Previous month:
December 2008
Next month:
February 2009

Posts from January 2009

Panels Are For The Audience Not the Speakers

I've been moderating and participating in conference panels since my days in pro-sports management back in the 70s. Since the early days, I learned and never forgot the key reason to be up on stage that my mentors drilled into my head at a tender age (I was a just a teenager when I first got in front of a crowd of 1000 people to give my first solo speech).

The advice of a few centered around this:

Talk to the audience about what they would want to hear, not what you would want to say.

The second thing I learned from the same mentors was

Be on topic be sure you can talk about it if you're on a panel or being interviewed, otherwise either learn it quick or get someone more qualified on the topic.

I'm looking forward to my two panels at this coming week's IT Expo and 4G Wireless Evolution conference in Miami Beach as the timing couldn't be better.

Winds of change are in the air, and it's time to hear what's next, not worry so much about the past.

DeviceScape Study Reveals More About WiFi

Om Malik yesterday posted about his iPhone and WiFi, relating the study to some of HIS favorite apps. Two he highlighted are two clients, Truphone and Boingo.

At SFO Airport last week and again earlier this week I made a series of international calls using my iPhone using Truphone. I also made some domestic ones as a test. The cost savings alone on the first call to the UK paid me back for my $7.95 a month Boingo Mobile account alone.

One think I also noticed was that at SFO the 3G signal level in some parts of the airport is not that strong. With Boingo my connectivity was faster and stronger to the 'net. As Om points out, many people are using WiFi on their iPhones to make up for the deficiencies of the AT&T network which needs more and more shoring up as more new users come on line.

First hand experience isn't wrong. Om and I both are pretty heavy users of devices, and putting the client relationships aside, I've been using both Boingo and Truphone almost since each company launched. They provide me the ability to be working anywhere and to save a ton of money. In addition to the iPhone I have the Boing mobile application on my Nokia N and E series phones as well as my Nokia N810. With Boingo on the N810 I can make real Skype calls over WiFi, as well as Gizmo calls. I can even connect to my hosted PBX using WiFi at the airport.

Bottom line. More and more there are neat ways to cut out the high cost of roaming, without skimping on quality.

Jailbreaking App Makes VoIP over 3G Work on iPhone

I'm not endorsing the concept of jailbreaking your iPhone as there are alternatives like the Nokia N and E series that let you accomplish this without doing anything at all but a new piece of software for jailbroken iPhones lets you trick your handset into thinking 3G is WiFi.

That means you can now use VoIP apps like Fring and Truphone over 3G.

In UK Video Conferencing Expected To Rise

Last year one of my "crystal ball" statements was that video conferencing is going to rise. A story about Heathrow Airport points out the I'm not wrong.

And then there is video-conferencing. Recent research from WWF showed that almost 90 per cent of the UK’s major firms expect to fly less and use video-conferencing facilities more in the next few years.

More Voice 2.0 Coming To More People

Broadsoft which last month rescued Sylantro, a company full of promise, sales and no profits, is making moves in the mashup space.

When you take stock of the applications and the devices they have developed widgets and apps for you have to realize that developers are having a field day coming up with more ways to manage their Broadsoft switch or do things that previously were only available from the Customer Admin Portal (CAP).

Taken at face value you have to realize that the number of apps coming out through App Stores and as a result APIs means that there are many, maybe too many options. That means you need to look past the "cool" and "that's neat" and look at what company is really behind the app. While many a fly-by-night, garage developer may be writing the apps that people find in the stores, the key is which platform and how they integrate that really matters.

Broadsoft, putting their weight behind the apps they have also provides the kind of integrity and staying power that an app for Broadsoft, marketing through Broadsoft is likely to be around.

That's what helps make 2.0 apps winners in my book.

Sayonara Voice Wing

I remember when I first heard the name Voice Wing from Verizon I penned this post comparing it to something related to being sick.

In that post I reported that the service was really a repackaged DeltaThree, so if nothing has changed, then more rough times are ahead over there as Tom Keating points out that Verizon is mothballing VoiceWing. No great loss. I mean, of all the VoIP services out there, I don't think VoiceWing ever had a real big user base that matters. Verizon also never did an out of footprint play in any big way nor did they really market this at all. Instead it was more of a "me too, me also" and mostly a Vonage clone. Which makes me wonder, if they're next on the list of endangered VoIP plays as we all see the writing on the wall with CallVantage from AT&T too.

All This Talk of Skype For Sale? What if It Just Went Away

Everyone is wondering if Skype is for sale? Well the "strategic alternatives" eBay took when they started to sort out who would be running the business now has passed with a series of hires from Motorola, Sun and a former biz dev exec as Chief Strategy Officer. They've also hired away the PR/Comms lead from Google, at a time when Google likely needed him most. Lastly, for tax and secrecy reasons they've moved the base of operations over to Luxembourg.

I'd say they are in plotting mode, and likely the folks at McKinsey, Bain and a few other consulting giants have all been in the eBay offices regularly, providing all kinds of scenarios, feedback, insight and all else that they offer. The headhunters have all done their jobs, and now the ranks are being combed for dead weight while the new hires start to think about what they can do to keep changing the world of voice, video and communications. Translation--expect some people to be reassigned, other to be cut at Skype soon but also I expect them to hire more as well to help shore up areas that need it. I mean, with over 300 engineers, and 350 or so folks in the tech side of the business not everyone is a front line player.

But all this is just window dressing or as some would say, like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic because even with new blood, Skype will meander on and deliver what it has since it started. A way for people to simply talk for free. So while the world talks about the potential next sale, let's really ask ourselves this. Does it matter who owns Skype?

As a stand alone venture pre-purchase by eBay Skype was already on a course of taking minutes away from the traditional telcos. What no one realized is they also were taking people away from IM services like AOL and Yahoo Messenger here in the USA and elsewhere. As a matter of fact, 90 percent of my IM traffic now runs over Skype when I'm in front of a Mac or a PC, while on Mobile it runs over Palringo or Blackberry Messenger. Why? Because that's where my friends are. That often leads to a voice call and sometimes, even a video call.

There's also a lot of noise is out there about Google buying Skype. Skype is a pure play at free and a pay service for "premium" features like Skype In and Out. Google's model is all about serving up ads. But yet, in Google Talk you don't see any ads, and Skype's proprietary algorithms seem to be as anti-Google as one could get. Besides, Google has enough voice and video pieces to stitch together on their own, and Skype would be a tough one to mix into the pattern.

So I view things a bit differently. Skype will become a stand alone entity within eBay and eBay becomes like GE with its core assets.

Already there's lots of discontent that even PayPal hasn't been fully integrated into eBay, but the issues there are more eBay, than PayPal which is nothing but really a transaction engine and in reality it only does one thing well. On the other hand, Skype is a multifaceted communications platform that has already taken away minutes, IM's, eyeballs and soon video from everyone else. Once they add multi-party video conferencing, the need for all other platforms pretty much goes away. Skype works and works very well. So what if it's not SIP. That piece of the puzzle, a SIP to Skype gateway is nothing more than some boxes and some software. But where Skype isn't is in mobile, and there they will find inventive ways to partner, as they have with client Boingo. Remember, Skype works best on OPI, other people's infrastructure so any of the infrastructure carriers buying it would have to determine just what the cost of running Skype is. With all the agreements they have with their peering partners, the cost of handing off traffic would quickly bring down the value because Skype works best without being part of the old telco world's game. That rules them out.

Next would be Cisco.......hmmmm.....They can afford it. They have indicated they want to do more in video, and Skype usage drives more sales of routers, but Cisco is just dabbling in consumer and Skype isn't a boxed while of all the companies in the world who could buy it and have it benefit, that's one longshot too......

CNET's Maggie Reardon thinks Microsoft would be a likely suitor. Given how many different ways they do voice now, what would one more flavor be? I think not now, as Microsoft is all about MSFT software and Skype is anything but that through and through.

So like I said, does it really matter? As long as Skype operates, many of us will simply "Just Use It."

Conferences, Conferences, Conferences

In a down economy the time to do business to grow is when everyone is cutting back.

February brings on a series of events, conferences and trade shows that make it easy to find your next customer.

First up in Florida is the winter version of IT Expo, held in Miami Beach February 2-4. I'll be there moderating a Service Provider's Panel.

At the same time, also in Miami Beach is the first ever 4G Wireless Evolution, which is really about LTE, WiMax and whatever may come next. I'm slated to also host a panel there too.

The following week in New York, pal Jeff Pulver is holding his first Social Communications Summit on February 10, but due to some business related meetings out of the USA I won't be there.

Over in Barcelona, the annual gathering of the Mobile World takes place with all kinds of fun and games. First is the Mobile Sunday Barcelona then the Mobile Peer Awards, all wrapped around the annual Mobile World Congress.

This all though is a precursor to what the future holds, as March 3-5 brings us the second annual eComm, just outside of San Francisco in Burlingame.

While it may be the one that is now six weeks away, it likely has the most to offer the emerging, imaginative and enlightened. It's here that what's really going to be new comes to life.

Vintage Om Malik Is Back

It has been a little over a year now since I was called while on my honeymoon by the GigaOm COO, now CEO, Paul Walborsky, with the news of Om's heart attack.

Om has been a great patient and if he have seen him lately, you'll know he's been living a very different life than the style he led before the kick to the gut made him have to look at things very differently.

One thing that was never lost though was Om's ability to pen a series of stories, taking an angle and then going on and nailing what the news is, with the kind of insight that made him a star at Business 2.0 before throwing himself into GigaOm full time.

Today with two posts the vintage Om is clearly back.

First Om profiled the new moves of iSkoot. He penned how they are moving away from being Skype's bitch and into being their own company. What's more he also politely pointed out to Skype that iSkoot landed AT&T.

Next is his post about money and making money. With a few keystrokes Om has eviscerated the "free" model without throwing the companies under the bus that like to talk about free by simply leaving them out of the story.

In both cases the stories are not about features or applications. They are about real business, and how business is about making money, not just giving things away.

As we say about a fine wine---Om only gets better with age!