Last night I dined out using Feastly for the first time. It was the way to book seats at a “pop up” dinners across the USA. The dinner was the debut of former Herringbone LA chef Jason Witzl, who is in the process of opening up his own Cal-Ital place, Ellie’s, in DTLA. Not only was Feastly a cool app/service experience end to end, but the communal dining experience made it easy to make new friends, hang with old friends, eat very well and of course BYOB.
Alexa-can you come with me? So many times i wanted to take Alexa with me, so while Telzio had voice enabled access to my Amazon Echo first via their mobile app, almost a full year or so ago, there wasn’t a lot of use. Well the game just changed as Rain Labs has launched Reverb with apps for the Mac, iOS and Android. It’s all made possible by Amazon Voice Service. As I wrote on the Xceptional Blog a few days ago, Amazon keeps looking more and more like a telco/information services competitor to AT&T, Verizon, H-P and more….
So with that, let’s dive into the news in today’s extended edition of Comunicano.
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So if you're an Amazon customer for a few years you likely have been noticing how many times a day a different delivery person shows up with your Amazon delivery. If you dig deep you'll see that the deliveries come via various delivery companies, some of whom are really giant logistics companies. Here in Southern California I've counted no less than five different delivery services who bring my Amazon orders, sometimes on-time, sometimes late, sometimes to my door, sometimes to the building office or sometimes in my mailbox. Let's first breakdown who delivers what (at least here)
- USPS-aka the Post Office. They deliver Amazon Fresh to the door (sometimes or to my building).
- USPS for Amazon Packages that are mailed or via FedEx Smartship and international shipments. Sometimes left in the building office. Sometimes in my mailbox or a key. Never to my door. No real clue a package is here except if I look at Amazon web site or receive an email and then need to hunt around for it.
- On Trac - Packages that usually are fulfilled via a local Amazon Distribution Center (later in the day) To my door when home, to the office when I'm not with a door sticker.
- Amazon Delivery - Packages that usually are fulfilled via a local Amazon Distribution Center-To my door when home or not regardless of signature required or not.
- Amazon Prime Now-an on demand delivery team ala Postmates or Uber
- FedEx-hardly ever.
- UPS-to my door. Signature always. If I'm not home, note on my door, package in left in building office.
Hands down the best experience today is UPS that I've seen over the past year but I see that being challenged by Amazon's own delivery team.
Today with all these companies in the mix Amazon has a consistency problem, and it's what I think they are trying to address more and more with their own Amazon Delivery team. I say that because having conversations with the delivery team from time to time reveals a lot about what's going on. You can see a more UPS like approach evolving, and it's obvious Amazon is learning.
But to grow, Amazon is going to need to create its own infrastructure, not only buy airplanes and drones. This makes companies like OnTrac, a regional delivery company in the western states, an endangered spices, as the level of consumer complaints never seems to quiet down (do a google search). In essence, Amazon could easily hire away executives and a labor force from UPS, OnTrac and FedEx, and create their own supply, logistics and delivery business. What's more, since Amazon is all about data, they can build one massive "when and how" to deliver to you database better than anyone. If they link up with Uber or Lyft they could even begin to offer "personal" delivery using the micro distribution centers for on demand, something Amazon Prime Now is deploying.
To me, Amazon is a company that really disrupts markets. They know how to do it, and do it with consistency and end up doing it very well, with real world trials, not concepts simply on a white board. I see delivery as their next big frontier.
Yesterday I wrote about Verizon's OneTalk, and the very pithy press release put out by Broadsoft to support the move into MUCaaS (mobile unified communications as a service.) After I posted it I did a bit more digging around and realized that Verizon Wireless' sales team is going to have a battle on their hands to get even Verizon's existing PBX customers to add on or switch to One Talk quickly. And that problem is Cisco.
Right now, Verizon has many customers running Cisco Call Manager and Call Manager runs a version of SIP affectionately known as Sip-Skinny for Call Control and, it's proprietary to Cisco so for customers this becomes a rip and replace vs. an add on.
But let's get past the Verizon customer fit, and look at what Broadsoft is really doing. They are. as I hinted in the post, chasing the mobile operators who have lacked an enterprise solution since day one of the first cellular call. Attempts to break into that market have largely been by underfunded startups. What Broadsoft is hoping to do is in essence be the mobile operator's Cisco vs. letting Cisco get into the space.
Cisco, with their Spark initiative is going in a whole other direction, playing the OTT game, and which may be far more cost effective for both them and customers.
My take-Broadsoft can win as long as mobile operators control the handsets. What Cisco and Apple are doing with their "enterprise relationship"with the opening up of the dialer has seriously challenged the ability for the mobile operator to keep that lock in. In turn with LTE becoming so stable, VoLTE has become as high quality for any VoIP provider with an app over the Verizon network. So as Verizon keeps touting their amazing network quality and footprint, they've paved the way for all VoIP providers to be able to ride on their highway at the same quality.
Apple's CallKit is in essence "equal access" on mobile to any telephony provider. And just as "Equal Access" pretty much changed who we use to make calls, and impacted the likes of Nortel, Lucent, Alcatel and others, providing opportunity for Broadsoft and FreeSwitch, Apple and Cisco's Callkit efforts are going to do the same to Broadsoft.
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.
Yes, I've been quiet lately. Perhaps it's the summer. Maybe it's just as Dean Bubley and I were talking over dinner in London. The world of VoIP, Unified Communications and Collaboration has hit a point of being a bit of the same or a repeat of what was originally envisioned finally becoming commonplace. In my view after almost 17 years in the space since I first learned what VoIP was, had my first VoIP client (Comgates) and have been writing about the sector since 2003, it's kind of old hat to me. Seriously though, it really takes something to get me excited to bang away with what the news means.
That said, I haven't exactly been silent. I've been penning a piece each week for my friends at Xceptional, the San Diego Managed Service Provider with a kick - butt team of real pros in more than just voice/video and collaboration. Founder Chris McKewon and I have been friends for 12 years or more and I've watched his biz blossom over the years. The team there are great at networking (the set it all up at my old house), Wi-Fi, cloud and more. And, what they don't know can't be done. If you need what they do don't look any farther.
So what has me excited these days? Well, API's and WebRTC for sure. There's so much that can be done and is being done with WebRTC by so many companies. API's are hot and getting hotter. When you think about it, they are a major part of the new tech led economy. I'm also high on bots and messaging platforms and apps.
The more I use Slack the less I like email. The more I use Telegram the less I like SMS. The more I use iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp the less I want to even be paying for SMS from my mobile operator. Oh, and the more I travel, the less I care about voice from any mobile operator, when I have Dialpad and Telzio each with VoIP calling over 4G/LTE...now I guess if I was in places without killer LTE an Wi-Fi I may feel differently, but both on my iPad, iPhones and even my One Plus Two Android, I'm not touching the PSTN to originate or terminate on my end.
Most of all what I'm looking more closely at remains the idea of Working-Anywhere. Over the past five weeks I've been on my second "workcation." A workcation is where you go someplace that feels like a vacation, allows you to do the best of that while still getting work done. The more I travel, the way I travel, the more I find the whole idea of people stuck in offices, having a daily place to call "work" so outmoded for those who are knowledge workers.
As long as you can run your calendar, schedule your day around your "work" you can have a "-cation" every day. In the course of a 15-18 hour day I'm enjoying more of life than those who fight traffic, deal with internal gossip, or have to be somewhere physically. It does take planning, but being connected and knowing when to disconnect is the key.
Alas it's Sunday here in sunny Portugal. Time to enjoy some of the "cation" time..
We who hailed Skype, saluted and praised it, now are mostly part of the world that damns it. The service under Microsoft has become more challenging than useful. Calls don't always connect. Billing issues with credit card fraud turn off services of the legitimate user and with so many other options, Skype of old is much like AIM or ICQ (remember them)..
This week, the Skype for Business team unveiled Skype Meetings. If it reminds you of Google Hangouts, it should. A free offer, all designed to get you to subscribe to Office 365. It is also like the offer from Citrix for GoToMeeting. After a while you can have three people on a call, but no more. Personally I find conference calls with more than five people to be few talkers, mostly listeners. But the real sadness here is that Skype and Microsoft have so much technology and talent that they acquired (Sunrise team being one) that you would think there would be more than a "me too" or "me also" type of product offering with Skype Meetings. Can you say, MSFT is feeling the heat from Slack and HipChat, which via their Jitsi purchase is able to do all this and more via WebRTC..Come one Microsoft, do something good.......
Well, I need to run..Time for another Zoom.us call.....cheerio...