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Posts from April 2009

Pocket Meeting

ReadWriteWeb has the goods on a new, lightweight, screen sharing web presentation platform called PocketMeeting that looks very reasonable and sounds very good.

While the concept seems very logical, the question of business survivability has to be considered vs. WebEx. The dot.com industry is littered with web conferencing companies that are no longer around. What's amazing is none of the surviving companies ever go out to acquire the user base, which makes me wonder if any of the users are ever paying for the services. Instead I'd look more closely at the company whose technology is behind the service, GeniusRoom. At the heart they seem to have a more robust offering, providing all services in one place, but at a higher price point.

Bottom line. If you're using a free service, you end up getting what you pay for in the end. NOTHING.


App Store Mania What May Be Next

GigaOm's Om Malik has a post today about the overwhelming success of the Apple App Store and how it has fostered a look a like "me too, me also" approach by many of the other handset developers like RIM, Nokia, Android who have use the app store model as a way of working with developers.

For developers the App Store is the equivalent of a branded gasoline station. It is not yet WalMart or Amazon, the two brands that best come to mind as "super markets" or "hypermarche" as the French say. That means your selling to a very niche audience, a specific product for a specific device or platform.

None of the app stores yet have an Open API (that I know of) that lets you "stock" a virtual shelf and provide an all in one location for "mobile" apps the way a Handango can offer downloadable apps that can be installed onto devices, but not as easily as the app stores allow for with their download marketplace model.

I have to believe that Amazon or WalMart would both relish the opportunity to become the cross platform "app store" retailer so people (or families) with different device platforms could all run compatible software, purchased in one place. But alas, I also fear that co-mingling of the apps would be a challenge for the current platform providers, as they want to own the experience end to end. That said, history has shown that we can go from direct selling to the middleman approach quite easily so this also is really more of a "when" than a "would they ever" in my mind, especially with Amazon and WalMart already selling mobile phones and MP3 players and iPods.

Now, back to the Om post. The reason Apple has won the early rounds of the App Store wars is simple. No company understands consumer behavior better in technology. Period. While others may study it as closely, Apple lives by a philosophy of KISS (keep it simple stupid) and does not release something that isn't easy to use. They hide the hard stuff and make it easy for the user. Ergo, why they have a "Genius Bar" at Apple Stores. There the things the average user cannot do, get done. Can your above average user with the right tools and information do what's done at a Genius Bar? Yes, as the really hard work gets done in the back room or is shipped out to a repair depot. There again, Apple understands consumer products better than the rest. (Have you ever seen an on site repair done on a PC at a Dell sales location?)

Next is the whole process. Apple not only released an App Store, they created a whole cottage community of developers, gave them an event (The Apple World Wide Developers Conference) and made the developer stars in their own world. Again, no one else has taken the approach of end to end, cradle to grave, like Apple.


The Perils of These Times

Alec Saunders hired an independent developer for iotum to develop a version of Calliflower for the iPhone. Now due to a variety of factors iotum and the developer are at odds

As a supplier of services to iotum since before their DEMO God winning debut, we have taken the different approach, choosing to trust the character and moral fiber of Alec and Howard Thaw by accepting deferred payments and debentures. We've done this with other clients, and in all but one case, every penny has been paid.

Different times require different kinds of business relationships but at the end of the day, trust is what matters.


Hip Work Spot Opens in London-No More Need For Starbucks

Cameron Sinclair pens a piece about a new hipster style work spot called the "Hub Pavilion" that has opened in London this week, over on the Huffington Post.

I think we are seeing the rise of the temporary office, networking "hub" and candidly think Starbucks really missed it.

For many a year I referred to Starbucks as Conference Room "S" to many. You could head over to one, and then organize a meeting. They had chairs, tables you could rearrange, couches, work desks, all that you wanted, and of course, amazing broadband from T-Mobile.

Then somewhere along the way, as their success overcame them, they lost their way. First they turned up the music. Then they turned down the temperature. Next came less and less tables. And then the final blow. Bye Bye T-Mobile and the amazing bandwidth. Hello AT&T and usually a DSL line. A slow DSL line.

These new Hub Spots though are the wave of the future in my book. Already Regus/HQ has opened a similar spot, dubbed the Business Lounge in Cupertino, CA not far from Apple's HQ. While they haven't added all the glitz and "social" components of Hub and Hub Culture, what they have both done is given the road warrior, and the "no need for an office" type of worker, a series of quiet, well decked out and useful locations to get down to work in environments that are serene and very functional.

Plus, they serve better coffee than Starbucks.


Hip Work Spot Opens in London-No More Need For Starbucks

Cameron Sinclair pens a piece about a new hipster style work spot called the "Hub Pavilion" that has opened in London this week, over on the Huffington Post.

I think we are seeing the rise of the temporary office, networking "hub" and candidly think Starbucks missed it.

For many a year I referred to Starbucks as Conference Room "S" to many. You could head over to one, then organize a meeting. The had chairs, tables you could rearrange, couches, work desks, all that you wanted, and of course, amazing broadband from T-Mobile.

Then somewhere along the way, as their success overcame them, and they lost their way. First the turned up the music. Then they turned down the temperature. Next came less and less tables. And the the final blow. Bye Bye T-Mobile and the amazing bandwidth. Hello AT&T and usually a DSL line. A slow DSL line.

These new Hub Spots though are the wave of the future in my book. Already Regus/HQ has opened a similar spot, dubbed the Business Lounge in Cupertino, CA not far from Apple's HQ. While they haven't added all the glitz and "social" components of Hub and Hub Culture, what they have both done is given the road warrior, no need for an office type of worker, a quiet, well decked out and useful locations to get down to work in environments that are serene and very functional.

Plus, they serve better coffee than Starbucks.


Twitter Stats Reveal Interesting Use Case Trends To Me

The middle age market, never thought of being the earlier to adopt new technology, is embracing Twitter, according to a Bulldog Reporter wrap up story today.

This means, the money spending crowd is tuning in, which also explains why smart marketers are having a presence inside twitter, tweeting away, the dullness that makes up a dull day. The value of Twitter to the marketers is obvious on a few fronts:

1. Monitor customer satisfaction/dissatisfaction as well as wants and needs (Opinion Research, Customer Service and Product Development)

2. Early warning system of potential news angles that may emerge. (Crisis Management)

3. Find happy customers who can be utilized for quotes and advocacy efforts. (Public Relations)

4. Front line customer service efforts to improve the customer experience and learn from the customer (Service and Support)

5. Rapid deployment of news to an audience that wants to know. (Publicity)

6. Sharing of information with like minded individuals (cluster marketing)

7. Since Twitter is searchable, ala Google, it also becomes a massive database.


Asus Skype VideoPhone Finally Shipping?

I’ve been really enjoying the use of the VidTel Video calling service that works with both  the Grandstream video phone and CounterPath’s EyeBeam and Bria software very easily. Actually it works with just about any H.264 client or device with the proper settings, but now that the long awaited Asus Skype Video phone is about to hit the market for real (i.e.  Hype and Sell in Period has Ended) we can expect to see even greater uptake of personal video simply because no settings are required.

Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t be worse. I say that because we’re entering an era, at least in the USA, where the broadband operators are beginning to think seriously about managing the traffic on their networks, and it seems almost all of what’s being targeted are either P2P based technology or two way, real time symmetrical communications like voice and video.

So just when the dream of AT&T at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 is about to become a reality, the networks that have replaced it are doing their best to keep the legacy of video calling never working alive. That’s sad. My experience with VidTel, Skype and SightSpeed the last few years tells me the time is now. Maybe Cisco with their big Telepresence effort, and Polycom, HP, LifeSize and other will all band together to help keep the caps off and inspire the broader use of video so great ideas can come to life via video without the need to travel, while still remaining face to face.


Apps For Google Voice Coming to The iPhone

Two new applications, both designed to work with the month old or so Google Voice are about to hit the Apple App Store, according to MobileCrunch.

I’ve been a fan of GrandDialer, an app that has been “retired” by its developer. It allowed call bridging to any of your GrandCentral numbers, and for those of us with Truphone a VoIP and SIP capable N or E Series Nokia phone who carried two phones, the ability to ring in countries where calling party pay applied, it made for the panacea of free calling.

Google covered the outbound to both parties, and Truphone handled the forwarding almost anywhere at no cost. You could accomplish the same with Skype or Gizmo by forwarding but you used the local minutes, but the call to Gizmo is free due to the peering relationship between the two services.

With the two new apps due to arrive soon, GoogleVoice will likely pick up more users on the iPhone, adding a whole new dimension of use of the slick device. Hopefully other platforms like Android, Symbian and Blackberry are on the roadmap too.


Google Voice on the iPhone

Gizmodo and a few other sites are reporting that GoogleVoice will have an application out for the iPhone. I have to believe that we'll see an app for the Google Android G1 (aka "the Dream") handsets too.

GoogleVoice, which is the reincarnated GrandCentral is clearly evolving. While the transcription is weak today, if we paid for it we all could complain, but it's free for now. Candidly, if they could deliver PhoneTag quality, I'd pay for it as I think many would, because receiving the message by email, and SMS (for free) perfectly is a time saver, but it's all the other features that make it a better value than piecemeal services like SpinVox or even PhoneTag (which I prefer of the two.)

Now how to best use it? For starters grab an iPhone and use the Google Voice app to bridge calls. If you're calling outside the USA the rates will be super low to bridge the calls, but more importantly, you'll be touch tapping also returning calls via the app.

All that's missing is Voice Activated calling ala Webley (CommuniKate) from Parus Interactive or what was called WildFire years back... My guess, given the number of ex Nuance folks at Google is that will be coming too..


Cisco Is Opening Up Telepresence

I caught this story about Cisco's ever expanding telepresence game over at TMCnet. On the surface it looks like Cisco PR in action, but digging to the bottom I spied these two factoids:

Cisco TelePresence Recording Studio is an application that expands the application of Cisco TelePresence beyond meetings. It enables customers to create high-quality video messages or record presentations for instant, secure playback on Cisco TelePresence units. Another application, Cisco TelePresence Event Controls provides event managers with tools to produce internal and external Cisco TelePresence events.

High definition interoperability feature of Cisco TelePresence meetings enable inclusion of video from any standards-based high-definition videoconferencing system or standard-definition video conferencing, WebEx and other desktop video applications. This will enable organizations to scale collaboration and leverage existing resources. According to Charles Stucki, vice president and general manager of TelePresence Systems Business Unit at Cisco, the company is reinventing the way users can experience Cisco TelePresence.

So what does this mean? With the recording studio it means those people who don't take part in the conference call can observe it later. This is a key point to what we call "Speakers & Listeners" in my agency as we are strong believers that hearing from the horses mouth is far more important than some filtered version being recited back.

The second is far more important as it takes a stab (in a backhanded and subtle way) at Skype, which has been rapidly becoming the most used video conferencing app. Sorry, but Cisco said STANDARDS BASED so that rules the most used out, and in turn makes CounterPath's Eyebeam and Bria apps important, but also means desktop video devices like the VidTel supplied Grandstream becomes more important. (Note Scott Wharton, Vidtel's founder is a big proponent of standards based video as are the teams at SightSpeed and Counterpath obviously.)

Here's my guess how this all plays out. Cisco with their 802.11 skills, Flip with their HD handheld camera technology creates Video Anywhere as a concept allowing for the Flip HD cam to connect wirelessly via Wi-Fi to the net and reach a telepresence recording and event suite.

The time is coming. It's early on. But it will arrive and the face of video as we know it will change forever.