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Posts from September 2007

Comcast's Own Trash Talk The Company

A post on the Consumerist takes another shot at Comcast. Honestly, this post makes the phone company look good these days.

But its more than Comcast that needs to retool how they deal with their customers. A recent experience with a new defective Blackberry 8700 and RIM had me spending more time in hours to try to "repair" it than it costs. The hurdles I had to go through to get an RMA was such a time suck.

The same occurred recently with AT&T when my TA for CallVantage went through an issue. I was insisting that the firmware updates they were doing broke the TA. Finally they sent two replacement units. The third time the TA flamed out, I went to a friend inside AT&T who got someone senior to address the issue. It seems I was right back in June, August and now again in September. Since the slight change in settings was made, no more outages, and no more need to unplug and plug in the CallVantage Telephone adapter. It works as it always did before the series of firmware updates.

Customer Service is a misnomer. These departments work to the benefit of the company and the efforts are usually geared towards "fixing" what's broken vs. replacing the broken item. For software I can see that approach, but when it comes to hardware, sometimes just getting a new one is better.

Skype Mashup Winner Is JiWire-Great App, But Where's The Mac

I spent a large part of Thursday afternoon with the dynamic duo of Skype Journal, Phil Wolff and Jim Courtney discussing Skype, the Skype Eco-System and Skype Journal. The combination web site, blog and advice for Skype users/developers that comes out of those two is a real key to Skype's future as it provides the primary sounding board of what's hot or not from the start. Their endeavor with a Mashup competition was a stroke of genius and sorely needed in the Skype world. Bravo!!!

Jim's coverage of the Mashup competition winner, JiWire is first rate, but I have a rub with the whole Skype Developer Program over all.

Lack of Mac.

Too many of the apps developed for Skype, including the winners in Europe (PamFax) and now JiWire lack any real Mac versions.

I came to this conclusions after I booted up my Flybook and was blown away by the JiWire Hot Spot locator app that I installed over lunch and plan on installing PamFax plug in when I log on next with the lightweight companion PC I now use on the road when I don't want to lug the 15" MacBook Pro around. These apps are sensational, as are some of the new Skype oriented collaboration plug ins, but the fact that the Mac takes a back seat in the developer program, as does the Nokia N800 is a real downer. Sure you can use the JiWire bot on a Mac to get a text reply and list of hotspots, but it pales in comparison to the Windows experience.

I'm very impressed though with the direction the developer program is taking at Skype and look forward to its growth. In a year under new leadership the program has taken on some very serious efforts and those efforts are likely to eventually benefit the Mac and N800 users...we just need to be patient.

I'm With Esme on Pudding

Esme Vos has great taste. Whether its restaurants, hotels, travel tips or what's proper, I tend to use the MuniWireless Diva's insight and take to hear her opinions. Her view on Pudding Media is dead on.

Even after their DEMO at DEMO last week I still see little value in the idea. There remains better ways to provide marketing driven voice services. Pudding just doesn't cut the mustard in my book.

Shai Berger says get your head in the cloud with FonCloud and look past the Pudding. I wonder if FON will claim any trademark infringement (or vice versa) over the FON usage though. FONCloud sounds like a cross between GrandCentral and iotum if I'm reading what Tom Keating prognosticates correctly.

Why FMC Is USA Centric Today

Dean Bubley's view point on Fixed Mobile Convergence is one I have been following closely for the past few years. His recent post on FMC and how it relates to the Enterprise is one for the books and needs a read.

Dean points out that the favorable bucket of minutes in the USA and the lack of distinction between mobile and landline numbers here encourages FMC, while in other parts of the world is an impediment because of the expense of calling a mobile phone from a landline or inter-carrier calling.

News Out Of Skype

this just in

On September 22, 2007, Skype reached its 20 millionth registered user in North America, doubling from 10 million registered users in just over the last 12 months. Or think about it this way – nearly 10 percent of the more than 232 million Internet users in North America have now downloaded and tried out Skype.

In-Stat recently released its U.S. Residential Voice-Over IP Market Dynamics and Market Tracker report. The industry research firm found that Skype had further consolidated its leadership position in the client-based VoIP market during the first quarter of 2007, while the rest of the competitive field basically stalled out. In fact, they found that Skype increased its overall market share from 42 percent at the end of Q1 2006 to 47 percent at the end of Q1 2007. Simultaneously, Skype’s penetration among households with client-based VoIP accounts increased over the last 12 months from 61 percent to 92 percent.

As you’ll recall, Skype announced this past May that it would begin selling Skype Certified™ devices and accessories and pre-paid Skype cards in more than 1,800 Wal-Mart stores throughout the U.S. After a little more than one quarter, Skype and Wal-Mart have jointly decided to expand this program to an additional 1,600 stores. Now, Skype gear is available in more than 3,400 Wal-Mart stores nationwide.

News and Notes for Thursday September 27 2007

In what could possibly be a longterm blow to MagicJack, i2Telecom looks like they are on their way to winning a few patents on their VoiceStick technology. When I spoke with Magic Jack's folks a few weeks ago I raised the similarity to i2Telecom's USB implementation, but they seemed to be unmoved by the assertion. I'm wondering if their own patent attorneys are reading the news now to see what may or may not apply. While the i2Telecom patent has yet to be finalized the notice they received has to be warming to their hearts (and wallets.)

On the subject of patents, a lot of people are wondering why I haven't weighed in on the Vonage fiasco caused by yet another defeat in court, this time to Sprint. I learned a long time ago not to speak ill of the dead. Assuming Vonage makes seven dollars a month on an average customer out of the $24.95 a month they charge that means almost 10 million customer months of profits are needed to cover the fine. With their roughly two million customers that basically burns five months of profits. I have to think a third party softswitch would have been far less costly at this point and at any point along the way.

Digium has acquired SwitchVox. This ups the ante in the battle against Fonality.

The inquirer out of the UK continues the runaway coverage of client Truphone and their debut at DEMO 2007 here in San Diego of their Apple iPhone application. The news is so big that Wired's Blog Network has a second story on it today.

Jaxtr reports a lot of growth. This is coming at a time when I'm hearing from some former Jajah insiders that the bloom has fallen off their rose and that growth has slowed. Clearly there is a crowd that moves from one free service to the next. The key is not how many of them there are though. It's will they ever pay?

Tom Keating goes on a long and insightful post about Skype, Facebook and the new category I am calling Social Communications which embraces VoIP.

PC World has a story on How To Switch To VoIP. It's geared for the small business customer.

Just in time for the Skype Developer Day BBQ Skype Journal's Jim Courtney has a nice round up post of facts, figures and direction, citing Alec Saunders and others.