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Rich Tehrani
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Broadband

Living in a Post-OS World

July 28, 2011



Two of the major drawbacks to a perfect cloud-based existence where the browser serves all your needs are speed of remote apps/services and UI flexibility. It just so happens, two news items have coalesced recently to help usher in the post-OS world. You see, while the tech pundits debate the idea of a post-PC world, companies like Google are going a step further and hoping to get rid of the operating system on the tablet, PC, smartphone and just about any other computing device you use.

HTML5 is one of the primary drivers of the flexible new UI allowing truly customizable media to be shown to users.



iOS Allows Apple to Correct Microsoft "Mistake"

July 27, 2011

If you look back at the early days of Apple, Microsoft has been a major supplier to Cupertino's customers virtually from day one. Even today, Microsoft is the go to software provider for not only Macs but PCs. So whichever platform you choose, Microsoft wins.

Microsoft Exchange too is a sales monster and it licenses ActiveSync to mobile companies who want to connect to it effectively.

Microsoft's operating income by division - Office and business software is a major contributor. Chart courtesy of Silicon Alley Insider

 

This overwhelming dominance however has changed drastically in the world of iOS - and if the momentum of Apple continues, what will become of Microsoft's Office business?

Writing on TMC's TechZone360 site, Rob Enderle asserts that Apple is correcting its "Microsoft Mistake" from its early days and its iWork productivity suite effectively shields Apple from having to rely on Microsoft for anything. From my perspective, ActiveSync is the only exception.

And if you're Microsoft and you have a chance of losing major OS share over time - this is happening now, you need to be sure you have software for major tablets which is so superior that customers have to have it.











French Web Precursor Minitel to Shut Down

July 27, 2011

France Telecom is shutting down Minitel - the precursor to the web - a service which provides information services to the carrier's customers. In less than a year, the service will be shuttered despite recently having about 10 million subscribers.

Like so many ideas which are good - a newer technology can come along and make even a well-liked service obsolete. Even though Minitel had a super-long run in tech years - 30 years, it reminds us that no matter how long you have been around - you can be wiped out when a newer and better technology comes along. In this case that new tech is broadband, the web and cheap computers.

One wonders however if France Telecom had focused on improving Minitel and broadening its reach so other global carriers could leverage it - would today's Internet be dominated by France-based instead of US based companies?

I guess we will never know.

TMC's Peter Bernstein has more.







Will AT&T, T-Mobile Merger Slow Wireless Innovation?

July 25, 2011

AT&T has done an incredible job of getting special interest group after group to endorse its merger with T-Mobile, saying it will provide better broadband access for minorities, rural subscribers and just about any group of people you can think of. The broader gay community too has endorsed the merger - apparently transgender-Americans have been hoping for the day when there was one less GSM provider to choose from.

Here is how the system works - AT&T has hundreds of thousands of workers and inevitably large numbers of them in myriad groups. This in turn coupled with large contributions to various organizations and associations is rewarded with the reciprocal endorsing of anything AT&T requests.

To help grease the wheels even further, AT&T has further upped its lobbying budget by 58% according to PC Magazine.

AT&T is doing the smart thing by getting rid of its sole GSM provider allowing it better negotiating leverage in its roaming agreements with foreign carriers and gaining the ability to raise rates with one less major competitor to depress market pricing. It will also gain more leverage when negotiating with hardware and software companies.

An anti-merger video by the Free Press Action Fund



If the US government blocks the deal it will be because the remaining major companies AT&T and Verizon will have so much share that they are effectively a duopoly at about 80% - allowing them to raise prices at will.

Again, if you are an AT&T or Verizon shareholder, you likely want this merger to happen and AT&T is serving its short-term  shareholders well by seeking this transaction.

But the challenge I see is that with one less major telecom carrier in the US it becomes that much more difficult for innovative start-ups to launch, get funding and hold their breath long enough for a carrier to buy from them.















TMC Dallas Video Interviews 2011

July 25, 2011

Recently I spent some time in Dallas doing video interviews with companies in the Dallas, Texas area and during the course of the discussions I was able to get a sense of where the markets have been and are going. The vast range of different opinions really comes together into a few themes.

They are simply that wages and turnover rates in India are skyrocketing meaning some jobs may be headed back to the US. This is offset by an interview with  King White of the Site Selection Group - an organization which helps companies decide which countries and states they should locate in. He tells us that states with higher taxes are less attractive and subsequently deter companies from opening there.

Sonos Adds PLAY:3, Lowers Price

July 20, 2011

As a happy Sonos customer, I was delighted to learn the company has added more content (Spotify to be specific) to its system and also added a new music player and lowered its price on the SONOS BRIDGE, a wireless device you can connect to your Ethernet port to enable wireless high fidelity music to be streamed throughout your home. The price has dropped from $99 to $49 on this device.

Moreover, the newly announced PLAY:3 is a $299, 3-speaker, 3-digital amp music player. It can be used in a monaural or stereophonic configuration.

The ZonePlayer S5 has been renamed the PLAY:5 and provides stereo playback in a compact unit.

At first look, the PLAY:3 is a great addition to the SONOS family as it allows a low-cost entry into wireless music playing but I am wondering if $600 for two of these isn't a bit steep. Still, I have to hear it and compare it to the S5 to give a more informed opinion.

Until then, the company has produced a well-designed video which will show you how the system works and how the new PLAY:3 integrates with it.













Metaswitch Thrutu iPhone App Lets Carriers Become Social Hubs

July 20, 2011

Earlier this year I came across Thrutu from Metaswitch newtorks - an application development platform allowing carriers to leverage rich social features and provide them as services to customers. In short, this is the exact sort of solution wireless phone companies need to try to keep their customers engaged and more importantly paying them.

Of even greater importance for service providers is being able to ensure that the contact database doesn't continue to get moved from the carrier cloud to the social cloud. By that I mean, consumers are relying more and more on Facebook and Twitter as their contact database making the carrier and the phones they sell less important.

Thrutu brings social features such as location, contact and photo sharing as well as prodding via a remote vibration (like Facebook's poke) and more via an API which developers can use to do much more.

I saw a demo of it working on Android phones and was impressed and as of this moment the company has released an iPhone version as well. As you may have guessed, you will be better off using such a service on a network voice and data can be shared such as GSM or in an area where there is WiFi and 3G/cellular.

Of course the question you have to ask is whether it is too late for carriers to basically reinvent social networks which are already dominated by the web giants we all know (and many love).







Off to San Jose, Interactive Airport ads and Boingo: I Love this Service

July 17, 2011

I flew out of JFK as was pretty amazed to see a new interactive ad format which consists of what you may consider to be a giant tablet on the wall allowing consumers to play games on it. I didn't get a chance to see the company behind the great idea but I did see engagement as there was one person on each of the ads I spied and people watching the person play.

Boingo set me up with an account years ago and even though I am not paying for it, I gladly would (please tell me the Boingo public relations doesn't work weekends  and read comments like this ).

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Boingo now works with GoGo Wireless - but you still have to pay extra to get access to internet while in-flight. Anyway - I didn't get charged and more importantly I didn't have to deal with the GoGo interface for logging on. I have found it to be a bit sluggish - I know, I am in a plane, what do I expect?



Did Social Just Make UC Irrelevant?

July 8, 2011

If you are working with a phone system maker who isn’t innovating rapidly, beware - their days could be numbered.

I hate to be sensational but you have to wonder, with real-time video & voice communications embedded into social networks where a billion or spend a good part of their day, is standalone unified communications now much less important? And with Google+ tying together all of Google’s activities from voice to video to Gmail and chat, will people prefer to make calls from their Google toolbar or something a PBX company provides?

Obviously Avaya with its Flare interface and Cisco’s Quad are examples of being ahead of where the consumer market eventually evolved to.

How Skype and Facebook Work Together

July 7, 2011

It is fascinating to hear how Facebook and Skype work together - the news this week that the companies have a solution merging the best of social and video has shaken the industry up a great deal but now the details on how the system works are beginning to emerge.

TMC's Tom Keating has an extensive podcast interview with Chaim Haas with Skype PR and IP communications veteran Jonathan Rosenberg, Skype's Chief Technology Strategist where he learned everything you need to know.

New Skype APIs There are Skype server APIs made available to Facebook users which allow "shadow" accounts to be created with random Skype IDs. This happens even if you have a permanent Skype account.

Stripped down client: The Skype client used in this instance is stripped down (just does p2p no supernode functionality or unnecessary UI or codecs) so it will download quickly. It doesn't use Adobe Flash as some web reports have stated incorrectly.

Thank you Amazon: All the Facebook calling is supported by server supernodes - no PC supernodes - with cloud support from Amazon EC2.

No PSTN just yet: There is no PSTN calling at the moment but in the future there could be. Some interesting use cases are the ability to allow calls to mobile phones based on profile or even e-commerce and click-to-call.

No HTML5: There were rumors of the client being HTML5 - sadly it isn't - that would have been great to see as it could have conceivable run on all platforms like iPads, etc. As you can imagine, the company had to work on scaling this app - as there are over 750M active users on Facebook - even more than Skype users.

Will it scale? The question now is will the Skype network which has had a number of outages these past few years be able to to deal with flash crowds, update issues and more.













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