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Posts from August 2006

Packet 8 Turns On The Copying Machine

Packet8 is taking a page out of Sun Rocket's Playbook by selling fully paid in advance rate of $199 a year and offering VoIP phones as part of the deal. This is much like a cellular phone company subsidizing the cost of the hardware to get a long term commitment out of customers.

Why is this a good move? First it makes service and upkeep needs on part of the company more predictable. Second it reduces churn. Third it makes the financial picture more predictable. Fourth it brings in gobs of cash (if the consumers bite) that can sit in the bank (but remains a liability too as it has to be on that side of the ledger).

While I remain skeptical of the long term success of Packet8, they are starting to market better, but they have had a long time to learn how.

Sun Rocket Funds Up

Light Reading is reporting that Sun Rocket, a supplier to client ATS, has raised another 33 million. Clearly this has to be the last round in my view before either an IPO or an acquisition as they have raised $80 million to date.

They also are the third or fourth largest VoIP player who is not part of a cable MSO. Who are candidates to buy them? My eyes go to T- Mobile, and their parent in Germany, which is about to put more umph behind it's USA operations as they embrace fixed mobile convergence.

Both market to similar audiences and both are perfectly poised for one another. In my view Sun Rocket has passed Packet8 in marketing smarts and savvy, while learning lessons from Vonage on what not to do when it relates to customers. They are also a possible purchase target for Earthlink, which has the cash and a very rapidly growing VoIP business under the very astute and business smart Steve Howe.

Do They Give, Or Do They Take

Alec has a follow-up to Katie's story on Developer Programs. Alec is someone who knows about that world very well, for in his former life he launched Internet Explorer for you know who back in the 90s.

Alec remains hopeful that programs will learn their lessons and work with and for developers, not simply take from them. He references a "spin job" note he received from EQO, a company that recently lost their Marketing and Biz Dev lead Ian Bell who got them to the promised Demo Land, and which has changed their web site design yet again.

Saunders also alludes to the newly lauched AOL Developer Program in the post and must be excited about the possibilities of the AIM Phone Line Developer Program for his startup that is a client, iotum. While he gives Skype the benefit of the doubt, one has to be concerned when he cites the lack of some basic requests being fulfilled by the Estonian development team like a call transfer API.

It's Party Time

The party craze is back, and it seems to be happening everywhere.

While I like a good party, I'm also able to remember how the over indulgence in the "ya-da, ya-da, ya-da" econcomy hurt the industry. Too much of a good thing, like the famed rooftop Industry Standard parties in SF that were then countrered by countless others around town ended suddenly when the money stopped being their. Organizations like VIC in L.A. that played such a key role in the growth of the and content culture in the basin left a bad taste in some mouths due to an expansion effort that was just too late.

My concern is that this type of thinking is back and that instead of keeping the eye on the business everyone will be looking for the next big thing.

Telco vs. Cable in the New York Times

Ken Belson in the New York Times compares the quality of the customer service found along the east coast by focusing largely on Verizon and Comcast who are at war for the consumer's dollars.

What's interesting to me is that all the Bells have to do is what they used to do best. Keep the customer happy. Unfortunately their utility mentality kept them from winning the high speed race with DSL and cable won, and cable, which since the 90s has worked very hard on providing a great customer experience only has to keep doing that.

Sadly, as more and more "telco think" comes into the cable world they will forget their roots and lose back the customers they gained if they don't remain customer centric.

Microsoft Going Dual Mode Voice and Big On Video

A trusted source at Microsoft has been overheard saying that they completed a deal to buy 1200 End Caps in Best Buy, Circuit City, and Comp USA to sell the MSN live line of video cameras and Uniden Dual PSTN/MSN phone for the US market.

My source says Microsoft wants to gut Skype at every turn. This also seems to be a possible thrust at the same market that PhoneGnome has carved a nitch with.

As for video, they should just incorporate SightSpeed rather than trying to do something almost as good....