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.
We hope you are enjoying The Comunicano Daily. If you want to share it with friends, colleagues and co-workers, or even your wife, child or even someone you don't like, please do. They can join by visiting The Comunicano Daily signup page: http://eepurl.com/BFXkD
Jajah is being shut down. Jajah was acquired about five years back for the inflated sum of a reported $207 million dollars by Telefonica. The purcahse was intented to give Telefonica a deeper involvment in VoIP and then enabled them to take over the operations of Yahoo Voice when Yahoo basically started to ween itself away from communications services, in the era where they were rudderless. UPDATE- I just recalled that in January of 2013 Yahoo and Jajah ended their voice service relationship. This tells me the plan was in the works for some time. First Yahoo, then more.
Recently on a panel moderated by Dean Bubley during the ITU Telecom World in Bangkok, I commented how non-innovative Telefonica really was, as aquisitions are not innovation and referred to Jajah as "two servers in a broom closet connected to a few Tier One networks" at their time of acquisition. It looks like I wasn't that far off as shutting down a $200 million dollar purchase rivals the BT purchase of Ribbit for over $100 million dollars, which BT has basically wound down after buying the company for what was to be six services BT had on their roadmap, but never executed on either.
These two failures demonstrate the difference between Google, Microsoft and Apple who buy strategically, while old line telcos buy out of fear and uncertainty.
For the past few years the few people who have had a Yahoo Voice number were basically paying Jajah to maintain their phone numbers and use credit that was paid for to Jajah under the Yahoo name. What this does to Yahoo Voice is anyone's guess, but I'm betting they shut it down, until the company can figure out where it's really going, as a VoIP service tied to an antiquated Yahoo Messenger, that is not really as good as Skype is not the kind of effort the new leadership at Yahoo is getting behind.
Back in its day, in the Brad Garlinghouse, Craig Walker, Vincent Paquet and then Jeff Bonforte eras, VoIP inside Yahoo Messenger was to be a Skype killer. Yahoo spent lots of money buying and starting to build out a Skype threat, worked on rates to lower prices but in the end Bonforte was told to not make it a big deal and it basically was on life support since then.
The Jajah piece came to life about three or four years back where Yahoo basically outsourced the Voice piece to them and it simply billed customers.
While the panels are interesting, and mine will be highly charged as always, the social aspects of IT Expo and the networking is what does it for me. With room prices and airfare to Las Vegas so low, this summer's IT Expo has to be the most expense account friendly event of the year in telecom.
While the standards bodies and heavyweights (Google, Microsoft, Firefox) all duke it out on the WebRTC standard the developers and visionaries of how work will get done in the future are not standing still in attacking the collaboration space at all. And its just in time as I'm tired of traveling and am finding that being home sure has its advantages. As someone who built a business from the start to be virtual, I found it odd that I was on the road so much, and now am happy to be able to always say "I'm WFH" which means working from home, as it's really the way to go.
What we're seeing today is really the start of the changing face of collaboration, and that changing face is hapening because of the nexus of five key technology sectors and the seismic shift from wired to wireless, all under the guise of convergence.
But there's more to the whole collaboration movement. The world is going wireless, and with LTE and LTE-A (advanced) not far off, the ability to collaborate and share screens, access files stored on a cloud server, bring in another service --I love to use Tripit as an example to show travel plans on screen--but it could be showing your calendar to the group on a collaboration session to schedule the next meeting time tin order to make things easier. And, all of this will happen in real-time, not with the the usual back and forth, and no longer with the use of the phrase "meet me on the bridge" because there isn't any bridge any more.
These meeting can all happen on the fly, with people being added as the call happens. It will be spontaneous, and the idea of the "visual conversation"-- a term I personally coined for Magor when I first saw their future direction last Sepetember, is starting to come to be. None of this was ever possible in the old PSTN. It's all possible due to IP communications and for that reason the telco model has to change. This includes the liftng of silly restrictions like port blocking by operators of traffic on certain devices.
Long time VoIP personality Jeff Pulver, is back in the communications business with the recent funding of Zula, his cloud based mobile collaboration venture that he's starting with one of the original founders of DeltaThree, Jacob Ner-David. Pulver is best know for the VON Conference Series which he once sold, reaquired and then saw pulled out from under him by lenders, and who also was credited in playing a big part in the start of Vonage,
The initial source of outside venture capital came from OurCrowd, the hybrid VC-crowdfunding platform for accredited investors based in Israel, and which invests in companies coming out of the country.
Pulver, for many years has been cultivating and investing in companies in the land of Milk and Honey, and has established a close kinship with Yossi Vardi, best known as one of the people behind ICQ, a forrunner of today's Instant Messaging apps and services that was acquired by AOL.
If there ever was a time when Skype was ripe for being knocked off their throne, it's now. You see, Skype despite all of Steve Ballmer's promises to telecom leaders after the acquisition was first announced, and the claims that Skype will be an independent company, under Tony Bates' leadership, all signs indicate that Skype is really just another app inside the Redmond company.
If you remember ever asking "do you have a toll free number" or if you have ever dialed one, you always were thinking how calling that number saved you money, and maybe realized that the cost was being paid for by the receiving party. Most times the number called was for some type of service, support or reservation.
With unlimited long distance, 800 numbers sorta for many became irrelevant, and with mobile calling plans really being unlimited in nature, the need was sort of also reduced as people stopped paying for minutes, with one exception. The party on the receiving end of an 800 number.
Last week in London, uber-analyst Dean Bubley and I had one of our regular get togethers over a cocktail, some food and conversation where we chat without an agenda and let stream of consciousness and relevance become the compass. As we chatted we got onto the topic of both WebRTC and Skype and how the 800 toll free market was a common target for both.
Dean quickly pointed out something that has been in the back of my mind, the upcoming Skype/Lync integration, and how instead of advertising toll free 800 numbers, or usually being regional in nature, how the presenters of toll free numbers could start presenting SKYPE ID's as with Lync, the interconnection into the "PBX" in the call center occurs. Then we switched to talking about the same implications of WebRTC and how this all occurs in the browser.
If you think about it, already inside the browser we get pop ups asking for a chat if we are filling out forms, struggling with a reservation, or making a transaction that seems to be taking longer or is being rejected.
Both Skype and WebRTC would work to remove the barriers of geography, further driving more call centers in more places, but with call transfer ability for both Lync and WebRTC - once it interconnects to the PBX, means more expertise available. The current path of WebRTC is richer than what we have seen so far from Microsoft, but I don't think their not thinking about the on screen, in browser experience. Quite the opposite, I feel that they are, and that we'll see more screen sharing, on screen video calling with remote support and collaboration from them, all within the browser as Skype partially migrates from an installed app to a Web app and has that Lync connection going.
But if one thinks about this, and as Dean and I discussed, this is also where Google has a running start, as the Android OS is already seeing beta builds of WebRTC inside Chrome, and since it will be natively available on Android devices that operate on both Wi-Fi and LTE, this means in many situations, "calling for support" doesn't have to mean dialing up over the PSTN any longer. Conversely, Microsoft and it's Windows Mobile is going nowhere fast.
But the more one looks at it, the more one sees WebRTC and Skype as having all the potential of being a massive disruptor to the toll free and call center markets, so it's no wonder why the telcos are both looking at WebRTC (Telefonica buying TokBox, Ericsson fueling AT&T's Foundry, etc.) and trying to manage its deployment.
Back in the heydey of VoIP, circa 2006/2007 GrandCentral was the "buzz and da bomb" quickly gaining likely some hundreds of thousands of users before getting snapped up by Google and turned into GoogleVoice. But they had rivals, not direct competition, but services that did different things. Two of the rivals that ultimately fell to the wayside were TalkPlus and Jangl.
TalkPlus and Jangl each did something that today, many turn to GoogleVoice for. To be a "hook up" number for those in the dating world. While GoogleVoice has the Get lost feature where you can block anyone's number and send them a "this number is not in service" to the "dumped" or "jilted", TalkPlus gave people the ability to add a second number to the mobile phone by using the network to present a second number on the outbound, or route a call to your phone from that number-basically call forwarding on the inbound with data showing up telling the recipient what number was incoming, or spoofing the ANI and Caller ID on the outbound via the network switch. Jangl was a bit similar, but it used a series of numbers to pair up between callers. Jangl was eventually acquired by Jajah, as part of a mercy sale, with Michael Cerda taking on a BizDev role there for a short time.
Well now some dating service AshleyMadison is bringing back the combined ideas of both TalkPlus and Jangl for the hook up crowd. Both companies, TalkPlus and Jangl were ahead of their time, as the apps world was not really alive yet. Basically, only BB, Nokia Series 60 and Series 40 and some Windows Mobile devices were able to have more apps installed, and finding them, and often times getting them to work perfectly was an issue.
With companies like Twilio, Plivo and Voxeo squarely in the API space, and clients Voxbone in the numbers biz, and Flowroute in the SIP based origination and termination world, creating these kinds of services in the cloud isn't hard, so expect more of these "disposable" type operations to rise up.
One can only wonder if TalkPlus and its team led by John Todd, Jeff Black, Julie Lynch and Michael Topel had been around fully in the era of apps with iOS and Android, because back then, the idea of a private number was their's first, and the market for dating clearly defined. Same with Jangl as they cut deals with match.com but the uptake was limited, and the churn rather high.
Well today, people can use GoogleVoice for their dating number, but as the term coined by Microsoft in their counter to Google as a search engine service I can see "scroogled" taking on a whole new meaning too. Bada Bing!
Verizon: Paying Politicians to Rule the Air (g1a2d0047c1) (Photo credit: watchingfrogsboil)
What started out as an April Fools' Day story in the Financial Time's Alphaville on Monday has jumped to the rest of the media world and impacted the stock markets around the world. And, honestly, I don't know if it's true. UPDATE-LOOKS LIKE I WAS RIGHT. Verizon has said it's not.
The "what" is the reported teaming up of AT&T and Verizon to take over Vodafone, give Verizon 100 percent ownership in Verizon Wireless, and AT&T Vodafone's assets the world over. Truth is stranger than fiction so anything is possible but......
Forget the fact that its an end around the breakup of the Bell System as it's international, not domestic so the ruling doesn't apply, it sure is interesting. But to get a sobriety check I asked ArentFox telecom legal begal Ross Buntrock for his thoughts:
"The rumored Verizon/AT&T/Vodafone transaction promises to do for American wireless competition what Ed Whitacre did for landline competition in the late 1990’s and 2000’s: completely eliminate any hope or possibility of it. And as the FCC has noted in prior reports, the wireless industry in the US is not robustly competitive today."
While always on the mark, Aswath Rao had this to say to me on Twitter:
"The hint lies in the confluence of three claimed "facts": AT&T and VZ have each < $5B cash on hand, & the acq price is $245B"
Do you think all the media jumping on the story have been fooled?
Over a year ago at IT Expo in Miami Panasonic debuted an Android based deskphone that combined the best of both worlds. Rock solid audio and video technology and access to the Android Play store library of apps. But, when better and more exciting options like the Mocet Communicator are out there, why take a step back, when you can take two steps forward.
You see, companies like Cisco no longer have to innovate in order to bring income to the balance sheet. They just have to copy. Cisco can do this because the one thing that Cisco has that CloudTC doesn't have is the massive sales force and customers to get the product into the channel. So while CloudTC has secured solid distribution with VoIPSupply and others to reach the small business market, it's the direct sales clout of Cisco, or their channel partners who put the devices on the desks of the enterprise.
The Cloud TC is over $500.00 and you can't take it with you. While I'm not sure what the Cisco phone sells for, I'd still opt for a Mocet Communicator and an iPad. For $229.00 the Mocet + the iPad is a better solution because after one leaves the office, the iPad goes with you. I'm anxiously awaiting an iPad Mini version of the Mocet, or one that works with the Nexus 7. Then you have the right idea. If Cisco was smart, they'd pick off Mocet, put the team in place to be their hardware innovation team, and have something that really would be game changing. Our tests with the Mocet Communicator have been nothing but pleasurable.