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Rich Tehrani
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Skype, FCC, IBM and Tech News Before New Year's

December 30, 2010

While the week before Christmas and New Year’s is typically slow with regards to news, the huge blizzard which hit the northeast really started things off with a bang. A foot-and-a-half of snow hit the area around TMC headquarters in Norwalk, CT with drifts totaling a few feet in height. Airports were backed up and some streets took days to plow well.

Skype has been busy

Skype Video For iPhone a 2011 Killer App

December 30, 2010

I just did a brief test of Skype video calling on the iPhone - it works on the iPad as well. TMC's Tom Keating and I tried calling over WiFi and AT&T 3G. WiFi worked amazingly well and the first 3G call I tried just hung.

My second attempt to call Tom's iPhone 3GS with my iPhone 4 went through and the quality seemed slightly worse than WiFi but still quite good. During the demo I received two non-Skype 3G calls which placed the Skype call on hold.

News to Know Before New Year's 2011

December 29, 2010

The bitter fight between Oracle and SAP over copyright infringement got more bitter with courts agreeing SAP owes Oracle $16.5M in interest on the $1.3B award Oracle received. While less than the $211.7M Oracle sought, Oracle will also get reimbursed by SAP for $120M in attorney fees.

Let’s say you got a NookColor for Christmas but your books are all on Amazon’s Kindle service… You can now read Kindle books on the Nook – but you need to put on your propeller hat first.

Most Indian telcos must roll out services on wireless spectrum they purchase from the fovernment in a year or pay fines.

How TMC is Working to Make ITEXPO Even Better

December 27, 2010

We have been very fortunate that TMC’s community of visitors online and the readers of our publications have chosen to make ITEXPO and its numerous related and collocated events the place you come to learn about the market and choose products for purchase. Thank You! We have never taken your loyalty for granted and we appreciate your suggestions over the years – many of which have been implemented and as a result have made ITEXPO the defacto event of its kind with growing attendance, topical coverage and energy levels.

If there is one thing you know about TMC it is we are not shy to try new things – especially when they seem to make a lot of sense and you suggest them.

Net Neutrality: More Unintended Consequences

December 23, 2010

What if the FCC could force FedEx and UPS to charge the same rates for delivery regardless of how many days it takes to get a package delivered and/or the weight of a package?

Stairway to Trouble

A large tech company found many of its workers were using gadgets when walking up and down the stairs and as a result after numerous internal meetings they decided in order to create a better work environment they would communicate with the workforce about the perils of multitasking while walking on the stairs. As you might have guessed, the decision was made to put signs in the stairwells warning people to not multitask.

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.





MagicTalk and MagicJack Plus Coming Soon

December 14, 2010

I’ve followed the IP communications business for well over a decade and in 1997 my company TMC decided to launch a publication called Internet Telephony to focus on what we believed would be a massive trend towards IP communications. At first we were ridiculed because there was a point in time when the technology was seen as a replacement for Ham radio only. It took some years but the industry caught fire and saw incredible innovation – even a bubble or two grew and exploded on the way to where we are today.

And as amazing as the market has been for 12 years or so, we didn’t see VoIP-on-a-stick become ultra-popular until a few years ago.

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.




















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.















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