The past week has been a blur. Coming off the holiday weekend which because I'm in Australia and a day ahead meant a six day weekend and that really piled things up. Conference calls using a combination of Calliflower, Voxeet, UberConference, GoToMeeting, WebEx and Skype. Lots of social media. Calls at 4 AM on Google Hangouts to recap the TADS Summit for this week's VUC weekly session, plus reading, writing has meant one thing. I needed to stay connected. A MiFi with a GigSky SIM, a phone with Truphone, plus a back up local SIM from OPTUS. Google Voice ringing everything, honestly, other than the 19 hour time difference, I haven't felt that far away.
And that's the way we're able to work. As a global nomad staying connected has become a game for me. Will I have strong enough WiFi or a wired connection in my hotel. Is 4G going to cut it? Will they block my UC provider Simple Signal? Will Skype work? When it does...as it has from the moment I landed in Bangkok until now...so staying connected, no problem. Sleeping normal..well that's another story...Now..on to the news.
Long time pal Ian Rogers keeps turning out the hits. Ian, who knows music and technology better than anyone I know recently took the helm at Beats Music.Their new service will take on Pandora, Spotify and iTunes so watch them do more than the others, as Ian's inside the industry approach and past successes (we helped him launch MediaCode that was acquired quickly by Yahoo) will mean, he's surely got the beat bopping along.
The new Beats Music streaming music service will launch January 2014, according to CEO Ian Rogers. The service also launched a ' name claiming' site today that lets you snag a primo username early. The project has been in private alpha for a while under the code-name Project Daisy, and has been garnering some heated attention.
We all know teens are glued to their cellphones. New data from the Family Online Safety Institute shows which mobile activities are keeping them hooked. Text messaging is the most popular activity, which 87% of teens have done in the past 30 days.
Being at the TADS Summit and ITU Telecom World two weeks ago showed me how much telecom and mobile is expanding in the Far East, Middle East and Africa. And the Dark Continent is seeing explosive growth.
We tend to have certain paradigms about the "developed world" and the "developing world." Including, of course, media-fed images of Africa as a place of almost irredeemable poverty, deprivation, and pain. Many of our paradigms are, of course, illusions.
Former Skype partner in the UK, THREE has struck back on International Roaming, creating a program where going away is the same as staying home. And they added the USA. Now when my friends in the UK visit they can take their THREE phone and use it here just as if they were there. Sounds alot like the Truphone Zone to me.
In a thoroughly consumer-friendly move that challenges its rivals, the British mobile operator Three has effectively eliminated all its roaming premiums for customers traveling to the United States. Three has form in this arena.
Speaking of Truphone. The company's first foray into sports marketing brought their brand of innovation to the Caterham FI team. Truphone delivered a Converged Operator Service solution that brought together Truphone's brand of global mobile service with Caterham's own VoIP provider so their team could always stay connected.
F1 team Caterham is looking to squeeze every penny of value out of its IT services as it refocuses its effort on major rule changes coming into force next season. As one of Formula One's newest teams, Caterham was able to start with a clean slate when it was first accepted onto the grid in 2010, with no legacy IT to deal with.
GigaOm's Kevin Tofel, who can claim to be the second to last person I ever had a Philly Cheese Steak wid (Philly folks will get the local foodie humor) picked up on client Gigsky and their global roaming data SIM that lets you buy just what you need, where you need it just in time for the holiday travel season.
It's amazing that we can use a private company to put satellites into space, yet international roaming with a smartphone, tablet or laptop is still such a hassle. I thought about this recently as some friends are planning to travel abroad this holiday season and they asked me what their options are.
UK-based mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Lycamobile has reportedly identified eight further markets in which it hopes to launch by February 2014, including Canada and unspecified countries across Latin America and Asia. Lycamobile, which generated sales of more than EUR1 billion (USD1.35 billion) in FY2012/13, currently claims a global MVNO base of more than 30 million users.
Just like in the USA, where stolen phones are a problem, in the UK OFCOM and the operators are working together to create a database that stops stolen phones from being usable while also attacking roaming fees........
Four of the UK's largest mobile phone networks have agreed to change some of the rules around pricing and contracts in a bid to reduce the charges that arise when roaming abroad or if a device is lost or stolen.
Long time friends and clients, Alon Cohen and Ari Rabban should be smiling. The duo behind rapidly growing Phone.com just scored their first patent, where they have brought some of their technology wizardy to SMS.
RIP IMS If you haven't read Chad's break up, then you should. It is touching. And true. And the comments on it are great. We've had a ball at the Expo event, but that last day got me pissed off - it was the service providers track, with many of its vendors suggesting their IMS systems should be hooked up to WebRTC in order to save it.
Gigabit-class broadband is capturing the imagination of Internet users throughout the country. With Google and other companies bringing fiber-based services that deliver a gigabit of data each second to the home, communities are accelerating their push to get the highest speeds.
On the Googlewatch front. Over in London they have created an open "campus" that is attracting all kinds of new business starting types, bringing them into the Google Ecosystem in what is known as the Hub.
Opened in April 2012, Campus London, Google's East London 'startup hub' was something of a new departure for Google. It was taking out a ten year lease of a building which would be populated by co-working spaces, hackers and startups that Google had nothing to do with and Google would not have a stake it in.
Video is still in the news..and people are using it. Taking part in a global Hangout today that was offering amazing quality, even on my iPad Air, only tells me it's not that far away from being mainstream...
With video conferencing unshackled from the confines of the expensive, high-end telepresence room, enterprises are exploring a wider swath of video options -- like desktop video calling and managed or cloud-based video services that could improve their businesses. The arrival of more accessible video endpoints is removing one of the final barriers to every conferencing vendor's dream: ubiquitous business video calling.
Last week was the third rendition of the WebRTC Conference & Expo, and it covered a range of topics from business implementations and applications to more technical aspects like signaling and the WebRTC data channel. There was also a lot of discussion about the current state of the IETF movement to decide on a video codec standard for WebRTC, mainly between H.264 and VP8.
Platitudes are a dangerous way to build a company. What passes today as start-up wisdom can be attractive, even seductive to new entrepreneurs. We have witnessed the creation of a sub-industry of how-to advice on creating the next tech blockbuster.
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I grew up as a radio junkie. Living in Philadelphia I was weaned on top 40 from WFIL, WIBG as well as WDAS and WHAT, the latter two for R&B and real soul music. They were the AM stations. When FM came around it was WMMR, WYSP and WIOQ, before discovering my inner music muse at WXPN and WRTI for the more creative new wave and experimental music found there as well as roots, jazz and blues.
As the Internet arrived music took on new shapes as Shoutcast and WiredPlanet, which is now part of Rhapsody, all caught my ears, followed of course by Pandora and Spotify. But while Pandora played songs that fit together style and musical tone wise, and Spotify gave me the mother of all music libraries, neither gave me what the voices of John Diliberto, Russ Musto, Michael Tearson, Ed Sciaky or Meg Griffen ever could. They told me about the music and the artists. That's one reason I love the Underground Garage or Sirius XM and DJs like Loog or Handsome Dick Manitoba and of course, Little Steven himself. It's the stories that make the music discovery fun.
And that's why I love MPme. Ever since they were introduced to me, and have since become a client, their music and what they call "curated radio" has been a staple on in the background when I'm working, writing or just chilling out, especially when I'm on the road.
With MPme I search for stations, artists or even individual songs, and their discovery engine looks around the world and offers you the stations to connect you to so you can listen to the stream that is playing the song, or may have just played it. Once you land on the station you have real DJ's picking and spinning the tracks, giving you really professional picks, not just music your friends like (not that that's all bad either.)
Once the station's on the iPhone or iPad, you have amazing sound and the real benefit. You can buy the tracks from iTunes. That's why for me, someone who loves to find new and old music, and to collect the tracks, are all reasons why MPme is my kind of radio app on the iOS devices.
Have you noticed at which the number of apps being updated in the Apple App Store has increased lately? Between new apps being launched along with updates and bug fixes for iOS 6 as well as to work more and better with the iPad Mini, the volume of updates since Thanksgiving has accelerated.
This is because of one reason. It's called the holiday break before CES. Taken seperately, there's no issue with Apple's super staff who manage app submissions and approvals from taking a well deserved holiday break, espeically for new apps going into the store. But with CES starting on January 5 (well AT&T's Developer Summit is then at the Palms) and as apps are the new products for many, getting into the App Store is equivilant to landing a slot in every Wal*Mart or being found on the shelves at Costco to a brand.
That's why you are seeing so many apps being pushed out now.
Miss the window that reportedly closes the week of December 17 and it likely will be when CES starts before new apps appear.
One of the things I love about my friend Peter Csathy, a reformed Harvard Law School grad, is that he never forgot how to build his case and tell it so he can go out and sell it.
After working with Peter for four years on SightSpeed, where he led them to his third exit, (and one of my 21 to date) --having it happen in the down market I might add--the Rancho Santa Fe, CA resident got immediately back in the game with Sorenson Media, already then the market leader in the video production tools space. When Peter was considering joining Sorenson he clearly had a vision that was not where they were then, but where they needed to be. Some may have said, he had his head in the cloud, and he was right, even if two years or so back the idea of cloud encoding and cloud production wasn't even close to being relevant. Well it is today, and Peter's guest post on Streaming Media pretty much nails the facts the way a good lawyer builds his case.
As I sit here at the AT&T Developer Summit and listen to Ralph De La Vega tell us that there will be twenty new 4G devices on the AT&T Network this year, and as Motorola Mobility's CEO and San Diego area resident, Sanjay Jah unveils the new Atrix Android phone, or as Samsung and HTC talk about their next new devices, I keep flipping back to Csathy's article about the need to be able to be future proofing and have flexibility when it comes to the devices and the codecs they use. As the networks get faster, that means more and more content comes out in richer, more HD formats. Terms like HTML5 are coming out of every mouth over every speaker and that follows on the Apple iPad, iPhone model of being Flash light. But yet, Flash is still the desktop/laptop flavor for streaming, along with QuickTime, Real and Windows Media. H.264 remains the best for HD, so being able to stream, or download HD content means more than producing in just three formats these days. It also means having the ability to write once, encode in many formats on the fly and deliver it as the end points need it.
And that's the case Peter has built saying, we're ready today for what's coming tomorrow. If he had been at today's AT&T Developer Summit he would have been smiling ear to ear, saying to others, "bring it on."
The new iPod Touch 4.0 arrived yesterday, all 64 GB in a very easy to open environmental package. Inside was the typical clear plastic package, and then once that was open the usual Apple clear practice wrapper around the touch. After a few minutes of syncing the new device to my Mac Book Pro I went through the steps of configuring a few Voice applications.
After making calls over WiFi using my new FreeTalk Everyman Handsfree headset that's designed for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, but works with any mini pin plug enabled mobile device, I quickly realized that the sound quality was as good *OR BETTER* than on my iPhone.
Next I fired up the Verizon Wireless MiFi and made a few more test calls to friends whom I regularly speak with over my Verizon Droid. The result was even more revealing. People on the other end said I sounded better. For the most part my calls were made using Truphone and Bria, and for calls to the PSTN they seemed to have a better overall tone. However, nothing beat Skype to Skype calls, as the wideband Silk codec in the Skype client and the Silk codec in the headset worked as planned.
But where the combination of the headset and the new iPod touch really shined was with what the iPod touch was originally designed for. iTunes. The fidelity range, richness and deep bass response, complete with a very robust mid-range and as well as the upper end of the audio scale, and this included both the audio stored on the device, as well as audio being streamed from Pandora or over a range of NPR stations over Verizon's 3G network.
While I've yet to test this on Sprint, Clearwire or AT&T's networks, I'm confident based on past experiences that the $6.00 a month iPhone has only gotten better. With an unlimited plan from Truphone for $12.95, free calling over Google Voice via the Gizmo client and my Skype Unlimited World Plan at about $12.00 a month, all that calling and data still ends up costing less than an iPhone with a calling bundle and a data plan on AT&T. The key here is we're all moving to a data centric world, and as I look at my minutes consumed I realizing I'm talking far less over a mobile phone, making more placing and receiving more calls from my laptop, and connecting more and more with my colleagues and peers using VoIP, all the time, more and more without a traditional mobile operator for voice, but instead using them as the pipe for the voice supplier of my choice.
In many ways, 3G and 4G calling is as closest as we'll get to deregulated long distance calling, and the iPod touch is like the phone's we used to buy after years of having to rent our phones from Ma Bell. This uncoupling may be the crux of why the carriers are so concerned about net-neutrality, or it may only be a piece of it. Either way, with a little ingenuity you can be calling over something other than a landline, or mobile phone, with quality as good, or better, all while saving money, having more control and greater flexibility.
In part two, I'll discuss why the VOIP services that go beyond your current mobile operator.
UPDATE-> The speaker on the iPod touch works with Bria, Skype and Truphone, so I guess I really now do have an iPhone without a contract for a lot less.