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Posts from December 25, 2011 - December 31, 2011

I Remember When There Were More of Us

The other day I called up Marcelo Rodriguez, long a fixture on the VoIP scene, and again the owner of Voxilla. My reason for calling him was two fold. One on behalf of a client, but really to encourage him to resume more regular blogging. As a former newspaper editor in his previous life Marcelo has the chops and know how to have a blog that's run more like a media property than most.

The reality is we need more bloggers covering VoIP, Telecom, Video Conferencing, Collaboration.

Long gone are the days when every morning I would wake up to see what Jeff, Om, Alec, Erik, "The Mad VoIper" Jim, Phil, Jon, David, Irwin, Ken, Rich, Tom, Robert, Dameon, Martin, Michael, Ted, Aswath, Thomas and many others would be sharing thoughts, saying what was on their mind, putting forth opinion, backed by real experience and insight. It was blogging with a purpose.

But now only in the 8 years since I decided to cover VoIP, Video and Collaboration I have seen many of them move on, and those that do remain have reduced their perspectives on VoIP, Video and Collaboration.

When we all started blogging (and I was later to the game than Jeff, Om, Alec and others) there was competition with and inside the trade media space between Internet Telephony, Von Magazine, a series of Virgo publishing titles and Telephony Magazine there was real coverage of news, developments and trends. Sure it's easy to tweet, post a link to a group in Linked In, but what's missing is the deep coverage that is only today coming from some of the remaining analysts out there or the more verbally talented company executives who use a blog, personal or corporate to share some views. But they tend to write more with their company's purpose in mind, and that's okay-at least they're writing and bringing to light what the lack of media is causing to be hidden.

For the most part what was once called the trade press in voice, video and collaboration is gone too, with the most recent casualty being "Connected Planet." While it's easy to find announcement journalism on the web, the reason I called Marcelo up was to bring back some of what I call IPO-Insight, Perspective and Opinion, because today, not only in VoIP we're left with news found on a bunch of sites in the trade where the writers are largely consultants, writing pieces to support their business, using the blog or news site as a podium to promote events, conferences, webinars and the sales of consulting services.

Nothing wrong with that, as this blog was started with four primary missions that hold true today:

1. To be a voice to the media about VoIP-mission accomplished

2. To be able to speak at conferences as a thought leader-mission accomplished

3. To make new friends-mission accomplished

4. To grow my agency-mission accomplished

I have never been covert about those goals, nor have I overtly used this blog as a platform to overly promote my clients. Sure I mention them when appropriate and regularly use the word client when I mention them to be transparent, not accepted advertisng, turned down guest posts-except once from Michael Robertson, stayed out of flame wars, and never picked battles with comrades in arms to get page views. I have had clients wonder why I wasn't writing more about them-thinking that by signing on with my agency, Comunicano, and almost always given the rest of the media and blogger world first crack at what's new or what they had to say. But now, it's getting tougher and tougher to do that, simply because of the lack of others out there.

So today I say--come back to us those with those Insights, Perspectives and Opinions. I say come forward to those who want to report on the news. Rise up and get out of the shadows if you want to write reviews. There's a lot going on and the space is wide open.

Why do I make this challenge? Because without a responsible press in the world  honesty, transparency and reality are all able to be called into question. A responsible media covers the news, based on the facts and does their homework. An irresponsible media reports only on what they want to, fails their audience by not doing enough homework. While the economy and advertising sales failuers are impacting everyone, the need for a responsible media at all levels is there. Otherwise without that, our news will be even more "corporate" news, and less reporting.

So for those who want to resume. Come back. For those who don't. Thank for the memories. I'm back blogging. Looking for news. Telling the stories. Looking to speak at conferences and ready to grow again. 

Media apathy is for the weak and the tired. Not the bold and the brave. So I throw down the gauntlet, and ask my once brothers in arms to resume their writing, share their thoughts and bring back the kind of insight about all things communications that was once there. . 

P.S. Happy New Year!


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Do You Play Cell Phone Roulette?

English: A cell phone tower in Palatine, Illin...Image via Wikipedia

Welcome back my friends to the game that never ends. It’s the game that chills your soul, curves your spine and bends your mind. It’s called “Cell Phone Roulette” and your odds of winning are never in your hands, despite what you are holding.

It’s the game we play each and every day, and if you travel, well, you play it more than you like to, and it seems, the only winner is the house, known as your cell carrier.

Wanna, play? Well here’s how.

  1. You need to have more than one mobile phone, and they need to be on different carriers.
  2. The more devices you have the better chances you have of “winning”
  3. . If you win, that really means, you lose because your odds of winning change the more you travel, and the more places you go, your odds of winning are never the same.
  4. The way you win is you have coverage. Have coverage with no phones. You lose. One out of two, well you broke even. Two out of two, well you win and so on with more phones.

How to increase you chances of winning….well, here goes:

  1. Never stay above the 2nd floor of any hotel. Cell towers point down, and very few hotels have DAS systems or in building cell sites or micro sites.
  2. If the hotels offer Femto cells, take one. If you don’t you will likely “lose.”
  3. Take along a T-Mobile Pay As You Go smartphone. Why? Well the nations smallest of the big four carriers has the least traffic. Thus your “odds” are better to get online and have coverage vs. the biggest.

 All kidding aside, if you have to travel, having mobile devices on multiple networks will increase your chances of staying in touch and keeping you connected.



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Inventive Use of WiFi to Attract Customers

Vending machine dispensing beer and liquorImage via Wikipedia

The Japanese are very inventive and now they're dispensing WiFi via vending machines. And the price, well it's free. 

What this really is all about is the data in the machines being sent back to the distribution centers over an Internet connection, but the machine at the location can do more than dispense candy, soda or other items. Give how companies like Best Buy have installed vending machines in airports this could be a meaningful proposition to get people closer to them.


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Video Conferencing Will Save Money

According to the U.S. Interior Department, their staff can save millions of dollars avoiding flights to places like Denver, Sacramento and other state capitals. That's not telling people like you and I anything new. We've all know that and likely practice it more and more.

So lets get a few definitions on the table..

1. Video conferencing is more than two people in more than two locations. That could be 3 people in three different offices, or many people in many locations.

2. Video calling is a one on one video session. Think of Bria, Skype or SightSpeed one on one. 

3. Video chat. See # 2

All of the above tie directly to the Interior Departments model of cost cutting saying:

"The department has the opportunity to achieve significant reductions in travel with the increased use of (video conferencing) technology," the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General noted in the report, issued last week. "

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Why Apple Wins and Everyone Else Just Tries to Play the Game

English: The logo for Apple Computer, now Appl...Image via Wikipedia

I bought my first Apple in 1984. It was a Mac. For the next tweleve years I was an Apple user. I took the abuse, and one day left for Dell. Six years or so later I came back and while I still own more than a few Windows machines mostly Netbooks, one full size laptop and two desktops that rarely get used any more, the more I use Apple products, the less and less I want to use the other brands.

Here's why:

1. They care. I had an issue with my natively unlocked iPhone 4 that I purchased in the UK about a year ago. I went to the Apple store, and within 30 seconds I was told "no problem, we'll replace it." How would you do that with an Android or Nokia. They don't have "stores" or failed at it. Now, imagine doing the same at Best Buy-without the "extended" warrenty at Best Buy or Radio Shack. They may not even have the same phone in stock, they will need to find a manager or they'll just make you wait. Google doesn't really make and sell phones, and RIM, well, they sell through the channel, usually the mobile operators, so let's not even go there.

2. Two of my Macs, a 13" Mac Book Pro and a 15" Mac Book Pro developed some issues. In the case of the 13" it was a failed hard drive, and I didn't have Apple Care on it. Fixed overnight, at a cost of $200.00, roughly the cost of Apple Care had a I remembered to buy it when the computer was new. The 15" was a bit more complicated. But three days later, after exhaustive testing and reimaging of the hard drive, it's fixed and ready to be picked up. Cost. Nothing.

3. On a trip earlier in the year, I used Shazam to grab a song I liked while driving in Portugal, with a SIM from Portugal Telecom, in said unlocked iPhone, using my USA iTunes account. That set off all kinds of security issues within Apple, rendering my iTunes accounts "locked." I called Apple, and within 30 minutes iTunes was "unlocked." 

4. Updates. When you update your Mac, or your iOS devices, it takes a few minutes. Even if you haven't done it in weeks. When you update your Windows laptop or desktop it takes hours.  To Google's credit Android updates very well. The only problem is you never know if you'll get the update for you phone, even those a year old as the carrier often decides, or the handset manufacturer does. Neither is incentivized to have you "update" your one year old phone. As a matter of fact, both would rather see you "upgrade" and lock yourself into a longer agreement with the carrier. Apple. Well those older Macs and older iPhones still work just fine, and for the most part run most of the apps.

5. When you go into an Apple store you are helped. When you go into a Microsoft store, you help yourself. The ratio of employees to customers is about the same. Apple stores just have more of both. Google doesn't have store and Samsung has "showplaces."

Gateway was the first with stores. They failed because despite going into a Gateway store, you had to "order" and have the PC's delivered. Nokia had flagship stores in London, NYC, Chicago and Moscow. You could buy Nokia phones, accessories and even before those, there were Club Nokia dealers around the world. The only problem was the carriers didn't catch onto Nokia's Smartphones early on, and Symbian's OS and device variation killed them. Too many flavors, versions made it harder on the consumer, and the developers. Oh. That's Android today. Apple has one flavor. One version. Makes life easy on consumers and developers.

As much as I love to try out other platforms, it's at this point purely academic. Apple won. They won on design. Functionality. Ease of use. Service. 

Game. Set. Match.

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