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Right Place, Right Time

I don't want to turn this into an ad for iotum and PhoneGnome (or my agency) but the VoIP blog world is a buzz with what the power of relevance means--presence and context-meaning right place, right time a the new way to receive the calls you want, where you want, on the endpoint you choose.

Alec Saunders today summed up what has been going on since Bruce Stewart broke the story about the iotum and PhoneGnome relationship . Others have jumped in, including Skype Journal's Jim Courtney and some allied posts from others which Alec has linked to begin to really tell the story.

To put it simply, the relationship, which I have to admit, I helped broker, is about bringing Voice 2.0 applications to the masses by providing an opportunity for both PhoneGnome and iotum to really show what they are doing differently. To me, differeniation by applications is what it's all about. For as long as I've written this blog my feeling has been that applications are the key to differentiation, not price, something Level3's Cynthia Carpenter's research keeps proving out. As her exhaustive research has indicated to date people don't just want to save money with their new phone service. What they want is more. And, the "more" is about what they want and need, as well as who they buy it from, more than just a lower price ala Vonage.

Back in September I came up with the concept of "Me Too, Me Also, Me Different" when I spoke to a few hundred people at internal company meeting of a company whose name is unimportant to this discussion. The basic premise was that the current VoIP offerings for the most part were nothing more than PSTN, or Voice 1.0, and that all the players were doing the same things, in what was a classic copycat style. The "Me Different" is what we strive to see from clients. Not "me too" offerings, but what can truely make them different so a story can be told. PhoneGnome, which I have used myself since late July of last year, is a "different" kind of product. I even cited both PhoneGnome and iotum as examples of that in the presentation.

You see, a PhoneGnome is not a plain old Sipura 3000 that's just dressed up. It has a lot of sweat, tears and dedication from a team that has made VoIP applications easy to add and even easier to use the same way that David Beckemeyer and his crew made the Internet easy to get onto for EarthLink back in the 90s.

PhoneGnome also sets out to cure the pain of local number portability by not requiring a person to switch telephone providers, nor have them fear the loss of 911 or 411 services because PhoneGnome really, truely compliments, and upgrades someone's regular PSTN phone service, by giving owners the ability to add the capabilities and services of VoIP today and tomorrow, without having an owner have to deal with the hassles of switching, programming or doing any taxing efforts. It's plug in, and go play at its easiest.

Enter iotum, the company that will brings sanity to our lives. Pal Bill Ryan quiped one day that iotum is in the attention management business, helping you avoid interruptions. I like that description, especially in light of how we can always work and play at the same time, yet still need to be found by those that need us as our lives have gotten more complicated due to the fact that the Internet makes the world a very small place. With iotum now working with PhoneGnome, I have even more control over who reaches me when than I ever had with CommuniKate (aka Webley) or AT&T's CallVantage, which until now, were my two defining examples that all other unifed, find me/follow me had to live up to.

This is a defining moment in Voice 2.0, and that's a kick Alec Saunders has been on, even in advance of Yahoo's Brad Garlinghouse, who presented an almost mirror image of Alec's 2.0 Manifesto at Fall VON in Boston, last fall. To be able to work with both Alec and David and watch how fast this integration took shape and to have witnessed how easy it ws to develop, integrate and deploy this 2.0 application as well as to now see how easy it is to use is both a credit to their professionalism, as well as their technical aptitude. In many ways I'm just in awe.

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