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February 2007

Posts from January 2007


HoneyPitch is web based application that makes developing and collaborating on presentations and sharing documents that are designed for one thing. Getting business.

But it goes past collaboration by providing prospects a way to interact, see video messages and most importantly review and approve agreements.

HoneyPitch makes it easy for nomadic teams to work together, but more importantly, to get the business in an easy to use and collaborative way.


The idea of working anywhere doesn't just apply to nomadic executives. Now a new company called ShipWire has done the same thing for companies which want to have remote shipping and inventory management.

The beauty of ShipWire is how they have made their presence transparent to their customer's customer. What's more their geographic spread and planned buying power to bring costs of shipping down makes this something perfect for the cottage industry of eBay sellers. As a matter of fact if this company takes off look for them to be a perfect buy for eBay as they are already accepting PayPal.

For the forgetful who need to make verbal notes to themselves a new offering from QTech-Incorporated called ReQall is about to go live. Here's an easy to use "talking" application that is very reminiscent of SpeechMachines and MobileWord but lets users make short "verbal jotts" like you would on a note pad that can be played back from a phone. As time goes on they claim they will have an application that works on mobile phones for fast calling in, as well as a desktop widget/gadget that makes it easy to see, playback and manage your "jotts."

Fring Is Here

I first got to see an early version of FRING at fall VON last September. Then the program was rough and really in an true development state.

Now, some five months later, FRING is out the door and ready the company says for prime time to bring p2p calling on a variety of mobile phones.

Fring is a peer to peer communications program that lets mobile users talk for free between one another over WiFi, 3G or GPRS. What's really interesting is the folks at FRING have engineered a way to talk to Skype users as well as Google Talk users from within the the Fring client. This is interesting because Skype seems to have abandoned efforts for the time being to be in the mobile market. For months we've been hearing tha there was going to be a Symbian Skype client but at CES I heard this was far from close to happening, something that has Symbian fans scratching their heads.

Fring solves that and actually offers users a wider option of calling possibilities.

What's I like about Fring is that it encourages the sale of data plans, something mobile operators will like, and doesn't directly steal minutes, as the shift to the data side clearly means the carrier gets something. For the calls that run over WiFi what Fring has done is created real time voice for free. With services like this and new Video PTT (push to talk) services like EyeJot coming to life the way people communicate over their mobile phones is rapidly changing.

More Thoughts On GizmoCall

As I drove out to Palm Springs for DEMO yesterday I started to think about GizmoCall and what it means as clearly there is a lot to it that's not all seen just yet. Knowing how Michael Robertson like to think (small clients, cloud based 2.0 technology) the way he has since makes it easier for me, because if anything Michael has vision and tends to execute on that vision better than most. At the end of the line, he wants to sell SipPhone but to get there he has to take some very calculated, but not always easily understood steps.

Others like Adobe are already working on Flash based VoIP calling solutions and as I said in my original post yesterday, GizmoCall really beats then to the punch by not only releasing a Flash plug-in, but also surrounding it with a full blown service supporting it that offers free calling. From the accounts I've heard it appears Adobe is trying to charge people just for the plug-in, so Robertson's approach of free plug-in should put a quick end to that insanity. The plug-in idea is rather neat. GizmoCall weighs in under 1mb as a plug-in on Windows and is about twice that on OSX. It doesn't take up a lot of memory and it works as promised. Like Skype, GizmoCall and GizmoProject are now using the GIPS plug in, which makes for a very clean audio experience. There is also the very TalkPlus like user configurable Caller ID that lets you pick the number you want displayed. This is great for people who make a fast call from GizmoCall and end up leaving a message as the Caller ID will show the number the caller wants displayed.

When I called Gizmo founder Michael Robertson for comment he was mum on some details. The usually talkative Robertson said there are some things cooking in a lot of directions but one thing he did get into on the subject of costs of phone calls with GizmoCall and how he plans to change the game. "Users get 5 minutes of free calling if they are on an unregistered per machine per day and 10 minutes of free calling if they are registered (i.e. registering requires only an email address). To make longer calls they can buy call out minutes, but that's not interesting to us in the long run. What is interesting is advertising revenue that is used to pay for calling. Because the call is not only initiated, but transpires in the GizmoCall browser we have the ability to insert effective targeted advertising in and around the consumer calling experience like nobody else."

This plays into why keeps offering free calls, or very low priced calls and is why I don't see them as a "minute stealer" or low cost calling play. That's a game where everyone is a loser and Robertson is smart enough to know that already. What Gizmo is doing overall is expanding their calling network so with GizmoCall a user can call PSTN numbers, but they can also make unlimited and almost no cost to the network type calls to GoogleTalk users, Windows Live, Gizmo Project, enum o any SIP device/address. Given the relationship with Nokia that SipPhone already has in place I figure Robertson and company will also be looking expand that presence as it is plain as day to me that handset and device imperialism is clearly on GoldenBoy's mind these days.

So while today GizmoCall is designed for outbound only calling, if I tune in to the KenRadio Crystal Ball I can see that more than likely GizmoCall will be expanded to also include inbound calling. There is absolutely no reason for it to be a one-way play, and once that happens the softphone market really gets ugly for companies like CounterPath and SJ. I would also not be surprised given if Robertson and company would also add in video across their entire product line. It's too logical, and now that they are working in a browser based world they could emulate SightSpeed's web based concept, though in my book the two should team up and not compete.

Gizmo Brings Easy Calling to The Web

Today around 8:00 AM or so the folks at GizmoProject will roll out GizmoCall, a new web based calling service.

What makes this something cool is that you can make calls today and in the near future receive calls in a browser. That means you don't have to at YOUR computer, you can be at ANY computer.

In many ways the folks at SipPhone, the company behind GizmoProject, have done what Adobe has been hoping to do, and yet not doing. That's taking a Flash plug-in and putting a telephone calling service around it so it works within the web browser.

Om comments in his Web Worker Daily piece that you should be able to trigger a call to another number, like a cell phone. That's a big idea and one that won't escape any of the SIP oriented voice 2.0 companies out there. Already it's possible to bridge PhoneGnome and GizmoProject in such a way as you can log in via Gizmo and it registers with PhoneGnome (or vice versa) which means that if my PhoneGnome number rings, a number which is really a plain old AT&T PSTN number, that 'Gnome turns it into a SIP call and routes it to Gizmo, for free. If another PhoneGnome user called me, it would have been a SIP to SIP call and ended up on my Gizmo number. That means any browser I'm at, is where I can receive calls.

So what does this mean? Well for starters since you can point any SIP service to GizmoProject it means that the idea of a softphone as a piece of software becomes unneeded, because any browser now becomes a softphone. That's very similar in approach to VoIPster and Abbeynet, but with a difference. GizmoPoject already has hundreds of thousands of users and they have built some telco relationships with carriers such as SingTel. Gizmo also leverages Level3's network and capabilities and since migrating away from some Tier 2 carriers here in the USA has seen their quality steadily rise.

For the road warrior this is a great solution. It means your phone number, and your calling, once you install the plug in, is only a screen away.

Joost..Why Get Excited?

I'm having a hard time getting excited about P2P video given the kind of bandwidth limitations most people have at home. Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of it, I'm just concerned what it means to our network infrastructure, or the lack of it.

The average user at home has somewhere between 256k and 768k upload speeds. Sure there are the ads that promise more, but the way DSL and cable broadband networks work is at some point before you get onto the real internet you're sharing the pipe like a party line used to be shared and when all the kids come home things like jitter, packet loss, latency and simply traffic overload starts to impact things.

Last year at the Demo 2006 winter conference in Tempe, AZ, the host hotel never notified their supplier, Wayport, of the conference's planned presence. The result, hundreds of the always need to be connected executives all fighting for bandwidth. Some couldn't even log on.

So imagine what happens with video which requires even more bandwidth than Voice. Let's face it, it's one thing to be the only person on a T-1, but a shared pipe that's got everyone doing everything (voice, video, data, gaming, IMing, etc.) is the next place we're going to see Information highway gridlock.

Our networks in the USA are not built for what is coming, nor will they be as rapidly expanded as they need to be. My experiences in Europe are far different now than they were a few years ago. When I'm in a hotel which has a quality broadband network my experience is T-1 like. In most Internet cafe's in major cities I have a similar experience, but here in the USA we don't have the luxury of the networks being built to handle all that's coming.

This is why I'm concerned about Joost and other new broadband networks, and why the ilecs like Verizon and AT&T are pushing the concept of IPTV and Fiber to the Premise or Fiber to the Curb. There is only so much that you can put through a pipe and P2P video is one of those that will be taking up a lot of it.

This is all before the carriers start to figure out how to really handle packet priority while still being net neutral, but that is for another post..

Network World's 10 Things To Know About VoIP

Network World has a few lists that are worth checking out that just made it to the web.

The first one, Ten Things To Know About VoIP is great for IT managers who are now being asked to make the jump from PSTN to VoIP at their companies.

There are also a few sidebars that focus on companies to watch, though the one about Ten companies is a dead link as of now.

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