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FTC Do Not Track = Unintended Consequences?

December 3, 2010

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.





Google Now Ranks Based on CRM

December 2, 2010

This past weekend I was fairly amazed to read about how a retailer of glasses with very high rankings on Google seemed to thrive on providing service which is extremely aggressive and even hostile. The site, DecorMyEyes.com has an owner who goes by an alias Tony Russo (his real name is Vitaly Borker) and threatens customers by calling them names like bitch and and does things like sending them pictures of their homes as an intimidation tactic.

The amazing thing about the story is it explained that the more horrible the customer service level, the more complaints were generated on high-ranking sites such as RipoffReport.com which in turn increased the ranking of the site.

So basically a viral loop was set up where customers were drawn into using the site because of high rankings and the more customers, the more chance of having poor service issues and subsequently more links were created to the site.

From a consumer standpoint this is a nightmare but from the perspective of the retailer it encourages them to give worse service - or at least that is what the owner of the company believed.

A Google spokesperson referred the reporter at the New York Times who wrote the story to speak with Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of the blog Search Engine Land who ended up calling Google cagey and explaining that the company does not use sentiment analysis. Moreover he said if the world's leading search engine were to do so, it may be impossible to find a link to the White House if a lot of people hate the President and say so online.

He continued:

Google doesn’t need sentiment analysis to help people like Clarabelle Rodriguez [referred to as a victim of the company in the article]. It could simply become better at incorporating consumer reviews on the main page of its search results.
David Segal, the reporter behind the story - deserves a raise because this is a great investigative piece.











Recorded Future Predicts Future

December 2, 2010

You may have read back in July on TMCnet that Recorded Future is able to track future relationships and has received investment from the CIA and Google's VC arm. More recently, MIT's Technology Review writes how the company is able to generate a time-line showing important company milestones such as earnings releases and drug trial registrations. The information is gleaned from Twitter as well as numerous web sources.

Recorded Future calls their product a Temporal Analytics Engine and on the company's site you can see how the tool can be used to discover how events have unfolded over time. In one example the site explains how five years ago Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote, “It is obvious to me that the Irish-British [economic] model is the way of the future, and the only question is when Germany and France will face reality: either they become Ireland or they become museums.

Google Earth 6 Goes 3D

November 30, 2010

Will VocalTec and Skype Merge?

November 22, 2010

One of the major factors that led TMC to decide to launch Internet Telephony magazine back in 1997 was that we saw VocalTec launching products in the space which allowed telephony to travel over IP networks - and just like that the IP communications market was born.

Prior to this point, voice over frame relay was the preferred way to transmit voice over a packeted network.

When we launched Internet Telephony, we invited VocalTec co-founder and CTO Lior Haramaty to write a column in the publication - after all, no one knew more about the technology he helped invent than well, him!

Getting back to present-day Vocal-Tec, the company has merged with magicJack parent Ymax Corp. and recently raised its revenue guidance slightly and is looking to officially launch magicTalk - a PC-based service offering free US calling.

Back in August, TMC ran a piece on magicTalk and now the company says it has 100,000 beta users and 10,000 downloads per day. The magicTalk one-month Alexa rank is 386,430 up from 893,141 (lower numbers correspond to higher rank) and their Alexa chart is certainly improving as the chart below shows.



My two cents are it is tough to compete with Skype and Google in the VoIP space with a new offering but magicTalk has used television advertising to sell VoIP service in a way which turned an unknown company into a household name overnight. They used marketing well and although they have had some controversy surrounding them, I have always considered Ymax to be great promoters.

One of the past issues the company had was when they launched, they made some claims about their technology which were a bit over the top and many industry bloggers went ballistic in response. Moreover, the company has been called out about its inability to provide live voice service calls - but in reality if live support calls cost about $15 per interaction, how can you expect to get these bundled into service which costs about $40/year?

I reached out to the company for more information about what they're up to but they weren't immediately available for comment.















Over the Top Video a Threat Today?

November 8, 2010

Gary Kim has interesting thoughts about whether consumers are cutting the TV cord or the current subscriber losses we are seeing are due in-part to the economy and consumers deciding to forgo payments on cable.

Here is an excerpt:

Still, that could lead to years of trouble, and could lead to a definitive shift to online video if the content providers decide to shift more support to online delivery. 

Some 13 percent of current multichannel video subscribers in the United States say they are "somewhat" or "very" likely to cancel their current subscription in the next 12 months, and not sign up with a competing provider, according to a survey of 2,000 U.S. households recently conducted by Strategy Analytics (News - Alert).





Cuil is Dead

November 5, 2010

For whatever reason - someone mentioned competing with Google I believe, I wondered what Cuil is doing these days. So I visited the site only to find it was gone. A quick search showed this Google competitor which launched with fanfare and lots over-hyping died out much more quietly than it launched. Too bad.

The company burned through $33M and has nothing to show for it - they didn't even sell the domain name - not that it would have fetched much - perhaps it would have made a worthy redirect to Bing.com?

Related articles



Google Instant Comes to Mobile

November 4, 2010

What is better than Google on your Android device or iPhone? Well of course Google instant on your portable gadget of course. You see when driving your car, the only thing better than searching and driving is searching and driving and seeing the whole screen refresh. Well of course I am kidding as you should never search and drive.

Check out the demo of Google Instant Mobile below






So if you have an Android 2.2 (Froyo) device or an iPhone or iPod with iOS 4 the AJAX and HTML5 support will let you take advantage of this cool new feature.








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