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Posts from October 2010

Southwest's New WiFi Plan, But Lacks The Power Virgin America Has

A few weeks ago on a flight to Nashville I had the opportunity to experience Southwest Airlines implementation of in flight Wi-Fi that's powered by Row44, a rival to Aircell's GoGo service.

Boarding's Areas Flying WIth Fish has his take on their new pricing and walled garden approach, which is much more customer friendly than the Aircell model. As someone who has been flying almost every week for the past four years on some airline, the addition of Wi-Fi to an inflight experience makes a very big difference. So too does smaller, lighter devices and one big differentiator, in seat power. While SWA will have cheaper Wi-Fi in the sky, their planes don't have in seat power, something that Virgin America does and which some of the bigger planes on American, Delta or United offer, but not in every seat like Virgin America.

Now for the experience. I found Row44 to be for the most part, faster than GoGo, but at the end of the day, not much difference in overall experience. Regardless, being on a plane with Wi-Fi remains a must for the business traveler who needs to "stay connected."



Apple Is Seeding The Cloud With the NEW Mac Book Air

It has been a week now that I've had the good fortune to use the new 11" Mac Book Air. Sure there has been a stumble with Skype, which they corrected, but the new Air is a cloud lovers dream.

To make the most out of the Air here are some essentials:

1. Use SkyDrive from Microsoft works great with Office 2011. Think Google Docs for everyone in business.  The benefit is simple. If you're not using your own computer you can still access and WORK on file using Office Web Apps.

2. DropBox-this is great for group sharing or accessing files, on multiple Macs or PCs.

3. JungleDisk-I've been using this for two years or more now and it means I don't have to worry about what file is where.

4. Basecamp from 37 Signals. Nothing keeps a company, especially a virtual one more organized.

5. Boingo-With Wi-Fi hotspots in more places than any other provider, it makes connectivity easy.

6. Get a PocketSpot. A MiFi, ClearWire ClearSpot or a Sprint Overdrive-use that when there's no Wi-Fi.

7. Google Docs/Apps if cost matters, Apps provides a very good value.

8. Microsoft Exchange if cost doesn't matter, your business needs reliable mail, calendaring and contact management, go with what is built for business. But find a good hosted Exchange provider.

9. For voice and video, it come down to CounterPath's Bria and Skype being on your air. The first connects to every SIP and Asterisk based service around. The second you already are likely using. Make calls. See people. There's also FaceTime from Apple, which is rapidly gaining traction, since you can connect to mobile phone using people too face to face so easily and SightSpeed.

10. if you sell, manage sales or work contacts, it's essential.

11. Need to make conference calls? Use the Air as a speakerphone, connect via Skype to HiDefConferencing and have the high quality conference calls at only the cost of a monthly fee or use Bria and a G.722 codec to use ZipDX.

What have you found that's essential for your Mac Book Air?


VoIP/IP Based Calling-No Opting Out of E911

One of the better regulatory attorneys in D.C. passed on some news about how the FCC is addressing the fact that E911 HAS to be provided by interconnected VoIP providers and how they get a "warning" before enforcement.

This is a topic I find intriguing, so I've asked the same Kelley Drye attorney if he would be willing to provide a side by side comparison of rules and regs that impact the three faces of calling...VOIP, PSTN and SKYPE.

Skype On New Mac Book Air Can Work

If you want to have Skype 2.8 work on your new Mac Book Air you need to take one step back and then go forward.

Basically, you have to uninstall 2.8, delete an xml file from your user library, install Skype 2.7, make sure it works, then install 2.8.

Skype is promising a hotfix according to folks on the dev team, but until then, just take those steps and you can have it working.

Nimbuzz Drops Skype Support

The news world is abuzz with the story abut Nimbuzz having to drop Skype.

Rumors of this type of activity have been swirling since the Fring/Skype battle back in the summer, and it's no surprise. Skype is doing all the can to not be an interconnected carrier in order to stay clear of regulatory matters around the globe which is why Skype In, which offers local numbers, is not sold with Skype Out, the service that let's you place phone calls to the PSTN (though their unlimited plans do include both as features.)

Unfortunately, Skype really doesn't pass the "Duck Test" no matter how they spin their technology to the regulators. At some point in time they will have to become compliant with the same regulations that any carrier does, or abandon the business of selling any or all of the elements that make them money.

To me this is a "how long can we hold on" game that Skype already realizes they have surrender on. That means adding E911 (Vonage decision), allowing interconnection to other services (MCI vs. AT&T and the 1984 Telecommunications Act), paying into the Universal Services Fund, etc. Oh, and since Skype is global it will eventually mean having to do these types of things all over the world.

This really is not an if, but in reality, a when.

Om's analysis takes the position that it's really, all about the money.

Lucrative deals with phone companies like 3, Verizon Wireless and KDDI are making it clear where Skype sees its future revenues. Similarly, Skype has found major success with its apps on the iPhone, making it a good source of revenues in the future. And the company is clearly willing to do what it takes to protect both of those markets.

Given Google has the guts of Gizmo5, GTalk and Google Voice, as they converge to the mobile world, and given their SIP based technology, all Big G needs to do is open up a bit more and a lot of the "open" zealots will move their. Add in moves by Yahoo of late to rekindle Messenger, and Skype's honeymoon period may be ending.

Let's also not forget that Brad Garlinghouse is over at AOL, and in a prior life at Yahoo, Garlinghouse was very much the pro-VoIP and Communications services lead. AOL with it's Messenger and lots of other VoIP technology under the hood also at one time wanted to take a run at Skype. All three companies (Google, Yahoo, AOL) still have massive audiences and very loyal users. Both AOL and Yahoo still have telecom carrier relationships for access, so don't be surprised if one, or all of them jump back into the game in bigger ways.

Mac Book Air 2010's And Skype Are Not Friends

Well, the best laid plans have been short stopped. It seems that Skype 2.8 for the Mac and the newest, and smallest, Mac Book Airs are not getting along.

Beyond the online Skype Developer report, I've experienced it first hand. Apple's support was very receptive, and even while Skype is third party software, the apple Senior Support person was extremely interested, spending almost an hour with me as we gathered all kinds of information from the new Air and an older Air where Skype is working fine, under the exact same version of both the Mac OS and the Skype version.

Agito Networks Acquired by ShoreTel

In what looks to be an asset sale based on the published reports, Agito Networks, an early pioneer in the concept of the mobile PBX, has been sold to ShoreTel for $11.4 million dollars and likely there's a patent or two there that may bring them some value, plus market understanding of how to put a cellphone onto a PBX network.

For a period of 3 years or so, I served on the Advisory Board of Agito and was always impressed with the direction the company was heading, as their fundamental efforts were on the enterprise business market. They raised over $20 million dollars, with most of it coming from Battery Ventures, one of the Bay Area's more established and older VC firms. Founded by Pej Roshan, and ex Cisco marketing executive, the company was the first to commercialize the concept of an extended enterprise on the Blackberry, accomplishing that largely without much help from RIM, or so I was told after resigning from their advisory board this past January. Personally, I'm happy for Pej as he's worked to make this day a reality.

Agito's early moves were like many VOIP and FMC companies, well ahead of the market, but unfortunately without more cash infusion Agito was never going to gain more traction with the mobile operators any more than they had early on. Having worked for a few years and been an advisor to BridgePort Networks earlier on, the FMC space was a land mine filled road between the operators and the enterprise market, with neither side really grasping the potential when it was presented to them.

So here's a possible ShoreTel's play with Agito. It's Skype. A year or so ago, ShoreTel became one of the first IP-PBX players to embrace Skype for SIP, which is now called Skype Connect. Agito's understanding of the Blackberry devices, and other mobile handsets, and the know-how to integrate with them could be meaningful. Unfortunately, there hasn't been much in the way of developments at ShoreTel around Skype other than integration.

But vision and execution are two very different matters.