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Posts from November 2011

Skype Is Not (Yet) A Phone Company

A lot of people think of Skype as their phone company. Many, like me, who have Skype In and Skype Out use it as a way to replace, or as an alternative, to their landline with devices that are far more universal (not to mention more atractive) that the old fashioned telephone that connects to an RJ-11. And now with the FreeTalk Home Phone Adapter, you can even connect one of those to your network and use that old phone to make a call to Skype users, or receive calls that are coming to your Skype ID. So, while oneday technology like that would make Skype a phone company, they're not--or so they would say, all to avoid regulatory issues. Issues, which I predict won't still be there under Microsoft, which at this point prefers to not run afoul of the regulatory folks, anywhere.

But, Skype is still not a phone company. And nothing proved it more than my recent experience with a bank credit card and my belief that the call I made to them and the ensuing discussion that I had travel statius on it, was true. It wasn't. It seemd the bank in question, uses some anti fraud measures, including wanting you to verify the phone number you called from, the next time you call in. Well, for me, that's easy, as I use my GoogleVoice number as the number presented. Except in this case it seems, and likely others. How come?

Well Skype, like Vonage in the past, uses a number of outbound trunks to dump traffic to the 800 number network. In those cases the ANI (automatic number identification) that's presented to the receiving parties system, as the Caller ID is the trunk, not my Skype presented number. Thus, the anti-fraud anti-spoofing technology used by the bank thinks I'm calling from some outbound trunk that is presented by me, and thousands of others calling the bank. Now, had I called the bank using their local number none of this would have happened, as the number presented would be the number I have Skype regularly presenting whne call are made to PSTN. 

This is different from how a real PSTN or even true VoIP company, which follows all the rules operates. But those carriers are phone companies. But Skype is not (for now) a phone company so they don't have to follow those same standards that even MagicJack has to. But, overtime, making calls to 800 numbers that follow the standards, just like calls to 911 will have to for Skype, because at some point, Skype under Microsoft say they do offer phone services, and formally drop the defensive game of saying their not.

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It's Called War-Google Mail Killed on Blackberry

Make no mistake about it. With the announcement of the deprication of the Gmail App for BB's Google is decaling war on RIM and the users of Blackberries who want to make use of a GMAIL client (which works very well) on their Blackberries. 

The reason is so simple. RIM competes with Android. So why make it easy for your users to work on the competition. Also, Google prefers web apps, not installed apps. 

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CounterPath Gets Distribution

Image representing CounterPath Corporation as ...Image via CrunchBase

There are four parts to marketing that we learned in Marketing 101. They are called the four P’s.

Price. Product. Promotion and Place.

As long as I’ve been working in technology, one of the most misunderstood and weakest areas of effort is place. And place = distribution and distribution = sales. Many companies in technology today think that sales is all about the web site.

Well in technology sales two companies that sell better in the business verticals than anyone are Cisco and DELL. Cisco routers are the staple of the industry, while Dell servers power more cloud, email and web sites than likely any other box, regardless of whether they are running Windows or Linux. In essence Dell and Cisco understood from the very start about owning the channels of distribution, and in turn about owning their markets. Microsoft knows this too, as does Apple. In the case of Apple it’s almost all Direct with mobile operators and some very hand picked retailers.

But if you don’t know your channels and don’t have a channel strategy, you won’t succeed.

Now lets look at the telecom market today. In the old days you bought your phones from the phone company, or you rented them. There was one phone company per country for the most part. They all bought from the same companies that produced handsets or had their own labs that developed then had phones manufactured. But that model is long gone. No one buys phones from the phone company, unless the phone company is a channel partner. And the technology running the phone companies come from a myriad of companies, all of who work through for the most part Network Equipment Providers (NEPs.) Today, companies like Nokia Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei are the old line NEPS that supply the telcos with gear that makes the telco networks work.

Nortel used to be in that same suite of companies but imploded. But Nortel understood VoIP, possibly better than all the rest. For VoIP companies, especially in the software and applications layer understanding the channels of distribution is key, especially if you want to reach the massive market of business customers. That means knowing who the players are that are changing the game in the way communications technology gets delivered to the market and eventually, the customer.

This we call eco-system competency when we talk with clients.

Today, the companies changing the game in getting new telecom technology to the market include Broadsoft, MetaSwitch and GENBAND. They each control the lion’s share of what gets to the telcos so eventually in a transparent way the technology gets to consumers, and to the business markets too. Understanding the channel is key to success of any telecom products or services company, for one reason. It’s called Go To Market (GTM) but really could mean Get to (the) Market, and without channel partners there are just too many carriers, mobile operators and service providers out there today to effectively get to and sell to all of them directly.

Take Microsoft. Long a giant, with a massive sales engine, today they are focusing on using the mobile operators as a key channel to grow their business and take market share away from RIM, Apple and Google. They each do this by defining their operator partner channel in such a way as to have the mobile network operators selling to enterprise and consumers. This is called the indirect channel approach.

Well closer to home, CounterPath, the company whose advisory board I sit on, and which my agency works with, is making news by adding GENBAND to their roster of strategic partners today. With this addition CounterPath has once again demonstrated they get the distribution model to bring the world of softphones and VoIP technology.

This new alliance is in addition to last year’s link up with Metaswitch and a long standing relationship with Broadsoft, all of whom compete for the tier one to tier three carrier and mobile operator business, CounterPath now has the three most innovative Network Equipment Providers (NEPs) in the business selling their softphones and other technology they have developed or rolled up. How they got there was based first on successes in the Enterprise space with strategic alliances with the likes of Cisco, Avaya, Mitel and Genesys.

Who or what is Genband? Only a company that picked up the Nortel telecom assets and sold a ton of it last year. While private, they are backed by the venerable, and respected, tier one investor, Oak Investment Partners. Long time and very well resepected Canadian telecom business watcher and writer Mark Evans points to the size of the market Genband got into with their acquisition of Nortel, noting the 2008 sales as $820 million. But it’s the news from Nortel that was the most revealing, and potentially beneficial to CounterPath. 121 million ports and over 10 million SIP lines to leading carriers globally. That’s a market ready to be turned and already a book of business that needs something new.

Why is this important? Well just last month CounterPath expanded their relationship with Wall Street darling BroadSoft, by expanding their Broadworks efforts to the mobile level. This is important because it shows Broadsoft and CounterPath both see the mobile market as intrinsically important and Broadsoft needs an alliance with someone to develop breakthrough technology to be able to go to their customers and sell up, after they have sold in. Genband, like MetaSwitch and Broadsoft see the future too.

Now with CounterPath’s soft phones and configuration technology Genband can take that existing 121 million port customer base and upsell them with something new. Mobile endpoints on new IP devices like iPads, iPhones and Androids through the carrier customers. Genband will thus take CounterPath in more deeply with the Tier one to Tier three telcos that around the globe are on par with the AT&T’s and Verizon’s of their nations. By taking what CounterPath has and blending it with the Nortel technology that Genband now owns, the two can tie together feature support and user experience.

The strategy is known as swarming. Cisco, Dell and Microsoft all understand that sales approach, and so does CounterPath. Now, between Genband, Metawitch or BroadSoft, telcos now will get offered CounterPath. For the telcos it means selling an already trusted brand at the Enterprise level. For the Enterprise it means being sold something their peers already buy. And for users it means a consistent experience end to end.

Growing their eco-system this way over the past three years and gearing up towards other people’s endpoints was the key. Unlike the days of old, there’s no need to manufacture a phone. You just have to connect to what’s on people’s desks or in their hands. CounterPath sees that, and with this latest move now has more routes to more carriers than ever before. That’s getting the distribution game right.

And in my book distribution is like chapter one of Machiavelli’s book, “The Prince" where he wrote "Territory establishes control." Well, with today’s news announcement, CounterPath just gobbled up a lot more telecom territory.

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Why I Love Being A Global Nomad

Regus LogoImage via Wikipedia

The last month has been meeting filled, travel filled, hotel filled, wine filled and friend filled. I've been in six cities, four countries. I've flown four different airlines, rented a car, taken trains, ridden in local cabs, and walked. I've also again stayed connected.


My legally unlocked iPhone used a local SIM in each country. Pain in the butt to keep changing numbers but with my GoogleVoice (thanks guys) capability I am found easily. Plus cheap data can't be beat.

iPad-again local SIMs, cheap data.

Unlocked Galaxy Tab w/phone capability-local SIMs-i'm learning to appreciate Android

Nokia E71 and a Tru SIM from Truphone. Local numbers in the UK and USA. No real difference. Behaves just like any cell carrier. It's post paid and works great. (Yes, Truphone is a client so please take Matt Miller's word for it not mine.)

Where I work--Hotel rooms. Hotel executive lounges (InterContinentals rock) friends houses and Regus locations. The one located at 2 Berkelely Square is the best in the world...

How else so I stay connected? Boingo and Boingo Mobile. A Boingo Mobile account is only $7.95 a month. I use those on my iPhone and iPad or Galaxy Tab, but also have Boingo European and Boing USA accounts for my laptops. When I'm on the go, an unlocked MiFi is the way to stay connected.

Net's getting easier and easier to do this, and I'm finding more time to have fun than just work....but that's another story..

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Mobile Coupons and Barcodes-A Match Waiting To Happen

This infographic about mobile coupon consumption reveals a lot...Japan which is highly mobile and where mobile devices already have replaced the wallet shows high use of mCoupons. When you look at the preference that shows QR codes (updated and advanced barcodes) as a way to locate and have coupons sent to a mobile device one has to realize that the early adopters are recognizing the value.

Besides a digital coupon is far better for the environment and the ability to redeem them, with less handling has to appeal to brand marketers.

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Republic Wireless Launches-But How Good Of a Deal Is It?

On the surface the Republic Wireless deal looks pretty appealing. $19.00 a month. Unlimited calling. Well, not exactly as IntoMobile's  has pointed out.

If you spend most of your time inside, then all the talking and data over WiFi is for you. But the limits outside the WiFi cloud will work against you. Basically, Republic is a nice home phone service that fills the gap that T-Mobile created when they stopped selling a $10.00 a month @Home phone service back in 2010.

So if T-Mobile was able to sell the service for $10.00 what does the other $9.00 a month get you. Well as Stefan points out, not much more.

"550 minutes, 150 text messages, and 300 megabytes of data per month while not attached to a WiFi connect, otherwise you get kicked off their network."

Over the past few weeks I've been tracking my iPhone and iPad data usage on networks while in Europe. On average every five days or so I'm running between 200 and 300 megs of data on the cellular networks, not counting what happens on hotel or friends houses WiFi Networks.

This looks on the surface like a good deal, but it really falls into the category of knowing what your usage patterns are like. It may be good for some, but not for heave mobile (and away from WiFi) power users. I think they have a niche, the only problem is it's a niche that may not be able to really take their service with them. I applaud the folks at for taking a stab at being the first Fixed Mobile Convergence play to really take on the market, so this is a very good "beta" as they are calling it. But for FMC to really happen, it needs more on the data side to fly.

Ironically, Verizon Wireless just began offering double the data deals today for smartphones. It's a nice counter to Sprint's iPhone unlimited play.

TechCrunch offers a different point of view and one to consider.


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At Fish in Paris

2010 Domaine La Tour Vieille Collioure Blanc "Canadells"

I only wish this wine was still carried by the U.S. importer as it is my second favorite white from the Banyuls-Collioure region. Honeysuckle, pear, orange blossom and honey, in this screaming for fish soup white.

2010 Saint Martin de La Garrigue

Perfect with peppers and cheese.

The dark pink rose is light on the palate and fruit forward to the taste. A hint of powdered sugar on the finish does not detract from the black raspberry and blackberry flavor. A yummy rose.

2010 Domaine d'Aupilhac Lou Maset VDP du Montpeyroux

Perhaps the most outperforming red of the day, I continue to be impressed by dear friend Sylvain Fadat!s ability to to deliver the 18 euro full price wine to the public as it weighs in so well by the glass at 5 euro. It is a

2010 Domaine Pujol Jazz Coteaux du Languedoc

The entry level Pujol is a spicy red with a meaty texture. Stunning bouquet of black cherries and blackberries. This is an easy to drink red perfect for burgers and pizza.

2009 Mas Champart Causse du Bousquet

Always pleasing this wine was surprisingly "light"

2010 Domaine La Tour Vieille Puig Ambille

Give this wine five years. Great balance and elegance.

2007 La Soula by Gauby

The nose says sweet. The palate is dry. Awesome wine with rich and concentrated fruit that's layered like berry crumble.

Location:Rue de Seine,Paris,France

As I Sit In A Paris Wine Bar

I remain more and more in awe what we can do today with wireless. My iPad, using a local SFR Sim card where for 9 Euros every two days I have access, keeps me sane.

I feel so much like a local when I have the ability to stay connected. I'm not detached, I can use the power of the Internet to figure out where go next, what shops are open, and where my next glass of wine or slice of cheese is coming from.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

United Airlines Going Away From GoGo?

In North America, the dominant brand for in-flight WiFi is GoGo, the brand created by long time communications company, Aircell. Today, when I read the story about United Airlines adding in flight WiFi to some 300 planes and I read Panasonic as the brand involved I noted the omission of GoGo from it. While the new got some good pick up, only, the regional technology news site coveing the Colorado Front Range tech scene noted it.

Over the past few years United has been deploying GoGo on their coast to coast and longer haul flights, but not much else. Their Star Alliance partner, Lufthansa has already announced and has deployed the Panasonic service, which uses satellite communications versus air to ground CDMA based technology.

Looks like to me, other airlines that have an International route system may go with Panasonic, over Aircell, unless Aircell comes up with a global solution.

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