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Posts from May 2006

More M&A's Coming?

Looks like the M&A efforts will continue if Light Reading is on the money with one. But my sources say it's more of a OEM or reseller deal.

I met with the leadership of Sylantro that was at VON and found very little "new" that they would say with the company so maybe a shakeup led by Nortel will cause some creativity to rise.

Over the years Sylantro has always been the App Server that wants to be a switch. The confusing Sylantro storyline and lack of announcing real sales that they have made has hurt them. Maybe they'll change their tune soon.

I'll keep watching, but I won't be holding my breath.

The Vonage DeadPool

Om has started with a polling widget what I consider the first of what will be many Vonage Deadpools with his analysis of the Vonage IPO.

What's interesting is how small a number of his informed and literate readers have any confidence in Vonage's stock price rising north of it's IPO price of $17.00.

What's also interesting is all the Vonage customers who for years have thought they were saving money with the VoIP service and opted to buy into the IPO at $17.00 saw in a matter of minutes all their savings turn into losses. I guess that's what made Vonage such a great deal for them :-(

Dan Farber on the New SightSpeed

Dan Farber, one of the more veteran technology editors out there who hangs his hat at ZDnet has a very good write up on client SightSpeed's new beta version of their upcoming 5.0 release.

I've been using it today and have to say the video is out of this world. The new codec makes the best even better. Given a Skype representative last week at VON said that their own video product wasn't really that great yet, one has to realize that the bar just lifted to a new level.

My Thoughts on The Vonage IPO

Many will look at the first day performance of the VONAGE public offering as an indictment for VoIP overall. That's not fair, nor is it accurate. What has happened in my view is that the Emperor's new clothes scenario has run its coure, but now everyone can see.

The public offering was largely a means for many of the early round investors to cash out and gain some sense of liquidity. It also provides Vonage with about the only route to go for more hard cash to grow and expand. Some may say that they did a lousy job of telling their story, but maybe there was nothing really to tell. At the end of the day Vonage is a marketing and customer acquisition machine that sells VoIP services. Their costs to acquire customers are just about highest in the business and with the cable MSO's able to market for almost free it's clear that Vonage's "spend to acquire" strategy is nothing but a sewer drain for the investor's dollars.

In Vonage's early days they started to work with some independent cable operators, but never really scored the big ring. Instead companies which provide the plumbing, the hardware and technology to offer VoIP won that business from the MSO's who used a combination of buy and build to grow their business base. Already the top three or four MSO's in the USA dwarf Vonage in number of customer's using VoIP. The telcos will roll out VoIP just like the did with DSL and at the end of the day the largest suppliers of VoIP will be the same companies that supply broadband, with the more nimble, smarter and different companies coming into play who see how to offer services the established MSO's and incumbents don't. Over time those that tended to be the early pioneers like Vonage will have withered on the vine or died not because they didn't go out to win business, but because at the end of the day they offered nothing different.

Back in the day when Jeff Pulver was involved with Vonage, before his role was so diminished that he was nothing more than a shareholder, Vonage had someone who saw what was about to occur and was in a position to help. Jeff, who started on Wall Street, could have helped them steer the right course of being different, especially over the past three years, but instead Vonage's management went their own ways and basically have not changed one thing in the service offering of any note since their launch. Telephone service that comes over broadband.

So really, this reaction to the stock price is not a reflection of how VoIP will do, for VoIP, especially with new and different services coming on line every day that can only be delivered by IP will do very well in the hands of companies with real leadership and vision, not just a sales model that costs more to acquire the customer than will ever pay back.

No, this reaction is a show of no-confidence by Wall Street in the company, their leadership and their approach to business. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Oh, none of what I'm saying hasn't been said before. It's just that those who need to know chose to see the Emperor's New Clothes, not how naked he really was.

Applause For Sonus

Sonus has gotten high marks I hear from an upcoming report crafted by Infonetics that's all about the "Service Provider Next Generation Voice and IMS Equipment Market Forecast."

The Infonetics report named Sonus the market leader in a few categories including the worldwide trunk media gateway segment where they hold 16% of the total market and the high density gateway market with 22% of the total market.

This really bodes well for Sonus and their IMS-ready solutions. They currently support over 19 billion minutes of voice traffic per month and have installs at AT&T, AOL and Earthlink to name a few.

The Era of Disposable Numbers

AOL is giving away phone numbers with AIM Phone Line for free and that's a great way for people to start creating what I have tabbed Shadow Numbers. Now you can give someone your number and never have to worry that if you want to break of talking with them that your real number ever gets known. Can you see a huge opportunity in the dating market for companies like LavaLife and I can.

Now United Online has responded with Private Phone, a me too offering, but with a twist. You can call in to get the new number. Smart.

Blogging Slow Down Mean A Catchup

I'm on the last day of a continual road trip that started before VON Europe. Tomorrow would be day 14 of non-stop away from home efforts.

The interesting news obviously is the stock pricing of Vonage and their officially going public.

Likely lost in all the hoopla around Vonage is the amended complaint by Streamcast against Skype and 21 other parties including eBay which I first reported on back in March.

Yahoo has added iBasis to their voice platform. I used it a bit in Europe, but am anxious to see when the new Mac client that was rumored to be coming this month comes alive. Now that he's become a "senior" VP at Yahoo, Brad Garlinghouse will have more on his plate than just talk so it's time to really live the vision of Voice 2.0 and the Mac is an ideal friendly platform for it.

I got to use AOL's new AIM PhoneLine on my PC which I also totted along on the European jaunt. I was also an invited guest to the Monday champagne toast celebration of the successful launch of PhoneLine. Sr. VP Ragui Kamel and his team (Peter B, Alex Q, Mike R, Mike C and Sharon K) all made me feel right at home much like Yahoo did a few months back.

My calling experience with AIM Phone Line has been solid and like Yahoo, the PSTN termination and inbound calling works very very well.

JahJah added Plaxo to give them enhanced click to call capability.

Last but not least Gizmo Project updated to 2.0 and added real Asterisk support. When I was in Scandinavia I made extensive use of Gizmo to talk to my office team and Helene. One of the exciting things about Gizmo is how they have the Mac soft client nailed. Michael (Golden Boy) Robertson and his team led by pal Jason Droege have also successfully implemented a version on the new neat and nifty Nokia Internet Tablet 770 under the Internet Tablet update to OS 2006 that goes general release later in June. I'm looking forward to working with that as the Internet Tablet may become the Swiss Army tool of choice when I'm running around North America during the day...then again the new 13" Mac Book has also arrived :-)