Working Anywhere Isn't Hard. It Just Takes Planning

Over the past five weeks I've gone from living in beach community of Solana Beach, just outside of San Diego, to go on a quest to be a truly global nomad, working from anywhere and functioning, time zones aside, as if I was still there. This working elsewhere mode includes traveling through nine airports in seven countries and staying in 12 different "residences" or hotels, including three AirBnBs, two winery hotels, and seven traditional hotels.

I can safely say that with planning and research, it's not hard to be working anywhere, but having experience sure helps. By experience, I mean traveling to the places you know well enough, but more importantly have the broadband infrastructure and other essential services in place to make sure that "working anywhere" is possible. But after ten years of being a global road warrior so much is changing I figured it is time again for a refresher and some tips on "living like a local" are now more timely than ever.

Here are a few observations:

1. Hotel broadband is never as good as residential broadband except in certain circumstances. Case in point. The Conrad St. James prior life as an Intercontinental provided Royal Ambassadors with 100/100 in-room Wi-Fi and Wired connectivity. Now the best I could get was 50/20. It was still very good, but a shock to have been "slowed" down. Still this is far better than most hotels.

On the other hand, whatever MamaShelter in Paris has been doing with Wi-Fi since I started staying there years ago continues to get better. I don't remember what my speeds were, but an in-room iMacs serving as an access point and entertainment center makes life easy. Speeds are awesome, and the bandwidth is always stable.

As for my experience in Prague, the Courtyard by Marriott was far better than the Four Seasons where the speeds even when upgraded were never more that 6/6 while the Courtyard was 20/20 or greater. In Vienna, the new Renaissance was fine with speeds at 10/10 but the Intercontinental in Vienna the Internet was far better and more stable, all over the hotel using a very solid Swisscom installation.

But this is where AirBnB for the business traveler wins hands down. In the three AirBnB apartments, I have been in so far my speeds have been 100/15, 10/2 (for a one-night weekend stay) and 100/12 consistently. Why? I'm asking each owner if they have fiber or ADSL. If it's fiber, and right to the dwelling it's going to rock, and it does.

Rule of thumb is thus, put yourself on a fiber (broadband) diet where you can. In every case so far, I've been able to get AirBnB hosts to verify their broadband connectivity and where it's available, have them switch to a Fiber connection from ADSL. This type of broadband means a world of difference, as working from apartments, is the same almost as if I was working from my own home.

2. Mobile Devices, Data, Voice, and Text.

Rule number one. Never roam. Rule number two. Have an unlocked phone. Rule number three. Have enough credit on your last country SIM that lets you log on when you land. Rule number four-buy local SIMs.

This is where it can get complicated so follow along closely. If you're simply making a series of one-day visits to countries, then none of this likely applies to you. In those situations the time involved will be costly, but if you are spending three or more days in a country, or visiting the same countries over and over again in short duration and live a data intensive life like me, consuming over 100 megs of data a day when not on Wi-Fi (which is essential to use) you will need a local SIM on your smartphone and tablets or you will pay the price.

For many this is where Truphone will help as their plans work in 66 countries but its not LTE/4G (yet) in many, and it doesn't matter, though I have a need for speed as I use data side communications services more and more for calls over WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype, Wire for voice and Google Voice, WhatsApp and iMessage for text. Those apps/services and 4G/LTE makes communications often as good or better than wired broadband in some places.

To use mobile broadband like a local, or to get as much speed and high-grade connectivity, you do need the latest models of iPhones, iPads and Android devices, but when you buy them, make sure they are not "operator editions" but are truly "world phones."

My iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with my iPad Air2 have all the radio bands needed to work around the globe at the highest speeds available (with China being a slight exception). Buying these saves hassles, and prevents being on slower networks. For example, the T-Mobile USA unlocked editions lack the 4G radios that work at 4G in Europe except in a few situations. Once you have the real global devices, the speeds you expect all become available. Android devices require you to read and see what they have, but the OnePlus One is my chosen Android mobile solution.

When choosing a wireless operator you have to take in two network factors-speeds and coverage. To do this use Google Search and enter the mobile operator's URL and the words "coverage map." That will show you where they offer coverage and what speeds (GPRS, EDGE, 3G, 4G/LTE)

This means as time goes on things change. For example, in the Czech Republic my initial research showed that T-Mobile would be my best choice. Then as I did more reading, I learned how Vodafone, when they came into the market, went LTE, and sure enough Prague speeds and network were super reliable.

In Vienna Austria, I quickly learned that no one sold 4G mobile phone service for smartphones on pre-paid, but that Telekom Austria sold 4G/LTE for tablets. That meant my iPad was going on A1. What I also found out from the research was that the best network outside the major cities was also going to be A1 from Telekom Austria. Where again I thought either T-Mobile or 3 (Drei) would have been good for me, I would have been on 3G on the iPad and given I was in the wine country half the time I was in Austria, and where the wineries are not always as tech savvy, the LTE/4G on the iPad more than a few times saved my bacon when it came to conference calls and one on one calls using Skype or a variety of Voice over IP providers.

In France, I was a fan of SFR for many years, but the winner these days is Bouygues Telecom. For starters in Paris, they have really good coverage but in Bordeaux I never didn't have 4G/LTE. I've got a SIM from Orange also but while they have the biggest network, much of it is still EDGE in the wine regions. The bottom line for me in France is you have to look at the coverage maps and decide which carrier is for you where you will be. In my case, I hedge and have SIMs with both Orange and Bouygues in my SIM pack.

In Portugal, Vodafone has gone from number 3 to number 1 in speeds on 4G. It used to be Optimus (now NOS) on my iPad but the past year my two trips have shown that research pays off, and the coverage in Cascais has been improved and all along the train ride. That said, if I end up in the Alentejo or Algarve and coverage falters I'll just grab SIMs from MEO (Portugal Telecom) if the Vodafone coverage is sparse and pre-paid SIM's are available everywhere.

In London, 3 used to be my favorite and they remain my steady choice as they started from an all 3G network, however with the merger of Orange and T-Mobile into EE and EE's commitment to LTE-A (a for what they sell as Double Speed, their service has become my first choice. Both provide easy online management, with the key being to buy what you need and not oversubscribe to more than will do the job. Even Vodafone has improved their coverage, so when it comes to the UK, look at the coverage maps and drill down on what speeds are offered where, and then decide who has what you need.

While many may think that T-Mobile USA's global roaming is a good deal, the speeds are variable across the globe. For a quick email check in, and simply map usage it does the job, but if you are heavy app user or plan on making VoIP or Skype calls, forget it, and go local. 3 in London has a "feels like home" program with free roaming. That is enough of a reason to grab a few SIMs and keep them topped up with credit and use them in countries when I first land if I'm not sure I can roam with others before buying local SIM's and I need to check email.

As far as staying connected to the folks back home, pointing a Google Voice number to your Skype In and then forwarding Skype Out to your local number works well. So does Switch.co. And since both offer Do Not Disturb modes you can turn them off when you're sleeping.

3. You Gotta Have Wi-Fi and you need Boingo

Finding Wi-Fi access these days is pretty much like locating running water, but like running water, you need to locate it, and sometimes, even pay for it. That's where Boingo comes in. Having a Boingo Mobile account is a very useful addition to the mobile arsenal. For $9.95 a month (first month is only $4.95) you can connect two mobile devices. Boingo also provides an instant log-on feature called PassPoint in the USA, and a free VPN service as well. All in all for the price the amount of access around the globe, especially at International airports, makes Boingo a very good option. On top of that there's a global plan, a North American one, and specific offers for different parts of the world.

4. Make The Network Yours

In my AirBnB apartments, I've made them "mine." At least when it comes to technology. Given I'm on extended stays I brought along my Apple Time Capsule which has 802.11ac in it. While I also carry an Apple Airport Express, which lacks 802.11ac (as of now) so while that's good for hotels, given properties can get speeds up to a Gigabit, it makes sense to have the gear that works that fast. What you need to do usually is either wire in directly to the router or if you don't have hardwired access, extend the existing wireless network. Be sure to use DHCP to the cable or fiber modem, and then go into bridge mode, that way you avoid IP address and NAT conflict issues.

5. Make Your Place Feel More Like Home

I love Apple TV and the ability to watch the programs I want, and honestly, TV in foreign countries other than news is often lacking. Connect the Apple TV to your wireless or wired network and the content you already have is with you everywhere. To get around geographic restrictions on content from Hulu and Netflix, use MediaHint. What's great about this is you change your DNS settings on your devices and then it opens up your universe to the content you're already paying for anywhere you are. This is far better than a VPN as it doesn't slow down the traffic to your devices either plus it works as either a browser plug-in or a setting. Another great gadget in your bag to carry along is a Google ChromeCast. This lets you have a big monitor wherever you so don't forget the HDMI cable. In some cases, hotels lock down the ports and the ability to add on your devices but here is where being in an AirBnB location changes the game. It's more "open", and you don't have to Hack the House like you often have to "Hack the Hotel."

My favorite "gadget" along for the ride is the Amazon "Echo." It has become my virtual assistant. I use it as an alarm, as a temperature and weather reporter and most of all as a music source. You see, like using MediaHint, Amazon has it configured in such a way as it still thinks it's back home in California. Once you overcome the fact that you can't use any time zones outside the USA, it all becomes easy. For example, just add or subtract the time zone differences when you ask what time it is. But if you ask "specifically" what time it is in your current city by name and country, or make a similar request for weather, you get your local information. What I like is the ability for the Echo to provide me a verbal overview of my calendar for the day, plus to add things to my ToDo List. And with an IFTTT recipe, I can easily have entries populated onto my ToDoIst To Do list. I can also create similar "recipes" to add to my "shopping" list and then have that emailed to me as well or simply review it on my mobile ToDoIst apps.

6. You Have to Have an Office Address

If you're going to be residing somewhere for more than a few days and it's not a hotel, don't get in the trap of the post office being confused. In my case in Lisbon I'm in a security guard/concierge building, so I have someone who can receive packages (and provide local advice as needed) but delivery people and postmen are not always up to date on things. For that reason, I took a "local" office address in one of the Regus locations. I had my Luggage Forward shipped baggage sent there, and knew from both Regus and Luggage Forward when it was received, thus not burdening the AirBnB hosts or worse, my bags not being delivered because someone wasn't home or worse, a different guest was in the property that would have been very confused, and possibly declined the delivery.

7. Credit Cards and Your Addresses

Nothing is more challenging than being out of your hometown and using credit cards these days as the banks are all getting more security attentive. Visa is deploying its Mobile Location Confirmation technology powered by Comuncano client Finsphere which uses your mobile phone as the validator that you're where your card is, but that's just getting rolled out by Visa member banks so it will be a few more months before that is the salvation. For now here are a few tips that are very helpful:

Notify your card issuing and online banks of your travel plans. Most now have (finally) an online form to do that. Provide dates and countries of your travel plans. In the case of American Express, you can provide "alternate addresses." This is a big boon as some service providers locally in theory won't accept foreign country issued credit cards, but what it seems to be is the "lookup" that occurs. I've found using a local address on file with Amex works around some, but not all of those situations. Plus it lets AMEX know where you will be.

8. Getting Around

Being spoiled by Uber in the USA isn't just a hometown thing. In most cities I've been in of late I've used Uber far more than local cabs, but when there's no Uber using the taxi or metro is a good thing. Buying local bus, rail and train passes or local rechargeable cards for transportation is far easier than fishing for cash or fumbling with a credit card, plus it makes you less vulnerable to pickpockets which in tourist areas is always a problem.

Uber can sometimes be a challenge so remember to do the following:

  • Make sure you have your local mobile number up to date. You can do this from the app or the Uber website. If you can't just email their support team.
  • Don't expect the maps to be accurate.
  • I make a point of calling the drivers or sending them a text with specific details on where they can find me or what I am wearing.
  • Surge pricing. In some markets when UberX is in Surge Uber XL or Black isn't. For about the same price you can get a better ride.
  • If at an airport, confirm where the pickup location is with the driver. Often it's not the same place as the taxi's or Limos for UberX. I like to use the "departure" level as there's usually less chaos and confusion.

There are also local apps usually for taxi services. Just know that your costs are higher than Uber but in most cases outside the USA the fares are far better (Paris is a challenge as the fare starts when the driver goes to pick you up.)

9. Living Local

I miss Amazon Fresh. Seriously. Order what you want and the next day, or even the same day it's at your door. Well, in Lisbon El Cortes des Ingles' SuperMercado which happens to be the best market in the city delivers. And while I'm not residing that far from the store, carrying bags of groceries without a shopping cart in 88-degree heat isn't my idea of fun.

Enter their app and web shopping page and their delivery. I'm finding this type of grocery shopping, and delivery service is available in more places like London, and there are a rising number of multi-merchant services like Hubbub that are spawning globally. But just as I've found home delivery in Lisbon it's thriving as well across France with Intermarche and in the UK with Waitrose amongst others.

10. Staying Connected to The Team

It doesn't matter anymore where you are. Crossing time zones is the same as crossing the street. Using services like Slack, HipChat, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, UberConference, Yammer, Skype keeps me connected.

Having a great headset is a key for calls. Invest in NOCS or a high-quality brand. Don't go cheap.

Using music services like Pandora on the Amazon Echo, Spotify, Apple iTunes and even YouTube music keeps me jamming along. Operating the business on Google Apps for Work or Office 365 solves the "I need the file now" problem when everyone else is asleep. You can also make great use of workforce collaboration tools like DropBox, Box, BaseCamp and others. Automating processes with Zapier and IFTTT makes things faster and eliminates manual labor. Services like 99 Designs and Fiverr, plus FancyHands give you a virtual workforce army allowing you to get work done while your team back home is asleep.

12. The Work Day

You're out of the usual time zone, so setting up your day with your calendar focused on maximizing the day is key. I take my dinner 8 hours later than the west coast is at lunch. So 130 there is 930 in Lisbon and London. When I'm in Paris or anywhere on CET, I work it 8 or 9 hours apart. If I know I've got a call scheduled for after dinner, I just eat a bit earlier. Living in an AirBnB apartment means cooking in or having a delivery for those times. The mornings are my writing time and then around 11 or so I split for a few hours. Grab a workout, go for a walk, run errands (laundry) or just grab an early lunch or late breakfast.

Working across time zone is never easy. Add in Daylight Savings Time and when that arrives and ends in different parts of the globe is confusing to even the most experienced traveler. I make extensive use of the paid version of World Time Buddy. It helps me know what time it is where and allows me to easily suggest times for calls. You can also add time zones to Google Calendar and set up your smartphone or tablets with clocks for the more frequently looked up time zones but by having all the times in front of you in World Time Buddy life is simpler.

I'm also making great use of Assistant.To to get one on one meetings set up for either face to face or via a conferencing service. By choosing times that work for you, it then sends out the options and loops into Google Calendar, notifying everyone that the meeting is set up.

13. Gear Up to Go To Work

Recently I bought a new 12" MacBook, choosing the CTO edition with the biggest and fastest solid-state drive, memory and processor. It was the best move I could have made. It's as light or lighter than my iPad, fits in my snug and functional mini Tumi shoulder bag with the iPad, cables, chargers and backup battery for my iPhone, and more importantly has enough horsepower to get me through the work day, The 12 inch screen is bright and the audio is amazing. The key is the weight and power combination. It's fast and light and for people on the go, it is the best Mac out there and since I don't work on heavy graphics or any complex spreadsheets, what this has is more than enough.

14. Airports, Airlines, and Lounges

I am not anti-EasyJet or RyanAir, but I do admit that cutting costs has its challenges, but in reality the best United or American Airlines experience isn't much different than flying the discount airlines of Europe. But there are options so using SkyScanner.com or their mobile apps has given me all kinds of visibility into local routes and flights, plus the airlines own websites. The key is to find the routes and days they fly, and where they go head to head, often the mainline carriers are only a few dollars more, much like Southwest and JetBlue force in the USA.

As for getting work done, investing in Priority Pass is a given. While some lounges are accessible via the American Express Priority Pass relationship, not all are. Armed with their card and the app on your smartphone puts you in striking distance of lounges all over the world. Just learn what it means to be airside or pre-security side as the difference can mean a made or missed flight. Inside you'll find the usual amenities like hot coffee, snacks, drinks and of course Wi-Fi, and often it's better than the airport's own.

Signing up for programs like the UK's new Registered Traveler programme means getting into the country faster. While in the EU a USA chip passport carriers no sway, it will now in the UK with the start of Registered Traveller. Much like Global Entry in the USA, getting in the program takes more time than getting in the country. But once you're in, you're getting in much faster, without any long lines making this an essential for the frequent flyer into the UK.

Apps like TriptIt and FlightBoard as well as FlightStats keep me sane with alerts and flight options. There's no worse feeling when you're flights late, and you have a connection. With these apps you not only know what's going on, you end up finding your options faster, allowing you to go to the gate not wait for some customer service person to get to you in line.

Wrapping It All Up

The bottom line is that it's not really that hard to be working from anywhere. And as the on-demand economy, the app economy and the virtual workforce all merge, being local in a foreign land won't be as hard in the near future as it was as recent as ....yesterday.

 


NFL to Stream A Game is a Big Deal

The National Football League is going to stream a football game next season. On face this may seem more like an experiment as the game will originate in the UK as part of the NFL's global marketing effort. But OTT delivery of sports content will mean much, much more to the league and the broadcasting world which is why new startups like client, YIPTV are poised and well positioned for a new era of how sports is broadcast.

That's why I think there's more to this, a point that is called out in the Wall Street Journal story. The "more to it" deals with the NFL looking to emulate what Major League Baseball is already doing with with their app based delivery, and really what is being done by the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) which took less money from USA Networks for the broadcast rights in exchange for creating their own WWF Network.

Already more content is being produced and viewed, plus the control of the entire telecast that the WWF produces is not regulated by the USA Networks Standards and Practices. It also means that all sponsorship and ad revenue, after selling expenses, remains with the WWF.

For the NFL and their current broadcasting partners (the networks like Direct TV, NBC, CBS, ABC/ESPN, TNT) this is a big deal because sports ad revenues and sports related advertising represents a proven advertising delivery method to reach the adult male audience. At the same time, a web or app OTT streamed telecast, completely owned and managed by the NFL means they get to keep the ad revenue vs. get paid for the games rights by one of their partners and that's where it gets very interesting.

The NFL will then know exactly who is watching the game. You may need to log in, or you may have to register the app. There will be a cookie dropped on your laptop or smart device in the browser. This means targeting advertising can be delivered to you as it becomes very easy to drop a commercial into the stream just for you vs the same commercial that's seen by everyone watching a game on television where localization is more difficult beyond the local market area vs. the national television spot.

Then there's the interactivity that you don't have with over the air or cable, which the webcasting provides. Imagine you're the ad manager for State Farm Insurance and you spend millions a year buying commercials with the NFL but you don't easily know which new customers came in as a result. Add a link, have a prospect trigger a call back from their LOCAL agent, and not only will the ad manager know which ad did what, they will know what the outcome was (call, followup, insurance policy written) and then be able to allocate the costs and the revenue to the specific commercial.

With analytics the ad manager will be able to determine which commercial spot works best with which demographic audience. The ad manager will also be able to determine which agents closed the highest percentage of leads that were delivered. With things like call recording the ad manager can then listen to the actual sales calls and analyze the selling technique, language used that led to a successful or failed close. And due to analytics, the entire process using CRM technology means from impression to closing can be tracked for ad delivery effectiveness.

This also has implications to the local teams in the NFL markets.

Right now broadcast revenues are divided evenly between each franchise, but as revenue begins to be tracked for everything sold via the NFL that happens on the Internet, the ability to assign actual revenue creation by franchise area creates a whole new model that doesn't currently exist.

Who wins? Who Loses?

The NFL and the franchise owners will be big winners over time. The more the league's NFL Properties division can control, the less money that will go to the rights holders. The more the NFL can sell in merchandise for their licensees without having to go through a retailer, means greater margins for both the league and the brands selling things like jerseys and caps for starters.

Thus while Apple, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are likely thought of as the next bidders for rights, you can't rule out Amazon either. As a matter of fact Amazon with their delivery and logistics operations could end up being the ideal partner for the NFL.

Amazon with FIRE could deliver the content easily. With FRESH the customers could order in advance their Sunday Tailgate at Home Food package. With same day delivery or next day delivery Amazon customers could order replica uniforms, caps, program books, highlight reels, etc. And because all of this is analytics based, the ability to predict and produce changes the paradigm of everything from production to delivery, thus making Amazon a significant potential partner for the NFL.

For current Internet related companies that have skin in the game like Verizon Wireless and Comcast/NBC/Universal, there has to be a lot of wonderment. Clearly they both win on the data side, but in the case of NBC, they'll lose on the ad sales side but I suspect they, being in the position they will be in, will find a way to create a sales consortium with other cable operators and the likes of Google to develop new sales and delivery traffic reporting models to insure they still make their 15 percent.

So, while this may be just one game, don't be deceived. It's a big deal and one that will be looked at as truly game changing.


The Comunicano Daily for Tuesday February 4th, 2014

 
 
 
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Well, the Wait is over. Microsoft has named a new CEO, and with the news, also announced that Bill Gates will be more involved in the decisionmaking. There's lots of news coverage on the web and you can expect to see more perspectives over the next few days. This is a move that will be questioned and challenged. 

 
 

 
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Nadella's the one: Microsoft names new CEO, Gates stays on board, Thompson is chairman

Well, it's finally over. After five months of cloak and dagger and dueling leaks, Microsoft has named Satya Nadella, its cloud chief, as its third-ever CEO, replacing long-time veteran Steve Ballmer. Company cofounder Bill Gates will remain on the board - and act as counsel to Nadella, as rumored - but will cede his chairman slot to director John Thompson, who led this slow-motion search process.

 
 

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Microsoft’s Bill Gates “Steps Up” To New Role As Technology Advisor: Was He Pushed Or Did He Jump?

Along with the news today that Satya Nadella will be the next CEO of Microsoft, another big change in the executive ranks: Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder, is leaving his role as chairman of the board and is taking a new role as "Founder and Technology Advisor".

 
 

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The new FCC commissioner Tom Wheeler is making moves. He's pushing more money into the eductaion channel to bolster broadband, taking an early position on the potential T-Mobile/Sprint merger and will have to have a hand in shaping net neutrality.

 
 

 
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Tom Wheeler: Broadband Internet Needed for Education Tools, FCC to Invest $2B

The Federal Communications Commission is set to invest $2 billion over the next two years in the broadband network connections of U.S. schools, National Journal reported Monday. "In the Internet age, every student in America should have access to state-of-the-art educational tools, which are increasingly interactive, individualized and bandwidth-intensive," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, according to the report.

 
 

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FCC chief reportedly skeptical on Sprint-T-Mobile deal

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is the latest regulator to pour cold water on a potential merger between the third and fourth-largest wireless carrier. (Credit: Lynn La/CNET) Regulators do not like the prospect of Sprint buying T-Mobile.

 
 

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New bill would restore net neutrality pending FCC action

A new pair of bills have been introduced to the Senate and House to protect Net Neutrality after a circuit court ruling struck down the FCC's previous rules earlier this month.

 
 

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Over the weekend, I penned a post for the Gigsky blog about the ChromeCast. Today lots of news came out from Google about the release of an SDK for ChromeCast. For app developers this is a big opportunity as is it for web sites as now it becomes very easy to send more content from more devices to HDMI monitors. When you combine this with the Internet of Things (everything) it's a big deal

 
 

 
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Google Developers Blog: Ready to cast: Chromecast now open to developers with the Google Cast SDK

Back in July we announced the developer preview of the Google Cast Software Development Kit (SDK), the underlying Chromecast technology that enables multi-screen experiences across mobile devices (phones, tablet, laptops) and large-screen displays. Starting today, the Google Cast SDK is available for developing and publishing Google Cast-ready apps.

 
 

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Get ready for tons of new Chromecast apps: Google releases Cast SDK

 

Countless apps could become Chromecast-compatible any day now: Google officially released the Google Cast SDK Monday, which allows developers to add Chromecast integration to their Android, iOS and web apps. Chromecast PM director Rishi Chandra said during an interview earlier this week that he could eventually see millions of websites and mobile apps add support for Google Cast: "Our opportunity set is fairly large."

 

 
 

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AllCast works with Chromecast again, streams local media from Android to TV

With Google releasing the official Chromecast SDK to developers on Monday, we can expect an influx of Chromecast apps to follow. And among the first is AllCast, which actually had and later lost Chromecast support last year because the SDK wasn't yet final. The Android app was quickly updated on Tuesday morning in the Google Play store.

 
 

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Asus unveils $179 Chromebox, coming in March

Asus on Monday announced a new Chromebox. The Google Chrome-based machine starts at $179 and is powered by an Intel Haswell-based Celeron processor. Geared towards stationary use - like business, home and school - the Chromebox measures just 4.88 by 1.65 inches, which makes it comparable to the size of a Roku streaming box.

 
 

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APIs are hot and will be the focus of the upcoming TadHack in Madrid which is very relevant to telcos and telecom execs. Zapier is one of the service providers we use at Comunicano, and their news of 28 new API's in 28 days is very important to their growth. Using Zapier, like IFTTT makes a lot of repetitive tasks automatic.

 
 

 
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28 days, 28 APIs: Zapier adding an app a day to its integration library this month

February is now the month of API integrations, in addition to Black History Month and the month of love. Zapier is a buzzy Y Combinator company that simplifies the process of connecting web apps and APIs. The company announced that February is the "28 days of integration love," meaning it will release a new integration every single day this month.

 
 

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It looks like Apple is going to move towards operating their own Content Delivery Network (CDN). This is a very important step as Apple wants to control the end to end user experience and be able to better deliver content and integrate it more into iCloud.

 
 

 
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Apple Building Out Their Own CDN To Deliver Content To Consumers

Over the past year, there has been speculation of when or if Apple would build out their own content delivery network for the purpose of delivering content to consumers. To date, all of the CDN deployments done by Apple have been for internal purposes only, but that's about to change.

 
 

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Facebook is developing apps. First we saw the release of Messenger. Now we're seeing what could be THE new generation of Facebook on mobile. It's called Paper.

 
 

 
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Paper Now Available For iOS In The US, And It Could Be A Facebook Replacement

Facebook's new standalone app Paper is now available for download on iOS to everyone in the US, and it's more than just a content reader. Paper has messages, notifications, search, and a completely redesigned profile. When I asked the team leaders behind Paper if they still used the old one, product manager Michael Reckhow diplomatically responded "mmhmm, yeah", but designer Mike Matas just smiled coyly.

 
 

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Uber, the car service, not the conferencing service, is launching a Lyft competitor called UberPop in Paris. Having already come under scrutiny by the French regulators, it will be interesting to see just how long this goes unchallenged.

 
 

 
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Look Out Lyft, Uber Is Getting Serious About Ride-Sharing With UberPOP In Paris

Urban transportation company Uber just announced a brand new offering for Paris called UberPOP - and it looks a lot like Lyft. It's a cheaper ride-sharing service built right into the Uber app. Everybody can become a driver.

 
 

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And just when you thought you knew what Google search was they are changing it.

 
 

 
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The Morning Download: Google Planning New Kind of Search

Good morning. Google Inc. engineering chief Ray Kurzweil said Monday that he's helping his company change its search algorithms to do a better job of understanding queries and providing answers people actually need. Mr. Kurzweil is working on a more human-like approach to search that will not only understand the content of Web documents, but remember queries and return answers when new information comes to light.

 
 

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AT&T-Sponsored Data-It's Nothing New, But It Could Become Very New

I find the brewing pot of noise around sponsored data that AT&T announced this week all to be a bit funny. Why? Sponsored "data" has been around for a very long time. Radio programs were sponsored as far back as the 1920s. Public television has been sponsored since the 1950.

Just as mobile data runs over licensed spectrum, so does radio and television. So the sponsoring delivery of content, whether it comes from Hollywood or Microsoft, there's really no difference. What is at stake is the past protestations of mobile operators that they need more spectrum, that they need to charge high prices to support it. Instead, there are many ways to make money and keep the cost down. Sponsored data is one of those.

For now, the sale of sponsored data is being looked at as an enterprise play. It's not. It's an advertising and marketing opportunity on so many levels. As a matter of fact, there are more marketing promotion opportunities around sponsored data than there were with television or radio.

For example, from the device in your hand, the network can now know exactly where you are when you're consuming the data. That means they can offer you more targeted "ads" or "commercials." This opens up a whole new world of broadcast promotion, the likes that are just about to be imagined.

The flip side--WiFi. It's not licensed but it is being sponsored. If you ever wondered why the cable guys are all so bullish on WiFi. It's for the same reasons. They want to sell the right to deliver the content over it.

 


The Comunicano Daily for Wednesday January 1 2014

 
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So it's a New Year and I'm still over in Portugal for another 24 hours, then over to London for some quick meetings and a flight back to the west coast just in time to head to Las Vegas for CES...So, taking a look at the stories in the news today is a heavy dose of looking back, and looking ahead and CHANGES..Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher are moving on and away from the Wall Street Journal with big news on what is next after All Things D for them so out with the old (literally) and in with the new brings former ABC Tech Star Joanna Stern over to the new WSJD and a move to the west coast...all that and more and you'll find in onl if you move .....Now On To The News.

 

 
 

 

Let's start first with a few items of note from the teams at GigaOm, TechCrunchVenture Beat and The Verge.  Chris Albrecht leads off with a few things that need a new start in 2014.

 

 
 

 
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Four tech notions that need a fresh start in 2014

The end of the year always brings out the best intentions. Out with the old bad habits, in with the new. To that end, here are some fresh starts worth embarking on January 1: The NSA/privacy: Revelations accusing the U.S.

 
 

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James Altucher, a contributor to TechCrunch, has a very powerful and moving piece all about Change. With so many people making New Year's Resolutions, it makes for a timely read.

 
 

 
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Why 2014 Is The Year You Change

Editor's note: James Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and several-times entrepreneur. His latest book is "Choose Yourself!" (foreword by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter). Follow James on Twitter @jaltucher. I stopped going to classes. I had a scholarship that paid all my living expenses ($1,200/month) so I didn't want to quit (ugh, and get a job?).

 
 

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It looks like ABC is making Changes on when people can watch first run programming online. Janko Roettgers at GigaOm has the details. This is very important as more and more cord and cable cutting is occuring, and the revenue models between content providers and delivery outlets will be changing. Consumers will be cutting back on their cable plans and paying for direct access. This will still mean the cable operator gets a cut, but how they do it will be hotly contested...Stay Tuned on this topic.

 
 

 
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Bad news for cord cutters: ABC starts restricting access to full TV show episodes

A A Fans of Modern Family, Scandal, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Revenge just got another item to add to their list of New Year's resolutions: find their cable account credentials. Starting on January 6, ABC will require viewers to sign in with their cable account information if they want to watch new episodes of the network's shows online the day after they air on TV.

 
 

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No end of year/start of year is ever complete without the best and worst. Oh, and of course there's always JibJab and their satire on the year i review--A MUST WATCH. But there's also a few items of note from TechCrunch, and VentureBeat that all give a good look back..

 
 

 
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The Best iOS And Android Apps Of 2013

Congratulations, Planet Earth! We made it another 365 days without crashing into the sun. Go team! It's the end of the year, and that means three things: booze, ridiculous sunglasses with numbers on them, and lists. Lots and lots of lists. You've seen our list of best/worst gadgets of the year.

 
 

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The Best And Worst Gadgets Of 2013

2013 was a heady year: a time of hope; a time for sadness; a time for twerking; and a time for doge. But it was also a time for gadgets. As we wait for 2013 to come to a close and hope for brighter things for the year to come, here's a look at the gadgets we loved, the ones we hated, and the ones that we found aesthetically offensive.

 
 

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Here’s the only list you need: All the tech, people, and products that mattered in 2013

We're not quite ready to say goodbye to 2013, but the time has come anyhow. Before it's time for Auld Lang Syne, here's a look back about the companies, products, people, and reporting we loved most in 2013.

 
 

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VentureBeat’s 12 most popular stories from 2013

As we wind down the last day of 2013, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the stories that have proved the most popular with our readers this year. It's a surprisingly diverse mix: From super-popular game franchises to really obscure indie games, from the ancient Apple vs.

 
 

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2013 was a more amazing year than you think

Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke's engineering school and distinguished scholar at Singularity and Emory universities If you go by the headlines, the iPhone 5S and Google Glass were the big technology stories of 2013, and Twitter's IPO was the event of the year.

 
 

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Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher have left the building...But they'll be in new digs, and doing likely more to change the tech journalism world than we can imagine. Coming in to what will be called WSJD is Joanna Stern and a host of new folks who are going to have big shoes to fill. Smartly, they will take a different tact and this will only be good for the news junkies and tech hounds..

 
 

 
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You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello

This is the last day of the All Things Digital site, which began life in April of 2007 as a year-round extension of the D conference we launched in 2003. Since then, we have published nearly 40,000 posts and attracted millions of loyal readers.

 
 

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Trade Up: Ditch These Gadget Gifts Now

By Geoffrey A. Fowler and Joanna Stern Let's just clear the air as we head into 2014: In the holiday buying frenzy, you might have ended up with a few tech regrets. It's OK, Black Friday and awkward family members can do this to the best of us.

 
 

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The Verge has a very, very, very good piece on the era of the upgrade. It's a delightful and insightful read. 

 
 

 
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Welcome to the Age of the Upgrade

Everyone is an early adopter now, and it is glorious As the 1980s came to a close, a curious thing happened to American consumers: they began to really understand what the word "upgrade" meant. This realization occurred thanks to a magical fusion of technological advancement and capitalistic opportunity: the video game console.

 
 

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Search and seizure of you gadgets gets upheld when it comes to border crossing. One more reason for the cloud, cloud storage, using a browser, etc. Let them take the laptop, tablet or phone. All they'll get are the apps.

 
 

 
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District Judge Upholds Government's Right to Search Electronics at Border

The government's right to search travelers' electronic devices at the border was upheld in a ruling released by a federal judge on Tuesday, which dismissed a lawsuit challenging this policy. In his opinion, Judge Edward R.

 
 

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Sprint is making moves. The first is the desire to acquire T-Mobile. The second is to build their business business back up, using the retired but not forgotten Nextel brand.

 
 

 
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Sprint, T-Mobile Deal Moving Forward With Investor Support

Seth Fitzgerald | On 31, Dec 2013 A deal between Sprint and T-Mobile may be moving forward now that investors in the companies have given their approval. While investors may be showing their support since the deal would boost Sprint's power in the industry, any deal would still have to make it past regulators who are likely to challenge the move.

 
 

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Nextel Wants To Revive Sprint As A Business Brand, Merge Boost + Virgin Mobile Into 'Sprint Freedom'

It was only six months ago that Sprint decommissioned and shut down the Nextel iDEN push-to-talk network, and while the carrier has no plans to bring that legacy service back, the brand is another story. According to a source close to the company, Sprint wants to introduce Nextel again - as a brand for business services.

 
 

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Bitcoin is not something to think is a passing fad. It's something that will be changing how money is exchanged and already is starting to take hold. Just like PayPal changed payments, Bitcoin is starting to do the same. Chris Dixon's piece sheds lots of light on the subject.

 
 

 
 

Why I'm interested in Bitcoin by Chris Dixon

 
 

 

Some people assume that all Bitcoin advocates are motivated by a libertarian political agenda. That is certainly not my agenda. I'm a lifelong Democrat who supported Obama in the last two elections. I think the Federal Reserve plays an important function, and I don't agree with people who think inflation should be our nation's primary economic concern.

 

 
 

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LTE Advanced is something I'm starting to see as I travel. It's actually been here in Portugal for about a year. Speeds are insane. Like 150 megs mobile. And what this means is sports and entertainment will take on a whole new life on mobile.  I've gone more deeply on this with my thought on AndyAbramson.com

 
 

 
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LTE-Advanced Is the Real 4G

Have you ever called your cellphone carrier to report poor signal strength? Sure you have. And did that carrier do anything significant to fix the problem? Of course it didn't-unless you live in South Korea.

 
 

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LTE-Advanced is a Sports Programming Opportunity on Steroids

The flying P has been the Flyers' primary logo...The flying P has been the Flyers' primary logo since the beginning. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LTE Advanced is something I'm starting to see rolling out as I travel. It's actually been here in Portugal for about a year though not really named LTE-A. The speeds are insane. Something like 150 megs on mobile. So what this means to me is how sports and entertainment will take on a whole new life on mobile devices.  As someone who grew up working around the growth of PRISM in Philadelphia, where it was one of the USA's first regional sports and entertainment networks to offer cable customers home games of the Philadelphia Flyers on cable, to be able to watch first run movies without leaving their homes before HBO carried them and to see other premium content, I can see the parallels so very clearly.

We'll start  to see sports packages on your mobile devices that make MLB's At Bat seem rudimentary. This is also going to be a massive opportunity for the PayPerView business and for out of market rights and viewing. For example, Real Madrid can sell their rights to specific operators in specific markets outside of Spain. Exclusively. For the operators, they can build on fan loyalty, or better yet, Real Madrid can become a globally operating MVNO, where the money they make on the content, easily covers the cost of voice, text and data

This would also be a boom to mobile operators who would rather be infrastructure providers and pipe suppliers, letting others take on the marketing of the services, which creates a massive opportunity for a company like ITSON, who wants to change how mobile subscribers pick, buy and consume their plans and services a massive opportunity. This is why net neutrality rapidly comes to the front line, but there will be so many different business plays by the operators possible, the question will become which model will work best where.

The IEEE's Spectrum has a nice take on what the technology means as it makes you realize what's ahead for us with mobile.


The Comunicano Daily for Wednesday December 31 2013-End of The Year Edition

 
 
 
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As the year ends, we can both look back and look forward. The New York Time's John Markoff who has made a career looking at the Internet and Silicon Valley has a well balanced look at where the Internet is going in today's New York Times. Om Malik presents a wonderful counterattack (as did John Gruber over at Daring Fireball) on the Quartz post of last week that said 2013 was a lost year in tech...its created quite a stir as has the YCombinator founder Paul Graham/The Information tizzie which ValleyWag fueled ....what a way to end the year.
With controversy in the media.....Now On To The News.

 
 

 
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Viewing Where the Internet Goes

Will 2014 be the year that the Internet is reined in? When Edward J. Snowden, the disaffected National Security Agency contract employee, purloined tens of thousands of classified documents from computers around the world, his actions - and their still-reverberating consequences - heightened international pressure to control the network that has increasingly become the world's stage.

 
 

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No question the Internet of things will be front and center. GigaOm has a few stories today pointing out why the topic will be so hot and heavy

 

 
 

 
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What’s ahead for the internet of things: Our CES preview podcast

Next week at this time my colleague and co-host Kevin Tofel will be fighting the hordes at the Consumer Electronics Show and reporting back on the cool widgets and gadgets that he finds.

 
 

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PTC cozies up to the industrial internet of things, picks up ThingWorx for $112 million

The companies that build out the internet of things won't just be making connected door knobs: they'll also be cranking out all kinds of hardware and software for industrial applications like factories and assembly plants. With that market in mind, PTC agreed Monday to buy ThingWorx, a maker for software development tools, for $112 million.

 
 

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Being the CEO of an all virtual agency tells me that creating a model of no office required over 20 years ago makes me a pioneer in the sector of remote working. When I read the story below out of Toronto I couldn't help by think just how far ahead of the curve my agency is when it comes to doing things that big business considers complex.

 
 

 
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In the search for savings, the workplace gets an overhaul

The fifth floor of Manulife Financial Corp.'s stately headquarters on Toronto's Bloor Street East sat empty during a recent tour, the workers having vacated about a week earlier. The traditional offices on the periphery of the floor, in many different sizes and configurations, are destined to become a relic of the past.

 
 

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A flat management approach for Zappos where people have no titles and no hierarchy sounds like open source hacker management to me. 

 
 

 
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Zappos is going holacratic: no job titles, no managers, no hierarchy

Zappos is known for its zany corporate culture. The company's Q4 "All Hands" meeting in November was aptly-themed "Gone Wild": one female employee voluntarily climbed into a case filled with tarantulas to win a $250 gift card. The event opened with a Lion King performance put on by employees at the Smith Center in downtown Las Vegas...

 
 

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Apple has had Chiat Day as their creative agency for many years. Could a new hire mean a change is in the wind after 30 years or more? 

 
 

 
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The man behind NYT Magazine's gorgeous covers is headed to Apple

You may not know the name Arem Duplessis, but you've no doubt seen his work on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in the past 10 years. As design director at NYT Mag, he crafted some of the most stunning work in the publication's history -- examples seen above -- and he's just been hired away from his decade-long post.

 
 

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Our own Ritch Blasi, who leads Comunicano's Mobile and Wireless efforts has been a busy boy of late. Beyond booking meetings like there's no tomorrow at CES, he's been engaging online in conversations with LightReading's Sarah Reedy about her views on WiFi being the new network. 

 
 

 
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Is WiFi the New It Network?

 

WiFi is no longer the pitch hitter for when cellular isn't doing its job. In fact, several startups are banking on it being the preferred network for enough people to build a business on. Republic Wireless and Scratch Wireless are two of those companies. Both are wholesaling Sprint Corp.

 

 
 

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Verizon acquired Terremark a few years back and has moved things to the cloud. AT&T and others are all doing the same thing to counter the threat of Amazon and Rackspace. Here's why Verizon is so bullish. 

 
 

 
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Verizon: Major Apps Move Cloud-ward in 2014

Expect to see leading brand-name enterprise apps become more cloud-based in 2014 as cloud services do a better job of securely supporting hybrid cloud environments that give enterprises more confidence to move more core apps into the cloud, a top Verizon Terremark executive is predicting.

 
 

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Being international the last two months tells me alot about our broadband infrastructure in the USA. But the USA is a massive land mass, and that means a lot compared to say Portugal and a population of 10 million in a country the size of one of the USA's states. Still, the wireless experience and the in ground experiences I'm seeing globally do make me think the USA is falling behind even with our LTE leadership. 

 
 

 
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U.S. Struggles to Keep Pace in Delivering Broadband Service

 

San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States, a progressive and economically vibrant metropolis of 1.4 million people sprawled across south-central Texas. But the speed of its Internet service is no match for the Latvian capital, Riga, a city of 700,000 on the Baltic Sea.

 

 
 

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BlackBerry is starting to mount their comeback campaign. Time will tell. One thing's for sure, they are pushing their QNX group and that's a smart move.

 

 
 

 
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BlackBerry: The way forward

Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images I'm surrounded by a talented team of industry leaders, including our new leaders for enterprise, corporate development and strategic planning, and marketing. In the coming weeks, I'll continue to build out my leadership team with those who have the skills and passion to get BlackBerry back on the path to profitability.

 
 

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Why Successful People Never Bring Smartphones Into Meetings

Do you check your phone for text messages or emails during business meetings? According to new research from the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, you are probably annoying your boss and colleagues. Furthermore, the research indicates that older professionals and those with higher incomes are far more likely [...]

 
 

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Last story is Om Malik's rebuutal to Quartz. It's a great dose of reality.

 
 

 
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Dear Quartz, maybe it's you that needs new glasses and a map. 2013 was not a lost year for tech

The Atlantic's sister publication, Quartz (QZ) yesterday published a provocative piece under the headline - 2013 was a lost year for tech. It was a good way to boost attention, but it also highlights a trend of looking at technology from a narrow lens of consumer-tech.

 
 

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As the year ends, I have to say thanks. Thanks to great clients who take our guidance and let us do what we do best. Thanks to the influencers whom without your willingness to listen to what we have to say we wouldn't have an audience for our clients, and most of all thank you to the entire Comunicano team, past and present. Without all of you none of this would be possible. 

Personally I also have to thank the pilots, train conductors, taxi drivers, limo drivers, chefs, cooks, hotel chambermaids, hotel managers and staff and all the online service providers we use like TripIt.

This past year I accomplished what I set out to do, cutting my travel down by almost 1/3rd. Instead of 266 days on the road it was only 189. But I covered more distance 140,189 miles vs. 122,000 in 2012. I visited only 9 countries vs. 13 and only 57 cities vs. 82.  That meant I was spending more time in fewer places, and establishing better and deeper ties and friendships. And at the end of the day, that's what really matters.

Happy New Year!!!

 

 

 


 

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The Comunicano Daily for Friday December 27 2013

 
 
 
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Most of the news today has been about the holiday shopping/shipping woes. So we'll start with that and look at some other facts and information surrounding the holiday season. Now..on to the news.. 

 
 

 
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Many shoppers blame online retailers for stealing Christmas: Shipping delays left many people with little under the tree

Many shoppers are blaming online retailers for stealing Christmas. Companies from Amazon.com Inc. to Kohl's Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. promised to deliver items from headphones to television sets before Christmas, but shipping delays left gift-givers across the country without anything to put under the tree.

 
 

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Apple's iOS Completely Blew Away Google's Android For Shopping On Christmas

Apple's mobile operating system, iOS, continues to blow away Google's Android in mobile commerce, according to IBM analytics.IBM put out a press release about what it saw during Christmas. It's not good for Android: iOS vs. Android: As a percentage of total online sales, iOS was more than five times higher than Android, driving 23 percent vs.

 
 

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Amazon Reveals a New Hint About Prime Membership Rolls

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press SEATTLE - The world's biggest online retailer has mastered the art of talking a lot about its holiday sales, while saying very little. For years, Amazon has blasted out a press release, a day or so after Christmas, filled with a string of tantalizing-sounding factoids about the holidays at Amazon without actually providing a very meaningful picture of its business.

 
 

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Learning by Shipping

Rather than predict anything that will suddenly appear at the end of 2014, this post offers some trends that are likely to double by some measure this next year. This will turn out to be an exponential year in many technologies and what seems far-fetched could very easily be trends that are doubling in relatively short periods...

 
 

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As much as a third of all Internet sales gets returned, by one estimate

Free shipping and lenient return policies have given online retailing a huge boost. Now, chains are mining their order data to get shoppers to keep more purchases. Behind the uptick in e-commerce is a little known secret: As much as a third of all Internet sales gets returned, according to retail consultancy Kurt Salmon.

 
 

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With mobile Internet traffic growing, its a sign that more people are also consuming and contributing more data from tablets. If you're a company that's in the Internet space and not designing for tablets and phablets, you're out of the game before it starts. What's also clear is people are using their devices away from the home and office more, and as time goes on this will only increase. We're already seeing Verizon Wireless network in the USA stressing and straining...it will get worse before it gets better.

 
 

 
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U.S. Mobile Internet Traffic Nearly Doubled This Year

Andrew Burton/Getty Images Two big shifts happened in the American cellphone industry over the past year: Cellular networks got faster, and smartphone screens got bigger. As a result, people's consumption of mobile data nearly doubled.

 
 

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This leads to our next story about app usage tracking. Let's face it, government that governs best, governs least is an old axiom. When one sees the trade organization for mobile making a move to put out a app usage reporting tool that tells people how much each app consumes you know they're not just doing it to be nice. They're doing it with dual intentions. One for the consumer, but another for themselves. Expect more apps from Mobile operators in 2014 that help consumers and the operators know more, make more better informed decisions and be more aware of just what their options are. 

 
 

 
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CTIA Releases Know My App To Prevent Excessive Data Usage

Seth Fitzgerald | On 26, Dec 2013 As more and more services move to mobile devices, data usage is skyrocketing, which makes monitoring usage an incredibly important task. Only a handful of carriers still offer unlimited data while the others have restricted their plans, although many people stay within their limits, others have a hard time doing so.

 
 

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Yesterday, our lead off story was about T-Mobile and Sprint. Well here's an opposing point of view on the possibility of their merger...

 
 

 
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Analysis: In telecom merger mania, skeptical eye from Obama administration

 

 With both cable and mobile phone operators grappling with slowing growth, speculation has intensified recently about potential takeovers of No. 4 wireless service provider T-Mobile US Inc and No.

 

 
 

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It's no surprise that BlackBerry is canceling their Live event. Some would say it's better than having smaller numbers than in the past, as the naysayers would have been quick to call it, BlackBerry Dead....

 
 

 
 

BlackBerry cancels BlackBerry Live 2014

 
 

Sponsored links, if any, appear in green. Troubled smartphone vendor and enterprise service provider BlackBerry has announced that it will not host its signature event, BlackBerry Live, next year. So how will developers, buyers, and other participants in the BlackBerry ecosystem connect? There's a plan for that as well.

 
 

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The iPhone is a wonderful product. But what makes it so great is what Apple is constantly doing to make it more useful....Soon it could save lives.

 
 

 
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Apple patents accurate touch and hover panel, embedded heart rate monitor

Apple on Tuesday was granted two iOS device-targeted patents, one for a "touch and hover" display panel that is made more accurate by compensating for signal drift, and another for heart rate monitor that can be seamlessly integrated into a handset. Touch and hover The newer of Tuesday's patents, Apple's extensive U.S.

 
 

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China is adding MVNOs. This means they have built out the infrastructure to support competition. The question in my mind is what non Chinese company or global mobile operator will be the first to partner with one of the MVNO's to break into the market... 

 
 

 
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China's Telecom Regulator Awards Virtual Telecom Licenses to 11 Companies

 

China's telecom regulator has awarded licenses to 11 private companies to run mobile telecom businesses based on services leased from China's state-run carriers. The new licenses mark a concrete policy change after years of discussion by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which regulates China's telecoms sector.

 

 
 

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Just to show another side of things, Quartz has a nice counterpoint to the runaway enthusiasm of the tech press. To them, 2013 was more the year that wasn't. 

 
 

 
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2013 was a lost year for tech

All in, 2013 was an embarrassment for the entire tech industry and the engine that powers it-Silicon Valley. Innovation was replaced by financial engineering, mergers and acquisitions, and evasion of regulations. Not a single breakthrough product was unveiled-and for reasons outlined below, Google Glass doesn't count.

 
 

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A Very Video Christmas

Image representing Comcast as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase


Ten months ago, pal Michael Graves wrote a very detailing post about two new hardware devices, TelyHD which works with Skype, and Biscotti, which uses GoogleTalk as its signaling and media transport layer that on face look very similar. Like many of us who live on the cutting edge, those devices and news of them was very early in the making, as the early adopters took to them, but not much in the way of mass adoption. You can read Michael's post to get the lowdown on both companies, but this post is about the implications I see coming from the developments both companies have made.

You see, when it comes to video in the home and small business offices, I think there is going to be change in adoption and use cases this year, and the reasons are:

Processors inside smartphones, Mobile networks with LTE, Cloud and Broadband to the home getting faster.

Those four reasons together all spell the ability for mobile and fixed line video calling to work more easily together, as well as to propel it's growth. Gone are the days where developers at services and apps like SightSpeed (now part of Logitech) needed to/prayed for the next generation of processors, while figuring out how to get more compression into video and audio streams. Now we have the power in the processors and the speed in the networks to produce and deliver full motion video without much hesitation to use it. 

We are also seeing total integration into the endpoint, the camera, with upgradeable software and encoding tools. By putting codecs in the endpoints, that can be updated, much like Apple TV's, video cameras become like telephones of old. We never updated our phones, the telephone company upgraded the network and our phones kept working. And that's the beauty of both TelyHD and Biscotti and once they go 1080P will be even better than 720p, but when you think about carrying video, sometimes size doesn't matter as much, or actually, it does.

What TelyHD and Biscotti both do is bring video calling to the home and office for less than the price of expensive Polycom and Cisco desktop phones. They also use two widely deployed networks with millions of users already connected every minute of every day. While Biscotti seems to be angel backed, TelyHD has funding from both Comcast and Rogers, two of the biggest cable MSO's on the planet. It will be interesting to see just how integrated the programs to sell in TelyHD into business markets really are, because both Comcast and Rogers are very siloed as companies go, and like many venture arms of large communications companies, not always knitted to the fabric of the business. 

Perhaps, Yahoo wll jump into this space with an acquisition of one of these companies because as Yahoo moves mobile, one of its biggest strengths is Yahoo Messenger, an app that has always had video and never really exploited it. On an International level it remains one of the most installed chat apps around.

Watch video get even more in home use, as apps and devices from Biscotti and TelyHD arrive under the tree this year.