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Posts from December 2008

Where I'll Be In Q1 2009

I am working hard at not going on the road as much in 2009 as the last 20 months have been rather exhausting. Between the planning of my two wedding events in 2007, the two events, one in Montpeyroux France and the other in San Francisco, plus the extended renovations in my community to 90 homes, plus my own home's expansion, those months have been an enormous toll on my body, and my mind.

In many ways, it has been a learning experience. First, I truly do work from anywhere. My business has grown dramatically in scope and size. Our work output only goes from great to greater heights and the time I spend away from home allows me to pursue my other passion, wine and food as I can always find a great place to find both.

But with 2009 only a few days away, it's time to take stock of what the first quarter has in store:

January 4-8 San Francisco for MacWorld

January 8-11 Las Vegas for CES

January 25 a trip to New York City for meetings

February 2-4 Miami Florida TMC's Internet Telephony and 4G Conferences

February 10-11 New York City Jeff Pulver's Social Media Summit

February 15-19 Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress*

March 3-5 Burlingame, CA for eComm 2009

March 15-21 Decouverte du Rhone, Rhone Valley, France (and likely a few more days on both ends)

So much for traveling less... :-(

AT&T's UVerse Named "Product of the Year" By SF Examiner

I have to wonder what the SF Examiner would have said if they had either Verizon's FIOS or SureWest's FTTH connectivity.

In areas where AT&T is the only option to the cable company, AT&T's UVerse is looking like a pretty good home or workplace upgrade to DSL. I mean, in some areas they are promising 18 megs down, but only a paltry 1.5 megs up.

The cable guys are moving up the ladder with Docsis 3.0 already, with promises of 100 megs down and significant upload speeds that vary per market and system operator.

My second home in Sacramento has SureWest which offers triple play, and 50 Megs up and down, and some of the best customer support around. (They answer fast, fix things faster and basically you don't need much from them)

The great thing about SureWest is I have an open pipe to the Internet. Some FIOS users tell me that they are stuck using Verizon's DNS and SMTP. That's the same way some cable operators are with using their SMTP vs. your own, by blocking port 25. I'm not sure how UVerse handles that, but it is an issue for those who work at home and want to use their own office mail servers.

Bottom line, if the Examiner thinks UVerse is the Product of the Year, all they need to do is go 90 miles east and see what a real Product of the Year is like. Go East Young Man and get SureWest.

Ringful is So Me Too

Back in 2005 client Iotum went to Demo, captured a Demo god award for Pronto, a conference all and calendar mashup that brought intelligence to the conference calling arena.

Last year client ifByPhone rolled out what Professor Mashup Thomas Howe calls one of the easiest to use Voice API platforms around.

Now I see Ringful has emerged on the scene with a platform that looks so Deja Vu.

They even have the Alias calling that TalkPlus tried back in 2007.

Give me something new (and useful) please. There has to be more than conference calling and Facebook VoiceMail (as if we want another FB VM app)

Optus in Australia Blocking VoIP in The Middle

For companies that sell their services solely based on VoIP in the middle, this move by Optus isn't good news.

In essence what Optus is doing and saying to their customers is if you're their contractee, all calls go over the Optus network and the Optus long distance network. No dialing around. No call backs, no VoIP in the middle. No cheap calling.

Well with three other carriers in Australia not behaving like Optus the answer is simple. Do the math. Figure out the break even point. Terminate the contract at that point, then switch and keep using the discount calling services with another carrier.

Print is Dead, Radio Is Next

History always repeats. No question about that.

First media form to grow big was the newspaper. Chains emerged. Profits soared. The most powerful force in any community was the newspaper. Think about it, every major comic strip from SuperMan, to the Green Hornet to Spiderman had the newspaper as a center piece of the story line.

Perry White, Clark Kent, Lois Lane. Brett Reed. Peter Parker. J. Jonah Jamison.

They were the characters that were the stars of the strips, and later the TV series' and eventually the movies in the case of Superman and Spiderman. The newspaper publisher, editor, reporter and photographer were the king.

City halls created "press rooms." Public Information Officer positions in city government and within agencies were plum assignments, as the access to the media from those jobs was unduplicated. The print reporters deadlines were what set the stage for the news. They made the agenda and set the stage for everything the public knew.

Radio started big time in the late 1920s, but it was really in the 30's and 40s that it took off and through the 90s was responsible for profits as record growth, more people in cars, FM carry static free since the 70s and of course the concept of the format. Radio was never hurt by TV, not the way the printed word was hurt by the Internet, as it was very hard to take TV with you, so radio was the portable "media" of choice for those on the go.

But just as print is for the most part dead, so too is radio as we knew it. Put bluntly, mass media is a thing of the past. All hail personal media.

This seismic shift that occurred is and will be borne as a result of the Internet arrival and from the start some in radio thought they could control the net. They didn't and they can't, so while print was suffering the radio groups made a killing, consolidation, market saturation and domination by a few very well funded groups. But radio has killed off the concept of the music station. It's all corporate programming, without any personality. Sure the best music in radio is over satellite for the masses, but the arrival of the Internet and now it's explosive growth fueled by broadband and cheap 3G access means that personal music is the next horizon.

The media companies that catch on and realize that the radio airwaves were the broadband pipe of the 20th century and embrace the personalization model of content delivery will be the winners.

Radio may be around, but just like the newspaper conglomerates, the large broadcasting consortiums will either embrace a new model, sell off or become the dinosaurs of the 21st century.

Update--> TechCrunch refers to a Pew Research Center report that the net is more popular as a source for news than newspapers. DUH. But the world is moving away from text to audio, and yes Gracie, Video. Think about it. The keyboard on the iPhone is nothing great. The new Verizon Storm, made by RIM, is hardly a touch typists dream come true, and even the Android, despite its more Blackberry like tactile keyboard is only passable for typing.

No, we're moving towards a new form of radio, where the on air talent moves past the folks who write, and where the media moguls control networks not tabloids.

You see, history always repeats.

Update # 2--> Now I read that the NY Times is going to exit their investment in the Boston Red Sox and sell off some other non-core assets. SMART. They still have some of the best reporting and are likely going to gear up for even more media consolidation.

Netbooks and Portability

Last weekend I went into RadioShack and grabbed one of the Acer Aspire One Netbooks for $99.00.

Yes, I already have a few other Asus and even a original release Aspire One from six months or so back, but this one is different. It has 3G inside and works on HSDPA via AT&T. Add in a two year data contract and my price all in is $1,500.00 which for the Mobile Me is about right.

The netbooks are clearly here to stay. GigaOm reports that sales of them have outpaced laptops, with the only major laptop maker missing from the picture being Apple currently.

The reason I like these small and nifty PCs is really simple. They're light. Easy to carry and they do it all. And, now with 3G they make it really easy to stay, connected.

2009 My Motto Travel Less

I spent more days on the road this past year than I care to count. New clients. New events. New places. The reason. My house was undergoing renovation, and so was my life.

As a type A, Cell A performer, one who give no, and asks no quarter, my philosophy has been go to where you have to be because despite the saying of "there's no place like home" due to never ending community renovations and my own home's improvements, there wasn't a place that was really home.

But that's mostly behind me for a few more months before I begin phase two. And that leads me to my New Year's resolution a few day's early.

Travel less. Video conference and video call more.

The technology has gotten to the point where we really can see each other very well, without having to be in the same place. What's more bandwidth, processor speeds and yes, compression schemes have all gotten to the point where the availability has caught up with the dream.

So in 2009 if you want to see me...look for me online.

Sure I'll still be logging airmiles, going to conferences, and attending events. But for the most part my travel and meetings will be around those key activities, with less point to point travel and more consolidated and concentrated activities in the same market for a few days vs. a day here, and a day there. That kind of travel doesn't do a body good.

So for 2009 look out, watch out and check out what's to be seen. I know I will be.

Who's Innovating in VoIP? Ask Robert Poe

VoIP News' Robert Poe picked 25 VoIP innovations he's seen in 2008. I'm very pleased and have to agree with many of the picks, though I'm sure I could find a few more, many of which are on the business model side, versus the practical or cool.

What I was pleased to see though was that the list included eight current or recently graduated clients including Voxbone for iNum, Truphone, Global IP Solutions, iotum for Calliflower, Palringo, Mobivox, GrandCentral and Yugma.

Thanks Robert!!

What else would I have put on the list? That's easy. Fonolo and Junction Networks. Fonolo's deep dialing customer service and support calling system is generating tons of glowing reviews from users and pundits alike.

Junction Networks' OnSip platform has redefined how businesses can use a hosted PBX platform. Their platform and payment model, plus the simplicity of it being SIP based makes it "open" vs. the Packet 8 closed model that Poe cited.

I would also include PhoneFusion's Visual VoiceMail app, that brings what was only an Apple iPhone app to many more handsets too as well as the entire ifByPhone platform as they are actually selling services, not just themselves ala Ribbit.

Lastly, I would have to include the VAPPs High Def Conferencing service. The hours I've spent on conference calls via HDC this year are in the hundreds. And with HDC I've been able to Skype In from anywhere I have an IP connection, saving thousands of dollars in minutes and long distance charges.

"Me Too" Is Still Around It Seems

It was back in 2005 when at the suggestion of a few friends at AOL, namely Jim Tobin, who is now at Comast, Cindy Harvey and Ragui Kamel invited me to "shake up" an AOL creative session by being the protagonist on a panel that included uber analysts Mark Winther of IDC and other that I coined the phrase, "Me Too, Me Also, Me Different."

Late yesterday I saw that longtime colleague in arms, Doug Mohney has also picked up on the "me too" angle, delving nicely into what I feel is now best described as amenity messaging.

Here's some analysis behind Doug's well penned wrap up:

A free download-able client that included IM, VoIP, presence, and (most of the time) video. Then later a web-based client.

Andy Says--SightSpeed was the first to really do this with all the features, something that was often overlooked. In this day and age with SaaS and "the Cloud" being so important and as devices get smaller and lighter, you have to be built this way to be competitive.

Free client-to-client calls

Andy Says--it's not really free, it's SIP or Public Internet traffic. Vonage has made a killing on customers who call other customers. This is in essence what Skype also has done. Use the Internet for free calls. Someone or some entity supports all that free traffic but not the service provider of the calling.

Free phone number or numbers

Andy Says-no such thing as a free lunch. DIDs cost money period. So unless there is money coming from elsewhere its VC dollars which carry the cost of these or the ill fated ad model being the hope, dream and mistake.

Free features like visual voice mail, multi-line ring and call forwarding.

Andy Says--Again, no such thing as a free lunch. These services cost money, take up server time and space. There has to be deep pockets ala Google with GrandCentral or some other use as a sampling effort. Without a revenue model there are only users. Not customers. I prefer a paying customer over a user any day.

Really cheap long distance and international minutes

Andy Says--There's a difference between free, really cheap and value priced. Wal Mart makes money being every day low pricing, but not the cheapest. That's Dollar Store and Smart & Final. If you want cheap, you get cheap. If you want value you buy at value pricing and get quality you can depend on. At the end of the day, I want less headaches and more quality.

Doug keenly picked up on a few of our clients, notably Mobivox and Truphone, seeing how they now have revenue models, not just free services. In the end, its about business, and the business of business is about making money.