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Posts from February 2009

Helping A Friend-Ken Camp

I've known Ken Camp since about the time I began blogging about VOIP and he's been helpful to many. Now it's time to help him.

When he lost his job, a position I was called by the recruiter on to provide some insight about Ken, this was supposed to be a career move, not a short term position that relocated him across the state of Washington to Spokane. Let's face it, if you spent the last ten years or so near Seattle, a move to Spokane better be for either love or money, because there's a lot less to do and see, let alone remain part of the technology community. The word shafted comes to mind. Ken left a great position with the State of Washington for the next phase of his career. He ended up out of work.

A few days ago Sheryl (soon to be Ms. Camp) wrote a "stand by her man" post. It was heartfelt, revealing and like their Twitter behavior a sign of love.

When I look at the current state of many companies I see lots of silos, departments, duplication and disfunction. Brad Garlinghouse wrote that about Yahoo in his Peanut Butter Manifesto over a year or so ago that got leaked to the WSJ. Knowing the "Tin Man" like I do, it was no more a leak than Sheryl's asking for help for Ken.

So taking stock of Ken's CV (resume for those less polished) I see a role for him inside a large tech company that has all the disfunction qualities Garlinghouse espoused about Yahoo, reporting into the CEO, providing insight about what's really going on, and being the "connector," sort of a social networker, interpreter and advisor, all rolled into one. Someone who can talk to the rank and file, the executive team, senior management and customers, make sense out of it, report on it, and help others act on it.

IT Expo Numbers Reveal Need For eComm

In sports you have players very good at each position. Think field goal kickers, relief pitchers or goaltenders. To me, that's who the developers are.

The salespersons are forwards, shooting guards, quarterbacks and home run hitting sluggers.

Integrators and resellers are like coaches and scouts. They figure out who does what best, then brings them to the marketplace the right way, just like the coach who knows which players to put on the field, court or ice.

So when I look at Tom Keating's recent post about the breakdown that details the attendees at this past week's IT Expo, I see that the smallest turn out came from two groups:

Developers: 6.2%

Manufacturers: 4.2%

Combined they made up only slightly more than 10 percent of the audience. Let's face it, manufacturers sell through resellers or have built up such a large sales base at this point that they don't see many new faces. On the other hand, since no one from the R&D departments are at the shows the poor developer has to be careful where they spend their money. That's why there's eComm.

eComm has become the showcase for bringing the best and the brightest developers, product managers and marketers of voice apps, services and technology together in one place. The numbers don't lie. They simply support the position that the telephony community knows where they should be, as in essence, eComm becomes a feeder system for SuperComm, IT Expo, VON and Channel Partners, not a competitor. In return the attendees of the other events need to be spectators at eComm not participants while the eComm participants grow up to be on the floor at those events.

Too often its easy to look at events as competition for one another. In reality they each need one another.

Ad Supported Calling

In an era where online advertising is being challenged every day, facing uncertainties like its print siblings, PokeTalk out of Israel is trying to reverse the trend and provide calls for ads.

I'm not convinced this is a long term business model to market with towards anyone who can afford phone service or is part of a Skype or Gizmo like community that can make and receive no-cost talk sessions (calls.)

Calliflower on the iPhone-3G ROCKS MY WORLD

As a disclaimer the team behind Calliflower, Iotum, and specifically Alec Saunders and Howard Thaw are both clients and friends for many years. From the early days of Iotum when Alec and I whiteboarded out the strategy in my home office, to their launch at DEMO, the magic of what is going on inside Iotum with the concept of relevance and ease of use has never not been clear to me.

With the release of their Calliflower iPhone application, the Iotum folks have set a new standard in iPhone App user interface, and user experience. Not only is the app gorgeous and easy on the eyes, but it's so intuitive, and simple to use that words cannot give it justice.

This is without a doubt the most simple and most powerful way to set up, manage and participate in a conference call on either the web or via a mobile phone. The UI (User Interface) and UE (User Experience) leaves all other concepts in the dust, even the new VAPPS High Def Conferencing web site, which I am very impressed with.

The reason is this. You can do everything you need from the palm of your hand over EITHER WiFi or 3G. The combined WiFi and voice calling experience is very good, but would only be better with a HD (high def) like calling over SIP on WiFi (ala Truphone) to go the whole distance with great sound and easy call management.

For all the details, here's the press release, but having shown it off the last day at IT Expo here in Miami to a few very much in the know opinionated types, I'm getting nothing but thumbs up from everyone for Calliflower.

One note, using the app on a 2G iPhone (the original ones on EDGE) is not as good of an experience as the data path drops when a call begins.

Have You SEEN The New Skype 4.0?

I have to say outright, I'm impressed. When I first tried the beta version of Skype 4.0 many months ago, my feedback to Skype was very pointed and direct. I gave them a good dose of "you need to do this" and "that." And you know what. It seems they listened to me and all the other beta testers because the newest version on the Windows platform is amazing.

It has perhaps the best UI (user interface) and UE (user experience) of any multi-mode (IM, voice, video) application I've seen to date. What's more the video experience even on a tiny 8.9" Acer Aspire One Netbook is simply amazing.

Yesterday I did a series of video calls, yes video calls, from the lobby bar of my beachfront hotel here in Miami Beach and every call was perfect. I fired up my GoBoingo client, latched on to the iBahn network, and voila, next came Skype and was I amazed. The set up was fast and easy. The UI looked gorgeous and most of all, the use of it was very intuitive. It was almost "Mac Like."

The only downside. This UI/UE isn't yet on the Mac. I say that because the one on one video was so sharp, even on the Netbook, that I can't wait for it to be doing multi-party video.

If you're a Windows user, the upgrade is free and its a no-brainer.

You Can Change The Leader Overnight, But Culture Takes Longer

Carol Bartz has shown she can run a company. That was Autodesk. But can the iron lady of Silicon Valley change a company like Yahoo's culture?

I think over time yes, but it will mean bringing in new blood. The team still left at Yahoo is pretty much a hodgepodge of political survivors, corporate gamesmanship players and a group of very smart technologists who have been caught up in the crossfires of ever shifting direction and unclear vision being communicated to them.

Having attended meetings in Yahoo's corporate offices, met with execs and dealt with their PR folks who seemingly post Brad Garlinghouse (where has he gone) and later Jeff Bonforte now at XOBNI, have all headed for the hills as their VoIP play has pretty much fizzled, and what they have is being farmed out to Jajah (though no one has ever confirmed the migration has happened yet and that they are moving traffic over Jajah.)

But back to Bartz. She's working on instilling an change in how the company operates when their culture has been either laid back Silicon Valley or Hollywood cool. That's nothing like what Autodesk was ever like I hear, and what's more, the people at Yahoo will now be held to a higher measure. Given how high her compensation package is, and what it's tied to, it would likely be helpful to be incentivizing the team there first, before doing things like bounties for ratting out their friends. I mean, at Yahoo everything is supposed to be searchable right?

First Impressions Of IT Expo East 2009

VoIP is far from dead and judging by the crowds and the rooms that were full of people the rumors of its death are far from over.

I'll be the first to admit that trade shows in general are down, but this year's IT EXPO East in Miami Beach Florida is anything but. Walking the floor last evening I counted over 150 booths, and each one was buzzing with activity. In the hallways people were talking and the symposium/conference tracks had rooms full of people. I stopped by the Eric Burger SIP track, and caught buddy Jon Arnold up at the podium, providing his usual analytical style of insight. Over in the 4G Wireless Evolution event Carl Ford was as usual on the mark, fielding questions, managing speakers and keeping things moving, proving he and Scott Kargman, two buddies from the VON era and the Pulver organization, still have it.

Last night Microsoft Response Point hosted a dinner with some customers of theirs and a group of bloggers. It game me a chance to catch up with Erik Lagerway who has become a Response Point convert. Eric was for years Mr. Anti-Microsoft, but his newest venture is wrapped all around the newest offering from Microsoft in VoIP and it differs from OCS and other attempts in the VOIP arena. Client Junction Networks is also big on Response Point, and from what the team at Microsoft shared with me, it's a product that is really being run like a start-up. They have plans to go up market with it, but for now Repsonse Point is aiming for the SOHO and Small Business customer and reportedly faring very well.

Overall I'm glad I'm in Miami. Not only is the event a success so far, but I'm seeing many familiar faces and of course, you can't beat the weather.

CATA Picks Calliflower

Canada's largest and leading high tech association has selected Calliflower from Iotum. This is a big win for pals (and clients) Howard Thaw and Alec Saunders.

For those of you who have used Calliflower, hands down the interface makes it the best Web 2.0 conferencing app around. If it only had HD like HighDefConferencing, or if HDC used Calliflower's front end, it would be game, set match.

Note: Web Worker Daily has a great post about all the new Calliflower features.

Comcast Now Likes WiFi

Now Comcast likes WiFi.

For years, on panels and elsewhere, I've been saying that the best partner for WiFi networks in public spaces are the cable operators. Now it seems that Cablevision has broken ranks and is going wireless to benefit their customers, so too is Comcast.

This is something that should have happened seven years ago. If the MSO's had taken WiFi and made it part and parcel to their customer mix the whole muni-wireless game would have taken on a different complexion, IMHO.