"Alexa Text My Friend" --Amazon Echo to now text via AT&T

In a move that I would have thought would have come from any carrier  but AT&T (T-Mobile comes first to mind) , the mobile operator and Amazon have teamed up to make it possible to send a text message to any one of ten of your contacts using the Echo voice controlled device.

My take is this was an Amazon driven idea to get more retail distribution for the hot selling Echo devices and for AT&T it was a fit to create more stickiness for their wireless customers by bringing the sexiness of the connected home closer to their mobile universe. Had AT&T tied the Echo into their big push effort surrounding Direct TV and made it possible to toggle on recording of television programs, enabled the reading out loud what TV programming scheduled, told you what movies or sporting events are scheduled or airing in real time, and went one step farther and dove into the meta data of the program line up, it might even have been possible for a customer to ask Alexa to "tell me when the Flyers hockey game is on tv" or "let me know what tonight's NCIS episode is about" or "record this weekend's Rams game." If AT&T and Amazon would have done that, I would be impressed, as it would have shown that AT&T was really thinking about integrating the services that they are counting on to bring in bigger dollars. 

Known as the AT&T Send Message skill the effort is part of AT&T's move to be more integrated into the idea of the "connected home," the market they used to dominate in their heyday of the landline.  The effort with Alexa is part of a sales partnership between AT&T and Amazon where the different Echo devices will be sold through AT&T online web site and in their many retail locations. The way it works is very easy. First users of AT&T wireless need to have an Echo. Once in hand, they download the iOS or Android Alexa app onto their smartphone or tablet, enable the Send Text Message Skill, add or manage their ten contacts  and then speak to the Echo saying "Alexa, ask AT&T to text message <contact> where contact is one of the ten names on the contact list. Alexa then will prompt the user for the message.

Send_Text_Messages_from_Amazon_Echo_with_AT_TWhile this is a great way to "send" the text message, it's only a half-baked solution. Replies are sent directly to your phone not received and shared to the Echo for Alexa to read out loud if you want it spoken to you. UPDATED-If messages could be spoken out loud, some discretion may be needed, a point made to me by super analyst Dean Bubley via a Twitter Chat.

AT&T also say users need to have a compatible plan and that other restrictions apply, but they have not listed those on their web site.

 

 


Broadsoft Scores with Verizon Or Maybe It's Just BS

News came out a few days ago from Broadsoft that Verizon is using their Broadworks platform and its bMobile solution set to power OneTalk, so this news falls into the category of a carrier/mobile operator win for Broadsoft.  Congratulations.....

But in so many ways the solution set feels a lot like what Rogers had done a few years ago in Canada (and now cancelled out) with their One Number solution that was powered by Counterpath and Ericsson, but only for consumers. As a matter of fact there's more Deja Vu in this release than in others I have read in a long time, so thanks for the memories and a familiar ring(tone).

So let's start off by calling this what it is, MUCAAS-Mobile unified communications as a service. 

First of this is a pretty pithy news release, which is so full of self serving plaudits, and missing so many facts, that one would have the mucus coming up from the lungs, as you choke over the non news in the release..let's start here:

One Talk delivers advanced business features within the native mobile dialer, BYOD applications for smartphones and tablets, and on state-of-the art desk phones that seamlessly and securely integrate with the Verizon 4G LTE mobile network.

What advanced business features? 

Within the native dialer..UMM that's a function of the iOS and Android API and SDK of the devices. All Broadsoft (BS) did was hook into it. They and pretty much every funded, publicly traded or unfunded telecom startup with an app..Call that sentence what it is BSBS. It's a non - starter.

Already today, Dialpad and Telzio to name two business focused VoIP players, are delivering one number, one service, one bill and call connection to devices the same way but over ANY carrier, and any mobile device without the need to buy more hardware for the desk (oh more about that later). And that's including SMS, voice mail and more.. and they are working with the Native Dialer........ Call it BSBS....

Seamlessly and securely?  You mean to tell me that calls that business customers make that are not going to be using the Broadsoft Broadworks solution are going to be  insecure on Verizon...OMG, talk about creating customer insecurity.... when Yahoo just did that 500 million times.

Next, the puke inspiring quotes..

“BroadSoft bMobile capabilities are impressive and have been integrated in our custom-built business solution that delivers one service, one experience, one bill and one business number – all backed by America’s largest and fastest 4G LTE network. We believe One Talk is a game changer for businesses of all sizes,” said Mike Lanman, SVP, Enterprise & IoT Products, Product and New Business Development Team, Verizon. 

The statement "all backed by America’s largest and fastest 4G LTE network." is pure self serving hype which VZW's PR team likely insisted on...yes Lowell and team, we all know that. We hear the same line in your commercials. Get over it. This release is not about who is faster or bigger..let's call it what it is..It's message pointing, not detailing what, how or why this is so important for Verizon's business customers. Oh, maybe there's no demand or interest yet....(more on this later) which is why you have to fall back on the tag line..

What are the capabilities? What do they do? Where are those FACTS in the release???..MISSING. PURE BS from BS.

Heck, AT&T had one number service under EasyReach in the 80's and CallVantage VoIP service was doing the one number, one bill and with find me, follow me, allowed users to point their calls to mobile devices stuff ten years ago. So now it can be done in network finally...WTF, FMC (fixed mobile convergence has been a dream of many for over a decade but it was operators like Verizon who stood in the way for years......Oh and let's not forget Google Fi that is also one number, using a GoogleVoice like find me/follow me to...YAWN.....more BS from BS..

Maybe the game changer is really that Verizon themselves have woken up...and Broadsoft, this is not new. Counterpath whom I have advised in the past had this capability up and running for years....Oh wasn't Counterpath a Broadsoft partner? Doesn't Counterpath hold FMC patents that some of this stuff is based upon? Perhaps? Maybe? 

Next is how this is going to be sold in...how?? By who?

“Businesses need a productive mobile experience to succeed in today’s competitive climate, where every call is a missed opportunity,” said Sandra Krief, vice president of sales, BroadSoft. “Verizon’s innovative routes to market, with the ability to serve customers from their business sales teams, their retail stores, and their large partner community, provides a best-in-class sales and support experience for business customers.” --

EXCUSE ME...Innovative routes to market? Verizon's has regional sales teams who Sandra is referring to and they have been disincentivized to sell in new services recently and instead given meeting quotas. In years past they earned commissions and bonuses for bringing new products to market. So with OneTalk the sales team is again being incentivized to get the offering in front of customers, and for the most part they are targeting small business customers and clustered business customers with a few lines in each location. You call that "innovative routes to market"? It's typical carrier sales...MORE BS from BS.

The idea of the VZW sales team helping to get their customers up and running on something new will also take too much time and since making sure meetings are held with customer are how the sales people are ranked and rated and given how long of a sale this will be, do the math on what this means to either company's bottom line. The "innovative route" are now "salary men" and their bonus is they get to keep their jobs. I don't see the sales force jumping on the BS bandwagon but sources do tell me there has been training on OneTalk and Broadsoft recently, but part of this means the mobile sales force to also has sell in desk phones? They have been selling against that for years....How do they now tell that customer they need what last year they told them they don't need...UMMMM...

As for the partners Sandra refers to, unless VZW is going to give away the expensive deskphones, not charge any integration fees, and not charge for training, I don't see the partners jumping on board. As a matter of fact, this feels a lot like the Panasonic Broadsoft announcement from a few years ago. Ironically Panasonic recently told me, Broadsoft isn't part of a recently announced new VoIP based service offering.

Buyers buy on benefits, sellers sell on features.

The release neither outlines the features or the benefits. Maybe there are none to speak of..A missed call isn't a benefit. It's a loss. The benefit is now employees can be more easily reached. That's the benefit. But it's not a new one.

Why this Release?

In essence the announcement also appears to be written more to create pull through. In reality, it's more likely that in exchange for the permission to put out a press release VZW negotiated a better deal...and then VZW PR sanitized the news release down to where it was nothing but an empty piece...

One more quote to choke on..TWICE

Scott Hoffpauir, chief technology officer, BroadSoft, adds: “BroadWorks is a top IP-Multimedia System (IMS) Business Application Server differentiating itself by combining a full range of business services with direct mobile access. We are thrilled BroadWorks’ bMobile software capabilities are integrated in the nation’s first Business 4G VoLTE offering by Verizon – helping to deliver communications mobilization to Verizon customers.”  

"helping to deliver communications mobilization to Verizon customers"--what the....??? VZW customer weren't already mobile? Talk about another misaligned quote.

MORE SELF SERVING BS from BS...Business phone service buying customers don't know or care about IMS or an App Server. They want to know how are you going to save them money, give them better service and allow them to integrate into their company wide phone system.  Case in point, you need to go to the Verizon OneTalk web site and there you find...

"*One Talk-capable desk phone capable desk phone must be purchased from Verizon to support this feature."

So if the desk phone is to be used, it's not about using what is already in place, it's about buying another new phone, for more money, when in reality the hipster in the photo would never be caught dead using that phone when his or her life is all based upon the smartphone, tablet and PC...

Seriously....someone at Verizon really approved this release. No wonder T-Mobile is winning more customers. Legere gets it...and so does his marketing team.

Also missing from the news release was the customer quote from a company that was actually using this new Broadworks powered service..I guess none of the VZW customers have tried this yet...or wanted to comment..thus expect one of those next (likely with more silly quotes.)

And if this release was meant to attract other mobile operators, missing from it is the benefits for them too.

Oh, and what about the price? It was omitted...

Some digging reveals that the service costs an addition $25/month per user over the mobile plan, and that the customer needs to be on a business phone plan from Verizon. I wonder how that will spur adoption. It also seems that there's only some Verizon mobile plans can have OneTalk added:

One Talk can be added to lines on the following plans:

The MORE Everything® Plan For Small Business (up to 10 lines)

Small Business Plans (up to 25, 50 or 100 lines)

The Verizon Plan (up to 10 lines)

The new Verizon Plan (up to 10 lines)

The Verizon Plan for Business (up to 25 lines)

The new Verizon Plan for Business (up to 25 lines)

Flexible Business Plans

Nationwide for Business Plans (supported later in 2016)-THIS MEANS NO ENTERPRISE SALES FOR NOW.

 As someone who remembers and participated in th the Polycom-Broadsoft-Telesphere news from a few years ago, I've seen this script with Broadsoft before, and as the Led Zeppelin album is named, "The Song Remains the Same."

 


When The Giants Are Scared There's Opportunity

Over time in the USA, opportunity has created lots of wealth. Railroads. Oil companies. Transportation systems. But when it comes to broadband, the oligopolies in the country have always seemed to want to hold others back. 

In the dawn of the Internet, DSL came to fruition a few years ahead of cable modems. But DSL providers where tied to the legacy carriers who had to allow them to connect to the Internet. Those connections could take weeks or months for customers who were forced to pay for higher priced ISDN and T-1s. Over time most of the DSL providers evaporated or were rolled up to where they are now almost invisible. The telcos for the most part have stopped rolling out DSL, and instead, with only four real players in the USA left standing (AT&T, Verizon, Century Link and Frontier) pretty much trying to do with DSL what they did with land lines. Milk them for all they're worth before finally going all in on fiber (FiOS being the best example).

Enter muni-broadband. Perhaps it should have been known as muni-broadbad as the first attempts last decade were largely fraught with less "doing things the right way" and more of  "doing things the wrong way." That's what happens when big telco can sway thinking, influence the process and cause things to be done wrong through FUD. The approach is let others leave carnage and they'll come in and do it right. But something happened along the way. Cable broadband. As soon as @HOME came into being, the telcos and DSL providers had a real threat they couldn't reign in. The threat was not from some small group of upstarts, it was from some of their biggest customers on the data transmission side and from some of the richest media companies in the country. Cable broadband trumped DSL from day one. And today, it still does with speeds of up to 350 megs being offered and soon one gig. Along the way, Muni-Broadband got lost but it never died.

Today's New York Times writes about muni-broadband and it's as important as ever. The jockeying we're seeing in the courts isn't about what's good for America. It's about what's good for the telcos, and to some extent, the cable operators. While the latter is more in a back seat to the telcos, the reality is that Muni-broadband done right, is good for everyone, as it fosters competition. 

Our country was built by competition of newer technology replacing the old. The train replaced the stagecoach. The plane replaced the train. We were also built with local governments starting quasi-governmental authorities to deliver power, oil, water, gas which in time became private enterprise or public-private partnerships. Rural telcos need to work with government, support municipal efforts, and be cooperative so they can move their communities they serve forward, as without a cooperative approach, rural America will be stuck in the last century, not help drive us to the next. To me, broadband, unfettered and at the best speeds possible isn't a right, it's a necessity, and no court, law or organization should stop another group from moving it forward so those who made pioneering moves in the past could continue to hold the reigns.


Uber Picks UberConference and Dialpad to Modernize Business Communications

Ride sharing service Uber is following Lyft for a change. While Lyft has been using Los Angeles based Telzio as their communications provider, Uber has turned to Dialpad in addition to using UberConference, The choosing of cloud based communications solutions providers is making it far easier for both companies to communicate better internally and get things going faster, as the game changing ride services both expand into new cities and countries around the world.

Dialpad founder Craig Walker told VoipWatch exclusively yesterday, "we started working with Uber as they were heavy users of UberConference for a while before we even launched Dialpad. Both products fit their culture of innovation and disruption, so Dialpad was a natural fit once they started looking for a modern business communications service."

The move to adopt what Walker has labeled "modern business communications" falls well in line with a long belief that disruptive startups, especially those from Silicon Valley, want more and want different in what their telco can provide them and are bypassing the long established companies like AT&T and Verizon.  Instead the newly minted, high growth companies are choosing to embrace the more nimble, service providers that have come on stream post the birth of the cloud era.

These newer companies are the earlier adopters of where businesses are going, and they want services that are easy to deploy and cloud based, just like the way their own businesses are based, using similar service from the likes of Amazon Web Services. So while they still need and require the core features that the traditional telcos provide, these new companies also need modern era features that were birthed by companies like Skype and GrandCentral (Walker sold that to Google and led the transition to GoogleVoice. Google are  now investors in Dialpad) with the online management that Vonage and 8x8 pioneered in telecom.

These new, modern services and the companies delivering them are largely being fueled by API's both public and private. The API's are spawning a new economy, new ways of doing business, and entire ecosystems. That's something that will be well talked about and explored at All About The API, the upcoming conference being held in Las Vegas in July.  An example of how API's work is best seen in the Dialpad app today on the iPhone and iPad. By connecting to an SMS interconnection provider like recent Vonage acquisition Nexmo, Twilio or Syniverse, modern UC companies able to enable SMS to the desktop and from within their apps, much like iMessage or Google Hangouts. The API's allow for the interconnection and interfacing to between customers and the carriers in the middle making them the modern day middleware. 

And, Apple, long resistant to opening up the iOS dialer to Unified Communications providers gave them a big shot in the arm on Monday. At the World Wide Developer Conference Apple announced the opening up of the dialer on the iPhone. This is a significant move as it will allow unified communications providers like Dialpad, Telzio, 8x8 and others to no longer need to use plain vanilla softphones that have been the only way users could interface with UC providers.  Once released the UC players will be able to make use the iPhone's native dialer as the front end for dialing, while allowing their own apps to be where the more customized features are placed.

"Since launching GrandCentral and Google Voice nearly 10 year, we always were frustrated by the inability to make our services work smoothly with the iPhone. The announcement today opens the market up to the type of competition Judge Green envisioned back then. Now businesses again can choose. Of course, I hope they choose Dialpad," said Walker.

The opening up of the iOS dialer by Apple parallels that 1984 decision in opening up the Bell System to alternative long distance carriers. Previously, the only long distance carrier that a caller could use was the one that was aligned with the local Bell operating company, and that was usually AT&T. With the Telecommunications Act of 1984 consumers and businesses were free to choose any long distance carrier. In essence, with Apple opening up the dialer, they are doing the same thing, turning the mobile operator into a pipe. With LTE and LTE-A coming online, those in the more built out mobile high speed data areas will be able to avoid using their mobile operator for voice, and text, and move everything over to the data side where a more feature rich experience will be had.

"This is the missing link that we have been waiting for on iOS ever since the first iPhone came out. Android has had this for years, and Apple did add VoIP specific features a while back such as  battery saving via the background notification feature, but we have been missing the ability to have a VoIP services coexist on an iPhone," said Peter Rank Schrøder, CEO of Telzio. "This will make life much easier for anyone using a secondary number such as a business number, on an iPhone."

Apple's move further makes the mobile operator, the modern day "dumb pipe" something smart entrepreneurs like Walker have been exploiting for years dating back to his days at the original Dialpad, and which new kids on the block like Schrøder are also breaking new ground.

 

 

 


The Comunicano Communique for Friday April 8th 2016

 
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The Comunicano Communique

 
 

Good Morning. It's Friday and it's been a busy week. Our big client news was YipTV joining T-Mobile's BingeOn. For the New Jersey based company this is a major milestone and likely a harbinger of things to come......The news cycle this week has also been fast and furious as next week tax day looms on April 15th, so it "usually" slows down. We'll see.

What company is hot? Facebook. Why? Start with pal Stephan Rust's blog post from last Thursday and then read the following few stories about the social network giant and I think you'll agree that we all can begin to drop "social" from the description of Facebook. They are really cresting into an all everything company.

Then there's the "let's buy Yahoo" news. I bet shareholders are wishing they took Steve Ballmer's offer a few years ago now.....What is it about Pigs and Hogs? Of courseencrypted communications remains in the news. What'sApp did it this week (read what the EFF has to say). Signal is available to more now via the desktop (as announced on their blog). The Amazon Echo remains the hottest product on the market ,and as I have all three, I can say that first hand, having been a user and raving fan since the Beta over a year ago. Talk about a daily experience changer, the Echo is just that, all of which rolls nicely into the talk about Bots...yes Bots. Not Bats..

There's all that and more in today's Comunicano Communique, so grab your coffee mug, tea or chai and get on with the news.

By the way, don't miss the API event of the summer in Las Vegas. "All About The API"......

 
 
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Facebook leading the way in Mobile disruption

After digesting some of the insights from Barcelona during Mobile World Congress, it's becoming more and more apparent that Facebook, not Apple or Google, nor Ericsson or Cisco, and especially not Vodafone or China Mobile, is leading change in mobile.
 
 

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Facebook Messenger now lets you start a chat by scanning profile codes

Becoming friends with someone on Facebook Messenger just became a lot easier. In a new update that started to roll out Thursday, Facebook's chat app now has Messenger Codes - circular patterns around a user's profile photo, which can be scanned to start a chat with that person.
 
 

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Facebook Messenger may soon have more bots

Facebook Messenger will soon have more bots. According to a leaked slide deck, the company will announce a bot platform for its chat service at next week's F8 conference. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is seeding APIs to developers that allow them to build bots for Messenger and Web plugins for Live Chat.
 
 

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When do bots beat apps? When context and convenience matter most

 
  There's a question I've been asking founders when they pitch me their bots: "Why is this a bot and not an app or a website?" I've been fascinated by the explosion of developer interest and startup activity around chatbots and am pretty bullish on their potential as both a user and an investor, but it's important to take a step back and think about why we're all so focused on conversational interfaces.  
 

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Video game Olympics announced for Rio

A new eGames international gaming tournament will make its debut in Rio during this summer's Olympic Games. The event, launched as part of this week's London Games Festival, offers medals and national pride rather than cash prizes for the winners. The competition, backed by the UK government, will be run by the new International eGames Committee (IEGC).

 
 

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Verizon to Proceed With Yahoo Bid, Google Weighs Offer

Verizon Communications Inc. plans to make a first-round bid for Yahoo Inc.'s Web business next week, and is willing to acquire the company's Yahoo Japan Corp. stake to help sweeten the offer, according to people familiar with the matter. Google, the main division of Alphabet Inc., is also considering bidding for Yahoo's core business, a separate person said.
 
 

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Is That Email Really From Your CEO?

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) this week warned about a "dramatic" increase in so-called "CEO fraud," e-mail scams in which the attacker spoofs a message from the boss and tricks someone at the organization into wiring funds to the fraudsters.

 
 

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Taking Alexa for a ride

Alexa, the ever-present voice control assistant living inside Amazon's Echo, Echo Dot and Tap products, has been a useful addition to the CNET Smart Home -- our spot in the Kentucky countryside for testing out all sorts of connected gadgets and gizmos (the Echo, Echo Dot and Tap included).
 
 

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Amazon expands free same-day delivery to 11 mid-sized cities, increases coverage in existing metro markets - GeekWire

Amazon continues to increase the value of its Prime membership, this time expanding its network of free same-day delivery options for members. The retail giant announced today that same-day delivery options are available to Prime members in 11 new cities, bringing the service's footprint up to nearly 30 metro areas across the U.S.
 
 

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Reddit launches official iOS and Android apps

Remember when, in October 2014, Reddit bought the unofficial Reddit mobile app Alien Blue? Even though the app was quickly relaunched, that was the first step towards Reddit launching its own official apps. That moment has finally arrived. On Thursday, the official Reddit apps landed on Android and iOS (iPhone only).
 
 

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Now's your chance to try Signal's desktop Chrome app

The desktop version of Edward Snowden's favored end-to-end messaging system, Signal, is now available to anyone who wants to check it out. Open Whisper Systems announced the desktop version back in December, but until today it was invite-only.
 
 

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Tesla Proclaims Early Model 3 Demand A Victory For EVs

A week after the Model 3 unveiling, and Tesla is in the endzone doing a touchdown dance. A blog entry on the official Tesla blog boldly states that this past week was "The Week that Electric Vehicles Went Mainstream." Elon also couldn't contain himself and let the good news from the summary of reservations for the week overflow onto Twitter.
 
 

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Most Airbnb hosts flout SF laws, city report says

More than a quarter of San Francisco homes listed as vacation getaways on Airbnb violate the city's 90-day annual limit on such rentals, while the vast majority of Airbnb hosts have yet to register their properties, flouting a law enacted last year, according to a report released late Thursday by the San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst's Office.
 
 

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YipTV Joins 'Binge On' Mix

YipTV said it has joined Binge On, T-Mobile's controversial optional service that delivers mobile video in 480p resolution and zero-rates the streams of its growing list of OTT partners. YipTV is a no-contract OTT-TV offering launched last May that's focused on Spanish-language video and features plans from more than 100 international and domestic live TV channels.

 
 

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YipTV, Dailymotion, others bulk up T-Mobile's Binge On streaming ...

International-focused streaming service YipTV and OTT provider Dailymotion are among a block of over-the-top providers and TV networks that have signed on to T-Mobile's ( NYSE:TMUS) streaming service, Binge On, setting a challenge to its primary mobile-first video streaming challenger, Verizon's ( NYSE: VZ) Go90 service.
 
 

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StubHub Will Use Virtual Reality to Let You Preview Your Seat

Like many companies, eBay is convinced virtual reality is the next big thing. But also like a lot of companies, eBay is trying to figure out just what that means for its business. On Thursday, the company is announcing its first small foray into the VR arena, as subsidiary StubHub offers Final Four ticket buyers the option to get an immersive, 3-D view of available seats.
 
 

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Regis McKenna's 1976 Notebook And The Invention Of Apple Computer, Inc.

At first blush, it appears to be an utterly unexceptional spiral-bound notebook. Manufactured in the U.S. by the National Blank Book Company of Holyoke, Massachusetts, it's got a light green cover and 80 sheets of narrow-ruled 8-by-10-inch paper. The first sign that its contents might matter is a request haphazardly rubber-stamped on the front: "RETURN TO REGIS McKENNA HIMSELF."
 
 

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The Hidden Economics of Porn

A gender-studies professor explains how the industry works.
 
 

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Andy's App of the Week - SENDERS

Back in the day, Rapportive was a great go to app to discover more about the person you were engaged in an email conversation. Then it was acquired by LinkedIn and its usefulness waned. Fortunately a new service has come out and it's awesome. I'm referring to Senders, which I talked about on Thursday's BusinessRockstars. Senders does for social and contact information what USA Today's bite size round-up stories did to the news. Makes it easy to know all you need to about someone in one place with their LinkedIn, Twitter, About, Angels List data and a quick search on Google all baked in.

Senders is still in beta, so expect a bug here or there, but after a day of using it, I can't live without it.

 


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The Comunicano Communique for Thursday March 31st 2016

 
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Good Morning. It's Thursday and as I wrote earlier in the week, the NEWS is happening. Today there is more than double the usual number of news stories you'll receive, with 18, and also far less feature content.....so grab the coffee and get ready to read.

In technology we'll go well beyond the FBI iPhone Hack and all the news surrounding that, much of which is more speculation than fact.

The tech news is from the usual and some unusual suspects. Microsoft with their Build 2016 Conference is dominating the tech press with stories surrounding their Hololens, API's, Bots, Cortana, their new Edge browser and how it deals with Ad blocking, Skype and more. To parry Microsoft's news a bit, Google is coming out with news about their efforts in Virtual Reality, with an update on their cardboard viewer with 360 degree viewing. Then there's news on Tesla's new car debut and how the tax credits for buying one may not last...

Of course Apple has well timed news around their Major League Baseball sponsorship all based upon the iPad going in the dugout and getting mentioned on air.  There's more news about their "New" iPhone, the SE with a strong review leading the way for that and the better way to charge iPad Pro 12 inchers...

Oh, and Uber announces how they are improving customer service by moving it into the app which makes things easier and also lets the world know how they have expanded what they are doing with Hilton. In the world of "what's old is new again", we have AOL's Tim Armstrong, who is now working for Verizon, with access to their war chest, going on record on wanting to buy Yahoo which some may remember used to power the telcos DSL, now he wants to power their ad network with their platform. 

There's all that and more in today's Comunicano Communique.

By the way, don't miss the API event of the summer in Las Vegas. "All About The API"......

 
 
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BUILD 2016: Microsoft talks Cortana, Skype, bots, and intelligence APIs

On March 30th, during the BUILD 2016 keynote presentation, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talked about "Conversations as a platform." That means conversations between two or more people, between people and digital assistants, and between people and bots, which are intelligent applications that humans can converse with.
 
 

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Microsoft launches HoloLens emulator so developers can test holographic apps, no headset required

As promised, Microsoft today started shipping its $3,000 HoloLens development kits. In addition to sharing that bots are coming to the new platform, the company also released a HoloLens emulator, which lets developers test holographic apps on their PC without the need for a physical HoloLens.
 
 

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HoloLens, A Year Later: A New Demo At Build 2016

A year ago at Build 2015, we got our first demo of Microsoft's HoloLens. At this year's event, we got a second crack at seeing the augmented reality device in action, and it was a completely different experience. Or, we should say, Microsoft took a completely different approach.
 
 

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Microsoft plans to build ad blocker into its Microsoft Edge browser | ZDNet

One of Microsoft's biggest gambles in Windows 10 is its decision to turn Internet Explorer into a legacy product, primarily for enterprise customers. Its replacement, Microsoft Edge, has been developing slowly since its version 1.0 release with the first release of Windows 10.
 
 

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Skype is getting Cortana and crazy bot messaging

You'll soon be able to use Skype to books trips, shop, and plan your schedule, just by chatting with Cortana. During its Build conference, Microsoft demoed how Skype users will soon be able to start a chat with Cortana and get things done just by having a conversation.
 
 

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Google makes it really easy to embed 360-degree VR experiences

You've tried out Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, you've seen those nifty virtual reality experiences, and now you want to create your own and put it on your website. Well, Google just made that a pretty simple task.
 
 

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Google tackles simple 360 content embeds with VR View, introduces Cardboard SDK for iOS

Virtual reality is great for gaming and movies, but when it comes to real-world use cases there's still quite a bit of room for VR to prove itself. Google is hoping to kickstart this process by making 360 VR content a bit more simple to implement and, in the process, way more spontaneous for users to discover and view.
 
 

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AT&T moving away from Social Security numbers for customer security, will use pass codes instead

AT&T ( NYSE:T) is asking its customers to use pass codes rather than Social Security numbers when dealing with the carrier in an apparent effort to better protect users' sensitive information. "Previously, we required the last four digits of your Social Security Number as part of the process to access your account when calling Customer Service or visiting some Retailers," the carrier recently wrote in an e-mail to subscribers.

 
 

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Meet The iPhone Dream Team Hackers: FBI, Japanese Pinball Machine Maker, Israeli Cyber Firm

FBI Director James Comey leads a dream team which pulled off the iPhone hack.
 
 

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Apple strikes deal with MLB to provide every team with iPad Pros

Apple and Major League Baseball have signed a multi-year deal that will see every team receive iPad Pro tablets for use in the dugout, reports The Wall Street Journal .
 
 

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iPhone SE review: It's a pocket-size powerhouse

The SE is the little iPhone that could. With a 4-inch screen and the body of an iPhone 5s, it fits in my pockets better than my iPhone 6s, and it's easier to use one-handed. But it doesn't compromise much over its bigger, more expensive siblings.
 
 

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Testing Apple's 29W USB-C Power Adapter and iPad Pro Fast Charging

When Apple refreshed its online store with a new USB-C to Lightning cable with support for fast charging through a 29W power adapter on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro last week, the addition immediately caught my interest. You can also use the cable with an Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter to take advantage of the fast [...]
 
 

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With Model 3, it's make or break for Tesla

On Thursday night, at an invitation-only, Hollywood-style premiere on his SpaceX campus in Hawthorne, Elon Musk and his Tesla team will unveil their latest creation: the Model 3, Musk's long-awaited electric car for the masses. Few details have been revealed so far, but the car is essentially a...
 
 

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Report: AOL's Tim Armstrong wants Verizon to acquire Yahoo to build an ad powerhouse

AOL, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong has grand plans to turn parent company Verizon, Inc. into an ad powerhouse, and acquiring Yahoo, Inc. may be a part of that plan, according to a new report Wednesday.
 
 

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Drone Startup Airware Raises $30 Million, Adds Former Cisco CEO To Board

A drone powered by Airware technology inspects the roof of a home. (Photo courtesy of Airware) Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration projected in a report that 7 million drones will be sold annually in the U.S. within four years. Some 4.3 million, the FAA forecasted, will be bought and operated [...]
 
 

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Checking Your Uber Rating Or Getting Your Purse Back Just Got Much Easier

After years of forcing customers to use email to complain about anything, Uber is now committing to more updated technology. On Wednesday, the ride-hailing giant announced it plans to roll out globally its in-app customer service support features, which it has been quietly implementing in the U.S. since late 2015.
 
 

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Hilton Deepens Its Uber Relationship in New Loyalty Push

Hilton may not have been the first hospitality company to partner with Uber - that distinct honor goes to Starwood - but it is the first hotel company that's allowing its loyalty members to view their hotel stay information and be able to check-in from the Uber app, all while they travel to their hotel in the very Uber they were reminded to book from their Hilton HHonors app.
 
 

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Why Do the Feds Usually Try to Unlock Phones? It's Drugs, Not Terrorism

Until the FBI backed down from its battle with Apple over accessing the iPhone 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, it seemed the agency had chosen a near-perfect case on which to make its stand against encryption.
 
 

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The Comunicano Communique for Monday March 28th 2016

 
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Good Morning. It's a Monday and the stories today are going to help you do better business.  Take the changes going on in Social Media. Instagram. Snapchat. Facebook. News about each of them leads things off. Then there's growth. Netflix and Spotify both are changing the ways we consume entertainment. All that and more in today's Comunicano Communique.

By the way, don't miss the API event of the summer in Las Vegas. "All About The API"......

 
 
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Snapchat users now spend 25 to 30 minutes every day on the app, and it's trying to attract the TV money because of it

Snapchat's photos and videos are famous for disappearing after a few seconds, but its users are spending as much as a half-hour every day playing with its app. The company is touting the time users spend on the app in its efforts to lure big brand advertising dollars away from television.
 
 

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Instagram is changing - here's how to make sure your posts still get seen

Rumour has it that Instagram 's new algorithm will be dropping tomorrow, resulting in a big change to the way posts are displayed. Rather than presenting users with a chronological list of posts, the algorithm will sort posts based on "the likelihood you'll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post".
 
 

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Facebook's Safety Check malfunctions after Pakistan bombing

Facebook activated its Safety Check tool to help people stay in touch after a deadly terrorist attack Sunday in Pakistan, but the feature strayed far afield from the carnage. Safety Check automatically sends Facebook users in an affected area a note asking if they're safe.
 
 

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Spotify hits 30 million subscribers

Spotify has 30 million paid subscribers, CEO Daniel Ek announced today in a tweet. This is the first subscriber update Spotify has given out since it announced it had 20 million subscribers days before Apple Music hit the market last June, and shows the increased competition has had little to no effect on Spotify's growth.
 
 

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Netflix's Grand, Daring, Maybe Crazy Plan to Conquer the World

Late into the night on St. Patrick's Day, Netflix hosted a makeshift "war room" at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters. Engineers and product wranglers sat loosely around a long, U-shaped formation of desks, monitoring diagnostics and Hipchat conversations. Linguists and translators patrolled a ring of television sets to check subtitles and dubs in a dozen languages.
 
 

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Google To Open A Dozen New Data Centers To Take On AWS

Google is planning to open 12 new data centers over the next 12-18 months. This has come just weeks after Google nabbed Spotify and Apple as its cloud customers. The huge cloud push by Google could see Google Cloud become its biggest growth engine a few years down the line.

 
 

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Forget the Small iPhone. Is Apple Going Charger-Free?

Apple might be ready to ditch some of its charger cords by 2017 with a plan to charge next-generation smartphones through the air. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a track record of solid Apple hardware predictions, told 9to5Mac over the weekend that he thinks next year's iPhones will charge wirelessly.
 
 

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Enterprise IoT rollouts still need outside assistance, but new software can help

The industrial Internet of Things doesn't just show up in a box at the door ready to use. It takes integration to deploy IoT systems and get the maximum benefit. That's because IoT isn't one thing, but many linked together in pursuit of a business objective.
 
 

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Japan's NTT to Buy Dell Systems for $3.055 Billion

 
  NTT Data Corp., a unit of Japan's former telephone monopoly, agreed to buy technology services businesses from Dell for $3.055 billion. The acquisition was announced by the unit of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange Monday. The company didn't give a date for when it will acquire the Dell units.  
 

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The Inside Story of How Oculus Cracked the Impossible Design of VR

Palmer Luckey has never used an Oculus Rift. That's what the founder of Oculus keeps telling himself as he unboxes the commercial version of the virtual reality system he invented. Opens the package. Takes out the few elements-the headset, the single cable that connects it to a computer, the small cylindrical infrared camera that tracks it in space.
 
 

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Searching For Google CEO Sundar Pichai, The Most Powerful Tech Giant You've Never Heard Of

The Consumer Electronics Show, universally known as CES, is a riot of technology. Held annually in the bleak Nevada desert town of Las Vegas, it is a great blinking din, jammed with screens, speakers, automobiles, whirling drones, blooping robots, e-cigs and e-cigs and ever more e-cigs, plus some 170,000 people bumping around inside a disease-ridden convention center.
 
 

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Why the Most Talented People Copy - ReadThink (by HubSpot)

We have an insatiable thirst for the new. In business, we want new products, new campaigns, and new ways of reaching consumers. The shiny object syndrome isn't just about being easily distracted. It's also the result of thinking that what is new - and seemingly unique - is better.
 
 

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The Return Of Voice-And That Means I'm Watching

I have to admit, the voice space has been, well, rather boring the last few years. And, with it, VoIPWatch has become less and less a VoIP focused blog and more and more a news blog featuring stories that I find interesting, and which I've started to share here and within the Comunicano Communique (which you can subscribe to HERE). 

Thankfully, over the past few weeks, a few Voice related services and apps have renewed my enthusiasm for voice as it is clearly alive (as it has always been) and inventiveness is far from dead.

Let's look at a few of the more interesting activities in Voice that I'm now closely VoipWatching:

Dialpad - The company formerly known as SWITCH.co Perhaps this should be named Dialpad 2.0 as veterans in the voice world will recall the original company, then the acquisition by Yahoo, the creation of Yahoo Voice with it, and then its demise.

The New Dialpad is reminiscent of the line in the The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" ---"Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss" -- as it's almost the same team as the old Dialpad as Craig Walker and Vincent Paquet were two thirds of the Dialpad team that sold it to Yahoo, with YIPTV founder Mike Tribolet (original President of Vonage) being the other executive.

With an updated logo (see the d and p) and new apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, a kick butt plug in for Chrome, and most of all, VoIP calling over Wi-Fi and mobile broadband, Dialpad may very well be the first real carrier scale provider of mobile PBX services. With extension dialing coming soon, an app for the iPad around the corner, enhancements to all types of enterprise services, the new Dialpad is a major upfit to Switch.

Telzio - It's always fun to be part of growing an innovative start-up. Telzio is one of those.  About a year ago I became an advisor to the L.A. based VoIP company aimed at bringing really big ideas to small company communications. Now that I'm living here my friendship with founder Peter Rank Schroder has only boosted that engagement. A few weeks ago Telzio rolled out integration with the Amazon Echo, an idea I first proposed after really getting a lot out of the "must have" device while traveling across Europe last summer. First up was the integration with CounterPath's Bria. Next on the innovation front is an native iOS app that's in beta now, as is their Zapier integration (you need to be a customer and invited into the beta) so I have Telzio working with Slack very nicely now. What's so cool about Telzio is the simplicity, speed and elegance of all their integrations, which rivals their insanely low price offer, of $1.00 a month for phone service.

Wire- Started by pal Alan Duric and many of the Skype ex-pats led by Jonathan Christensen, Wire has been steadily evolving over the past year or so into a Skype replacement for many of the Voice Comms Mafia members who are also regulars on the VUC. Now with encrypted communications, upgraded video capabilities, Wire is picking up where Skype left off after its acquisition by Microsoft. The big benefits are the services elegantly clean UI, a fast set up and a HTML5 version that works within the browser (Chrome for sure) and the end to end encrypted comms.

Slack - One of the most used productivity apps around, Slack is now testing in beta Voice calls. What's neat? Well for starters, they have it working in both within the browser and inside their native apps. More importantly is the integration going on with Slack by others.  

Yodel -A team from Austria, with an aptly named app, have begun to use WebRTC, dial up numbers for inbound and outbound calling. Now in beta.

Ottspott - brought to us by the Apidaze team out of Paris, they know WebRTC rather well and as a result have come up with a more elegant and complete solution than Yodel for now where calls are placed and received using Slack. 

In both cases, Ottspott and Yodel are showing what's possible with WebRTC, apps and services that start outside the browser in an app.

With these new developments, I'm happy to say my VOIPwatching is back..

 


The Comunicano Communique for Thursday March 10th 2016

 
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"If you want to walk the walk, you have to talk the talk." Getting quoted is about just that. Today, once again, I was quoted by a leading media outlet. Network World. This time by their News Editor, Bob Brown on the subject of Wi-Fi hotspot blocking. Having been the victim of this in the past, it was rewarding to see how well Brown captured the story as told by facts, everyday people and experts. It's a nice read, and perhaps one of the most accurately written stories on the subject.

Beyond that story, lots of hard news is in the newsletter. I'm elated to see client YIPTV now thought of in the same stories as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. Actually, YIPTV is farther ahead than those guys in the world of OTT television, or as we call it Mobile Cable. The other news items, well, no more hints. Just READ ON..

By the way, don't miss the API event of the summer in Las Vegas. "All About The API"......

 
 
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Wi-Fi hotspot blocking persists despite FCC crackdown

The FCC has slapped hotels and other organizations with nearly $2.1 million in fines since the fall of 2014 for blocking patrons' portable Wi-Fi hotspots in the name of IT security, or more likely, to gouge customers for Internet service.
 
 

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Studios, Exhibitors Consider Revolutionary Plan for Day-and-Date Movies at Home (EXCLUSIVE)

Five years ago, major studios attempts to offer first-run movies in the home months early set off a fierce standoff with theater owners. Now, a startup backed by Sean Parker of Facebook and Napster fame is trying to encourage Hollywood studios and exhibitors to wade back into those controversial...
 
 

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Sonos announces layoffs, refocuses on streaming and voice tech

Macfarlane says it's an inevitable change - and that's why the company is now focusing on these users over customers that are playing from non-streamed files and physical music collections. How? He's not saying, but it'll apparently involve "building incredibly rich experiences that were all but unimaginable when we started the company."
 
 

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YIPTV, Sling TV, DirecTV Now: 10 services leading pay-TV's IP-delivery revolution

Within the last 12 months, no less than five virtual MVPD services from major operators have debuted, some in the testing phase and some as full-fledged, fully available consumer products. These services threaten to revolutionize the pay-TV industry, replacing expensive CPE, truck rolls and credit checks with simple, app-based delivery of video.

 
 

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Join Friends in VR with New Oculus Social Features

Now you can experience games, videos, and more with friends in VR! Starting tomorrow, people with a Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus, can create a profile and then easily search for others on the platform by real name or Oculus username.
 
 

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Nest can now use your phone to tell when you've left the house

Nest's products are about to get better at telling when you're out of the house and when you're about to come back home. An update to Nest's iOS and Android app today will allow it to start monitoring your phone's location.
 
 

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Mobile messaging giant Line now supports group voice calls for up to 200 people

Mobile messaging giant Line has announced that it now caters for conference calls with the latest update to its mobile and desktop app. Available on Android, iOS, and Windows desktop (Mac will be added soon), the new group-call feature supports up to 200 people, and is aimed at anyone from families and friends to businesses.
 
 

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Facebook will soon let you disable seeing all notifications for live videos - Digiday

Facebook will soon let you disable seeing all notifications for live videos Relief is on the way. If you've noticed an influx of Facebook notifications from brands or publishers every time they kick off a live video stream, you're not alone.
 
 

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Cisco Spark Is Here

Yes, Cisco Spark has arrived! That cool mobile business messaging app we launched a year ago has grown up. It's now a full-blown business communications service from the Cisco cloud. We are really excited about bringing this to market and are encouraged by some of the early reactions, including an analyst who said "I have seen the future."
 
 

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Skype is killing its smart TV app

Skype, the Microsoft-owned video calling service, has quietly announced that it will no longer offer an app for smart TVs from June. Confirmation of the shutdown comes via a support page - first spotted by the BBC - which explains that smartphones and tablets have proven to be a more popular platform for Skype users.
 
 

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How to sign up for the Android Beta Program

Google on Wednesday released the developer preview of Android N. The company also went against its normal tradition of releasing only the system image files and forcing developers to install the update using command line code and developer tools, Google also announced the Android Beta Program.
 
 

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The Comunicano Communique for Monday March 7th 2016

 
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Over the weekend my Switch app Switched to Dialpad. Long time voice over IP mavens will recall the company that was one of of the pioneers in VOIP competing with DeltaThree, MediaRing and Net2Phone for Voice traffic as an alternative to the PSTN. This weekend, pal Craig Walker and the team at Switch changed their name to Dialpad after purchasing the name from Yahoo, the company which bought Dialpad back in 2005. My blog post is the first story today. Read that and more...

By the way, don't miss the API event of the summer in Las Vegas. "All About The API"......

 
 
 

Switch Makes the Switch to Dialpad, Kicks off Massive Mobile Enterprise Push

 
  Craig Walker may quickly be finding his face on someone's "Most Wanted List." Given his most recent move at his GV (Google Ventures) and A16Z backed startup, he'll possibly be thought of as the this Internet era's Willie Sutton, Clyde Barrow or John Dillinger after what he just pulled off this weekend.  
 

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Android Co-Founder Rich Miner Joins Board at Dialpad, The Former Switch.co

Rich Miner, a co-founder of the mobile operating system Android, the company that gave birth to Google's mobile operating system, has joined the board of Dialpad, a cloud-based office phone and communications company that until today had been known as Switch.co.
 
 

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Twilio Paves Private, Secure Paths to its Cloud Services

 
  Michelle Burbick | March 07, 2016 | The public Internet is no longer the only way to connect to the Twilio cloud. The cloud is great for communications, as I'm sure you've all heard from the legions of providers. But, as I'm sure you also know, the cloud, in its public form, doesn't work for businesses of all shapes and sizes.  
 

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Tech Companies, New and Old, Clamor to Entice Cloud Computing Experts

SAN FRANCISCO - Amazon Web Services, a globe-spanning cloud computing network that is part of the online retailing giant Amazon, has rapidly become one of the most powerful forces in technology. It has also become a target for poachers.
 
 

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Spotify is using 50,000 anonymous hipsters to find your next favorite song

Spotify's personalized Discover Weekly playlist has won millions of fans with its uncanny ability to find music based on your musical preferences. But what if you're tired of the music that it feeds you? The music streaming giant is taking a new approach with the expansion of its Fresh Finds playlists.
 
 

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Why You Should Put Yourself Out There and Try New Products

In 2006 I started using Facebook and most of my friends & colleagues thought I was strange. They thought it was like MySpace and why did I need a MySpace page? In 2007 I started using Twitter and most of my friends & colleagues wondered why people would care what I ate for lunch.

 
 

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Jeff Salway: Rise of the robots is like dotcom bubble

AT THE end of the last millennium I worked for a large publishing company that assumed, as they all did, that websites were a licence to print money. That's why I spent a year trying to sell internet advertising to food processing companies. It was mostly in vain.
 
 

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4 principles that will shape the future of IT

Over the past year, I've had the opportunity to attend a number of conferences, ranging from the most establishment events you can think of all the way to highly technical yet informal meetups. The dress at the events ranged from suits and ties to t-shirts and shorts.
 
 

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You Didn't Notice It, But Google Fiber Just Began the Golden Age of High Speed Internet Access

Its "dark fiber" project in Huntsville creates a model that might finally thrust US Internet access into the 21st Century T his week, Google launched what amounts to a religious war in American telecom land.

 
 

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Here's Where Startups Raised In The US During 2015 - Mattermark

tl;dr: Everything you thought was true actually is, and we put it on a cool map. Where did companies raise venture dollars in the United States during 2015? If your first gut reaction was to say New York and California, you are correct! But there is more to the picture.
 
 

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