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Posts from April 2009

The King of VoIP in the Cloud Does It Again

My father taught me the impossible we do right away, but a miracle, that takes a little longer.

Until today I had never flown on a WiFi 2.0 enabled plane, though I was a regular flier internationally on flights equipped with the older version from Boeing, but of course longtime readers know that I proved making voice calls is possible when Laptop Magazine Princess Netbook, Joanna Stern and I had a call using Phweet and a Flash based telephony app on her American Airlines flight last summer.

Today I made a few calls, one to my Google Voice account checking voice mail and leaving a message and then another over to Skype's PR king, Chaim Haas of Kaplow PR. Chaim and I talked over Skype first for about 45 seconds and then had another call for over a minute. Clearly I could hear Chaim and he could hear me as well all the background noise one has at 37,000 feet.

How did I do it? Skype of course but to help I used a publicly available VPN, called AnchorFree. Again, no hacking. No cracking. Nothing special. Just regularly available applications.

Even though I didn't sound as clear as one would on the ground, it proves that calls can be made. Best of all, I could listen to my voicemail.

Oh, and I also streamed video over My team on the ground and Ken Rutkowski all were watching. Talk about Cloud technology....

What Do Yahoo and AOL Have To Sell That's Worth Buying?

I think it's time to look at AOL and Yahoo's core asset base of technology and see what's worth buying.

For example both have/had developed amazing Voice Platforms. AOL spent millions on a VoIP service that was reportedly stifled by Time Warner and their parental spanking of AOL for daring to develop a phone service when the cable company was part of their family and was trying to sell cable telephony. It didn't matter that the AOL product was better and worked in more places. The cable guys had another agenda. Spin out, get richer, and be their own company.

Yahoo has a lot of telephony technology, including Dialpad, which they bought a few years ago. Internationally their IM platform carries a lot of voice ala Skype and it does video (not very well but that could be fixed). With AT&T mothballing CallVantage sometime this year, either the AOL or Yahoo VoIP platforms would be ideal (if they could be brought back to life the right way) to be what CallVantage was going to be. A real IP based telephony service that is everything the PSTN is (and a lot more--2.0 like, and of course, all IP.

Streaming Media Distribution-Yahoo owns the rights to and MusicMatch, plus a lot more. AOL at one time had services like Spinner, WinAmp's Shoutcast, AOL Radio. Yahoo has a similar array of Intellectual Property such as MusicMatch, Yahoo MusicCentral, MediaCode and more, all of which was best of breed. Now their Yahoo Music Beta is really the REAL Rhapsody platform the same way their voice platform is run by Jajah.

But all you need to do is look at both companies and realize that the day is being ruled by ad sales, not content. The content folks have left both buildings and so have the real technologists who understood what they were buying and why. So now these companies are left with all kinds of great assets, but no way to make money from them. Instead they should sell them off, or give them back to the founders who can make something of what they could have been.

A few weeks ago we all heard of an investment consortium wanting to buy Skype. I say, buy up a few companies in the VoIP and Mobile VoIP space, take the assets of Yahoo and AOL's voice and video platforms and do it right. Same for the video and music streaming assets. The IP that's there was really good. It hasn't been replaced yet by anything really better. Maybe it just needs new masters who know how to do more than buy eyeballs that are no longer really there.

Is Apple Outthinking the Mobile Industry?

For those who deal with the mobile industry on a daily basis the idea of "the carrier is the one who makes the rules" would not be a surprise.

But when it comes to Apple, one has to really wonder if Steve Jobs and his crew figured out how to take control, when no other handset manufacturer or software developer could.

This Business Week story got me thinking once again about Mobile Me. Originally, one would have though that Microsoft had designed Mobile Me. It was clunky and didn't really work as well as one has come to expect from anything Apple. Now with version 2.0 out, it seems to be a better product, with less issues and happier users. Imagine if Apple established the Mobile Me platform to work like the RIM Blackberry Server and BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) does, so users could pay the same for Apple's Mobile Me Internationally? Say good bye to high priced data roaming.

Right now I pay an additional $20.00 a month for BES International service on my T-Mobile Blackberry. It would be the same on a dual mode Verizon WorldPhone Blackberry if I turned it on. To use an iPhone or a Nokia with my USA SIM i'd pay up to $120.00 a month for Data Roaming with AT&T.

However, if Apple could strike the same kind of deal with the carriers, as RIM has, then watch the market shift even more to iPhones. With 7 million iPhone's sold in the USA both Apple and AT&T would really win big and the user worldwide would be using more of Mobile Me, than they are now.

New All in One Blog Launched

TechCrunch, GigaOm, Paid Content and ZDNET, it may be time to look over your shoulder and worry who may be catching up to you.

Pal John Furrier has just launched, a new multi-author blog with a focus on the Social Web and Technology Innovation.

The site is very visual and combines solid writing, perspective and viewpoint.

Best of luck, John.

My Favorite Netbook is a Mac Book Air

While I love the lightweight and smaller form factor of the Asus, Acer and Samsung netbooks, I've grown to fall back in love with the MacBook Air and my Verizon 3G card. Lightweight, powerful and it's a Mac.

I just wish Apple would make a 10" model :-)

Skype For SIP? Playing Favorites or Blocking Innovation

David Beckemeyer is one of the brightest minds in Telecom. For those that don't know David he's the guy who brought PhoneGnome to market (Note I am an advisor to PhoneGnome.)

More importantly, David was the co-founder of EarthLink and clearly is a technology visionary, as well as a world class technologist in his own right.

Finding out that he "didn't make the grade" from Skype for SIP's sign up roll is very disheartening. Surely, someone must have made a mistake at Skype....

Telefonica Gives Unemployed Subscribers a Break

Here's one for the USA carriers to consider. Over in Spain, mobile operator Telefonica is providing the unemployed a break on their mobile phone bills.

This is a great way to keep people on the network, versus losing them. It also helps keep their revenue constant, the carrier doesn't lose a telephone number, or the customer, plus the customer, who is likely job hunting, doesn't have a break in their ability to be reached.

I have to wonder which USA carrier will mirror this idea with unemployment reaching high levels these days due to the economy. In theory, AT&T should jump at this, but I suspect a more nimble player like Cricket or Metro PCS will be the first to make a similar offer.

Carphone Warehouse Looking to Buy Tiscali/UK

On the surface one has to say, "so, what does this matter" when the news emerged on Friday that UK mobile retailing giant Carphone Warehouse may buy UK broadband operator Tiscali.

First you have to recognize that Carphone Warehouse (and sister stores across Europe named "The Phone House") may be the best retail operation in mobile. Their sales teams are smart, well informed, can discuss pros and cons of various handsets, service plans, offers and know what works, especially with data and 3G dongles.

Second, they share the same parent investors with BestBuy here in the USA. Recently, BestBuy launched Best Buy Mobile, taking lots of lessons from their UK relatives.

Third, BestBuy has purchased SpeakEasy, a VoIP player who relies heavily on client Covad for DSL and T1 access. The fit of Tiscali into the mix means that BestBuy and Carphone Warehouse can roll out a converged VoIP, Data and Mobile service in the UK, then hunt around here in the USA for a network operator and do the same thing.

EasyMeet Can't Come Soon Enough

It may only be in prototype stage, but the idea of Nokia's EasyMeet is something that is perfect for the wireless mobile worker of the future.

Wireless Moves has the details, to the concept that sounds much like Pronto from iotum, a proof of concept play that Alec Saunders introduced at DEMO a few years back that led to iotum winning a DEMO God Award.

If you watch the Easymeet Demo video, you'll see lot of similarity between the EasyMeet concept and iotum's Calliflower service which is already available today.

You can also try the beta version of easymeet online as well. The big difference is Easymeet is combining the Nokia devices and services platform, while also making the invitation media rich, while Calliflower is making the experience richer during and after the call.