WhatsApp Voice Is For Real

I'm in Prague for the Dimension Data Perspectives 2015 Analyst event and had to catch up with a friend in Melbourne. We usually talk using Viber and text between that and WhatsApp. After a 10 minute of so text exchange I just called her, using the new VoIP functionality inside WhatApp for the first time.

Wow, was it impressive. I was on my iPhone6 and she was on her Samsung Galaxy 4 and the audio was clear as day with beautiful HD quality. The call didn't sound at all like a typical mobile phone call, as it was rock solid, bright tonality and the type of audio one expects from a high grade speaker.

To say I was impressed was an understatement. If you haven't tried Facebook calling give it a try.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Veleslavínova,Prague,Czech Republic

8x8 Ranked #1 By Infonetics in Cloud Unified Communications

Yesterday IHS Infonetics put out their Unified Communications Scorecard f0r 2015 ranking 8x8 first. 

I asked 8x8 why they thought they were deserving of the title and this is why they feel they're better:

 Elite Touch - For National and International customer onboarding

  • Solution design: Gather customer requirements, perform a thorough network assessment, identify all of the call and interaction flows and provide the system design required to meet your organization’s unique needs.

  • Administration training and deployment: Configure the implementation while training contact center and line-of-business managers on how to get the best value from their system.

  • System test and user training: Ensure that the system is performing as desired, and that agents, receptionists, and supervisors understand how the system works, so they can be productive on day one.

  • Post-deployment support: Provide high-touch support for up to 90 days following implementation to ensure that you’re getting the best value out of the complete breadth of the system.

  • Ongoing support: Provide a dedicated account manager for ongoing customer support.

​2) Industry first SLA on Call Quality even on the public Internet​


3) Virtual Office Analytics to manage real time call quality, end point status, information on every single call on the network.


These features and services are being brought to the forefront, and the SLA on Call Quality to me is a big differentiator for the OTT market, allowing 8x8 to compete head to head with the managed service carriers.

39 Is A Great Number


That's the number of companies that my agency and I have been involved in that have exited in the last 15 years.

Tomorrow on the AIM, the junior market of the London Stock Exchange has Verseon, going public at a 310 million pound valuation. That makes the company's street value over $450 million dollars, with the company still in control of just under 4/5ths of their stock as the raise was anticipated to be 65.8 million pounds or roughly 100 million dollars according to the Financial Times.

It may have taken 13 years to happen, but for everyone who has been involved along the way, the wait is more than satisfying.

Given the company has its roots in Silicon Valley, one has to wonder when the tech and startup press there will finally recognize the success of one of their own.

The Doctor Can "See" You Now

The headline says it all. Now, at least with United Healthcare, doctors can make house calls using video technology.  And this is a big deal, a point Wired touches on in their story.

It's a big deal because it offers patients and practitioners more options, but it's only the start. With WebRTC having a very secure data channel this means not only will video be what's transmitted to a doctor while you're being virtually examined, but with sensors and beacons, plus the cloud, all of your vital statistics like heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, temperature can be transmitted as well. 

For the distance challenged it wouldn't be hard to overnight someone a scanning device to look at someone's retina or pupil and diagnose eye irritations or disorders.  Devices to blow into can record readings, or a hearing test could be administered using headphones and an iPhone or the audio system of a personal computer using the cloud. And, in the case of emergencies, now life saving instructions can be given while the doctor sees what's being done from miles away.

For years the insurance industry has insisted on a patient visit to the office. This has only raised the cost of healthcare, and in some cases forced doctors to either hire lower wage earning support personnel of make less money. With video appointments and diagnosis, services to book, schedule, report and resolve medical issues will be improved. A doctor's notes and the patients comments can be transcribed on the fly and part of the medical record for the doctor to review, not write. The images captured during the patient visit will be part of the file, so the actual bruise, burn, cut or wound can be seen after the fact and compared during the next "virtual" check up. None of this is done usually today, and what's more, given how from time to time people see different doctors for the same medical condition, the next doctor can quickly catch up on what was seen before, done before and form an opinion before the next action is taken.

So, yes. This is a big deal


For Sprint and Boingo It's Like Deja Vu

Sprint, back in 2001 was one of the first investors in Boingo. Back then, the idea of a commercial Wi-Fi network was viewed as far-fetched.  For starters very few devices even had Wi-Fi. Mobile and data were just getting started, and the need while there, wasn't nearly as necessary as it is today.

Over the last 14 years Sprint and Boingo have had a series of relationships, so when news broke this past week about Boingo and Sprint cutting a Wi-Fi Seamless Roaming agreement, I wasn't surprised. Beyond the investment, Boingo has always had an agreement where Sprint customers could roam on the Boingo network. What's more, back in 2007,  Boingo acquired Sprint's seven Wi-Fi airport network which included notably Oakland International and Houston's Hobby International amongst others.

With the news, it feels like the new Sprint sees the same value in Boingo that their predecessors did, and now they can reap the fruits of their historical relationship and investment.

The key to this relationship, and pretty much all Wi-Fi offload/seamless roaming is summed up best in the news release:

Sprint devices within proximity of a Boingo hotspot can automatically connect to the Wi-Fi network seamlessly, providing service at the fastest speeds available, be that cellular from Sprint or Wi-Fi from Boingo. The auto-authenticating Wi-Fi connections are available at no additional charge to all Sprint customers with capable devices, and usage while connected to Wi-Fi does not count towards a customer’s monthly service plan. Sprint and Boingo conducted successful market trials with millions of Sprint handsets, which demonstrated the consumer benefits of effortless authentication onto Boingo’s network.

What Open Table Needs to Do Better

I have been using OpenTable, the restaurant booking service since almost it's inception. And, honestly, making reservations and managing them is so, so easy. But, for whatever reason, they're keeping their restaurants in the dark ages.

One of my biggest pet peeves with the service is the restaurants desire to "confirm" the reservation with a phone call. Almost always those calls come at the most inopportune moment. Like when I'm sleeping or in a meeting.

Given OpenTable has apps for iPhones and Androids, how hard would it be to use the built in notification system, and their own app to receive the "please reconfirm" message from the restaurant, given that's how the reservation was booked in the first place? How hard would it be to create a Google Chrome or Safari plug in that can be another point of notification? Why can't they create a system using SMS that simply send a message saying "please confirm your reservation by clicking this link, or click this other link to cancel or this third link to open the app to change the time of the reservation."

Seriously. Open Table is already looking to be the mode of payment to restaurants, so perhaps they can figure out how they can be the most streamlined service for communication for the diner also. 

Silicon Valley’s Best Kept Secret Is Out

Thirteen years ago, a serial entrepreneur, who I had worked with in the late 90s and early part of the start of the century, Adityo Prakash talked to me about an idea. The idea was to drive drug discovery, not the traditional way, purely in the lab, but through complex algorithms that would simulate certain interactions in silicon to find drugs for many diseases that impact human health.

 The 13-year quest of Adityo Prakash and Eniko Fodor’s Verseon, a story they kept by design as much as possible in stealth from a communications perspective, could become one of Silicon Valley’s best success stories of a company that has not been on the radar so far.

Last week Sky News in the U.K reported the plans for the company’s IPO. If Verseon is starting to come out of stealth mode then that is because they are ready to show the world just how disruptive the results of their drug development process can be. I expect to see this company go from strength to strength over the coming years.

In essence, what Verseon does is use complex proprietary algorithms to design new drugs that can’t otherwise be found. For the pharma industry this is massive because patents keep expiring on the current drugs and the industry needs these new drugs on a steady basis to produce better treatment outcomes for patients and keep up its many hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue.

For me, this is very personal. Back in 2002, when I was redefining my agency's direction, Adityo approached me for help. That was before he had raised any money. I took a gamble. I helped him with his brand design and initial website, and we brainstormed over Hawaiian food a few times, and together we came up with their original communications strategy. That strategy was to be in stealth mode to most people, while being just visible enough to those who mattered.

You see, at the time their idea was one of those great ideas that was too far ahead of its time. But, as pal Alec Saunders once quipped about what I do, it seems I had picked one that should keep getting bigger.





Why T-Mobile Is Winning Customers

I keep watching as T-Mobile is winning new customers and have to admit, that having been one of their customers for over 15 years, as well as with Verizon and AT&T, the Magenta network is constantly getting better. And they are doing a better job than the competition of telling the world that they are.

Honestly, I haven't used my Verizon iPhone 5 that much since the iPhone 6s arrived. The first reason was how poor the voice quality on Verizon has become, especially on calls routed via Google Voice or Switch to the phone. This is the opposite when compared to T-Mobile, where the audio quality is either HD when the other party is calling also on the T-Mobile network, or just better, because their network isn't as crowded. 

The second reason was obviously that I had new iPhone 6's (6 and Plus) that were only GSM editions. 

The third was  even more important. When I'm on T-Mobile's LTE network and using a conferencing service that has an app, like WebEX or GoToMeeting, the audio quality exceeds Verizon and AT&T, though the coverage areas is not as large.  Too often, especially on AT&T if I'm in motion on the highway, I'll drift from LTE into 4G coverage. Out here in San Diego, in the areas surrounding I-5 I found that T-Mo's LTE coverage was not as geographically wide, but where it was, it really was and it didn't come and go as often as AT&T does. 

Lastly, I'm a big user of iTunes Spotify, Pandora and TuneIn when I'm in the mood for music, and while I also have access to SIRIUS XM in the car and via their Apps, sometimes I just want my music or the music I like. T-Mobile's unlimited music delivery means none of what I'm listening to goes against my data cap.

My primary iPad, the iPad Air 2 is also on T-Mobile, so while I haven't yet given up my iPad on AT&T's SIM that is totally and will forever be "unlimited" I found that for the most part I'm not lacking in coverage that often.

Ironically, where I have found T-Mobile to be weakest is at major airports, and that's something they need to address. But it comes at a time when I'm also finding AT&T's coverage in some airports to be less available as airports like San Diego have modernized, but their DAS system is virtually non-existent, if they even have one.

Right now, I'm loving how good T-Mobile is. I'm sure though that the Blue and Red guys will catch up, but by then Sprint will have expanded their network enough to be someone to consider again.

P.S. And, there's one massive reason why they are winning too. It's all in the customer service. Over the past seven months every single need I've had has been addressed professionally, and within the day, on a par with American Express' level of care. 

Just Call Me - Conference Call 3.0

I have seen the future of Conference Calling, and it's "Just Call Me."

Just Call Me was created by Voxygen, the UK telecom product design company started by Dean Elwood (VoIP User, Truphone, etc.) Voxygen started up a few years back with the premise of approaching telephony as "Voice as a Service", the new Just Call Me service is currently only available for O2 users in the UK, but given Voxygen's relationships with Telefonica and other mobile carriers I suspect that won't be the case for long. (To learn more about Voxygen check out the profile from back in January by pal Martin Geddes.)

The quick start guide and video on the O2 web page is a great place to start as it makes it easy to understand how the service works, which is simplicity itself:-

  1. The organizer schedules the call and invites participants

  2. At the appointed time the participants just dial the organizers mobile number to join the call.

No PINs, no dial-in codes.

For those who are asked to join but didn't receive an email invite, they just call the organizers mobile number and the organizer allows them to enter. What's really cool though is the ability for the organizer to direct non call participants to voicemail. This "in call" and in session whisper feature allows the right non-invitees to join the call, while keeping the organizer squarely in control. The host just dials “321” from their mobile to join. If they need to dial in from a landline (deskphone for example) there’s an admin code enabling that.

Available now in the UK, the elegance and simplicity of the service has me wanting to use the service. Beyond the simplicity of Just Call Me, it also overcomes the two biggest hassles I have found with conference calls of late. First, is simply getting people to be able to log on via apps. The second is the disruption that’s caused by echo and delay that third party services seem to arise on IP calls due to a multitude of network, software and hardware.

What Voxygen has done, by integrating the service within the mobile operator's network (O2), helps avoid much of that, as the service has the backbone reliability that carriers and operators can provide. This level of quality can only be achieved because mobile operators have interoperability standards they must follow for calls to pass between networks. Apply that approach  to conference calling, and you have a far better base to build on top of. That's something that has been missing from all the new over the top types.


While services like GoToMeeting, WebEx, Calliflower and UberConference run over the top (OTT), what Voxygen has done is "Through the Telco" or "TTT" as Elwood calls it. It's an approach whose time has come, and for constant conference call participants, something that has been needed for a long time.

Twilio Goes Video, Puts Pressure On TokBox Now

For the past two years, when it came to WebRTC video many early developers would look at TokBox and use their platform. Today, the heavyweight of heavyweights in developer programs, Twilio fired a broad shot across the bow and entered the fray. This is big news for WebRTC because Twilio has the key part of the equation. The developers. And that means a lot more than what they have in their stack. Their entry also begs the question how Genband will react as they have been tossing Kandy around for months but with hardly any news about deployments.

Tsahi also raises the same concern I have towards TokBox, but overlooks a key missing piece of the equation. That is the lack of Internet Explorer or Safari compatibility that plagues both TokBox and now will impact Twilio. Both would be well served by working with client, Temasys, whose commercial plug-in brings IE and Safari to WebRTC players. 

So for now, devs working with either Twilio or TokBox will still have to go to Temasys directly to license the functionality.

If I was a developer working on IoT products, apps for iOS or Android or someone looking to appeal to the millennial generation, I'd run, not walk, to Twilio's dev program as this will speed up the adoption of WebRTC even without Microsoft being friendly today. That day will come. Just like Christmas does.