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Posts from September 2009

Windows Mobile Users Get Unified Inbox

Windows Mobile users are being notified by Microsoft's Total Access about Fusion 2.0 the latest offering from PhoneFusion, which provides a unified inbox for voice mail ala visual voice mail, faxes and text, all in one.

I take a slight exception to the claim of "A new feature—exclusive to Windows Mobile users—is that for the first time mobile consumers can receive faxes right on their smartphone" as I've been doing that for years with Webley/Communikate on my Blackberry and used to do that on earlier generations of Smartphones with an Adobe PDF capable client. I also read faxes on my Nokia E71 with an Adobe client, however, may Microsoft customers are not cutting edge these days :-)

Regardless this is really a very good, and useful service as it consolidates a lot of what the business user needs and is a far cry better than anything currently being supplied natively by Microsoft and easier to use than other services out there making similar claims. To be blunt, if I was on a Windows Mobile device, it would be on my list of must have applications.


Are You A Mobile Phone Hoarder?

According to a report from the Recycling Factory, in the UK, 52% of unused mobile phones are being hoarded at home in case the current in use handset is stolen, lost or broken. They go on to point out that 68% of claim to having more than one mobile phone needlessly collecting dust at home. I know I do.

Part of the problem is feature creep. The never ending "what's new" and "what's different." Take the iPhone. In less than two years, I've ended up on my third iPhone with the arrival of the GS. With my Blackberry I pass the old one down the line to team members as the basic functionality exists in all, and has from day one as a messenger. Speed and things like GPS also don't matter much with them. Then there are my Nokias. Even if they weren't a client I'd likely had made continual upgrades with the E series devices which steadily offer me more, while with the N series I've yet to see anything better than the N95 or N95-8GB come along, including the N97, though the new mini N97 I saw on Thursday at Gigaom's Mobilize sure looked snappier and better.

Bottom line is we all tend to have "old phones" lying around. The problem is in the case of many, they are simply outdated. Take some Windows Mobile devices I've acquired for use of Verizon or Sprint's networks in the USA. While good, they don't update/upgrade well, and as processor speeds move upward their use to me, and even others degrades. In my mind we need the ability to upgrade what's inside the phones, not the whole phone, because in many cases, what's outside rarely changes, with the WinMo devices.


Do Skype Numbers Add Up?

David Beckemeyer, aka Mr. Blog put up a Skype vs. Vonage calling the world comparison, and in doing so revealed some very interesting facts about the concept of unlimited that we've all sort of known but in his post he made things very crystal clear.

What I saw first was that Skype's numbers don't really add up. Let's look at their math. In the "Hidden Limits" section of his post David cites:

For Skype, the limits on this so-called “unlimited” plan are “10,000 minutes per user per month, with a maximum of 6 hours per day. Also, no more than 50 different numbers in total can be called per day” (see http://www.skype.com/legal/terms/fair_usage/).

Ok-so here's the math error-6 hours a day is 360 minutes. Using 30 days a month that equals 10,800 minutes, which means for at least two and a half days the user couldn't make outgoing calls to their maximum limit per day as they would have run out two and a half days earlier in total monthly minutes. Now let's go one step deeper. The "fifty call a day limit" means that each call is limited to about 7 minutes and 12 seconds in order to fall into the six hours of calls (outbound).

As a business owner I happen to like that Skype is publishing these guidelines, but wish they would get the math right. What I also would like to see is the ability to buy added bundles of minutes to the unlimited plan, in case the so called "Skype Unlimited minutes" for some reason gets consumed. My guess is that the Skype For SIP program will really address this, and we'll see a higher rate plan established so businesses will really understand what they're getting. In business pricing, transparency is the key to a successful pricing model. And in this era, knowing what you're getting and what you're paying for becomes the key.


Faster Internet Coming to Your Home Town?

Doug Mohney pointed out that for $370 a month in the Twin Cities folks can begin to receive 100 megabyte speeds on downloads and 15 meg uploads.

Not everyone needs that. But as someone who enjoys 50/50 from SureWest in Sacramento at my wife's house I can sure appreciate the thought, but do question the price, but only by a little.

We're paying roughly $220 dollars for our blazing fast, almost no latency (ping time on speedtest.net 5 milliseconds) this morning which is about the usual, and my test was done via WiFi with at least two other devices connected to the router that were running. For us, it's worth it, but these kinds of speeds are not for everyone, but are a boon to the work at home type and the large family which has become download intensive. But one things for sure. Get these kinds of speeds at home and VoIP and Video become almost second nature as the upload pipe becomes much more friendly.


A Distracted Apple Isn't A Good Thing

Let's face it, the bNet article on Apple and their recent market entry announcement for new iPods is a very accurate depiction of the result of the launch.

This is not a reflection on the products from Apple, but a result of the company being distracted and the messaging being diffused. This happens because despite the perception of Apple as a giant, their management team and managers are extremely thinly spread. The company doesn't have stacks of people like other companies who do a small amount of anything. Instead they have a few people who do things that cover large amounts of ground.

In this case the announcements, coming on the heels of distraction caused by Eric Schmidt's departure, the FCC investigation, the Google Voice fiasco and a few other issues around the app store, all leads a small group into the world of distraction. Add to that the "return of Steve Jobs" and you have a recipe for distraction.

Story, positioning and messaging are crucial to a successful product introduction, but right now Apple is holding back because anything they say has impact on the FCC actions, as well as potential litigation from shareholders. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place, these are for Apple the first wave of rough seas since Jobs returned in 1996-97. That kind of distraction leads to exactly what happened, and likely caused Apple to hold up some launches of "new" products simply because they couldn't do it really right.


Say So Long To SightSpeed Consumer Version

After a long run, and a successful exit to Logitech, SightSpeed for consumers has been quietly retired by the folks at Logitech.

If you visit the web page, you'll see that SightSpeed for Business, an app my agency helped launch, remains front and center, but Logitech has taken SightSpeed and turned it into Vid, a personal one on one video chat solution. Since my account is a business account I can't determine with certainty, but reports are that the SightSpeed service is no longer active for consumers and Vid is what replaced it.

Last week at IT Expo, I moderated a panel on the future of video conferencing, and pretty much used an axis of differentiation, as well as category naming to really segment the marketplace.

Apps like Vid, Yahoo Messenger, Skype, all which offer one on one video calling are really Video Chat.

SightSpeed for Business, ooVoo, iChat, are multi-party video calling.

An app like EyeBeam or Bria, both of which are from Counterpath are SIP Video applications and likely have the most upside potential because they are h.264 and SIP based, thus technology ready for what everyone has agreed is the standard for video in the coming era.

Above all that are the various systems that are room based, ala BrightCom, Tandberg, PolyCom, HP, LifeSize and of course, the Mac Daddy of it all now, Cisco's Telepresence.

The key here is that the Video Chat is really a consumer grade, free model of talking and seeing one another and closest to the model of the Jetsons video calling, something that Scott Wharton nailed with VidTel, his no brain, plug and play, dial and see solution that makes video calling as easy as dialing the phone, because it is using a phone.

To me, what Logitech has done, is very, well, in the words of Mr. Spock, "logical." Since it's launch rumors have it they have garnered some one million users, largely from promotion in the boxes of their video cameras and online communications to users of their products. This shows me that the vision and reality of SightSpeed's past CEO Peter Csathy, founder Aaron Rosenberg, COO Scott Lomond and VP Marketing wiz Eric Quanstrom (aka as EQ), whom I had the pleasure of working with for almost four years was dead on the money. That being, make a simple, easy to use video calling solution, that's portable, and people will use it.


Skype Shutting Down Extras Program

Give Om Malik lots of credit. On the heels of his super successful Mobilize Conference yesterday he's breaking the news on Skype winding down it's extra's program.

This likely means two things:

1) Skype is going to internalize more development

2) Skype will begin offering more services that are labeled as Skype, vs. from third parties.

In my view this means that Skype will be ramping up services like conference calling, auto-attendant, faxing, deliver a more robust find me/follow me service and expand their mobile handset client software efforts.

While initially, the developers who built the Extras program up will be alarmed, I think this shows us one more thing. People want to talk but not much more than that.

More thoughts-I think this puts more emphasis on the Skype APIs and third party developers who want to leverage Skype as a pipe, not only as an application. By getting rid of the "Extras" Skype also is able to present a cleaner balance sheet, as the revenue for extras was really more of a pass through with Skype minutes and credit balances in users accounts paying the bills to the Extra's suppliers. In essence the "Extras" made the numbers look fatter and now with more prudent management and investment, Skype will be able to cleanly show how much money is really staying within the company, than reporting one that really what is nothing more than a collections and payment disbursement operation.

Initially this may look like Skype is just killing off their young, something they have been accused of in the past. My expanded view though is that there is more coming behind this as Skype both internalizes what can make them money and how they can play in the "Open" world, which is where the Developer Program, led by ex Counterpath CTO Jason Fischl begins to take shape.


A Comment About Comments

As many of you know I moderate comments on this blog. I do that for one reason. To keep the content on VoIPWatch on point and topical for each post.

Many times I see comment spam and those are deleted. Other times I see what is clearly an attempt to drive relevancy in search or to try to coattail on a very successful brand by being linked to the story. Those too usually get deleted.

Bottom line. If you want to have a comment posted, do what the word COMMENT means. Comment. Don't promote.