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Rich Tehrani
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Callvine Simplifies Mobile Conferencing

December 19, 2010

Yesterday I was at a party where one of the guests was telling me about her job managing real estate for her family. I inquired about where her office is and she held up her cell phone and said my car is my office. This conversation reminded me about a recent conversation with Callvine Founder and COO Mark Dzwonczyk who tells me his company has found the secret ingredient to take conferencing to the mobile professional. After a couple of years of work, the company has an app which I tried on an iPhone (iTunes preview) allowing you to quickly set up groups which you can use to SMS and conference.

Ready, Aim, Send: Military Embraces Smartphones

December 18, 2010

It is not as if the US government has slowed spending to keep up with the general economy so it comes as a surprise to me that we haven't been issuing a couple of smartphones apiece to soldiers in the field. Thankfully, the military is getting into the swing of things by ensuring virtually everyone will have 24x7 access to mobile information, videos from unmanned vehicles and tactical information of various sorts.

My only concern? I hope these things are really locked down well so as to make leaks more difficult to pull off. The last thing we need is thousands of soldiers tweeting sensitive information on the battlefield.

Just to be sure, I hope the top brass in the armed services is monitoring the hashtag #topsecret.

Ed Silverstein breaks the story on TMCnet.





TMC Seeks Product Marketing Manager

December 13, 2010

How TMCnet Global Online Communities look online (Click to enlarge or go to TMCnet to see a larger version) (Channels run along the left border)


Due to great success achieved by TMC's customers, we have seen massive growth in our online community-building products and as a result, we are in the middle of a search for a product marketing manager - someone whose focus will be to articulate the value proposition of these products to a broader audience.

An established product-line, our keyword-based Global Online Communities (GOCs) and channels have grown to over 200 and many of our customers are coming to us to purchase more terms to help them with organic search engine rank, news search rank, community building, social network needs and numerous other reasons.

We believe we have the largest collection of sponsored, news-generated communities on the Internet and as a result it makes sense to focus more resources on this product-line so more companies in more industries can learn how such products can assist them in their growth.

These products are very dear to me as I knew in the nineties that every company would need someone to help them with content generation - text, audio and video. I realized every website had to eventually become broadcast TV stations and newspapers in one.

And now, that is exactly what TMC provides sponsors - a third-party content-generating machine which creates targeted news which in-turn brings a large, laser-focused audience based precisely on specific terms and concepts.

The benefit for readers is we continue to reinvest our resources - many of which come from this cloud-based community building and SEO model right back into more reporters, editors and designers meaning more targeted and in-depth news and analysis for people looking to make purchasing decisions.

What is most gratifying is the smallest companies choose to work with us to grow their brands and we also have major players as customers such as RIM and Alcatel-Lucent.

Obviously I am biased but I see this community concept as the most underestimated product on the Internet. Most people don't understand it.
















The Internet Lubricates Protests

December 13, 2010

We have seen how the Internet has changed the telephony business allowing voice and now video conversations to be transmitted as packets. This simple change made Internet voice and video calls free. In addition, we have seen how email has helped drive the US Post Office more quickly into the red.

E-commerce has made it possible to buy virtually anything at prices which are a fraction of what they would have been a decade and a half ago.

Finally Headsets Get Smart

December 10, 2010

You get a call, you pick up the headset and put it on your ear and then turn on the headset to connect the call.

One of these steps is not needed.

The Apple iPhone popularized the motion sensor/accelerometer and Sonos uses this technology to keep its remote control powered down until it is picked up.

Now headsets can join the motion sensing party and the latest one from Plantronics, the Voyager UC Pro which ships early next year will acknowledge the fact you have picked it up by switching the call to the device.

What could be better than a world filled with smarter devices, making our lives easier? Thanks Plantronics... This is a really good idea.

TMC broke the story earlier today for more on this new bluetooth headset.









A New Tech Bubble?

December 4, 2010

Are we in a new tech bubble which most of us aren't even aware of? It is certainly quite possible and one thing we have all learned from experience is it is better to be overly cautious than to get burned in yet another frothy explosion.

One observation worth sharing is the rapid spread of information through the Internet means bubbles seem to grow bigger and faster as information flows more freely to those people who want to invest in whatever the latest craze is.

A recent New York Times article discusses the sky-high valuations of so many of today's startups from Twitter valued at $4B to Zynga valued at $5B! Then there is Groupon at over $6B. 

VentureBeat has an article on the matter worth reading as well.

In short, these aren't public companies that are witnessing these massive valuation increases - most are private and are seeing their values increase as VCs are stepping over each other to be part of the next Facebook.







Skype Shows us Closed Can Win

December 3, 2010

Dan York at a recent ITEXPO - specifically the collocated Cloud Communications Summit - Dan is on the right and Thomas Howe is on the left
 

Yesterday I discussed how open always wins referring to the competition between Apple and Google's Android and a side conversation was started on Facebook questioning my assertion. I took the opposite viewpoint in a comment and mentioned that Apple does have a lock on customers via iTunes as well as the App Store which have a tremendous lead in the market.

I was reminded of this discussion when I read how Dan York of Voxeo is espousing the virtues of Skype - a closed provider of communications - when Voxeo and Dan are huge proponents of open ecosystems.

As I read the piece, I became fascinated at how Voxeo has chosen to use Skype as a way to make the company's operations better - utilizing persistent group chats which focus on various subjects.

The point is that using these chats, the company which consists of many people located all over the world and some who travel are able to not only communicate effectively but are able to rapidly be brought up to speed on various topics after getting off an airplane by just logging onto Skype.

Dan mentions that there are other alternatives but it seems from the outside anyway that habit will keep the company using Skype for a long while - even if a better solution comes along immediately.

And this gets us to the counter of the open always wins argument - if you have loyal fans and/or people who habitually uses your interface and are happy with it - or some other differentiator, it becomes tough for competition to come in and take the market over. Even if the new competition is open.

Let's recall that compared to Apple and iOS, Windows Mobile was very open - it just wasn't as good as Apple's OS - and there was no contest from a marketing perspective either.

Apple definitely put together a more pleasing experience and were able to do so in part because they owned the stores, hardware and  packaging.

But now, Windows Phone 7 and Google's Android are taking some of the best parts of the Apple experience and replicating and in some cases improving them.

This in and of itself may not be enough to win against Apple but what the open approach has is a slew of hardware partners making devices in a variety of form factors. Some of these device sizes may catch fire.




















And Then it Hit Me, Open Always Wins

December 2, 2010

We know the history of the PC market - Apple had great products but a closed ecosystem and subsequently the PC - originally based on IBM components and design eventually won the war for the desktop.

In the eighties, I made the choice to move TMC to desktop publishing on a PC instead of Mac because the horsepower per dollar of the PC was so far superior. It turned out the manpower wasted in the short-term based on this decision showed I made the wrong choice. By the mid-nineties however, I was convinced that a single computer platform for our entire organization did make the most sense and as a result in hindsight, I was correct.

Fast forward to today, Apple is designing products which are superior to others but they are generally more expensive and closed. In many cases they are so closed you can't swap a battery or add memory or decide which applications you want without the express approval of Steve Jobs.

This past July, I asked if Apple was making the same mistake from the eighties in the mobile arena because when I saw the Motorola Droid X I realized this device was better than the iPhone in a few important ways.





NSN Boosts Apple Performance with iOS 4.2

November 30, 2010

Has mobile phone signaling been reborn?


A smart move by Nokia Siemens networks was to upgrade its network equipment so that mobile devices can have faster data access while increasing battery life and decreasing network bandwidth use. Apparently Nokia mobile phones and Apple phones with iOS 4.2 software are able to leverage this new way of working to make their devices better.

In one case, as a result of this upgrade, NSN claims an operator has found mobile devices have almost double the battery life. In another, a carrier was found to have up to half the signaling traffic!

These are important steps in the right direction and I am interested in learning whether there is increased or decreased value for heavy data users as opposed to light users. Moreover, is music streaming which is constant assisted more by this technology than web surfing and/or app usage?

The move on the part of NSN is a very good one and now that handset makers have bought in (well it isn't a surprise than Nokia did) I hope to see more collaboration between NEMs and handset providers to enable even more benefits for end-users and carriers.








Back from Budapest

November 22, 2010

I just got back from Budapest, Hungary and it was a great trip and I met met lots of great people - many readers thankfully at the Dialogic Connections Conference. Jim Machi at Dialogic was nice enough to write up the conference and include me in his piece.

Apparently the fact I like to talk a lot makes people think I should be in politics  but strangely my wife says I don't talk enough - I'm still trying to figure that one out.

In terms of Budapest and travel there - here is what you need to know:

  • The weather seems similar to New England.
  • There are many gorgeous buildings, statues and castles worth seeing.
  • 99% of people speak English.
  • They are very friendly and many people asked me how I like their country and one person even asked me to bring my business there.
  • The food is good - I ate some sort of mountain animal - a sheep or goat or something called a mouflon which was great.
  • Be sure to go to a restaurant called Spoon - basically a floating establishment in a ship and Golden Dragon in the art district in Szentendre - an hour or so from Budapest by train.
  • There are lots of free and open WiFi APs everywhere and the 3G is pretty fast as well.
  • You can also get hot wine and cider all over the place and a bus tour is a must.
  • Unemployment is around 30% but it seems like a very safe place.
  • The currency is not part of the Euro - they use a Forint which is very inflated and a hotel stay at a top location can cost as low as $150. One dollar is worth over 200 Hungarian Forints BTW.
  • And no, I didn't see Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie.

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