The Comunicano for Wednesday February 15 2017

 
 
FEBRUARY 15 - ISSUE #23
Andy Abramson
HUMPDAY…….and there’s tons of NEW and that makes NEWSsurrounding new services releases that are making the rounds today from the likes of Facebook, Signal, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. They all have decided to unleash new “stuff” that changes the way we consume, communicate, create and deliver information today, and after a wave of non-news of late, it’s nice to see NEW back in the NEWS..

Let’s start with Facebook,
which is going to become a bit more “annoying” as they start with sound on within their video news content. Their claim is more people prefer that, but thankfully there are ways to turn the audio offMicrosoft makes its biggest move to take on Gmail with a more complete Outlook Premium offer…In some cases I’ve included the official announcement as well as a news item about what’s new, in an effort to provide deeper transparency and insight. 
After all that, there’s a few perspectives on the new data plan wars happening in the USA that’s waging between the mobile operators that will help you decide what plan and what changes are right for YOU….That and more are all in today’s COMUNICANO.

New Release Watch
New Ways to Watch Facebook Video from the Facebook Newsroom
Facebook is launching an app for Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV
Outlook.com Premium Comes Out of Preview
Introducing Cloud Spanner: a global database service for mission-critical applications
Signal Adds Video Calls, Better Quality---And a New Privacy Tradeoff
Video calls for Signal now in public beta
Yahoo Mail now syncs photos across devices and IDs who's calling on the phone
Yahoo Mail Update: Never Guess Who’s Calling or...
Dataplan Watch
Expect T-Mobile to Continue Inflicting Pain on Verizon and AT&T
Experts warn businesses not to over-buy on unlimited data plans
Your complete guide to choosing an unlimited data plan
Unlimited plans comparison: Verizon vs. AT&T vs. Sprint vs. T-Mobile
Odds & Ends
This sick Valentine's day ad shows people getting naughty with their phones
How To Create A Killer Logo-Two Experts Weigh In

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The Comunicano for Friday February 3 2017

 

 
 
FEBRUARY 3 - ISSUE #15
Andy Abramson
The big news, especially here in the Southland, is SNAP and their 3 billion dollar IPO. There’s lots of coverage on it, with some deep insight from the Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern and the Business Insider as well as the L.A. Times. The stories around the story is also interesting so there’s six for your reading pleasure. 
Beyond SNAP, we have news about Google, Amazon, Facebook, Uber, the Sharing Economy, Microsoft and a bit more. 

Lastly, next week is IT Expo Week in Fort Lauderdale. I’ll be there so find me in the media room, or up on stage on any of my three panels.
That’s all in today’s COMUNICANO!!!

Snapchat company's IPO filing might be L.A.'s biggest ever
What’s So Great About Snapchat Anyway?
Upcoming Snapchat Lenses will be Able to "Interact" with Objects
Snapchat paid third cofounder Reggie Brown $158 million to disappear
Snapchat IPO: Inside Snap Inc.'s company culture
Snap S-1 Filing
Uber Watch
Uber C.E.O. to Leave Trump Advisory Council After Criticism
Sharing Economy Goes Mainstream in Business Travel — Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report
Odds & Ends
The Best Drone Photography of 2016
Amazon's advertising business is growing fast -
Facebook’s AI unlocks the ability to search photos by what’s in them
How Twitter took on Trump's bot army—and won
Why augmented reality will be big in business first
With Chrome 57, Progressive Web Apps will appear in Android’s app drawer, settings, more
Microsoft Outlook for iOS now supports add-ins like Giphy and Trello
Business Ops is the New Sales and Marketing Ops. Why Consolidation is Crucial to Your Bottom Line.
We’re probably underestimating how quickly electric vehicles will disrupt the oil market
Catapulting Europe’s brightest FinTech startups from Singapore to Asia with The FinLab
Verizon Restructures Small Business Segment, Launches Verizon Business Markets

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The Comunicano for Friday January 27 2017

 

 
 
JANUARY 27 - ISSUE #10
Andy Abramson
It’s only been a few months since cableco Charter gobbled up Time Warner Cable, but now it looks the buyer may become the bought which becomes a big win for Charter’s largest shareholder, Liberty Media and John Malone. That’s because Verizon is reportedly in talks to buy Charter, largely as a defensive move against both Comcast. That’s because Comcast is rolling out wireless phone service and also due to AT&T trying to buy up Time Warner for all their entertainment properties. 

In other news we have good news for rural New York State when it comes to broadband; why video streaming is so easy;  a Facebook/MailChimp ad match up; a look at a lot of e-commerce tools; how to increase sales; plus those hotel thermostats and you, along with a short item on Starbucks and its customers.

Those stories are all in today’s Comunicano.

Verizon Watch
Speculation builds on a Verizon-Charter tie-up, no offer made
Verizon Wireless and AT&T see value perception decrease
Rural Broadband to Keep Growing (in NY)
New York to keep $170M to expand broadband access
Video Streaming Watch
5 Ways to Use Live-Streaming to Amplify Offline Events
Oscars 2017: Where to Stream the Nominated Movies
Marketing Watch
Facebook Ad Campaigns for MailChimp
Gorgias - E-commerce Stack. Top 100 e-commerce apps.
How Tech Companies Double Annual Sales with Three Words
Odds & Ends
It’s Not You: Hotel Thermostats Really Are Rigged
Starbucks: Crowded stores turned off customers

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Cisco's Sparkboard For Collaboration Here and There

Cisco's Spark Team has been hard at work redefining their idea of collaboration. While first thought to be a Slack wannabe, Spark is far more than simply a messaging platform. Today's news around the SparkBoard bears that out.

So what is SparkBoard? Think of it as the virtual whiteboard you always wanted. It’s a wireless presentation screen, a digital whiteboard, and an audio and video conferencing system all in one. The Cisco Spark Board helps teams collaborate in physical meeting rooms, but also securely connects to virtual meeting spaces to facilitate continuous workflow before, during, and after everyone has left the physical conference room. The Cisco Spark Board draws its power from the Cisco Spark service, which combines meeting, messaging, calling, and new white boarding capabilities on any Cisco Spark app-enabled device.

What's this mean? With SparkBoard you can present to a group of people who are connected to your whiteboard session, but who don't have to be in the same room. What's more, with the mobile app, people on the go can be part of the session, both observing and participating. 

This also means the idea of remote collaboration really is coming true. I don't know how many times I've watched a presentation, and wanted to write on the screen my thoughts as the presenter is making a point. Or, highlight something on screen for others to pick up on, that the presenter may not be going deeply enough into. With the Spark Plus app features, the app becomes a remote extension to the presentation, letting the viewer become the participant.

Looking at what the Spark team has done, shows that Cisco is integrating their hardware and software teams together. Think WebEx and Tandberg meets Tropos and a few other acquisitions that they have made the last few years.  

How successful will this be? Pricing is key to the success of any service so hopefully Cisco employs a razor blade strategy, giving away the screens, and selling the service so adoption moves quickly.  


More Patents for 8x8

8x8 is a patent powerhouse when it comes to VoIP. Over the years I've been covering VoIP 8x8 has consistently filed for, and been awarded patent after patent at all layers of the VoIP stack. Today, the company announced that they have been awarded three more in the never ending battle to protect the turf they have established.

  • United States Patent number 9,473,452 titled, “NAT Traversal in VoIP Communication System,” was awarded on October 18, 2016.
  • United States Patent number 9,479,648 titled, “Intelligent Media Relay Selection,” was awarded on October 25, 2016. It is a continuation of U.S. patent number 9,148,519 awarded to the company on January 2, 2013.
  • United States Patent number 9,531,879 titled, “Networked Contact Center User Interface Approach,” was awarded on December 27, 2016 and is a continuation of patent number 8,972,885 awarded on August 29, 2008.

In their announcement they describe what each patent does and why it has value to them.  The first two address call control, or how calls are routed. Clearly, this is all about making sure that traffic is handled efficiently, and with the least amount of delays.

The patent related to network address translator (NAT) traversal in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communication system (#9,473,452) covers an innovation that enables a call control server to use an algorithm to select from proxy servers to route a VoIP session between endpoint devices.

The second patent (#9,479,648) provides a system for a call control agent to intelligently select the appropriate media relay servers that are located at geographically disparate locations relative to each other and then route and maintain the VoIP call through the media relay server

The third is all about the interface and the experience. The key here though is how 8x8 is signaling a bigger effort in the call center space by smartening up the interface that support people see, but dumbing down how to get that done.

The technology in U.S. patent #9,531,879 details how communications systems involving networked contact center interfaces present data in a selectable, user-friendly format.


"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.

 

 


Amazon and Home Delivery -Winds of Change

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.

 


Incompatabilities In The New Battleground in Telephony-Broadsoft vs. Cisco/Apple

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.


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."