City
London is clearly at a crossroads with Brexit. On one hand they are touting how vibrant the city is for technology and why it’s a hub. On the other hand the press reports how Tech City has hit the glass ceiling as rents are too high in the Silicon Roundabout and startups are finding it to hard to …START UP there.
London remains tech capital of Europe
Slowdown hits David Cameron's Tech City
London picked as European test bed for Nissan’s self-driving cars
Today is Martin Luther King Day in the USA.
9 powerful images of MLK's fight for equality
Head of Sony Entertainment, Michael Lynton to Step Down and Chair Snap

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Unlimited Data Going Going But Not Yet Gone

You have to love it when the mobile operators entice you with "unlimited data" and then as demand creeps up on them, they start to roll back on what you get, and raise the price too. Over the past two days, both Verizon and AT&T have made announcements impacting the grandfathered "Unlimited Data Plan" holders. Makes you wonder if this is coincidence or collusion at times. I don't think it's either.

It's likely just more reaction to what T-Mobile is doing.

The reality is it's nice that the carriers are finally coming clean on "unlimited" not being that, with speed caps or real limits, but the reality is what about all those months where some never used their full amount of connectivity they purchased. Some operators actually had rollover plans. Funny, I don't see the large operators doing that anymore. But GoogleFi does.

But, given spectrum and wireless bandwidth, as well as connectivity is finite, unless the carriers want to invest some of their profits in creating more data compressing technologies, this approach to limiting usage isn't going to stop.

All this points to a greater need for Wi-Fi and GigaBit fiber at the municipal level. Make use of the dark fiber, at fair prices, and the carriers won't have to worry about being maxed out...

Update---Want more details. Check out the WSJ's Joanna Stern's post that just popped up.