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Posts from March 2010

Game Changing Wi-Fi Access Now Hourly From Boingo

Client Boingo has a better idea. Instead of charging only on a monthly basis, they have begun offering hourly service to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users who need to jump on and jump off when they're on the go.

GigaOm, JKOntheRun, both penned different stories on the news, as did the mobile news industry bible Wireless Week, while others like the new all things iPad, PadGadget, MacObserver, SoCal Tech and more.

What's the deal that makes this news? Well beyond the hoopla of the iPad, it's the short term purchase of "airtime" at places like airports that comes in handy. Not everyone needs to be a monthly, recurring subscriber for a hotspot service like Boingo. And, pay as you go in mobile is the rage in most countries, except the USA. This means that for less than $2.00 someone can surf on a trip and not have to cancel a credit card billing account. Also, since the payments go through the Apple App store, mom and dad can send their kids away with an iPad or iPod touch, add the already existing Truphone or Skype app to it, and they can find hotspots as they need to all around the world. Can you say, goodbye to the hassles, not to mention cost, of international roaming.

Way to go, Boingo!!

VoIP Goes Stale at Tesco in the UK

Tesco, a leading grocery/supermarket chain in the UK and elsewhere are canning VoIP, so reported the Register. The move is designed to bolster their value priced MVNO play in the mobile space that offers low cost, UK calling and is designed to be a cost cutting option for the cord cutters.

The move to shelve the Voice over IP telephony services, including Talk Wi-Fi comes at a time in the UK where wireless calling plans and deals continue to eviscerate the landline business market of many carriers. But the decision to take the products off the shelves and stop providing top-up credit is also an indication that people don't want to buy their basic phone service from the grocery, but they will top up a pre-paid phone there, so selling that service, with greater effort would seem to make sense.

In my mind this provides a big opportunity in the UK for Vonage to pick up the customer base that still wants a landline, or for the cable guys to move in fast.

8x8 Patent Seems to Be Like The Recent Vonage Patent

I'm really beginning to wonder just what it takes to receive a patent that keeps it unique. Just last week Vonage received a patent for virtual phone numbers. Now today 8x8, a company which has a very rich patent portfolio has received one too for what is "Virtual Telephone Extension Patent by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office."

From the press release from 8x8:

The patent relates to methods of routing communications to users and associated equipment by utilizing a user identifier that serves as a virtual extension number. By utilizing the invention described by the patent, users can remotely direct their calls to communication devices at various geographic, voicemail and email destinations.

Claim 14 of the new patent reads, "A method for routing telephone calls to communication devices using telephone networks, each communication device having a unique device identifier, the method comprising: assigning identifier data to each of a plurality of users, the identifier data for each user including at least two unique telephone numbers and at least one unique device identifier; and in response to receiving a call through one of the telephone networks, matching a telephone number in the call with one of the at least two telephone numbers assigned to a particular user, and switching the call to a destination communication device designated by the device identifier in the identifier data for the particular user." The issued patent contains twenty claims and was filed in 2002.

Now, going back to the Vonage patent:

Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG), a leading provider of high-quality voice and messaging services over broadband networks, today announced the grant of a virtual phone number patent.

The patent -- No. 7,680,262 – titled "Method and Apparatus for Placing a Long Distance Call Based on a Virtual Phone Number," allows consumers to communicate to distant locations without incurring long distance or international calling charges. This is Vonage's second patent related to the use of virtual phone numbers. Vonage's first patent directed to the use of virtual phone numbers -- No. 7,386,111 -- was granted on June 10, 2008.

Virtual phone numbers allow people outside a Vonage customer's local calling area to call for the price of a local call. Vonage customers can choose a virtual phone number in the calling area of a parent, relative or friend or wherever they want to establish a "virtual" presence. Vonage offers virtual phone numbers across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and in more than 14 other countries.

I'm sure there's a fine line of distinction between the two, but in my mind, both companies now hold patents to do the same thing.

Skype Founders VC Fund Raises 165 Million

London based Atomico ventures, the fund started by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, co-founders of Skype have raised money for their second venture fund with $165 million dollars in the coffers, reports the Financial Times. The fund will look at putting its money behind "disruptive" technology that is customer facing and will not require a feet on the street sales force.

To me it sounds like Skype, and many other SaaS based companies.

Are The Google Cities Already Picked?

My sources tell me that Google already has the cities lined up that they want to build out their fiber network so why do we keep seeing stories like these?

Personally, I'd love to see the city I was born, raised and educated in be awarded some help from Google. We all know, Philadelphia needs it. Often times I think about setting up my east coast office there, one day, and something like that would be a real lure. Personally, the idea of spending a Spring and Fall in Philadelphia, avoiding the winters and sweltering summers would be fun. So would reconnecting with old friends as well as time spent down on the Jersey shore. And yes those sandwiches, the cheese steaks, the hoagies from Lee's, Shanks and Geno's are certainly, alluring, and then there's the real store front pasta from those mom and pop pasta shops that dot the neighborhoods across the Delaware Valley. But there's more to Philly than just the food and the BYOB restaurants. There's also a growing tech community thanks to the number of universities that surround the City of Philadelphia.

If Google is going to fiber up the City, then the suburbs have to be in step.

Why I Don't Accept Ads, Guest Posts and Why I Don't Always Blog About Clients

This post about "payola" in the blogosphere says it all. Much like the book "Hitmen" that shed light into the nasty practice years ago of "paid" promotion in the record industry, the post over at TechCrunch about AppGate was a kick in the pants for me to write a post I've been thinking about for some time.

As long time readers know I don't have ads in my blog. For a short time I ran TypePad ads from SixApart but when that ended, I never really cared to make this an ad driven site. instead I chose to subsidize the $14.95 a month it takes to keep the blog running, and that way, not feel obligated to anyone, other than you, the readers, in what I write, when I post or what they are about. So please, do not ask me about running your ad.

When it comes to reviews, my approach is simple. First, did I use it? Do I like it? Does it solve a problem that needs solving? Does it replace something else? What does it compare best to--and is it better? And, most importantly, would my audience care to know about it. Sure I get lot of neat gadgets, early looks in beta to new and sometimes game changing technology, but more often than not, what I have to say about most of the things I'm asked to review are better said to the companies directly, because as many friends in the business already know, "no one breaks a product or service better" and that's a double entendre' of the first magnitude. Of course when a product is mature and has gone GA, I am quick to post the issue, as I did with Gizmo last week, as sometimes the megaphone approach works best, especially with Google.

As for guest posts, in the length of time I've had this blog, I think there has been one I posted. That was from Michael Robertson who has been a friend, and neighbor, and a success in just about everything he's touched. This is my blog. My opinions and my audience. I care about you the reader, and take care in what I post about (even the coffee cups and their secret meaning) so for those who want to guest post, in the words of the Sopranos finest, "forget about it."

Now regarding my clients. I have two rules. One, mention that they are clients of my agency, Comunicano. And, two. Give everyone else who we share news with the opportunity to post first, and even then, I may not post at all. It's not because I don't have a perspective on what my clients are up to. Quite the opposite. But because so much of what we do as an agency is more than simply publicity and tried and true PR or social media, and often time what we are doing falls into the product strategy and business development aspects of a client's business, as well as leading their overarching communications strategy I'm better off keeping silent and letting others do the story telling so as to not come off as any company's shill.

Thanks for being a reader......I really do appreciate it.

Vonage Patents Out of Market Numbers

Vonage received a patent last week on virtual numbers, something that AT&T also used to offer on CallVantage.

Basically, they've patented the process of using SIP to do what a Foreign Exchange number did for years in the PSTN, that being to have a local number in one place, and have it ring in another. The big difference is with IP based calls, the cost is next to nothing compared to the FX numbers that you paid mileage on in the PSTN world.