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Posts from December 2006

Skype Journal-Resurfacing Soon?

There's been a lot of back channel and now public noise about Skype Journal, a blog and venture many of us are very fond of.

My hunch is that Phil has to work out what he's doing with some of the folks involved just as other blogs are going through some of the same issues.

Blogs that are more than one person shows have to be businesses. They have to function that way, not as a collection of individuals who share common ideas for when some cracks develop it all evaporates unless there is some form of structure. Jim Courtney is enough of a pro to help Phil through this and even with Stuart off doing his own thing enough of the minds behind, and supporters are all there to help.

I for one am rooting for them to resurface as they provide a valuable service for more than just the Skype crowd and will do my part to help.

Skype Subverts T-Mobile

Many a writer, analyst and blogger have put the label of “disruptive” on Skype.

I think NOT.

The proper term, as I have said before is “subversive” and what the following will prove and point to that exact claim. Now for those who don’t see the fine points of differentiation, disruptors upset the status quo. Michael Robertson at SipPhone, best known for is an example of a premiere disruptor. Subversive types do an Al- Quada  type 9-11 unexpected attack and profit from it.

That’s exactly the category that Skype has to be taken in and always should be.

Not only did Skype set out to disrupt the market, something they have done, but with three independent moves, or what only on the surface would appear to be independent, Skype has subverted their own promotional partner, T-Mobile in a masterful way that I applaud.

Let me first give you the ingredients to this explosive recipe that is clearly inspired by one part “Alchemist’s Cookbook” and another part “Mini Manual For The Urban Guerilla” . The execution is pure asymmetrical marketing, a concept I not only subscribe to but applaud when I see it as it not only on the surface appears to be disruptive, but in the end subverts the very nature of the T-Mobile relationship.

It is pure genius and what’s more unless you looked at the sum of the parts, on the surface everything seems to be just what it is.

But it’s not.

Here are the ingredients

1)    Skype on Sony Mylo available for $349.00 at Best Buy
2)    Skype/T-Mobile Hotspot Free Access For a Year Promotion With The Mylo Upgrade NO CHARGE
3)    Skype Unlimited Calling for $14.95 for one year 

So what does this mean?

Well for starters for the crowd that goes to Starbucks with a cell phone, for what amounts to $365.00 you can make unlimited calls to your friends now who aren’t on Skype with a the Mylo which is also a very useful PDA, music player and lightweight web browse. You add in the free calling and all of a sudden for the hotspot connected, no-need for a mobile phone crowd, the same crowd that Earthlink covets and wants to attract, and you have the very first real salvo at the mobile phone industry, and in true subversive fashion, Skype used the industry’s own infrastructure, or at least T-Mobile’s for their very mission delivery vehicle. If you already have a Mylo this means it stops being a paper weight.

I’m not sure if Sony was a party to the Skype “Pearl Harbor” move on T-Mobile, but as someone who appreciates great execution in marketing, this is one for the books in how to take independent pieces of non-volatile elements and make something up that pure incendiary.


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Mr. Blog Is Right (Again)

Mr. Blog takes a stance on the Skype pricing plan and goes nose to nose with Russell Shaw in a post a few days back.

He's right but one reason I would never consider Skype as a replacement for MY phone service is that it doesn't show Caller ID and that's an essential part of 2.0 calling. The other reason after spending time on the road using softphones, it was Gizmo Project and SightSpeed that were my primary means of staying in touch. Gizmo provides the Caller ID that lets someone know who is calling, and while I have a Skype In Number, I would not use that as it doesn't pass the Caller ID or ANI over. What I did was point my phones to Webley and Grand Central and then let them route to Gizmo or my cell phone number in Spain, France or Germany. When I was in my hotel (except for my last night here in Frankfurt) I was able to receive calls over Gizmo or Truphone on the N8i or E61 from Nokia complete with Caller ID (most of the time).

My Dinner Meeting With Bob

Last night I had a dinner meeting with long time friend and uber blogger Bob Cox. Bob is best known as being the blogger who outed New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd for misquoting President George Bush and standing his ground against the Grey Lady and winning during his run with The National Debate a blog he has since retired, despite it being one of the best ever from the Blog 1.0 era.

For those of you who don't know Bob, he's also the mind behind a very cool and socially important organization, the Media Bloggers Association (MBA). In the sake of full disclosure I'm also the Treasurer and a board member of the group that is working with leading media organizations and media attentive organizations in the public eye to provide a working framework that will enable bloggers to be viewed in the proper light, and with the proper respect.

Bob and I have a long history and friendship that spans now ten years. As a matter of fact, if I had to put the root of how I met my future wife, Helene, Bob was the cause, as he pretty much insisted that I attend the 2004 BloggerCon at Stanford and while Bob and his family live in New Rochelle, NY we do our best to stay in touch regularly using all the tools available.

At the dinner meeting Bob brought me up to speed on all the current and near term things that are happening with the MBA. Some are right on course and others are downright mind boggling how Bob has been able to make some very impressive things happen. I mean the new web site is nothing compared to what Bob and the MBA has coming in 2007.

Bob shared all this with me in real time as we collaborated on ideas and caught up on what's going on with friends, family, bloggers and some cool concepts we've been passing back and forth during our 90 minute or so dinner meeting.

Given the distance it's not often I see Bob as much as we'd both like to. As a matter of fact it was great to see how fast two of his children have grown up when the happened by, and for me it was fun to orient them on some very good cooking at a lovely little bistro in Paris' 12th district.

Oh did I forget to tell you, I was in Paris for this dinner, but Bob, was still home in New Rochelle, NY and since I was dining alone, and had the laptop with me, I fired up SightSpeed and "had a dinner meeting with Bob."

Since the bistro, Jean-Pierre-Frelet, was pretty much mine at 930 PM in Paris, as Paris is pretty much deserted for the holiday weekend, and because there was an open hotspot with amazing speeds, SightSpeed allowed Bob and family to enjoy a dinner with me, and as a result his wife now has a dinner reservation when she and her sister visit Paris in early 2007. The family that owns the bistro was intrigued, but since they met Bob too, they seemed to chalk me up as a tech savvy dude..Nice...

If you don't believe me. Just ask Bob!

As you know I'm into Working Anywhere, and based on the collaboration which Bob and I had last night, I can feel comfortable knowing I can literally be anywhere working. The SightSpeed video was perfect, the audio better than phone quality and the ability to look over between bites and talk to Bob while dining was a great use of time management. As a responsible board member knowing what's going on is important and beyond reading the MBA Wiki, hearing from Bob always brings more color to things.

Oh and to go one step further, this post is coming to you from the Cafe Du Metro and their SpotCoffee see, Working Anywhere is really easy!

Click To Call Gaining Steam

Luca and his team at Abbeynet have signed a deal to make Click to Call more available, we have exclusively learned. According to the news release:

myBlueZebra, a start-up company based in New York and founded by Andrea Tessitore and David Freyer selected the technology developed by Abbeynet to complement it’s innovative web based click-to-call services. Abbeynet, based in Cagliari, Italy, will provide its own VoIP technology to myBlueZebra for all European and Asian markets.

Abbeynet’s solution uses the same technology of Sitofono, a click-to-call application that allows users to make a free phone call clicking on a specific icon on web sites. The technology is easy to use and is the result of seven years of research and development conducted by Abbeynet.

The click-to-call solution is easy to use and doesn’t require any software downloads. Users can either speak through their computer or connect directly to a business listing using their normal telephone.

Simplicity and convergent technologies constitute the main focus for both Abbeynet and myBlueZebra.

Expect more on this as the day progresses as more of the world wakes up.

Nokia N93 Video Calling to the Rescue Perhaps?

Luca's tale of needing to have a hospitalized relative see a grandson is heartwarming.

While he doesn't go into a verbose detail, he pretty much sums up the future of mobile video.

On a personal note, Nokia is an agency client. It's very heartwarming to see the imagination that people are putting into using new next generation devices. Another member of the Nokia Blogger Relations Program uses his N93 to lull his baby to sleep.

The goose bumps I'm feeling knowing that technology that we're involved in is making a change in people's lives is more of a rush than one can imagine. For years I've done things to help people via a charity efforts and other pursuits. That feeling has always been most rewarding, but today, reading both posts has made me realize that sometimes being able to enable others to be solving "old" problems is really our role in life.

My thanks to David and Luca, two "friends" I have never met for making my day....

Thanks Grand Central!

Lately I've noticed a series of calls coming in to my GrandCentral number from off shore. The people call at odd hours or worse when I'm sleeping. Since I rarely turn off my cell phones or soft clients where agency client GrandCentral is routing calls to I am thrilled at the ease of one click and send them to voice mail that GrandCentral lets me do. I do the same with my Webley number via a rule so between the two, I'm not reachable when I don't want, or need, to be, but with voice mail by email, I don't miss a call.

Besides, the going Not Available sure beats being awakened in the middle of the night :-) by a call from someone who clicked on my SitoFono link!

Alec On New Presence

Alec Saunders is continuing his theme on how presence is redefined.

His insight, based on experience at building out iotum (an agency client) is not from some armchair quarterback, but from being involved on a day to day basis of how to solve communications problems using relevance as the core.

What Alec is bringing to light is so important, as real time, always connected people need more balance in their lives, and relevance via iotum will help make that a reality.

VoIP is A Taxing Matter

It seems the folks in Baltimore want to tax Vonage.

The same thing happened a few years back in California so I don't see this as a battle that won't stop happening, especially as more and more of city's tax bases erode with new technology.

For example, the tax revenue generated from coin boxes/pay phones is pretty much a goner due to the cell phone market. All cities are trying to do is recover what they are losing by replacing tax that would have been collected on one product/service with what is replacing it.

Again, the DUCK test applies. Unless something is so different, why should the way we treated it's predecessor be handled any other way. That said, IM based phone service that doesn't use the PSTN is not the same in my book and as such needs new and different tax and FCC handling. The tax on the sale of minutes that can terminate to the PSTN is handled by sales tax, and states have a way of dividing that up.

As such, the entire way taxes are handled in the USA may also need major reform as the current in place system doesn't have any way of adapting to a world where technology is moving so fast.