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Unified Communications

Marketing Goes Almost Painfully Local

August 2, 2011

Pay attention, you might just overhear something

One of the most memorable business stories I hav e heard was when a consultant friend of mine flew to a large customer to quote on a substantial project. He was traveling with his business partner and happened upon a shuttle bus to the rental car company with his competitor and a partner. None of these consultants had ever met but my friend and his partner had the luck to keep quiet as he overheard the other two people on the shuttle bus finalizing their pitch and setting the price for the project.

Skype for iPad is Baaack

August 2, 2011

Skype for iPad is here!

It was much-anticipated, released, then pulled, then re-released and it works great. The company said there were problems with it causing them to pull and then release it a few hours later. (Update) TMC's Erik Linask thinks the problem is related to chat bug. There isn't much to say except it has better quality than the iPod/iPhone version but the front-facing iPad camera is certainly a major limiting factor in the quality of the video calls you will experience.



An additional feature beyond what you can do on the iPhone is the ability to chat while conducting a video call.





Why Windstream Bought PAETEC

August 1, 2011

Broadband and communications provider Windstream Corp just agreed to purchase communications conglomerate PAETEC for $2.3 billion in order to add scale and drive growth. PAETEC is an interesting company as it not only provides broadband and IP communications services; it also has data center services, is a large telecom reseller/interconnect, provider of telecom expense management (TEM) solutions and more.

Earlier this year I reported that PAETEC CEO Arunis Chesonis was looking for potential acquisition targets in India and elsewhere and in fact the company did just pick up XETA Technologies to boost its cloud-based service offerings. Interestingly his own company may have been in play while PAETEC itself was exploring more acquisition targets.

Anthropomorphized Ads Go Mainstream.

July 29, 2011

Anthropomorphism or assigning human characteristics to nonhuman objects is alive and well in the world of advertising. Perhaps the best example of advertisements which embody this technique are of the “Mac Vs. PC” variety where the Mac character is young and hip and the PC is cross between Bill Gates and Seinfeld's George Costanza.

Back in 2007, voicemail transcription service PhoneTag, formerly SimulScribe put out an anthropomorphized video as well which is a take-off on Apple’s ads.

 

Sprint Telehealth and M2M Event 2011

July 26, 2011



Last week I spent time at the Sprint Telehealth and M2M Event which they call Emerging Trends and Solutions in Telehealth, Remote Patient Monitoring and Wellness Forum. It was an intimate event but full of partners like Digi and many others who were thrilled to show off their solutions which work in-part with Sprint's networks. BTW - for those of you who go back to the UNIX days of dumb terminals - you may remember DIGI used to be a player in the space of allowing many terminals to attach to a PC-based UNIX system. Yes, we are talking pre-Linux here - in the late eighties/early nineties.

The mood was upbeat and positive, this part of Sprint's business is doing well and a wave of partners are enthusiastic about the future of telehealth, telemedicine and the machine-to-machine (m2m) markets.



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.

News Corp. PhoneGate Analysis and Suggestions

July 21, 2011

Based on the constant media coverage you should all be aware that reporters at a now shuttered News Corp. newspaper broke into voicemail accounts in order to get scoops. News Corp is certainly center-right in its reporting - depending on which brand of course. And it is also a very successful company with products like Fox News being monsters in terms of viewership.

But journalists are generally liberal and before you dispute my assertion, please recognize I hire and work with them for a living and as such, media outlets across the world have gone out of their way to focus on what isn't such a huge story.

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).







Are you using Lync or USING Lync?

July 18, 2011

Thought leader and noted UC analyst Blair Pleasant is skeptical that 70% of the Fortune 500 are implementing and using Lync. But Steve Ballmer tells us that 70% are on Lync. As we all know, there is a difference between using something and really USING it. Especially when you consider how many workers a typical Fortune-class company has - does a few people per 100,000 constitute real use? We need more accurate usage numbers to back up his claim.

The interesting thing is you can likely argue that almost all companions use Skype in some capacity - and as it merges with Lync - you could say virtually all companies of any size use Lync. I wonder what Blair will have to say about that.



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