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Wireless

RIM Does Unified Communications

May 7, 2007

Research in Motion has taken the full unified communications plunge via its Blackberry Mobile Voice System (MVS) solution. The goal of this product is to allow a Blackberry smartphone to become a seamless telephony extension.   Millions of users already rely on Blackberrys to provide them seamless e-mail and now the company is pushing hard into the world of voice. MVS provides enhancements to device software, the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) and Ascendent Voice Mobility Suite from Ascendent Systems which is a subsidiary of RIM.   I had a chance to catch up with Ascendent Systems Senior Marketing Manager Heather Howland a few weeks back in Boston to discuss this announcement. In addition we spoke today where she rounded out the details.

Vulcan Flipstart, Verizon and YouTube

May 7, 2007

This is a busy news week with announcements and commentary from virtually all areas of communications and technology. Starting small, Gary Krakow has a review of the Vulcan Flipstart which is a company founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Gary seems to like the device and one feature in particular he draws attention to is the small computer’s ability to be rebooted with a single button. There is a bit of irony in that the Microsoft co-founder “innovated” by allowing a Microsoft computer to be rebooted more quickly.

Wireless 2.0

May 4, 2007

Google, Yahoo, Skype/eBay and others are very interested in ensuring they have direct access to consumers through licensed spectrum. In fact, on March 6, 2007, Google became part of a consortium called the Coalition for 4G in America. It includes Skype, Yahoo, DirecTV, EchoStar, Intel, and wireless services provider Access Spectrum.   One wonders if this isn’t the clearest sign of all these companies are sure net neutrality will not ever be enforced. Then again it could just be a way to hedge their bets.   Chairman Kevin Martin and the FCC should be praised for taking action on the suggestions of the dotcoms and publicly pledging support for increased broadband wireless competition.   See the full story written by BusinessWeek.

Ed Whitacre Jr.

April 27, 2007

Congratulations to Ed Whitacre Jr. for building a great big telecommunications company from an assortment of smaller ones. Certainly in this case the sum was greater than the parts.   Ed is about to retire and he can consider this my retirement present.   While I have perhaps had a rant or two over the years about net neutrality comments made by Mr. Whitacre, there is not a single person who can deny this man has achieved greatness in the world of communications and technology.   Ed Whitacre Jr. put AT&T back together again and left it in great shape.   The Board of Directors has chosen Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T's chief operating officer, to succeed Whitacre as chairman and CEO.   Randall has tremendous shoes to fill and it may be very tough to keep AT&T’s massive momentum going without even more acquisitions. These could consist of content plays such as perhaps satellite radio, internet companies and even advertising networks. Yahoo!

Motorola: I Hate My Customers

April 27, 2007

Yesterday I was speaking to an influential PR representative who was implying one of his handset manufacturer customers was not really thrilled by the amount of power the wireless carriers wield. Generally this sort of talk is done behind the scenes but I have been noticing record levels of discontent among device-makers.   Perhaps this is the reason for my surprise at an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning where Motorola Ed Zander is on record as saying, “I love my job. I hate my customers.” It is surprising to see these thoughts going on record.   The article is a chronicle of how Motorola lost its top spot in the cell phone market and the soap opera that got them from where they were to where they are now.   The situation wireless handset manufacturers are in is similar to what Wal-Mart suppliers deal with as the nation’s largest retailer also dictates product specifications and pricing. I suppose you can’t blame wireless carriers for exerting their influence to do what is best for the bottom line.   Over the next few years as WiFi and WiMAX become more popular it will be interesting to see if consumers are swayed by a new generation of WiFi telephony devices and service providers subsidized by today’s handset manufacturers.

Bees Gone Wild

April 26, 2007

Greg has some thoughts on the bee problems and how Taiwan is being affected by bees who leave their hives and get lost on the way home. Last year at the Communications Developer Conference I joked onstage about the latest forms of IP communications and how pigeons would play an important role in providing mesh-based WiFi networks of the future.   It seems now we need a tiny IP-based bee-cam to be placed on bees allowing scientists to see where these bees are going. Some of the theories scientists are offering are power lines or cellular signals disrupting the bees natural ability to navigate.   Something I haven’t read about is pollution being a problem but pesticides and weather are other theories that have been posed.   But the bee problem seems to have become a problem last year and power lines and cell phone signals haven’t increased so much in the last year have they? Remember this is a worldwide problem it seems.   If it is a technology problem then it would have to be a new wireless technology.

Inflight Texting

April 26, 2007

Mapquest and OnStar

April 25, 2007

In what seems to be a very intelligent business decision by all involved, OnStar, the service allowing GM customers to have turn-by-turn in-car directions and Mapquest the web destination allowing online driving instructions have teamed up.   What are the benefits? Up to 5 destinations can be entered into Mapquest and they will be sent to the vehicle. You can always call an OnStar representative to enter the address but in this ATM-dominated everything-web world, who even wants to talk anymore?

Vonage Free to Compete

April 25, 2007

Cellular 911

April 25, 2007

As many people leave their fixed line phones for wireless only devices there will be an inevitable problem of safety. You see cellular phones do not have the ability to relay location information as accurately as a fixed line phone. The CTIA reports that 230,000 calls to 911 are made from cell phones each day. The group also estimates that 8.4 percent of households are "wireless only."   In some areas of the country 71% of tests for 911 location accuracy would result in a failing grade.
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