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Posts from April 2007

Skype Says "Call Your Mother"

Skype has announced a program only a Mother could love, called, the "Gift of Gab"

With the “Gift of Gab,” U.S. and Canadian residents can use Skype to call anyone, anywhere in the world for free all day on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13th). That’s twenty-four hours to call mom, your best friend or other members of the family, without paying a dime. It doesn’t matter if that special someone is in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America or right around the corner.

Why Mother’s Day??

- Mother’s Day is the busiest calling holiday of the year, so there’s no better day to make calls for free.

- Sixty-two percent of moms just want a phone call saying I love you on Mother’s Day, yet only 35% actually receive phone calls, according to a new survey commissioned by Skype.

- 42% of adults say they see or talk with a parent (especially Mom) every single day, up 10% since 1989. Now all that chatting won’t cost anything!

If you recall a few weeks back I mused about Skype entering the phase in life of having to promote. This is one example, and by bringing in Intel they widen their reach and deepen credibility.

"Nicely done, sonny."

Protectionist Move-Vodafone Adjusts Mobile Rate Plans In UK-VoIP and P2P Targeted

Why do I feel like we're all watching a very predictable game of chess?

In what may be more an admission that their network really isn't built for VoIP or P2P yet, or what could be a very defensive tactic, global mobile operator Vodafone is making it both cheaper for a data plan on a phone or data card on one hand, but more expensive on the other to do the things most people would want the plans for..

Vodafone is going to break out costs for P2P communication and VoIP (which is actually P2P once the call set up is completed). To be very protectionist in nature, they have lumped in Instant Messaging, clearly to not lose revenue from the high margin SMS business, into P2P communications.

Being Social in 2.0

The New York Times today has an excellent story on social communications and how it is rapidly becoming the 2.0 generations idea of texting.

Using services like Twitter, Jaiku and a few others these days have made SMS almost passe for me. But, using them responsibly is the key. Yesterday someone asked me what's the polite way to take someone off your Twitter list, because the person had become a nuisance. My advise was to tell them why.

I've used Twitter a lot in the last few weeks, but as rapid messaging system to get information to people and as a fast way to set what I call "casual status."

For example, when I was on the train yesterday coming back from a weekend trip to Santa Barbara I let folks know where I was and what I was doing. Even though I was online almost the entire trip up and back via my EvDO card from Sprint there was this calming effect of not being slammed by IM's and emails that Twitter provided. Of course the tweets from Twitterific do cause some to take notice, but all in all, it was like IM meets SMS for me, and that was a good thing.

T-Mobile Dash Users Can Now Make VoIP Calls

The good folks at HowardForums have uncovered a way to unlock the hidden secrets of VoIP on the T-Mobile Dash.

The Dash has been selling well in different parts of the T-Mobile world, so now with VoIP made available, the WiFi side of the device takes on another dimension, including how it can be used in T-Mobile hotspots, like Starbucks, which gives a whole new meaning to SIPing at the coffee shop.

Southwest Airlines Looking At WiFi In The Sky

I'm a very frequent flier on Southwest Airlines. About 10 flights a month on average when I'm in the USA. You can imagine just how happy people like me will be with WiFi on the flights.

Having used WiFi during the Boeing Connexion era last year on international flights the feeling of getting off a plane and being all caught up on email, and blogging, is rather relaxing. Personally, I'd love to beta test this once SouthWest gets it up in the air.

The Right Hand and The Left Hand

SkypeJournal has a rather interesting account of some of the latest actions from Skype, and its possible they may be a target next. I honestly thought that under the ever improving reign of Skype GM Henry Gomez, a person well versed in public relations, crisis communications and overall how to keep things on good terms from his years of Telco and Finance communications expertise, that things like this in Skype had stopped, for they had. This became most evident after they switched agencies dealing with the Bloggers and Media from Spark PR in SF to Kaplow in NY and Henry started spending a lot more time in London.

In business this is called protecting the trademark, and while I'm not a trademark and copyright attorney, I can safely say that letters like that go out all the time. Those with understanding simply do what my lawyers once told me to do the first time I received one back in my days at a top ten ad agency. That was after we ran a promotion to give away a JEEP, and had already in the print ad in USA TODAY disclaimed that Jeep was a registered trademark of Chrysler Corporation. I followed the lawyers instruction. I threw the letter in the trash.

So to follow the fine advice I had received all Jan needed to do (if he hadn't done it) was to disclaim ownership of the Skype name on his blog. Since the word Gadgets is generic he can't protect that or the combined name, as he owns neither, any more than I can claim VoIPWatch as the Pulver folks had it first.

The reason letters like that go out are to simply for the purpose of being able to demonstrate that Skype is seeking to protect their trademark, so it does not become generic, the same way Kleenex and Xerox have done for years to keep their marks from evaporating, because there's equity in a brand name.

Hopefully after Henry and his counselors return to the office on Monday some cooler and more logical heads will prevail. The attorney was only doing their job, but in this case, its about the Right Hand, telling the Left Hand how to do it and why that kind of approach was needed.

Update-- After reading Russell's post of the letter I'd say also that the web site owner may have overreacted a bit. While a lot of the letter is overkill, as boilerplate tends to be, the closing graph that Russell has posted shows that all the attorney is really saying is they won't endorse (i.e. give permission) for promotional activities. This is far from a takedown demand, but does make one wonder if some other protectionist activities are afoot.

Even with that said, cooler heads should have been involved here, especially when you consider the person with the two web sites has a relationship with some folks associated with Skype in a positive, and promotional manner.

The Digital Divide in the Land of The Rich

I'm in Santa Barbara, which like Palm Springs is the playground of the rich and famous, especially in the ritzy enclave of Montecito, just to the south. Here we are, in a $325 a night hotel in downtown Santa Barbara, just blocks from pal Doug Margerum's soon to be sold Wine Cask and the cell service of Cingular is non-existant. To pain the picture, the hotel walls are two feet thick. The glass is double paned and we're on the second floor. For cell coverage, that all spells double trouble.

Am I cell less? Nope. Both my Nokia N95 and Nokia E61i have dual mode capability and are running Truphone, as well as GizmoProject being available on the N95 and N800. While Helene has been getting some sleep, I've been on a series of business calls all morning, and candidly, no one noticed a single problem. The calls were pristine, with total clarity, and thats with both Helene and I on laptops, and my Nokia N800 wailing away to the sounds of Oasis and the Stereophonics.

And just like the closing words of KenRadio's "World Technology Roundup" which I cohost with Ken Rutkowski, I'm "staying connected."

So much for the digital divide for those of us who know how to cross it.

Love and Hate At The Same Time

Rich has a very good point about the love and hate relationship that exists between the mobile operators and the handset manufacturers. That same feeling of mistrust and distaste also exists between the carriers and companies like Qualcomm and other massive licensors who have the upper hand.

The bottom line. The farther down the food chain you are, the more you have to suck it up and learn how to manage in that environment.