Previous month:
August 2010
Next month:
October 2010

Posts from September 2010

Skype And Avaya-The Crystal Ball Was Right (Again)

We all love being right, and in the case of Skype and Avaya, it seems, I was.

Back in 2009 when Skype announced their relationship with Shoretel, I felt that Avaya and Cisco would be their next major partnerships and alliances. But Cisco is going their own way it seems, with reports that Cisco wants to go head to head with Skype in video, while at the same time having their SIP based phones still be reachable to Skype callers.

The pairing up with Avaya was likely driven by Avaya's lead investor, Silver Lake Partners, who see the synergy between the two companies, and the very lucrative enterprise market. This is big win for Skype's business lead, David Gurle, who joined the company earlier this year. At the end of the day though this will come down to the Avaya sales team being able to convince enterprise customers to add Skype, which is something out of Skype's control. Those types of sales efforts require face to face selling, sales engineers, support teams that are available in real time. Even if that comes from Avaya, Skype will have to dedicate resources to all those key functions as they roll out Skype Connect in October with them.

Since it's inception, Skype has been self service and self support based. This big move into Enterprise with a partner like Avaya moves them into a whole different sector, and with it comes enormous reward potential, as well as some risk that goes along with it.

Faster WiFi Coming to the Sky

As a regular user of Aircell's GoGo service on a few airlines, most notably Virgin America and AirTran, because they offer it fleet wide, I'm always happy to see greater efforts put on in-flight WiFi. The experience I've had has been "good enough" to "stay connected" and with all the work my team and I have going on a daily basis, some of which requires review in real time. Unfortunately, my choices in airlines and even flights domestically have been pretty much limited to those two because the other longer established carriers have pretty much only been deploying WiFi on their long haul routes or chosen to only deploy it on newer planes vs. retrofitting the older ones when they come in for regular maintenance. For the business traveler, WiFi in the sky is a must have. It changes the entire travel paradigm for those of us who need to be in touch more often, and for long haul flights of more than 3 hours, almost an essential. Sure, there's a point where you want to get away, but online connectivity has pretty much eliminated my need to "red eye."

The news about faster in the sky WiFi from ViaSat could not be better news as it opens up additional options for fliers and likely means that WiFi on International flights is not too far away.

Some SpeedTests Don't Really Prove Anything

When I see reports like this one I have to step back, take a deep breath and say, "oh well" when it comes to speed tests, especially, those done for mobile phones.

You see, not only are all speed tests not created equal. But for mobile, it's a whole new ballgame as a series of factors impact the throughput and speeds one will receive, making nothing a really fair test, but really a snapshot in time for that specific location at that moment.

1. Distance to the cell tower

2. Current load on the network

3. Speedtest site used

4. Load on the route to the speed test site itself

5. Height/floor of a building you are testing one

6. Possibility of in building wireless DAS system

7. Potential of a network operator installing an in building pico cell.

All of these factors can change the result one receives when it comes to speed, and thus, mobile speedtests are never fair fights. As a matter of fact, they're in the end, nothing more than a diaper derby.

Cut Out The Credit Card

The telcos want to be in the banking business. Plain and simple. They are already in a "own the customer" relationship and with technology they can move money and credits around as fast as any bank. This recent move by Verizon for FiOS payments shows they don't want to be paying fees when they can do it for less and make more.

My read of this is simply this. The telecom folks want to handle your transactions so by going bank direct, and bypassing the credit card companies (Visa, Amex and Mastercard) they save their customers money and make more themselves. Somewhere though the consumer is getting shafted. I see a class action suit in their future, but by then, the telcos will have their payment, deposit and transactions platforms built, major banks and credit card brands will align, everyone will be making money, and the consumer will still pay more. Nothing changes. Just the model.

Prices for VoIP Based Calling Now Reminds Me of Calling Cards

The recent spat of announcements and coverage about lower calling rates from just about everyone recently all reminds me of the calling card era. Sure there's a market for that, and a need, but candidly, rates may matters to the price conscious consumer but not those who are already in the know. It's what you have behind the rates. And that's services.

Show me a plan with more than just minutes, and I'll show you a business model. Show me just minutes, and I'm show you the history of calling cards and how they are pretty much wearing thin on the market today, what with Pre-Paid SIMs, no contract plans and more and more coming from the carriers. The same holds true with free conference calling. Sure there's a market, but its not for those who want more than simply a conference bridge. As more and more IP based services get rolled out, that leverage the call, the more you'll see the price per minute or month include the more advanced services. Years ago, Jeff Pulver called them Purple Minutes. Well, the world is turning purple when it comes to calling. Call it Purple Cloud, as that's what's going to be driving it.

Showcases and LaunchPads Abound

Mobilze has LaunchPad. ITExpo has Startup Camp Communications. CTIA has the Showcase. Each of these events has new companies that are innovating and pushing the bounds of what was impossible a few years ago, and is now possible today.

Who said innovation was dead? Who said there were no new ideas?

All of these events show what's new, what's next and more importantly, demonstrate why they are important to the ecosystems that surround them. So if you want to really see what's new, get off the show floor at the events and find out what's really coming along that can change your world.

Mobilize, RIM Developer Event, IT Expo, CTIA and Wireless Health 2010 All In Seven Days

I've looked at the calendar and am just amazed at what's happening in a seven day period on the west coast.

Between GigaOm's Mobilize on September 30th in San Francisco, IT Expo starting on Monday October 3rd in L.A., CTIA happening in San Francisco, starting on the 4th, and Wireless Health 2010 happening in San Diego that same week, the west coast will be full of wireless industry executives. Add to it RIM's Developer event and a few other events around Mobilize's date and you have the makings of lots of meetings and connections all within four California market areas.

Where will you be?

Italy Mobile Broadband Prices Falling

Someone has the right idea in Italy with their prepaid data prices. Wireless Moves reports that for as little as nine Euros you can find data access on the go with mobile network operator, WIND. For 20 Euros you can get 10 GB of data in a month. When you do the conversions that roughly $25 dollars for more than twice the data as say, Verizon Wireless or AT&T here in the USA.

To find out what's available where, the site referenced in the post, the PrePaid Wireless Data Wiki is a great starting point.

More and More Video Platforms, But How Do They All Connect?

Oovoo, Skype, SightSpeed and now Tandberg with the release of Movi 4.0 are all working to make multi-party video happen on the desktop. Tandberg, Lifesize and others are working to connect the enterprise with desktop HD systems. Then there are companies like IOMEET and Vidyo which is the cloud approach of hosted and managed video communications' services while HP with Halo and Cisco with Telepresence are working on the room concept. Google, with their acquisition of GIPS (another former acquired client of mine-#19) is also stepping up their browser based video chat capability too.

But they all lack one key component. Interoperability and inter-connectivity in an easy way. That's where a company like my client Glowpoint comes in. They, along with a few others around the world provide the ability to connect not only one company using say a Polycom Video phone to someone using a Tandberg video phone, or an HP Halo to a Cisco even though different codecs and possibly even standards are involved. In essence, Glowpoint is the middleman making it possible for one to see (and hear) the other.

This role becomes significantly more important with the upcoming release of the new Samsung Tab and with FaceTime from Apple as the uptake of them means that more video endpoints are out there, and people will want to connect to one another regardless of network, device or format. If you think of Glowpoint in the terms of a giant transcoder in the cloud for video, that provides interoperability and connectivity between these different networks and devices, protocols and standards, you'll get the picture on where things are headed in the video calling world. While cross connecting those devices doesn't happen yet, it will some day. Just like in the early days of the telephone, when one network needed someone in the middle to connect calls from one person to another, as history always repeats.

Glowpoint isn't alone in the space. Others are there. But with the relationships Glowpoint has in place and their experience they're moving in the direction of making sure everyone can see everyone, and not leaving anyone out in the cold.