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Posts from October 2009

A Waste Of Money, Time and Words

I have to laugh when I read that the FCC is investigating Google over not terminating calls somewhere that costs more money and where the reciprocal compensation model isn't really "reciprocal." To me, it's a big waste of the money the FCC has to do far better things with, like working to get broadband in more places at better prices.

But since no citizen of the USA is paying for any part of the Google Voice call, other than Google, which is not part of their already agreed to service plan, why does the FCC care. This is no different than my avoiding shopping a very high priced grocery store in Del Mar when prices for the same item that's sold in another market ten minutes away are far lower. I don't have to shop there, and Google Voice doesn't have to terminate calls where they don't want to. It's Google's money, not the consumer of GoogleVoice. It's also no different than choosing to live in Nevada where there's either no or lower personal income tax than in California. It's a choice, and the last time I checked the USA was all about giving its residents the freedom of choice. Besides, the person trying to call the "free" number is able to still reach it by using their own calling plan.

So let's look at some logical facts.

First, no regulations says that everyone has to use GoogleVoice to make phone calls. As a matter of fact, only those invited in so far get to use it.

Second, no regulation says that an alternative dialing service can't establish rules on where a call can be terminated (or even received from.)

Third, many cell service plans still do or did preclude international calls to some countries where the they had no reciprocity in billing.

Fourth, some cell plans today actually exclude where you can use the service. Take AT&T's Go Phone, their pre paid or pay as you go service offering. The coverage map, when you toggle between GoPhone and Voice says it all.

If you have a GoPhone it won't work everywhere so what's the difference with Google Voice not terminating calls everywhere if AT&T isn't required to make cell service available all across their network (which includes many affiliates) because it costs more or because a customer has a different class of service or a different form of a billing relationship. Because they have the freedom of choice of what they offer to their customers. That's the same thing Google is doing. Making a choice.

Bottom line---this is one more red herring from AT&T to cast doubt on Google making it more interesting as to why Apple is falling on the sword over the app. Release the app, and let's see what comes next from AT&T, Apple.

The Problem With Pre-Ordering Electronics

It seems the electronics industry is now letting etailers establish pre-order sales as a way to produce just enough devices to meet anticipated needs.

As someone who is an early adopter, and who likes being first, this would appear on the surface to be something meaningful. Except, as someone who has been around the wine world for many years it's easy to see where the problems lie in what they call "futures."

The futures market is based on the merchant you are buying your prized wine from getting access to all that they order. The wine forum sites are littered with stories of someone who didn't get their order because somewhere along the way from winemaker to retailer the full allocation never made it to the end of the line customer. This usually happens when a particular wine or winery sells via distributors or negociants who then write orders, wait to get paid and then deliver the wine. But, as with anything that is a commodity shrinkage occurs. A case is broken, exposed to the elements, damaged or simply lost. Someone gets the short end of the stick and then their is disillusionment followed by frustration to try and find the wine at the markedly lower futures price, possibly purchased with a stronger dollar than what it is at the time of anticipated deliver.

Currency fluctuation also comes into play. The merchant who thought the wine was going to be 100 dollars a bottle often times finds themselves paying more, and sometimes can't cover the net difference. The importer or distributor sells them what they paid for, not what the final invoice is for and again, someone is shorted. Once again the merchant scrambles to find the products.

I write this because I'm sensing there will be the same shortage mentality on some high end consumer electronics soon, all of which will drive the commodity based market known as eBay.

Just in Time ordering is good when the products and raw materials exist, but I have a funny feeling that what's made is made and everyone else has to wait or pay more.

Catch the (Google) Wave @ eComm

Yesterday pal Phil Wolff was kind enough to see that I made it into the Google Wave beta. I'm still learning what it does but I can see that it does transform how we collaborate and how a conversation becomes more of a threaded experience than email, chat, IM and so forth. Overall I like where it's going and have since the original launch.

A few hours later, eComm Organizer Lee Dryburgh sent me an email expressing just what we'll be seeing at this month's eComm in Amsterdam from the Wavers who are making the trek all the way from Australia to share the latest developments around Wave.

At eComm will be Stephanie Hannon (Google, Lead Product Manager) and Lars Rasmussen (Google, Member of Technical Staff) with the two presenting a 30 minute keynote together entitled "Why Should You Care About Google Wave? Also on tap from Google is David Wang (Google, Technical Lead and Architect) who will provide a 20 minute plenary session entitled "Wave Federation: Building An Open Network

While many think if eComm as only about VoIP, they're wrong. eComm is about emerging communications, not only the same old thing we already know about. This means there won't be a rehash of the 140 character thing going on, but instead we'll all be looking at what will really be the next big things in communications and technology and how they impact society.

No 3G VoIP Was Only Blocked On Apple's iPhone Not Nokias

Let's get the facts straight about Voice over 3G here in the USA as I'm growing tired of the story being about AT&T and Apple when for the past few years Voice over 3G on Nokia N and E series devices worked.

I've been using my agency's client, Truphone from time to time that way without a problem on my Nokia N95 and E71s. It works. It makes calls, and when I'm not driving around it works. Other Mobile VoIP clients worked as well, but none as well as Truphone. Gizmo had a similar client that took advantage of the SIP stack and the VoIP client inside the Nokias also. And guess what, if you had a 3G service plan on your Nokia device you could make calls too.

All this "hype" and "hoopla" about the iPhone and AT&T is just that. Hype. It's spin control at its finest. Make something news and the world gushes over it. But at the end of the day, those of us who had unlocked Nokia handsets have been doing this for sometime and yes, AT&T was well aware of it, otherwise why did devices like the E62 and now the E71x come out neutered minus the key technology to make calls over 3G. Simple, because AT&T knew all too well what was coming down the pike and they needed to buy time to get their network up to snuff. It still isn't but it's getting closer.

The decision by Apple came from somewhere else, not Cupertino. For if they didn't want 3G VoIP calling on the iPhone, they wouldn't have had any software in the phones that when they were jailbroken that services that were offering VoIP over WiFi could run on them. So let's not spin a spinner.

So much for understanding that Open is in the hands of the beholder. You want open. Buy what is, not what will one day be.

Kindle Goes International

CrunchGear's John Biggs has the goods on the GSM and International release of the Kindle from Amazon.

As a very happy Kindle user, I am thrilled to see this. Many friends outside of the USA have had major Kindle envy. As someone who cares about the environment the Kindle contributes to the savings by reducing our dependency on paper. Also, when it comes to travel, taking a Kindle along is a lot lighter than carrying books in my carry-on.

Most of all, the reading of magazines on a plane or train via the Kindle is very easy on the eyes.

FCC 3G VoIP Decision is A Win for Open, A Loss for Closed


Om has the news about AT&T "deciding" to open up their 3G networks to apps like Skype and client Truphone.

That said, having made calls over 3G in Europe, I wouldn't begin to jump up and down so fast. If you're standing still or walking it will work, but my last attempt (at 220 km/h) in Austria connected but I was outrunning the switching between cell towers along the autobahn.

Now, my take. This had to happen. AT&T is spending a fortune on their 3G update, with estimates being between 7 and 11 billion dollars. To get more usage of the upgraded 3G network really is a way to get people to realize you can do more, and VoIP is an already known application that works over data networks, so their "deciding" is really more of them capitulating now, when the network is more ready.

But this becomes far more interesting when T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint all say, they will do the same thing. Yesterday at the Andy Seybold Wireless University Application Competition, Truphone's Tom Carter demonstrated how to make calls using the Apple iPod touch and the Truphone iPod application via Sprint as he borrowed my MiFi. Last month we saw T-Mobile upgrade their 3G network coverage in more places across the USA, and we learned from Amazon that the Nokia N900 (which I have on order) will work on their network not AT&T's, and since it has a SIP stack and a VoIP client already built into the Maemo OS, I see the same calling being done on the N900 fairly soon. But only if T-Mobile does the same thing as AT&T.

Overall this is very good news, which becomes better news when all the carriers around the globe do the same thing.

Just What Is Sender Pays?

My dad was a career mailman, well actually, a lot more than that. He was a 30+ year employee of the US Postal Service and eventually retired as Superintendent of the Olney Post Office, in Philadelphia after career that spawned multiple stations and roles ranging from route examiner to nigh shift floor manager. They weren't glamorous jobs compared to what I do now, but my dad did teach me a lot about the postal system and how the sender pays the bills or as he said, they sorta do.

He explained that second class mail, which was what magazines and newspapers traveled at was usually paid for by the sender, but really that the costs were factored in to a point in what the subscriber was paying.

So, when I saw pal Dean Bubley's post about Sender Pays, I thought of my dad and how he explained it.

This model is not far fetched. Instead it makes a lot of sense. Why should we as wireless data subscribers pay twice for our downloads. Once to subscribe to say, the shows we view via iTunes or the music we buy, and then pay for the broadband, wired or wireless.

I've heard this Sender Pay model from Martin Geddes. Like Bubley, Geddes is another of the crew who will be at eComm end of this month in Amsterdam, the event that Alec Saunders just booked his trip to go to as well.

Net Neutrality: Can Open be Governed To Be Discussed on Calliflower

Long time pal Carl Ford has let me know that he'll be moderating a call on a very hot topic on Calliflower--Net Neutrality:  Can Open be Governed this Tuesday, October 6 at 1230 EST.

Participants include: Todd Daubert of Kelley Drye, Hank Hultquist of AT&T and Rick Whitt of Google.

Given all the noise and news around the Google vs. Apple and Google vs. AT&T, plus the Skype efforts on the Carterphone act, one really has to wonder if Open is the new Closed just like Blue is the new Black these days and also if any fireworks will erupt.

Carl reminds use that "FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has expanded from four to six the principles of freedom associated with Net Neutrality. Now however these principles are now going to be codified into regulatory rules. So the question has to be asked can the concept of “open” be governed."

Join Carl and his guests as they look at how these principles will be incorporated into policy. What companies, services and devices will be subject to these rules and discuss if the jurisdiction of the FCC has to be modified to enable these principles.

Going Going On The Go with GoGo

I do love GoGo's inflight service, even if they are blocking VoIP. On my "up the state" commute, three times this week, I've actually used it only once first due to a lack of the in seat power ( it was a defective outlet) on my Virgin America flight on Thursday, and my error in grabbing my uncharged Mac Book Air, but today I used it almost non-stop once we hit the required altitude.

For me, the airplane is an extension of my work life. I chatted with Karl Good, Truphone's Director of Consumer apps who I found was working on something on a Sunday about his recent Android release then tapped away with eComm mind-behind Lee Dryburgh and caught up on some exciting news that will be forthcoming regarding some topics and speakers.

Of course I also did the requisite email checking, mailing and web surfing, but most of all I actually sat back and read a book.

Here's the net net. The peace of mind, knowing I can be in touch vs. out of touch makes the $5.95 cost for GoGo on a short hop a pleasure. Add to that the in-seat power keeps my Air nice and charged, ready for a morning of breakfast, some fresh air and a view of the Bay from where I will be most of the day working away before meeting up with friends in SF.