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Posts from February 2013

Has Google Given Up On GoogleVoice?

googlevoice fluid app icongooglevoice fluid app icon (Photo credit: benlundquist)

When one thinks about GoogleVoice one has to wonder if the team at Google has given up on it.

Let's face the facts, not much is really new with it, and what has been new has been more iterative post GrandCentral (my agency was one of two agencies that helped make it what it was and I was a founding option-holder.)

While there are now apps to do things with GoogleVoice on smartphones and tablets, no real easy to implement smarts have found their way into the service that millions of people love to use. For example, we're still stuck with manually setting up do not disturb, even if it can be a timed DND. But while calls get blocked, SMS notifications of calls still come through. Transcription is still very mechanical, and often error prone, while tighter integration with GoogleApps and Gmail seems to be missing. Sure you can send your messages to your GMAIL, but texting with threading isn't there, you have to go to the GoogleVoice web page to see that, or be using a mobile app on your smartphone. There's also been no enterprise oriented efforts to beef up the service to do more between groups of users within the same company nor has any conferencing or group messaging been added to the mix. Even something as obvious as a GoogleVoice integration with Hangouts is lacking, where an SMS could go from a Hangout organizer or scheduled Hangout from the Google Calendar using GoogleVoice is absent. About the only integration we've seen is either with contacts, or with Sprint as a GoogleVoice customer's mobile operator, with number porting. Nice, but that's more than a year old news.

The bottom line is most of what we have today with GoogleVoice we had when GrandCentral was its name. As a loyal GoogleVoice user I look forward to the day when there's more to it than we have now, but sadly, I won't be holding my breath.

Truphone Benefits from UK Trade and Investment Presence at Mobile World Congress

On one of my trips to London last fall I lobbied on behalf of long-standing client Truphone to be a part of the UK Trade and Investment's pavillion inside the massive and heavily trafficked 2013 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. We were successful and Truphone was one of 10 companies chosen to represent the United Kingdom.

Over the past two days, the Truphone stand, located in Hall 7, Aisle E, 100 has been steadily visited by the likes of journalists, bloggers, customers, potential partners and even the UK's Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, a member of Parlaiment.

Given the prominant position and recognition by the UK Government's trade arm, Truphone formally launched both Truphone+ and announced the updates to their iOS and Android applications to version 5.1.

The update to their apps includes a call cost indicator that informs users how much a call will cost per minute even before you dial a call as well as encrypted internet calling and a new "reactive voice engine" that ensures users always receive the best possible sound quality, no matter where they are. Truphone also introduced market-leading calling rates to 150 countries and the elimination of call connection fees.

Truphone+, which comes live later in Q2 of this year, brings together the companies apps and SIM products, allowing one number, on SIM and and one service for all your mobile calling needs.


Skype and Lync Get Joined at the (mobile) Hip

Long suspected and not at all far fetched since Skype was acquired by Microsoft was the marriage of Lync and Skype. The reason for the purchase was the foresight of Lync lead Dr. Joe Williams who saw how the two could work together and at the same time, the looming threat Skype posed if independent of Microsoft. Now with the news today, as reported by Fierce, mobile apps will be where the two converge first.

When you take stock of the Skype acquisitions of GroupMe and Qik, both of which were mobile centric, those pieces fall nicely into where MSFT wasn't with Lync. MOBILE.

Now the two will be joined at the hip, making the enterprise extended to the mobile space.

And Then There Was Android

I arrived in Milan at the Malpensa Airport planning on buying a local SIM to trial against my Truphone SIM. Sadly, finding anything other than a full size or Micro SIM was not in the cards this Sunday morning. Fortunately, I already had a TIM SIM that still had about 11 Euros of credit that works inside my Androids. Voila. Added 30 Euros and my Nexus or Samsung Galaxy Note is connected, and I'll tether the iPhone5.

I did score a micro SIM for my iPad4/or Nexus 7" tablet to use.

Ah the challenges of the global nomad. Thankfully, there's Truphone which now has SIMs in full size, micro and Nano.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Deja Vu- Skype Does Something Old

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

I read today on Pocket-Lint how Skype is slowly rolling out video messaging. WOW. What a non-starter.

Back in the mid 2000's when we worked with SightSpeed that was one of the standard features in what has to be now viewed as one of the original cloud or hosted video communications platforms. It was also one of the most used features of the service, which is now at the core of much of what Logitech has to offer with their video services that are marketed under the Lifesize brand, though none of us are sure for how much longer.

The fact that it took almost as long as it did for Skype to add a feature like this to their video service, especially, since for years they have been touting how many people use Skype video for calling friends and colleagues is rather interesting.

In my view I see this as one more step to the Lync-Skype roadmap being checked off the list, and a feature that when out of what can only be viewed as a limited market test (USA, UK) only working on three operating systems, and not yet on Windows, means it's more like a Microsoft 1.0 product that can eventually only get better. 


"Video Messaging is in early release for testing in several markets for Android, iOS, and Mac with functionality to send and receive video messages. Users in these markets across all Windows desktop and mobile platforms can receive messages, too. We will have send capability in Windows by end of April. In the meantime, we continue to test this new feature in its early release."

Skype Getting Chummy With Mobile Operators ties to Dell Strategy

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

In a prior era Skype was trying hard to get close to mobile operators. They had established deals with Three and Verizon Wireless and a few others around the globe. That all seemed to go on hold when Microsoft acquired the company and the focus became more surrounding integration with the rest of what Microsoft does.

Just yesterday news started to leak out of Russia that Skype is now supporting carrier billing meaning consumers can buy credit and charge it to there bill. To me, this is no surprise as Microsoft about 18 months ago started to view the mobile operators as their next channel of distribution. If you look at the mobile operators in the GigaOm post, Orange, Telefonica, T-Mobile, Telus and Verizon Wireless, all but Telus were on the short list of operators MSFT wanted to get close to first, starting in 2011. The others, AT&T and Vodafone, as well as China Mobile will likely come on board soon.

Fast forward to today. Dell becomes a major part of the Skype eco-system and the mobile operators and their billing platforms become the furture of online retail for Dell and all of Microsoft. The Microsoft - Dell loan is much like what Microsoft did many years back to help keep Apple alive, as it props up a competitor of sorts, but makes them a partner. But now, with the mobile operators and Microsoft being cozier, the distribution channel for Dell reopens in a bigger way. With Dell building tablets and PCs' as well as smartphones, one has to wonder why Microsoft needs Nokia much longer other than for manufacturing.

Now with Dell private, MSFT can make moves with Dell--possibly taking over the Nokia manufacturing facilities, using Dell's logistics and blending the clouds of Azure and BOOMI...

Acme Packet Bought by Oracle

Acme Packet (AKPT) makers of session border controllers and related real time communications technology has been acquired by Oracle, reports the New York Times this morning and others including Reuters.

This is an interesting grab by one of the tech world's true giants because it sqaurely puts Oracle into a game where they begin to compete with the giants of telecom, many of whom run Oracle software to drive things including SBC's, media gateways and firewall technology that's sold. What's more it means that for companies which compete with Acme Packet, like Sansay, a San Diego based private company founded by friend Andy Voss, that they now have an even bigger opportunity to take away market share from Acme Packet with Sansay's home grown technology that is viewed by many of their customers to be better, faster, more reliable and from whom they get real insight into VoIP network and topology issues. If nothing else, it increases Sansay's valuation, and will likely cause others in the space like Sonus to all embark on a very aggressive partnering and sales effort as mergers like these often cause attrition, if not immeditely, over the first 18 months. 

How Oracle integrates a Real Time Communications business into their portfolio, and what this means for things like their cloud offerings is yet to be known. What this will do though is create excitement in the valley and across the country, as this will likely trigger companies like Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Cisco, Juniper Network, F5 and others, as well as security and firewall companies to realize that they now have a giant that knows how to sell in and through in both to legacy as well as startups, forcing them all to become as nimble as Oracle is. I would not be surprised to see SAP want to get in the game, and they would be wise to look no further than Voss and his Sansay team.

On a related note, one has to also see this as Mark Hurd further going after an already weakened telecom networking business over at former employers H-P.