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October 2018

Posts from September 2018

Influencers and Analysts - Is There Any Difference?

Online, nothing is really what it appears to be, especially when it comes to business, and the spectacle that surrounds "the business." Today, the term, "influencer" has become a blanket euphemism for everyone who has influence, and is getting paid for it. So while it is easy for FTC to identify the online influencers, the rules don't seem to apply to the analyst community.

As blogging took hold, and as we some of us attracted clients, or patrons, the FTC stepped in to make sure we all revealed our business relationships. In my case, I started to use the word "client" in my posts. But when it comes to analyst firms or the independent analysts, there seems to be a double standard, as you never see the same type of transparency that you now see from bloggers when the reports come out, or for example, the Gartner's Magic Quadrant get announced. It seems we have different rules for different people. A double standard per se. And that's not right.

Over the past 15 years, or since the early days of blogging, it hasn't gotten better. It's only gotten worse. With consolidation in the analyst world there are fewer "big voices" to shill for the vendors. With fewer media outlets, and less reporters, there's less neutral commentary. This all means the pay for play content is trumping the independent voices. Add in domain authority to SEO and the truth further gets pushed down and less seen. 

Large analysts and research firms like IDC, Forrester, Gartner, 451 are all paid for subscriptions to their reports. But vendors are really their clients. These same client companies also offered and pay for research, advisory and writing services. The analysts in turn offer guidance on product and services launches. Some offer feedback on "go to market" planning, or serve as sounding boards for presentations to the industry or public market analysts and media. But even so, the FTC Guidelines don't apply to them. There's no disclosure. No transparency. Well it's time.

The solution is simple. If you're paid by a company, reveal it. Be radically transparent. That way, the audience can decide if it's like wrestling (fake) or like the MLB. A real game, where the outcome is based on who is best, not simply the richest.



Why the WWE is A Telescope, Not a Microscope

I grew up watching WWWF wrestling when Vince McMahon was the broadcaster. Actually, even before that. I would stay up late to watch Florida Championship Wrestling with Gordon Solie. The same with Georgia Championship Wrestling, even the AWA when Thunderlips pre-dated the creation of Hulk Hogan. In the 80's was at the Spectrum in the media conference for the first promotional tour for Wrestlemania and in the late 70's I interviewed Bruno Sammartino for the Philadelphia Journal (well promoter Phil Zacko did most of the talking). I'm also a music junkie and what is going on with the WWE and music plus their talent roster is all part of a bigger play. 
The idea of a campaign is typical to marketing. It starts with a hint. A tease. It grows. And grows. What the WWE and Rousey's managers are doing, are building more than just one person.  Wrestling has always been a soap opera. Stories within stories. Themes within themes. As a student of advertising I love a great campaign and seeing all the nuances that the public takes for granted. This is one of them.
The WWE has done a masterful job at reviving the song "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett. They are doing it with "Rowdy" Rhonda Rousey, a former MMA champ, but also with the whole women's movement surrounding the Divas, what they did in the UAE last summer and with their upcoming all women's pay per view. That means some music supervisor came up with a few songs that could be the core of the campaign. Hats off to that person. Then a creative director and team built upon it. Mastery on so many levels.
This is a campaign around a campaign, carefully crafted to broaden their audience at a time where the "Me Too" movement is alive and growing. While I have no doubt that at some point the same thing went on in the WWE, that's ages ago and from a different era. As someone who grew up in sports and entertainment, that was part of the game off the playing field. It wasn't right then, it was just how it was.

But today, with youthful stars like Rousey, Charlotte Flair and others who are now competing on par with the likes of the top male wrestlers, the WWE, their close confidants in the world of Hollywood agentry are shaping things the way the big 4 networks have not even come close to. The same can be said about the NHL, NFL and MLB, while the NBA at least has the WNBA. You don't see the NHL glorifying women's hockey, yet it's an Olympic sport. The NCAA has the women's hockey championships. So while we all know wrestling is reality TV at it's finest, and live reality in the arenas, it has surpassed the rest of the groups at moving in the direction of giving women their place, "bad reputation" or not.

Skype Brings Cloud Video Recording To () All Platforms

Skype is catching up to what their users have wanted for years, especially newscasters. The introduction of cloud based video recording across all platforms Long wanted. Very much needed, Skype's decision to introduce this across the board is all part of Microsoft's reimaging what was once the most popular online communications service. Previously video recording was only available on desktop.

Ironically, Windows 10 is not yet ready.

We had video recording with SightSpeed and it was one of the most popular features. That was over 12 years ago and despite Skype following with video after SightSpeed's running start, it eclipsed it and every other play. So while video call recording may not be new, Skype adding it brings a needed feature to their community without any third party services.

The one catch is a thirty day window of keeping the video recording in the chat session. During that time you can download it and save it to local device storage. Perhaps over time Microsoft will offer a subscription to allow for longer storage on the cloud or easy sideloading to OneDrive.

Om On Skype Got Me Thinking, Remembering, Realizing

Back in the heydey of VoIP, when Skype (former client via Skype Store and In Store Solutions) was fighting AOL's AIM, ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, Gizmo, GrandCentral (former client) Vonage and more, we all used to write about their latest developments because Skype was the disrupter.  Skype Journal's Phil Wolfe and Jim Courtney, Alec Saunders, Jeff Pulver or his pals Carl Ford and others at VON, along with pal Om Malik on his blog GigaOm, Rich Tehrani , Erik Lagerway, Martin Geddes, James Enck and I, plus others would report, compare what each other had written, try to beat each other to the punch. 

Skype's PR team would reach out and pre-brief us, and do their best to not only tell us what was up, but often ask our impressions before they put the news out. Not anymore, and not since Microsoft acquired Skype. Beyond the app suffering more and more each year, the outreach died. Now Microsoft makes updates to Skype (often for the worse) and just makes an announcement, focusing on the likes of Reuters or Bloomberg, and not sharing the news with those who really know. 

That's why I read with laughter and sorrow, what Om had to say today.

I say laughter, because the Skype Om and I loved, is not the Skype we know and try to use today. Skype was for many years my own company's intercom system. It didn't matter where any of my employees or consultants were, or where I was, it was the link that kept us together. Skype was also how I reached other bloggers, and how they reached me. We shared our posts, we asked for Link Love in the hopes of getting some social juice behind our posts.

We also talked on Skype, from anywhere to anyone. It was something special. And then it went to Microsoft and everything changed.

For starters, Skype's P2P architecture and encryption were pretty much the gold standard for both. Skype had this great ability getting around just about any firewall.  Skype also pushed the envelope when it came to voice quality, licensing or developing the best voice codecs around. But most of all Skype's user interface was simple and elegant. You looked up someone's name. You clicked. You connected. Your history was easy to use. Text messaging eventually stayed persistent across devices but most of all Skype gave you a consistent user experience, on desktop or mobile device.

I often remark in the wine world that when a brand is sold to Constellation, the wine is no longer what you grew up loving the next vintage out. In the case of Skype it's the same thing. What we loved is not what we have today.

What happened? Microsoft post purchase decided Skype was better to be like Lync than different. They first ripped out the P2P, JOLTID based network architecture we all grew up loving in favor of a more SIP based design. The first thing to go was the locked down encryption, then the firewall traversal. Then the quality on Skype In and Out dropped. Then the UI. Then the became like a mobile operator supplied Android handset. They started addin in things that no one wanted. Oh, and they also messed with the interface so often, it became impossible for people to stay current. One team member of mine resorted to Skype out forwarding to his mobile phone to make answering calls easy again. 

To say confusion reigned at Microsoft around Skype is an understatement. Beyond the product we know as Skype being name only, many of the people who built the product left as soon as they could. If they weren't let go. 

Om's piece is spot on and maybe it's time for everyone who uses Skype to realize, like Yahoo Messenger and AIM, the time has come to retire it, and use other services that are better built for today. 

CPaaS Gets More Defined

Back on July 31st I opined about CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) and why I felt it was important and how it would be coming to the forefront. A few days later Vonage snapped up TokBox, and folded it into Nexmo making CPaaS more relevant and timely to the telecom community.

If you're not familiar with the idea of CPaaS think Twilio, Plivo, Vonage's Nexmo, BIC's owned TeleSign, SignalWire, MessageBird, Intelepeer (I named them that changing it from VoEX), VoIP Innovations, TeleStax and VoxImplant. Those companies are all CPaaS companies along with others. Many are built in full or in part upon open source technology from FreeSWITCH (now owned by client SignalWire)-and that list includes, for starters, the best known ones like Nexmo, Plivo, Twilio, all of which provide pieces and parts to create voice, text and video functionality as discreet parts of the application stack.

Recently, when I was hosting some analyst briefings for clients, it was always interesting to hear the misunderstanding about CPaaS vs. UCaaS. The latter is a full service offering from modern day telecom companies. Think 8x8, RingCentral, Vonage, Dialpad, Telzio- where the services are delivered from the cloud (not hosted and not on prem PBX-those of UC and very different). 

CPaaS is to developers like being an auto mechanic and going to NAPA Auto Parts or ordering parts from the car manufacturer's parts warehouse, or an aftermarket manufacturer to add or replace something that involves communications that usually the telecom company doesn't offer or can't provide that works "your way."

Today, Tsahi, who never misses an opportunity to enlighten us about what he's working on, has a fairly nice introduction about how visual design tools are impacting CPaaS. It's a nice overview, and likely includes some of his clients or sponsors of reports. What I liked about the recap was the very cool chart that shows who offers what and if the companies charge or not.

Give Tsahi a's always great to see another VoIP Pioneer still helping the industry know what's going on.

The COMUNICANO for Monday September 3rd 2018

I decided to resume sharing my newsletter with the blog readers. Of course you can subscribe by going to this page.

September 3 · Issue #376 · View online
Andy Abramson
Amazon’s Alexa is going EVERYWHERE…..Chromebooks are spelling doom and gloom for Apple, Microsoft….Google Express slows down…..Cord Cutting offers a better experience….DOJ cracks down on bench and switch visa workers….California fights FCC over net neutrality……Google pulling “scam” ads…..Skype kills off a useless feature….Apple going bigger into AR..How PR is done in the crypto world…..Why Uber for X companies often fail….those stories and more are all here, in today’s COMUNICANO for Labor Day….

Amazon Watch
Amazon making good on promise to put Alexa everywhere
Google Watch
$600 Chromebooks are a dangerous development for Microsoft
New High Quality Chromebooks Prove The Pixelbook Did Its Job
Google Express Is No Closer to Beating Amazon, Five Years Later
Streaming Watch
Cutting cord may not save money, but it is a way better TV experience
Net Neutrality Watch
California passes strongest net neutrality law in the country
California Legislators Are Working to Send Blockchain to Governor’s Desk
Privacy Watch
Spies still can't get at encrypted comms data
Google Says It's Removing Over '100 Bad Ads Every Second'
Apple Watch
Apple Warns iPhones Have A Serious Problem
Apple hiring data shows it has augmented reality ambitions for Apple Maps
Twitter Watch
Twitter tests new threaded reply interface & status indicators to show who’s online
Skype Watch
Microsoft Kills Skype's Snapchat Clone Because No One Actually Used It
Tesla Watch
Tesla Roadster is ’embarrassing’ us, says supercar maker Koenigsegg
Gig Economy Watch
How Fiverr and Online Gig Platforms Create Competition
Odds & Ends
Stop treating tech jerks like gods
How crypto PR works
H-1B Visa Crackdown: DOJ Charges CEO With Fraud on Nearly 200 Applications
Why "Uber for X" startups failed: The supply side is king at andrewchen