Recently I was asked by one of the writers at ProfNet to help explain Google's New Helpout service demonstrating that knowledge leadership and a stead presence online leads to media seeking you out as an expert. Replying quickly with key points it led to more questions to help round out the reporter's story, so while I was in transit and at the ITU Telecom World Conference I quickly penned some thoughts, replied to more questions by being conneted and reachable. That's a key trait to get quoted. You can't dawdle or wait, or someone else gets in the story. You'll see I got the prized "first quote" and what's more my comments were salted throughout the article, proving that being time sensitive to a reporter leads to getting quoted.
Dear Q&A Team, My marketing team wants to learn more about Google Helpouts. We want to get a better understanding of this service as well as how we can use it to promote any of our products and/or services.
Eye scanner identification systems are the stuff of spy movies, but EyeVerify is bringing them to the mainstream. The startup took home the first prize at the Kauffman Foundations's Get in the Ring startup clash yesterday, beating out hundreds of applicants, 40 semi-finalists, and 8 finalists for the award.
In today's edition of "U.S. wireless carriers are dicks", we're going to look at the latest in how carriers and the CTIA are protecting valuable revenue streams by blocking features that would curb smartphone theft. Over 1.6 million US consumers had a smartphone stolen in 2012.
I think we've established by now that what happens in Vegas actually never stays in Vegas. And, as you can see by the agenda obtained by TechCrunch that's embedded below this post, the Goldman Sachs Private Internet Company Conference scheduled to take place in Sin City over the next two days is no exception.
Skype is seeing more competition from the mobile operators themselves who launch over the top services of their own. Last week it was SwissCom and now we're seeing ChinaMobile. T-Mobile did it early on with Bobsled so one has to wonder if this will be a big push at February's Mobile World Congress next year.
In June, China Mobile quietly launched Jego as a competitor to Skype, but in the same month, the carrier abruptly suspended account registrations for the service. There were plenty of speculations as to why China Mobile International - a Hong Kong-based global-focused China Mobile subsidiary - made such a move back then.
So much for in-flight calling disturbing passengers. It seems it really was more of "we're not able to make money" before. Now that there is technology that lets the in flight technology companies bill and keep some revenue, talking and texting in the sky seems to be the talk of the skies.
The European Commission announced on Thursday that it would begin allowing the use of 3G and 4G mobile devices on board aircraft that are flying over the European Union. The change in rules allows airlines to implement the use of 3G and 4G above 3,000 meters (9,843 feet).
The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are telling a U.S. Senate committee that Bitcoins are legitimate financial instruments, boosting prospects for wider acceptance of the virtual currency. Representatives from the agencies told the U.S.
This week in San Francisco is DreamForce, SaleForce.com's big soiree. And, in typical style they are making news, this time about how they have redefined their customer experience over mobile.
Salesforce reboots its mobile experience with a bunch of dev tools with Salesforce1
On Monday, the $3 billion cloud computing company kicks off its 11th annual Dreamforce conference, which is expected to draw more than 100,000 attendees. The crowd will be buzzing about all sorts of news at the show, but one of the biggest announcements is bound to be Salesforce1, the company's revamped mobile platform for administrators, end users, and developers.
WebRTC was a focus of discussion between some of us in Bangkok, and the topic at a TMC sponsored conference in Santa Clara this week. It seems though that no one can agree on what the standards will be. That's not stopping innovation and may actually lead to more interesting new ideas vs. everyone doing the same old thing.
Conferences are a booming business-Quartz held its own Next Billion gathering last week-and your company may pay thousands of dollars to send you to a big-name event. How do you make sure it's worth the money and convince your boss to let you go next time?
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Hello from Bangkok in Thailand where I'll be representing the USA and Comunicano at this year's ITU Telecom World Congress where along with the master Disruptor, Dean Bubley, I'll be on a panel on the subject of Telcos and OTT (over the top) communications. Now that's something we at Comunicano have been working on for many, many years.
Clients in the past and currently have been at the forefront of that industry with the likes of GrandCentral (now GoogleVoice), HiDef Conferencing (now a part of Citrix), CounterPath with their Bria softphone, Sansay with their APIs and SBC that's aimed at this market squarely, iotum, Voxeet, WebDialogs, Magor, Vidtel and others in audio and video collaboration, conversations and conferencing sectors, and of course Truphone who is both an OTT player with their apps, and a carrier of their own with their SIMS. And the list goes on.
To know more about OTT here are two nice reports. One from Arthur D. Little, the global consulting company, and another quick recap from Dean Bubley, who has written the very defining report on the subject of WebRTC and OTT comms, and is is the process of authoring another.
Because of all my travel I've also become a bit of an expert on travel technology. Our clients Benbria and Endomondo are currently working with InterContinental Hotels around the world, each making guest experiences better in different ways, so in today's Daily you'll see more coverage on travel and technology, something we'll be watching more of and sharing, just like we started watching technology on VoIPWatch, when collaboration, VoIP and Video Conferencing were less entrenched ten years ago than they are now.
Oh..and one more thing. If you ever need to get a bag, a set of golf clubs or your ski's somewhere please contact the wonderful folks at Luggage Forward. My bag that needs to be waiting for me in Australia arrived today. It left just four days ago. How do I know?
They're smart, technically savvy and keep track of it so I don't have to. Waking up to their email, was the way customer service should be. Ahead of the client, making one less thing to be concerned about.
And now, onto the news....
Dean Bubley's of Disruptive Wireless Updates his WebRTC forecasts + new analysis of browser vs. non-browser uptake
I saw someone on Twitter post the other day that we are currently at "Peak Telco Conference". Last week & next week have an extraordinary number of clashing events, around the world. One interesting thing I'm noticing is how many seem to be adding in a session or couple of presenters on WebRTC, which is fast becoming the "topic du jour" across telecoms overall.
Facebook has reportedly joined the GSM Association, making plain its heightened interest in mobile and wireless. GSMA is a group made up of mobile operators and other technology companies interested in standardizing and promoting the GSM cellular system. Nearly 800 of the world's mobile operators are members, as are more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem.
Seeing FaceBook move into the GSMA is no surprise. It's all about clout, and derives from regulatory activity. With a change for the better in the USA with Tom Wheeler, Facebook is looking globally to insure their growth with ad sales, content, privacy and of course, revenue.
New Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler this week set the tone for relationship with the mobile industry. Earlier this week he sent a letter to the CTIA - the mobile operator lobbying group he once headed up - telling them to either adopt a consumer-friendly phone unlocking policy or have the FCC do it for them.
Every quarter independent mobile analyst Chetan Sharma publishes a quarterly mobile market update. You can download the full report from here. It's full of trend data and insight from one of the industry's bright lights who is working with companies up and down the mobile eco-system chain.
Sharma highlights that the US mobile data market grew 5% Q/Q and 15% Y/Y to reach $22.8 billion in mobile data revenues. Data is now 48% of the US mobile industry service revenues and as we had forecasted a few years back, the cross-over point of 50% might occur next quarter.
Back in 2011 and 2012 Comunicano worked with Ortiva Wireless, a company that set out to solve a problem for mobile operators. Video over Mobile delivery and what it would do to their networks. Well, a new study from Bain & Company points out just how big of a problem it is.
Access to digital media across multiple platforms - be it video, music, games or books - is prompting a shift from traditional buy-to-own to individual rental models, a trend with broad and deep ramifications for content producers and other participants across the physical and digital media value chains, according to a study from Bain & Co.
Foreign aid is streaming into the Philippines from around the world as the news of the devastation wrought Super Typhoon Haiyan spreads, but it's no longer just food, water and shelter: Before the storm even made landfall, a team from non-profit Télécoms Sans Frontières was on the ground, carrying satellite phones and laptop-sized BGans, which...
The company is pouring money into the problem, and a top executive says the issues will dissipate by the end of the year. (Credit: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) Verizon Wireless is feeling the crush of all of those LTE-enabled devices on its network.
As smartphone usage has surged, so has the demand for reliable, fast cellular data. Sure, your smartphone can use Wi-Fi to surf the Web, watch video, stream music and download documents. But Wi-Fi isn't always available or costs extra in some public places. In the U.S., the fast cellular technology of choice is called 4G LTE.
All this leads to what is expected. Capping of data speeds. We already see it on mobile networks, and with some fixed line cable and DSL providers. If you wonder who caps, look at this GigaOm report from Stacey Higginbotham.
A A As we prep for the launch of two new consoles that will allow people to download games that are 30 GB to 50 GB in size, and as new research comes out showing that over-the-top television viewing is rising, it's worth taking an updated look at how ISPs around the U.S.
Verizon ( NYSE: VZ) may have halted further builds of its FiOS network into new markets, but where it is converting problem copper-based customers to the fiber-based service it's finding that customers like purchasing speeds of 50 Mbps and higher.
The Defense Department, owner of 470,000 BlackBerrys, is distancing itself from the struggling vendor while moving ahead with construction of a departmentwide app store and a system for securing all mobile devices, including the latest iPhones, iPads, and Samsung smartphones and tablets.
Google has become so big that sometimes it's difficult to understand just how big it is. It's on course to do $60 billion in revenue this year, almost all of that from advertising. But how big is that in terms of the media it competes against for ad dollars?
The investment syndicate dashboards of 10 of the most active CVCs in 2013 (list below) can be found on the 'Research' tab after logging in to CB Insights. (Note: The free PDF is available to anybody who logs into CB Insights, not just our paid subscribers.)
The Federal Aviation Administration has already started allowing customers to keep their electronic devices on during takeoff and landing, and NBC News is now reporting that the in-flight Wi-Fi service Gogo will soon start offering text and voice service during flights. Texting is a blessedly silent activity, but phone calls...
The rate of innovation in mobile technology suggests that even if security still takes too long and seats are too small, flyers can at least rely on updated flight statuses and hassle-free check-ins. - Samantha Shankman Travelers want to get through the airport as quickly as possible with access to updates at their fingertips.
And now some stories to get you thinking and working differently, to look at opportunities more and see what is bubbling in the news.
Young Upstarts-Taking Risk to Be Successful
Imagine you stand at the edge of an enormous cliff, a parachute strapped to your back. To your right is a winding staircase with a sturdy handrail. There are only two ways off the cliff - jump or take the stairs.
The survival of our species on planet earth is largely going to be determined by what happens in our cities. By 2050, 70% of the world's population will live in them. We are observing a mass migration to cities at an unprecedented rate.
Executive Summary Advertisement Companies routinely invest in technology, and too often feel they get routine results. Technology's promise is not simply to automate processes, but to open routes to new ways of doing business.
I remember when I first started fundraising for my first company, my investor network was pretty weak. Not only did I not know many investors, I also didn't really know how to pitch them. I'd basically take any meeting I could with any investor at any time.
VC-backed tech companies take seven years on average to go public and now it looks like they need a boatload of cash to get there too. What happened to not being capital intensive? Using CB Insights venture capital data, we analyzed VC-backed tech companies that have exited since 2007 to identify how much funding they need to raise prior to exiting via IPO and M&A.
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Bangkok may be one of the last places you would think is where the future of telecommunications would be happening, as it's not exactly where one thinks of as a tech hot bed. But the 2013 ITU Telecom World is there, and that's where the newly minted TADS Summit will also be held.
While the ITU event is more about the establshed setting the future, the TADS Summit will be where the future gets statred. The two events, overlapping, and featuring many of the same participants will provide the framework for innovation. I'll be there, so keep an eye on this space for news.
As we wind down fall and head into winter I'll be heading to Asia for two very important conferences and congresses. The ITU has asked me to be a part of the Dean Bubley led disucssion on Telcos and OTT-so off I go to Bangkok and that esteemed event in November.
That's immediately followed by what may be the most defining event about application development and Telcos ever organized, the TADS Summit. Long time peer Alan Quayle asked me to be a chair of a tract, but he's done the heavy lifting pulling together a really stellar group of knowledge leaders--those who are really doing it, not just talking about it, when it comes to how APIs and Apps are changing telecom as we know it.
If you look at this holistically, the two events in Bangkok during the same week blend the old with the new. While the ITU will not have many of the upstarts and disruption minded, TADS will.
Today you can order and have Pampers delivered via Amazon's courier network that is replacing, but not as rapid (yet) as UPS and FedEx. But it begs the question, are UPS and FEDex the next rungs in the distribution chain that Amazon starts to disintermediate, futher lowering costs of delivery, and increasing speed that people receive their purchases.
You have to look at what Amazon is doing more deeply to really grasp the magnitude of what they are up to. For starters, Amazon is one giant data crunching machine. If people think Google knows what you read and what apps you use, Amazon really knows what you buy, and how fast you consume it. They are to those in the supply chain, a wet dream come true, and its all about the data.
Next Amazon is a logistics team on steroids. Over the past few years Amazon has taken the approach of an edge network, placing warehouse operations all across the USA and likely the globe, and with that they deliver the products to you faster and cheaper. I for one buy from Amazon, WalMart and Walgreens, get free shipping, and use them for pantry loading of items I don't immediately need, saving money, and not having to waste time driving to Costco or even my local market. In essence, Amazon has become the virtual big box story offering access to more suppliers than any one local or national chain.
But of the online mass marketers, Amazon has that level of deeper selection and better communications with their customers who are used to "online" support processes. With the addition MayDay, or as The Verge descibes it, a virtual genius bar for apps and services for the Kindle Amazon has changed customer service--forever. Think about it. Kindle apps today. Your blender tomorrow.
Need a quick recipe, imagine talking to the cookbook expert on say, pizza, getting a list of what you need to make one-pizza stone, flour, bottled water, fresh tomatoes, cheese, oh, and yes, a pizza oven. Now imagine which of those items you can order through Amazon directly, or get from your local suppliers who supply Amazon's human network of delivery carriers can work with them and deliver it to the customer, sooner, faster and quicker.
Now take the Mayday model one step further, and go back to the blender. Pick up the Kindle, and report that your blender isn't blending any more or your mixer's not mixing. Amazon can help you get it repaired or if it's still in warranty, replaced. If it's out of warranty or beyond repair, they can sell you a new one. Now do it in reverse. Their delivery crews can pick up your electronic waste, and recycle it, supply it to parts companies, who do repair the older units, be enviromentally friendly, and help keep you updated and upgraded.
Net-Net-Shop with Amazon, get your support from Amazon, and when you need a new blender or anything else they can offer you what you like, when you want it, and get it to you when you need it.
There has been some recent debate about Samsung and their approach to regionally locking handsets, starting with the Galaxy Note3. It's a very interesting situation, and one that will impact grey marketers and their customers more than those who sell and buy in market. But the real story is not the region locking. It's about the lack of transparency by Samsung and what they are attempting to do which is to protect their "customer" and their customer isn't the consumer.
The fact is this is about protecting the distributors and dealers who legitimately buy devices from Samsung, forking over hard cash, putting staff and promotion behind the sales of product in the legitimate market the device was sold into and to protect against what is called product diversion. It's also about protecting the carriers from having devices that can be bought elsewhere, without contract and put on their network, but without the long term predictability of how long the customer will stay with them which is why the carriers get behind any product. It's another creative way to help those carriers who buy hundreds of thousands of units so they can keep the customer "locked to them" without the customer being locked to the device if they want to change devices the way some people change shoes.
Spinning the story by using FUD was what Samsung did. Put fear into the public's mind via the media. Get the media to first amplify that fear via the approach of having to always tell what's new and shiny. Show your customers what you're doing to protect them, then when the bloggers figure out the truth they will send the message out that helps drive the sales in market while keeping those out of market (anti-diversion tactic) from buying the devices but tell enough that makes the in market end user comfortable.
Next comes the real sneaky angle. Some blogger will come up with the idea that the grey marketers will find "agents" in the local market to "activate" the phone in market with a local SIM meaning a pre-paid SIM should work. The phone will be "activated" in the "region" it's designed to be "activated" in, then repacked, and shipped to be sold out of market so in the end Samsung's regions end up exactly where they were before, but the speed at which the devices end up out of market will be slowed down, giving each country or region a bit more time to sell the Galaxy Note3 faster.
For Samsung this allows them to say to their in country distributors that they are doing something about it, when in reality it's all window dressing because the smartphones are being be manufactured to save costs as "worldphones" with frequency bands that work everywhere (though not always with the fastest speeds possible for all yet) so the reality is, with a bit of patience you can figure out how to get the phone you need for where you'll be if your a savvy consumer.
So let's now attack the story and coverage for merits or lack there of using the 4 P's of Marketing:
1. Place-The story is not about region locking per se, but about protecting distribution which is place.
2. Price-The story is not about region locking per se, but about protecting margins and keeping price points where they should be in market because the grey marketers love to play the currency game as much as they do selling the products.
3. Promotion-The story not about region locking per se, but about drawing attention to the products in market, and to force the customer into thinking they need to buy locally. That's promotion via the media which costs less than buying ads, and which helps reinforce in store promotion which Samsung has to pay for via what is called price and positioning, and which usually includes things like payment terms and dating (when the retailer has to pay, how much they have to pay, quantity discounts, etc.) as well as price protection terms so as the prices fall the retailer can lower prices and not take a loss.
4. Product-The story is not about region locking per se, but about drawing attention to the product being available for sale.
The reality is there are statutory laws designed to prevent this from happening in the USA and elsewhere know as parallel import laws which like patents and trademarks are designed to prevent infringement of the distribution kind. But, unless the customs agents inspecting the cargo coming into the country know that the distributor isn't the offical importer, the products get in the country.
Of course the way around that is to take possession of the goods in the country you purchase them in, because they are for personal use, sell them first in the "region" they were intended to be sold in to the customer who wants them, and when they reach the other country to where they are being imported, they are now personal property.
The stone cold reality is that the Internet has made the world a very small place, and standards have in many ways weakened protectionist efforts so to take steps to curb the enthusiasm around something good, brands turn to spin, hype, FUD and obfuscation to try to keep the status quo. And that's the difference between a good brand and an great brand.
Compare Samsung to Apple. Apple sells unlocked devices directly to consumers through the Apple stores ONLY. If you want one, you buy it direct from Apple, and so does or did HTC. But Samsung doesn't really sell direct, they rely on the channels to drive their sales, and that's what this is all about.
Distribution and protecting the channel.
Don't be fooled by the hype, FUD or obfuscation. Buy the phone you want, but be prepared to have to do some extra work if you want the phone that you can't buy direct from the manufacturer to be the phone you want.
Oh, and to the issue of pricing. Apple already figured that out too long ago. Just look at the prices in various contries and you'll see that their pricing holds steady and costs more outside of the USA than it does here. They already did the math, and last time I checked keep selling more, and growing more everywhere, and they don't seem to have a grey market problem.
Just as Phone.com focuses on the SOHO and Small Business market with a very complete and full featured set of services to separate them from the Grasshoppers of the world, a new player out of Los Angeles, Telzio is looking to take the same approach and go after the market that Jive is tackling, with larger businesses who are working both nationally and internationally with what is best described as a spin it up and deliver service approach very similar to past client Aretta that was acquired by cBeyond a few years back.
The core value of Telzio lies in their rapid deployment set up and automation engine that gets a business up and running in very short order. Compared to larger servcies, where provisioning is the pain point, this core part of their value proposition makes them an interesting and new player in a space of sameness.
Pal Martin Geddes, one of the better, brighter and more forward thinking people in telecom today, authored a missive to his newsletter followers entitled "Rise of the Sensible Network" last week. It's an updated and padoxical viewpoint on the famed report by David Isenberg entitled “The Rise of the Stupid Network” that is often considered as the seminal treatise on the way the telcos went when it came to sealing their own fate.
Geddes longform article is a very strong read, and provides the basis of so much that will be discussed in a series of upcoming foundation events he'll be speaking at that set the stage for where telecom and the Internet are going, especially on the subject of OTT based communications. OTT is something that Martin, and his regular Future of Vocie speakermate, Dean Bubley and even I espouse and cover in our blogs and speaking engagements, with prime examples coming from the likes of HookFlash's Erik Lagerway and uberConference's Craig Walker, both of whom have all been very actively involved with for many years in delivering, or from services like Skype, Truphone (client), the now departed Gizmo, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Line, etc.
Martin will be speaking at some upcoming events, and this topic is far from over.
The buyout of Vodafone's minority stake in Verizon Wireless means Verizon can now make the mobile division a fully integrated part of its overall business, just like AT&T has done with their mobility unit. Largely this benefits the Enterprise customers as now they can buy from one sales team, not have to in theory have two different account groups.
The second thing it does is accelerate the deprication of DSL to non-existance, as Verizon, which is all about LTE, will push the rip and replace and expanded footprint where DSL and ADSL couldn't go. I will also go out on a limb and say that Verizon will accelerate their FiOS build out, not slow it down/let it grind to a halt. Why? fiber backhaul and fixed mobile convergence. Let's face it, you can build all the towers and get faster radio access networks out in the hinterlands, but if the fiber isn't in the ground to get it back to the network, you have bottlenecks. So what good does it do selling $59.00 a month LTE service if the speedy content doesn't go anywhere fast? How can VoLTE work, and be the replacement for Circuit switched calls if the network won't support the volume? Enter the need for more fiber in the ground, and since you can split off more local loops to that massive network, why not get more people connected who are paying more for it. Combine the two and you have speed, access and capacity.
That's the opposite of what AT&T is doing, using a hodgepodge of wire types -fiber, coax and copper to get to the prem. And since home users tend to not switch carriers as much as mobile users do, getting more FiOS users for Verizon is good long term business.
The news sites are a flutter with the realization that Microsoft if buying Nokia for less money they paid for Skype, hyping the idea that ex Microsoftee Steven Elop is the potential heir apparent to Steve Ballmer.
I personally think this is simply a thinning of the herd, and as new stars rise, older ones with assets -the Nokia patent pool, massive distribution teams, a very skilled hardware design and manufacturing team was attractive to Microsoft, especially with all the cash they have offshore. They pick up a team to build things and with their own sales force and mobile operator deals actually sell them, and what's more they reduce by a factor of 4 their royalty payments.
Unlike Dell, which use sub-manufacturers to make computers, now MSFT has it's own plants and people, and unlike Dell Microsoft has now has a team that knows how to design and build very good hardware--you never heard bad things about Nokia smartphones-more often you just didn't find them when they were really hot, or when you did, they sold very well and impact the top line for the Finnish company. This is exactly why Dell needs to buy BlackBerry. They get smartphones and own an OS. The world is moving from powerful desktops and laptops to smarter, faster and more powerful tablets and phones, and while BB's issues are largely sales, Dell's folks know how to do that.
But back to Microsoft. They have a leadership problem. Elop while a possible answer, he will likely be looked at as a returnee, so not the right choice as picking someone from the existing executive suite, even a slighlty reconsitituted one means the rest on the team feel passed over, and the rivalry it causes during the run up to the annointing is also very bad for business, as the direct reports all line up like gladiators. That leaves looking outside--way outside. And I mean way outside. Hardware is not what the future is about. Software is. And consumer marketing models are where the thinking is. Look at Netflix. Look at Nike. Look elsewhere...
Enter Yahoo-and a whole new management team. What they are doing is all about aqui-hires and building a new team from the inside out. In essence the Yahoo leadership is buying up pieces and parts -- that are all human capital, taking some of the newly acquired IP and incorporating it into what will be a very efficient mobile and cloud services focused team. This is exactly where Microsoft (and Dell) are both super light.
In my view Yahoo becomes an attractive aqui-buy for either Dell or Microsoft. It gives either a new leadership team, cash, cloud and mobile. It also brings new, next generation services, which Dell lacks in a consumerization of the enterprise model world.
Personally, I am not surprised by the Nokia buy by Microsoft, as the writing has been on the wall since 2012's CES where I saw nothing new with the Surface line of tablet PCs. The lack of 3G modules then was a huge OOPS for Microsoft, and something that Nokia's engineers never would have missed.
One more thing--Nokia has a massive developer program, and rich API's. Don't be surprised if Microsoft looks at Twilio, plugs that into Skype/Lync and then delivers it all to the new handsets. In an LTE era, voice is no longer about minutes, and the data pipe of wireless is the new wire. We're far from done seeing buying going on..it's a great time to be in M&A.