The Comunicano for Friday February 17 2017

 
Last night I dined out using Feastly for the first time. It was the way to book seats at a “pop up” dinners across the USA. The dinner was the debut of former Herringbone LA chef Jason Witzl, who is in the process of opening up his own Cal-Ital place, Ellie’s, in DTLA. Not only was Feastly a cool app/service experience end to end, but the communal dining experience made it easy to make new friends, hang with old friends, eat very well and of course BYOB. 

Alexa-can you come with me? So many times i wanted to take Alexa with me, so while Telzio had voice enabled access to my Amazon Echo first via their mobile app, almost a full year or so ago, there wasn’t a lot of use. Well the game just changed as Rain Labs has launched Reverb with apps for the Mac, iOS and Android. It’s all made possible by Amazon Voice Service.  As I wrote on the Xceptional Blog a few days ago, Amazon keeps looking more and more like a telco/information services competitor to AT&T, Verizon, H-P and more….
So with that, let’s dive into the news in today’s extended edition of Comunicano.

Facebook just changed its mission, because the old one was broken
Here are the details of Uber's disastrous public Q&A session with drivers on Facebook
App Watch
Messaging Tech Expert: The Year Messaging (Actually) Matches its Hype
White House Staff Are Using A "Secure" App That’s Really Not So Secure
23 Must-Have Alexa Skills for Your Small Business
Money Watch
Uber Gives Restless Employees a Way to Cash Out
Airbnb buys Montreal-based Luxury Retreats to bolster high-end vacation offerings
Verizon acquires Portland startup Skyward, a maker of drone management software
Daimler’s MyTaxi acquires Greek rival Taxibeat for undisclosed amount
Soundtrack Your Brand has raised $22 million for B2B music streaming
Apple Watch
Apple Vowed to Revolutionize Television. An Inside Look at Why It Hasn’t - Bloomberg
Apple may cut the (charging) cord completely with the iPhone 8
Cool Things
The Piaggio Gita Is a Futuristic Helper Bot From the Makers of the Vespa
A breakthrough in Alphabet’s balloon-based internet project means it might actually work
Private Astronaut Taxis by SpaceX, Boeing May Not Be Ready by 2019
Where is Zealandia? Geologists say they have discovered eighth continent
Odds & Ends
AT&T’s new, new unlimited data plan eliminates an annoying requirement
Jack Dorsey: Twitter Lacked 'Focus And Discipline' For Growth

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The Comunicano for Wednesday February 15 2017

 
 
FEBRUARY 15 - ISSUE #23
Andy Abramson
HUMPDAY…….and there’s tons of NEW and that makes NEWSsurrounding new services releases that are making the rounds today from the likes of Facebook, Signal, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. They all have decided to unleash new “stuff” that changes the way we consume, communicate, create and deliver information today, and after a wave of non-news of late, it’s nice to see NEW back in the NEWS..

Let’s start with Facebook,
which is going to become a bit more “annoying” as they start with sound on within their video news content. Their claim is more people prefer that, but thankfully there are ways to turn the audio offMicrosoft makes its biggest move to take on Gmail with a more complete Outlook Premium offer…In some cases I’ve included the official announcement as well as a news item about what’s new, in an effort to provide deeper transparency and insight. 
After all that, there’s a few perspectives on the new data plan wars happening in the USA that’s waging between the mobile operators that will help you decide what plan and what changes are right for YOU….That and more are all in today’s COMUNICANO.

New Release Watch
New Ways to Watch Facebook Video from the Facebook Newsroom
Facebook is launching an app for Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV
Outlook.com Premium Comes Out of Preview
Introducing Cloud Spanner: a global database service for mission-critical applications
Signal Adds Video Calls, Better Quality---And a New Privacy Tradeoff
Video calls for Signal now in public beta
Yahoo Mail now syncs photos across devices and IDs who's calling on the phone
Yahoo Mail Update: Never Guess Who’s Calling or...
Dataplan Watch
Expect T-Mobile to Continue Inflicting Pain on Verizon and AT&T
Experts warn businesses not to over-buy on unlimited data plans
Your complete guide to choosing an unlimited data plan
Unlimited plans comparison: Verizon vs. AT&T vs. Sprint vs. T-Mobile
Odds & Ends
This sick Valentine's day ad shows people getting naughty with their phones
How To Create A Killer Logo-Two Experts Weigh In

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The Comunicano for Friday February 3 2017

 

 
 
FEBRUARY 3 - ISSUE #15
Andy Abramson
The big news, especially here in the Southland, is SNAP and their 3 billion dollar IPO. There’s lots of coverage on it, with some deep insight from the Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern and the Business Insider as well as the L.A. Times. The stories around the story is also interesting so there’s six for your reading pleasure. 
Beyond SNAP, we have news about Google, Amazon, Facebook, Uber, the Sharing Economy, Microsoft and a bit more. 

Lastly, next week is IT Expo Week in Fort Lauderdale. I’ll be there so find me in the media room, or up on stage on any of my three panels.
That’s all in today’s COMUNICANO!!!

Snapchat company's IPO filing might be L.A.'s biggest ever
What’s So Great About Snapchat Anyway?
Upcoming Snapchat Lenses will be Able to "Interact" with Objects
Snapchat paid third cofounder Reggie Brown $158 million to disappear
Snapchat IPO: Inside Snap Inc.'s company culture
Snap S-1 Filing
Uber Watch
Uber C.E.O. to Leave Trump Advisory Council After Criticism
Sharing Economy Goes Mainstream in Business Travel — Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report
Odds & Ends
The Best Drone Photography of 2016
Amazon's advertising business is growing fast -
Facebook’s AI unlocks the ability to search photos by what’s in them
How Twitter took on Trump's bot army—and won
Why augmented reality will be big in business first
With Chrome 57, Progressive Web Apps will appear in Android’s app drawer, settings, more
Microsoft Outlook for iOS now supports add-ins like Giphy and Trello
Business Ops is the New Sales and Marketing Ops. Why Consolidation is Crucial to Your Bottom Line.
We’re probably underestimating how quickly electric vehicles will disrupt the oil market
Catapulting Europe’s brightest FinTech startups from Singapore to Asia with The FinLab
Verizon Restructures Small Business Segment, Launches Verizon Business Markets

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The Comunicano for Friday January 27 2017

 

 
 
JANUARY 27 - ISSUE #10
Andy Abramson
It’s only been a few months since cableco Charter gobbled up Time Warner Cable, but now it looks the buyer may become the bought which becomes a big win for Charter’s largest shareholder, Liberty Media and John Malone. That’s because Verizon is reportedly in talks to buy Charter, largely as a defensive move against both Comcast. That’s because Comcast is rolling out wireless phone service and also due to AT&T trying to buy up Time Warner for all their entertainment properties. 

In other news we have good news for rural New York State when it comes to broadband; why video streaming is so easy;  a Facebook/MailChimp ad match up; a look at a lot of e-commerce tools; how to increase sales; plus those hotel thermostats and you, along with a short item on Starbucks and its customers.

Those stories are all in today’s Comunicano.

Verizon Watch
Speculation builds on a Verizon-Charter tie-up, no offer made
Verizon Wireless and AT&T see value perception decrease
Rural Broadband to Keep Growing (in NY)
New York to keep $170M to expand broadband access
Video Streaming Watch
5 Ways to Use Live-Streaming to Amplify Offline Events
Oscars 2017: Where to Stream the Nominated Movies
Marketing Watch
Facebook Ad Campaigns for MailChimp
Gorgias - E-commerce Stack. Top 100 e-commerce apps.
How Tech Companies Double Annual Sales with Three Words
Odds & Ends
It’s Not You: Hotel Thermostats Really Are Rigged
Starbucks: Crowded stores turned off customers

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Cisco's Sparkboard For Collaboration Here and There

Cisco's Spark Team has been hard at work redefining their idea of collaboration. While first thought to be a Slack wannabe, Spark is far more than simply a messaging platform. Today's news around the SparkBoard bears that out.

So what is SparkBoard? Think of it as the virtual whiteboard you always wanted. It’s a wireless presentation screen, a digital whiteboard, and an audio and video conferencing system all in one. The Cisco Spark Board helps teams collaborate in physical meeting rooms, but also securely connects to virtual meeting spaces to facilitate continuous workflow before, during, and after everyone has left the physical conference room. The Cisco Spark Board draws its power from the Cisco Spark service, which combines meeting, messaging, calling, and new white boarding capabilities on any Cisco Spark app-enabled device.

What's this mean? With SparkBoard you can present to a group of people who are connected to your whiteboard session, but who don't have to be in the same room. What's more, with the mobile app, people on the go can be part of the session, both observing and participating. 

This also means the idea of remote collaboration really is coming true. I don't know how many times I've watched a presentation, and wanted to write on the screen my thoughts as the presenter is making a point. Or, highlight something on screen for others to pick up on, that the presenter may not be going deeply enough into. With the Spark Plus app features, the app becomes a remote extension to the presentation, letting the viewer become the participant.

Looking at what the Spark team has done, shows that Cisco is integrating their hardware and software teams together. Think WebEx and Tandberg meets Tropos and a few other acquisitions that they have made the last few years.  

How successful will this be? Pricing is key to the success of any service so hopefully Cisco employs a razor blade strategy, giving away the screens, and selling the service so adoption moves quickly.  


Avaya & Mitel? Maybe Counterpath Also

Neil Shact has an interesting post about a Mitel purchase of struggling and near bankrupt Avaya. 

My view is there's a nice missing piece to that puzzle. It's called Counterpath. The reason is the rich patent portfolio they have that fills in gaps between both companies, especially in the area of Fixed Mobile Convergence, applications provisioning and Wi-Fi calling. Lastly, Counterpath still has the best softphone technology around.


Going Going, Gone-Truphone VoIP App Officially Bites the Dust

Truphone, pioneers in the mobile VoIP space have officially closed their VoIP app business as of today. An email from the company explained that there's no more service, support or refunds related to the service that created such a stir within the VoIP and mobile industry. For those who never used a Truphone mobile app, the service debuted on the Nokia N-Series at a VON Conference in Stockholm. It allowed users to make calls over Wi-Fi and to actually have a second number on the mobile device.

The service, which was invented by James Tagg, came out of the goal of solving a problem Tagg had at his farm in Kent where cell service was lacking but high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi available. Shortly after Truphone was introduced, Gizmo Project, led by Michael Robertson launched a similar app on Nokia devices. Over time, Truphone established many firsts in mobile VoIP being the first on the iPhone with a very brave debut at Demo, then on Android devices, while also releasing Blackberry and Mac and Windows desktop apps. For many years Truphone was considered the biggest rival to Skype,  a monicker that was certainly their's for the taking, especially after Gizmo was acquired by Google. Truphone also brought calling to iPads and Android tablets. Previously the softphone concept was pretty much left to Counterpath on desktops and eventually mobile apps, allowing SIP based PBX's and hosted services to connect, but Truphone was the first.

Truphone's shift in focus in 2009 surrounded their quest to become a global roaming service. When that happened, it pretty much moved the efforts of the company away from apps and today they operate as an MVNO in seven countries. That service, which originally was named Local Anywhere, started out with a pre-paid offer and then evolved to a post paid service. One of the ideas James Tagg had was to converge the two services, but that never occurred despite lots of interest in Wi-Fi calling today.

Replacements for Truphone abound. Just about every VoIP company these days offers some type of mobile application. 8x8, Dialpad, Vonage, Telzio, the list goes on and on.

A new company, Parakeet, that's in beta is another that is looking to create a niche by bringing a "mobile-first" offering to the table. Given Truphone's abandonment of the space, there's likely room for more as not every call can be done on WhatsApp, Viber, FaceTime or FaceBook Messenger these days as some need to really call someone on the PSTN. So while Microsoft's Skype and Hangouts from Google both offer the capability to call off net, there's still room for another player.


Amazon and Home Delivery -Winds of Change

So if you're an Amazon customer for a few years you likely have been noticing how many times a day a different delivery person shows up with your Amazon delivery. If you dig deep you'll see that the deliveries come via various delivery companies, some of whom are really giant logistics companies. Here in Southern California I've counted no less than five different delivery services who bring my Amazon orders, sometimes on-time, sometimes late, sometimes to my door, sometimes to the building office or sometimes in my mailbox. Let's first breakdown who delivers what (at least here)

  • USPS-aka the Post Office. They deliver Amazon Fresh to the door (sometimes or to my building).
  • USPS for Amazon Packages that are mailed or via FedEx Smartship and international shipments. Sometimes left in the building office. Sometimes in my mailbox or a key. Never to my door. No real clue a package is here except if I look at Amazon web site or receive an email and then need to hunt around for it.
  • On Trac - Packages that usually are fulfilled via a local Amazon Distribution Center (later in the day) To my door when home, to the office when I'm not with a door sticker.
  • Amazon Delivery - Packages that usually are fulfilled via a local Amazon Distribution Center-To my door when home or not regardless of signature required or not.
  • Amazon Prime Now-an on demand delivery team ala Postmates or Uber
  • FedEx-hardly ever.
  • UPS-to my door. Signature always. If I'm not home, note on my door, package in left in building office.

Hands down the best experience today is UPS that I've seen over the past year but I see that being challenged by Amazon's own delivery team.

Today with all these companies in the mix Amazon has a consistency problem, and it's what I think they are trying to address more and more with their own Amazon Delivery team. I say that because having conversations with the delivery team from time to time reveals a lot about what's going on. You can see a more UPS like approach evolving, and it's obvious Amazon is learning.

But to grow, Amazon is going to need to create its own infrastructure, not only buy airplanes and drones. This makes companies like OnTrac, a regional delivery company in the western states, an endangered spices, as the level of consumer complaints never seems to quiet down (do a google search). In essence, Amazon could easily hire away executives and a labor force from UPS, OnTrac and FedEx, and create their own supply, logistics and delivery business.  What's more, since Amazon is all about data, they can build one massive "when and how" to deliver to you database better than anyone. If they link up with Uber or Lyft they could even begin to offer "personal" delivery using the micro distribution centers for on demand, something Amazon Prime Now is deploying.

To me, Amazon is a company that really disrupts markets. They know how to do it, and do it with consistency and end up doing it very well, with real world trials, not concepts simply on a white board. I see delivery as their next big frontier.

 


Incompatabilities In The New Battleground in Telephony-Broadsoft vs. Cisco/Apple

Yesterday I wrote about Verizon's OneTalk, and the very pithy press release put out by Broadsoft to support the move into MUCaaS (mobile unified communications as a service.) After I posted it I did a bit more digging around and realized that Verizon Wireless' sales team is going to have a battle on their hands to get even Verizon's existing PBX customers to add on or switch to One Talk quickly. And that problem is Cisco.

Right now, Verizon has many customers running Cisco Call Manager and Call Manager runs a version of SIP affectionately known as Sip-Skinny for Call Control and, it's proprietary to Cisco so for customers this becomes a rip and replace vs. an add on.

But let's get past the Verizon customer fit, and look at what Broadsoft is really doing. They are. as I hinted in the post, chasing the mobile operators who have lacked an enterprise solution since day one of the first cellular call. Attempts to break into that market have largely been by underfunded startups. What Broadsoft is hoping to do is in essence be the mobile operator's Cisco vs. letting Cisco get into the space.

Cisco, with their Spark initiative is going in a whole other direction, playing the OTT game, and which may be far more cost effective for both them and customers.

My take-Broadsoft can win as long as mobile operators control the handsets. What Cisco and Apple are doing with their "enterprise relationship"with the opening up of the dialer has seriously challenged the ability for the mobile operator to keep that lock in. In turn with LTE becoming so stable, VoLTE has become as high quality for any VoIP provider with an app over the Verizon network. So as Verizon keeps touting their amazing network quality and footprint, they've paved the way for all VoIP providers to be able to ride on their highway at the same quality. 

Apple's CallKit is in essence "equal access" on mobile to any telephony provider. And just as "Equal Access" pretty much changed who we use to make calls, and impacted the likes of Nortel, Lucent, Alcatel and others, providing opportunity for Broadsoft and FreeSwitch, Apple and Cisco's Callkit efforts are going to do the same to Broadsoft.