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Posts from April 2011

VoxOx Launches Something Borrowed, Something New

Sailboats in San Diego, California at 4 amImage via Wikipedia

Pal Bruce Bigelow of XConomy has a solid recap of VoxOx's VoxOx Call launch that happened yesterday.

VoxOx, which was funded by my neighbor-for the sake of transparency, is part of Telcentris, a San Diego based CLEC with a focus on international calling and are hoping to cut into that pie, the same way that Skype, GoogleVoice, Rebtel, client Truphone, Line2 and others all do or hope to. Taking a page from pretty much all of the afforementioned companies, VoxOx is basically playing man in the middle, doing some call rate arbitrage, and some call bridging to make calls free or low cost to the user with their new app that works on the iPhone. Like Skype and Truphone they also have a desktop app, but it's the mobile app that has some features the others don't, most notably, 20 party conference calling.

But this is where having been around a long time causes me to bring up the fact that what they are doing really mimics Parus Interactive's standard bearer, CommuniKate, which is the grand-daddy of all unified calling platforms made for the modern era, from the time it was called Webley. While Parus never rolled out their all IP platform, other services like Whistle from Vail Systems, are IP centric, as is GoogleVoice/Talk, as was the late lamented Gizmo. What VoxOx has done though is brought those Webley like services to an IP and Circuit Switched converged play and as Bigelow points out, basically bridges the call via an SMS triggered call back, which is something that Truphone and Rebtel both have done for years.

Overall I like the direction which VoxOx is going, but I just wish they had more "new" than simple "news."

Given San Diego's loss of Gizmo to Google, and the subsequent retirement of the service, I just have to root for the home team...



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Tungle Bought By RIM

Image representing as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBase

Tungle, the service that makes it easy to scheudule appointments has been bought by RIM.  Business Insider and Tech Crunch have details.

For founder Marc Gingras, this is is second exit, with the first being NIMCAT that was purchased by Mitel some years back in the early days of P2P telephony.

With Tungle, RIM gets a nice application that will help them with owning a very useful feature that integrates into Microsoft Exchange very well, but more importantly, also works with other calendaring platforms very well. With Gingras, they get a proven developer who can help them with new applications and services, especially those in the cloud. Tungle's strength was it's ability to share calendar data across platforms, not only work with RIM devices. Their "social calendaring" capabilities provided both opacity and transparency, depending on who the other patry was to your calendar. They could see free/busy time and at the same time book items. 

This is also great for Canadian startups as it shows there's a market for them, even in their own backyard.

For Marc and his team, CONGRATULATIONS. 

For the sake of transparency, my agency, Comunicano served as agency of record for the launch of Tungle, so we can't be more pleased. This now makes 22 clients in a little under nine years that have we have had the pleasure to see move on the path of acquisition. It was just about three years or so ago when we launched them and we've both used the service and watched them grow.


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The Gourmet Food Truck Movement

It started up in SF, or maybe in Los Angeles. Then again, some would say that back in the day when I was a student at Temple University it may have started there. But the Gourmet Lunch Truck movement is alive and well, and really, something that is clearly part of the mobile enterprise in its own way.

The truck owners are not just serving up food and drink, but are making use of blogs, Twitter, Facebook and now, thanks to one of my teammembers, Jordynn, even getting the message out via Tout, a new social video network that we're working with. 

Here in San Diego the gourmet trucks have their own blog, complete with a listing page that makes it easy to find out where your favorites are, Facebook and Twitter pages which get updated almost daily with which trucks are where, plus many have found their way into a Roaming Hunger, an iPhone app that tells you where they are on a daily basis in many cities across the USA. Plus they even have their own regional vendor association and another new local organization looking out for their rights.

Technology is also reacing into the trucks too, with an app called FastPass, that makes ordering from a mobile phone easier, and brings a loyalty program to the rolling eateries.

Oh, and the food. Its a combination of healthy, fresh and tasty. These are not the "roach-coaches" of old and given the lack of good healthy fast food, we're finding trucks like these are better than other, if they would only have hotspots.....

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Cisco CIUS Getting Closer to Reality

Cisco is following its pattern of working with major carriers when it comes to bringing something new to life. Just as the worked with AT&T and other Tier 1 providers around the globe to generate deployments of their Telepresence video communications suite, they will be doing the same thing with their enterprise tablet, CIUS, which features video and is aimed at the corporate enterprise market.

The developer bootcamp is a way for Cisco to get their new device into the hands of two people. Those who can write apps for it, and those who may want to do business deals with them. The target will likely be those who use either Cisco's Telepresence suite or their Tandberg line of video conferencing products.

To me, the real winner will be Apple, GTALK and Skype, because all Cisco is really doing is building interest in the category. The CIUS will not be a mass market device, nor will it see mass adoption. For video, it's more important to have internetwork services, like offered by Glowpoint or Vidtel. Those two make it possible to have one company's network talk to another's network regardless of platform. Cisco needs to be fueling the growth of those companies, not simply saying "oh, use AT&T" and us, as in the end, the help push more data, which is really all Cisco really cares about.


LTE on the RIse-How To Know the Players In the Game

In sports there's an old saying by the hawkers of the game's program book or scorecard that goes something like this..."You can't know the players without a scorecard" referencing the players names and uniform numbers on their backs and how a scorecard would make it easier for the fan attending the game. Well for those of us who observe or are involved in the mobile technology world, you can't easily grasp where the industry is going unless you have the insight and knowledge of which companies are doing what. That's where the awards events come into play, and in the case of LTE (Long Term Evolution) Informa, one of the worlds more prolific conference, media and awards companies have an event called aptly, "The LTE Awards."

A perusal of the list sure makes it easy to see who the players are as the companies named, many of which are household names to industry watchers, gives a real indication who is making things happen in LTE. Some are feted for their pioneering work in Research and Development, such as client InterDigital, the Chinese pair of Huawei Technologies and ZTE along with well known and long time cellular infrastructure provider Ericsson. Others are recognized for their contribution to standards, which without, would mean nothing really worked. Overall their are ten categories and sprinkled through are companies you might not associate with mobile, like Oracle.

If you are a watcher of the industry, reviewing the list may be helpful. If you're a user of mobile technology, and who isn't these days, knowing which companies are making the next generation of wireless communications possible is also good to know.


Did MagicJack Lose It's Magic?

Over the weekend the Telecom Law Monitor, a blog from the telecom practice group of Washington D.C. based Kelly Drye caught my eye when I spied that MagicJack's sister/parent company, YMAX and AT&T were embroiled in a battle over, you guessed it. MONEY. For a long time many observers were trying to figure out just how MagicJack made money. Well, this FCC decision really helps make things clearer.

What you have to realize here is that what MagicJack was basically doing was taking the approach of a loss leader on their sale of the device, and free calls offer, and hoping to make money on the "access" charges, much the same way the "free" conference calling telcos in the midwest make their money. Well, it seems AT&T challeneged YMax's approach and the FCC agreed.

Basically  YMAX, the CLEC, was planning to make money on access charge compensation. AT&T said, we're not paying the rates you want to charge. Well it seems the FCC agreed. That means that MagicJack's model of cheap no longer means, almost free or at breakeven to them, and brings to light the fact that they may now see the possiblity of losing money on every call without their sister company making a profit on the access charges which subsidized what they have been doing.

YMax was counting on users to generate enough traffic to make the virtually free outbound calling worthwhile, which meant keep MagicJack as the money loser and make the profit at YMax. 

Here's how---- YMax is counting on people making thier long distance to the numbers using MJ and while not part of this particular FCC action, calling local numbers too. They are also counting on MagicJack customers to place toll-free calls.  With each call YMax generated revenue each time one was was placed, but the FCC decision means it will no longer be able to do so.  

So what does this mean? YMax probably will have to modify its tariff to describe the service in a way that allows it to charge for these calls.  If it is unable to accomplish that, the lowering of revenues from MagicJack customers as a result of the FCC order will present a real problem to the overall concept and profitability. 


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Level3 Buys Global Crossing

Image representing Level 3 as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Today's announcement of Level3 buying GlobalCrossing is a big deal in telecom. Rather than rehash the very saliant points made by Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOm  let me go into some analysis:

Level3 picks up a ton of similar technology based capacity and routes for their network. Thus customers who have been using both Level3 and Global Crossing (like Google) now only have to work with one company. Where it's bad is the network buyer now has less choices, which means higher prices. However this also means that customers of the combined network can negotiate better against AT&T, BT, France Telecom and Telstra. It also makes Reliance GlobalComm a very interesting player to come out of their alternatives will still be sought. Bottom line is I expect more mergers.

The Level3 battle vs. Comcast will escalate. Comcast acquired NGT last year and NGT was one of the largest resellers of Level3. This buy means that the pursuit of the business market by Comcast just got stiffer as GC routes go where Level3's largely didn't. In many ways this purchase is better than the Wil-Tel acquisition.

The cloud is where things are going. Level3 brings their CDN and cloud app storage knowledge to Global Crossing's customers. In essence this may hurt companies like Akamai more than people realize at first as the customer using Global Crossing and Akamai may now want an all from one solutions provider. One area is conferencing, audio, video and web which Akamai provides.

This will likely slow down the amount of fiber Corning sells to Level3 but it will mean that others in the network game may have to start building more of their own network capacaity out.

Sales--if you're in sales with one of the two companies, it may be time to brush up your resume. Same with service and support. Mergers like this always take time, but in the end there are job cuts. Level3's past integration efforts with LookingGlass, Wil-Tel and other buys have always resulted in changes in people, at the top of the ladder and in the middle. 

Deals in progress. Obviously there will need to be regulatory approval. If you have a pending contract now's the time to look at pal Tony Greenberg's RAMPRATE and get some good advice on what to ask for and who to go with when it comes to IT sourcing. 

Bottom line..expect business to be business, unusual for a while.



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PalTalk Adds Calling and Texting

Paltalk is one of those companies that keeps on ticking. They have a reported 70 million users, many of which are part of niche communities. Now they are adding texting and voice calling on mobile devices, starting with the Apple iOS series (iPhone, iPod touch and iPads) similar to so many other voice over WiFi and 3G or 4G data services based upon their Vumber Mobile application.

The app is available for free from the iTunes store and will be available for Android phones and tablets beginning Spring 2011.