Erik Linask : Convergence Corner
Erik Linask

Why is the PSTN Long Tail So Long?

Even though VoIP and IP communications in general is now dominating all landline communications, why is the PSTN still there?  Why doesn’t...

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Cloudstudio with Your UCaaS, Would You Like Fries With That?

McDonald's is famous for asking customers if they want fries with their order and as a result, over the years, they have...

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Martello Offers Unique SD-WAN Solutions

Martello Technologies has become one of the more interesting players in the SD-WAN space - by purchasing Elfiq - one of the first...

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New REST API Helps Carriers Reduce Leakage, Improve ROI

Revenue leakage among carriers is close to a billion dollars and as new services come on line, the complexity of managing various...

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As an enterprise, why you should care about 5G

As an enterprise, why should you care about 5G?  I mean, after all, it means new phones, new bring your own...

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New VTech Devices Bring SIP and Key System Functionality to Business

Sometimes you need to go backward to go forward is what we thought when we met for an exclusive interview with...

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Jenne Becomes Leading UCaaS Value-Added Distributor

As resellers evolve from selling telecom hardware like PBXs to UCaaS, they often need help to figure out how to do it...

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Motorola, Super Bowl, ITEXPO

February 1, 2009

The big day is finally here -- for football fans worldwide, and especially Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals fans. We're only hours away from the opening kickoff at Super Bowl XLIII, and all week, the media has been abuzz with features on the NFL's season finale (ok, the Pro Bowl is yet to come, but who really watches that?).    Even late last night, as I finally went to sleep after a long day of preparations for ITEXPO East 2009, which itself kicks off tomorrow morning at 8:00 from Miami, a mere two hours or so from tonight's Super Bowl, I fell asleep to various TV shows discussing the big game.   The point is, this is one of the single biggest media events of the year, and the NFL certainly would have been remiss to consider that when choosing its wireless supplier for the event. So, it's not all that surprising that it again chose Motorola to provider end-to-end WiFi coverage. Not only has Motorola been the NFL's vendor of choice for three years running, but it has a wealth of experience to draw upon as it provides reliable, high-speed wireless connectivity from more than 4,000 media members covering the game.   The temporary nature of the deployment, combined with the high user density and network traffic congestion, not to mention the critical nature of the communications network, all make for as demanding a deployment scenario as one can imagine.   Motorola overcomes these challenges, enabling access in several official Super Bowl venues, including team hotels, the Super Bowl Media Center, Raymond James Stadium, and more, using a combination of its Motorola RFS6000 wireless switches, AP300 access ports, AP5131 mesh-enabled access points, and Motorola AirDefense Solutions wireless security sensors. The solution offers not only the network speed and reliability media covering the Super Bowl require, but also the security that is required for any network solution.   So, as the Steelers and Cardinals prepare to do battle this evening, we're here at the Miami Beach Convention Center getting ready for ITEXPO, which, as I said, opens first thing tomorrow morning. The Motorola deployment is significant because it speaks to just the kinds of wireless technologies that will be on display on the exhibit hall floor (along with their wired counterparts and everything else that creates an IP Communications solution), accompanied by conference sessions on the latest wireless technologies at 4G Wireless Evolution, which a collocated with ITEXPO.   It may not be "the" Super Bowl, but ITEXPO promises to be the Super Bowl of the IP Communications industry. The winners will be those who attend. See you tomorrow.

CNBC Ignores Google Earnings Drop, Yahoo! and Microsoft in Trouble?

January 22, 2009

It provides no guidance as to earnings, so Google's reported $5.10 non-GAAP earnings per share for Q4 2008 was welcome news today -- or was it?  While the figure highlighted by CNBC immediately following today's closing bell on Wall Street certainly bears noting, it is in sharp contrast to the $1.21 GAAP earnings per share the search and advertising giant reported.  That's a 70 percent dip from Q3 2008.   Regardless of which EPS figure you look at, the increased revenue is a positive, as is the uptick in stock prices following the close of the market today.  But what sticks out is that CNBC completely overlooked the sharp drop in earnings over a quarter ago in its initial reporting. I understand the need to accentuate the positive, but a 70 percent hit is tough to hide, and at the end, Google did beat expectations, and is well positioned moving forward.   Porter Bibb of Mediatech Capital Partners, speaking on CNBC following Google's announcement, declared Google undervalued.  "Although the bigger you get, it's hard to get even bigger, they own advertising," he said.  Even if Microsoft and Yahoo! Come together, they won't be able to touch Google."   Of course, it doesn't help that Yahoo! is somewhat in shambles right now, not sure whether it is a content aggregator or an advertising firm.  Google knows what it is and where it is going.  For Yahoo!, MS, and any other would-be competitors, Google has its sights set on at least two markets where it could become a disrupting force, as it has in the search space.   Everyone is talking about the iPhone and the BlackBerry Storm, but few are talking about the Google Phone, T-Mobile's G1.  Rich Tehrani recently wrote about predictions that open source communications solutions will dominate the market by 2010.  The market is focused heavily on mobility already, and with an increased tendency towards open source, Google will again have the advantage.  "It will be the next home run for Google," said Bibb.   And, if you ask anyone following the communications space, cloud computing is on the rise as one of the hottest topics today.  Well, Google Docs is nothing more -- while at the same time being much more -- than a set of cloud-based applications that offer the effectively MS Office functionality.  Again, the company already has its foothold in a space the rest of the market is only beginning to discover -- and why not? Why pay for an application you can get for Google for free, and not have to use hard drive resources. Windows 7 is likely to take a hit in uptake as a result.   So yes, Google's earnings are up, and despite its GAAP EPS being 70 percent below last quarters, its results are slightly above expectations.  And it's shares are up in after hours trading.  More importantly, it holds a dominant position in its primary business, and has a solid reach into two areas expected to be the future of the communications by many. Whatever MS and Yahoo! have in mind, they may already have played themselves out of the game.


Opera Hits a Wrong Note

January 21, 2009

I recently read a report suggesting that European officials are considering requiring Microsoft to strip its popular Web browser, Internet Explorer, from some versions of Windows. Naturally, the debate originated from a competitive browser provider -- in this case, a complaint brought by Opera.   In a nutshell, Opera claims that MS is abusing its position as the dominant OS provider by bundling IE with Windows. This practice, according to Opera, limits user choice.   If a ruling against MS is upheld, it wouldn't be the first time. In 2004, the European Commission made a similar ruling, requiring Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without its Windows Media Player. That version, called Windows N, failed miserably. The consumer voice was heard clearly -- they wanted an built-in media application with their operating systems.    The first question that comes to mind, should such a preposterous ruling be passed, is, how can users access the Internet to download alternative browsers if no means of access is provided? Sure, OEMs or retail vendors could install browsers upon purchase, but that is hardly a viable solution, given the frequency with which operating systems must be reinstalled or upgraded. It just doesn't seem reasonable.   In addition to that practical matter, the simple fact is there are several browsers that have gained popularity despite the inclusion of IE with Windows. Firefox, perhaps the most popular third-party browser, has made significant gains in market share over the past four years, jumping from less than 4 percent to more than 20 percent today, according to the report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. During the same period, IE has reportedly seen a dip to below 70 percent from what was nearly a monopoly at 91 percent. Despite the lack of popularity of the Vista operating system, the ascent of Firefox is a testament to user choice in browsers, not operating systems.   Just as most users choose their favorite media player, they also are happy to install their browser of choice, regardless of what is preinstalled. Most Windows systems also come preinstalled with various ISP access software. I don't have the figures on that, but I suspect that may offer convenience to subscribers to those providers, but today, I doubt they drive provider decisions. To blame Microsoft for Opera's inability to gain market share is shortsighted. In fact, it's not over the top to place equal blame on Firefox for the stunted growth of Opera.   Then there's the question of Apple. We're aware of the success it has seen, particularly in the laptop space, and its Mac OS X comes with Apple's own proprietary Safari browser. I guess Apple just isn't a big enough name to go after?   Whether this is a real attempt to go after Microsoft's bundling practice, or just a shot at exploiting the media to gain attention, I'm not impressed by Opera's tactics.   Given the growth of the mobile market, including devices that offer a real mobile browsing experience (i.e., iPhone, Storm, G1, etc) on 3G networks, Opera might be better served by looking to draw attention to the fact that its Opera Mini offers a significantly faster browsing experience to IE on these devices.  In fact, I was quite surprised at the speed with which paged loaded compared to other mobile browsers. There are still some features that need work, but my initial reaction is to use Opera Mini on my Storm, even though there isn't a version optimized for the device yet.   Most software vendors begin in the desktop space and adapt their solutions to mobile platforms. There is no reason Opera can't employ the opposite strategy. We know consumers are creatures of habit, and once they become hooked on Opera Mini, the company can use that as its hook into the home and office environment, instead of creating ill will by attacking a market giant. And if nothing else, isn't there a lesson to be learned from what happened in 2004? For obvious reasons, most consumers want a complete package when they turn on their PCs for the first time.  

Interactive Intelligence Integrates with IBM for Enterprise-wide Unified Communications

January 19, 2009

With all the attention on integrating communications applications and solutions with Microsoft Outlook, to drive unified communications capabilities for the business market, many might forget that IBM still holds a significant share of the market -- depending on whose data you read, IBM's Lotus owns as much as 40 percent of the market.

Much of IBM's customer base is founded in tradition, with many large enterprises reluctant to replace a communications platform that has provided an effective solution for years -- not to mention the costs involved with making the switch to an alternative solution.

The point, though, is that many of the key players that have recently announced compatibility with MS Outlook and Exchange, are also now doing the same with IBM's Lotus Sametime solution. It is not only a testament to the market share still owned by IBM, but also to the continued growth of Unified Communications, which seeks to integrate all enterprise communications applications to enhance access and improve productivity.

Lenovo's VoIP Remote

January 5, 2009

It took me two years since it was first launched in North America to get one, but I finally got a Nintendo Wii. Now I know what all the hype has been about -- and why retail every retail outlet was sold out yet again this holiday season. That said, anyone wanting one would likely have easily found one on Craig's List (I did).

What is amazing -- and I'm certainly well behind the curve in getting to know it -- is the Wiimote. The motion sensitive remote controllers bring a new level of excitement and reality to its games.

Mobile Voting in Estonia

December 12, 2008

There's been so much chatter around wireless technology lately, thanks in no small part to the popularity of Apple's iPhone, Google's Android platform, and now the latest BlackBerry all-touchscreen phone, the Storm. You could fill an entire site with iPhone-related news and information, in fact.

The interesting thing, though, is that the U.S. is still well behind Europe, in particular, with respect to mobile capabilities, which leads me to an article I wrote today about an exciting development in the mobile world.

Video Chat for Google Gmail Users

November 12, 2008

Google added voice and video communications capabilities to the tools available to Gmail users.

HD VOIP Phones from AudioCodes

November 5, 2008

No, AudioCodes is not known for phones -- not like Polycom or snom, both of whom are also pushing high definition VoIP. But, because of its heritage and its proven voice technology, AudioCodes brings its new products to market with confidence.

Welcome to Convergence Corner

August 13, 2008

I've been meaning to do this for several months now -- actually start this blog, that is. In fact, I wrote much of this initial entry several months ago on a flight home from ITEXPO in Miami, but there it stayed, in a folder on my hard drive labeled Convergence Corner.

Well, the evolution of the communications space is incredibly exciting, and every time I see something happen, I think to myself, "That would make for a great blog entry." So, it's about time I take advantage of the opportunity I have to pen my thoughts on happenings in this exciting world that encompasses so much... from simple VoIP to Unified Communications and beyond.

About Me

March 6, 2008

If you're reading this entry, it means you've likely made a conscious decision to click on this page, and for that, I thank you. In return, I'd like to take a moment to tell you a little about myself, and how I came to this wonderful space we call VoIP, IP Communications, Converged Communications, Unified Communications... well, you can call it many things.    I started my professional career many years ago at a management consulting firm, where my primary focus was working extensively with American Express on its Annual Employee Survey, which meant dealing with some 80,000 survey responses each year. At the time, that seemed like a huge number, and for a survey, it is -- but it's nothing compared to the two to three million monthly visitors we get here at TMCnet.   Anyway, after working on that project for more than five years, I switched gears and joined the publishing world at Global Custodian, a global investment magazine, where I doubled as manager of the magazine's survey group and managing editor. Not a lot of down time there. It was a challenging environment, but one I enjoyed immensely, and it had its perks -- not everyone can say they've visited places like Singapore and Geneva.    But more than anything, what I learned there was that I truly enjoyed the publishing world, as well as working directly with our clients. So when the time came to move on, and the opportunity arose to join the TMC team, it seemed an ideal situation. Not only could I continue doing what I enjoyed, but I could do it in a space that is as exciting as any. The combination of a rapidly evolving environment and technology that was "real" -- after all, we all use various communications technologies every day -- was extremely inviting.   So, I joined TMC back in October of 2005, with at the very least an interesting day -- a few hours after I began my first day, my immediate supervisor, The VoIP Authority, Greg Galitzine, informed me he needed to leave, and for good reason -- his wife was about to give birth to their third child. The following week was ITEXPO West in Los Angeles, and the office was largely empty and I was left largely to myself for the first week and a half. But it was a memorable week and a half: The one thing that stands out is the constant hammering on the phones by one of our sales reps, affectionately knows as Frankie Show, who never let up once, continuing to entice local LA area professionals to head down to the show even on the final day of the event. Now that's dedication.   Now, almost three years later, it's evident to me that it's just that level of dedication that has helped TMC grow into the presence in the communications space it has become.    As for myself, I began working exclusively with our print publications, beginning with INTERNET TELEPHONY, and the IMS Magazine and SIP Magazine as well, watching the latter grow into its current existence as Unified Communications. As with any growing company, my role evolved, and I become more heavily involved with our growing Web site, TMCnet, as well, and now, have transitioned primarily to that medium. But all other things aside, what has made these past few years -- and God willing, the foreseeable future as well -- such a rewarding experience, is the team here at TMC, which is second to none.   EKL
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