Jim Machi : Industry Insight
Jim Machi

Fascinating WebRTC Demos from WebRTC Expo

WebRTC has been described as the most disruptive communications technology of the decade. It has also been described as overhyped. Well, I...

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Restoration Hardware's E-commerce Fighting Formula

A Tasteful Blend of Starbucks and Apple Retail Experiences designed to make customers fall in loveApple has the most valuable retail real...

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Thoughts on ThinkGeek Customer Service

I’m on the phone with ThinkGeek because I purchased something which they shipped incorrectly. I tried email and didn’t get a...

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The Interworking Function (IWF) part of the Diameter Signaling Controller (DSC) now takes center stage

Diameter Signaling Controllers (DSCs) are the general term used to describe products that enable load balancing and scaling of Diameter signaling...

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New T-Mobile Pay as You Go LTE Pricing Changes Everything

Until recently, if you wanted a real data plan on a major carrier while using your cell phone, you were forced...

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How Sony May be Fighting to Unleak its Information

The recent attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment is about as scary as it gets as emails which insulted the company’s hired talent...

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4 Tips for the Busy Executive

I have a couple of prospective clients that keep delaying projects. One really wants to do the project but the people...

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WiFi Offload from 3G

October 27, 2010

In the past couple of weeks, I've had a couple of experiences with using the WiFi feature of my Blackberry. Last week, I wrote about attending Interop in New York and when I attended the keynotes, which were deep within the recesses of the Javitz Convention center, my cell phone dropped to EDGE. So during one of the keynotes (that I didn't find particularly interesting), I started playing around with my Blackberry to get the WiFi going.  Whoa! It was awesome. I got onto the internet and I was flying. Definitely faster than 3G from my perspective. My email also worked great. Definitely a good experience and I will likely use WiFi more often now with my Blackberry when I'm in areas where I can get it.   On a sour note, I also tried WiFi at the new Giants Stadium during the Lions game on October 17. I know officially it's called "New Meadowlands Stadium" but I still call it Giants Stadium. I had read articles about this stadium being the most technologically advanced and having a stadium-wide public WiFi. Well, I found WiFi when I checked. But all the networks I found needed access codes, which doesn't make too much sense to me. I don't know what they're thinking with that.

Clouds and Pall on a Sunny Day at Interop New York

October 20, 2010

When I went into the Javitz Center this morning to attend Interop, it was a bright sunny day. But soon clouds started rolling in. One type of cloud was the pall that comes from bad baseball. Yes, the Yankees have been under the specter of one big, bad, dark, forboding, cumulonimbus cloud right now. Yes, they've been playing like the Mets so now they know what that feels like. It doesn't feel good and it's coming at a bad time considering it's the baseball playoffs. Still a glimmer of hope though.   But another type of cloud comes from Cloud Computing and that was a major theme of Interop. Interop, to me, has roots in the old Network+Interop shows that I used to attend when I worked for Novell. At that time, it was all about networking of course, and the ability to hook up printers to networks!    Now, this is the Business Technology show so enterprise issues such as cloud computing, network and wifi security, storage and telepresence were themes at this show. UC is also here, but from this show's perspective, it's mature and so doesn't quite get the messaging here.   If you are in IT and need to get schooled on the latest goings-on in your area, this is the place to go!

Video on the Bosphorus

October 13, 2010

A few weeks ago, I was in Istanbul with some customers and prospects. As I've written many times in this blog, the promise of adding video to an already existing voice and/or text mobile application is compelling to use, and compelling as a value-added service to offer.  So it's a win-win given the right business model.    Given the 3G networks available in Turkey, I figured it would be a snap to actually demo a mobile video app to these customers and prospects so I called into a customer IVVR demo that shows your airplane seat visually and how to change it from your phone. But alas, there was the error message "no video service, video call failed." Huh?   Well, I just so happened to be with the service provider that my phone was using at the time and they made a few phone calls. It was indeed not offered yet since they haven't figured out the payment plan. Would it be part of the monthly fee? Would it be charged per use? Would you have to buy video prepaid cards to use the service? Since I was roaming, how would the roaming charges work?    These issues will all be worked out, but it was an important reminder to me about why video telephony, like most new technologies, takes a little longer to become ubiquitous than some might think. It's the same to me as VoIP was 10 years ago, and that's why I'm bullish on mobile video.

IT Expo West Action

October 6, 2010

As I write this, I'm at IT Expo West in Los Angeles. The convention center is located right next to the Staples Center (where the Lakers play basketball) and there is much action right around this site. And action inside the convention center with IT Expo going on as well.   This is a memorable site for me since in the late 90's I would come here with 200 other Dialogic colleagues for CT Expo and descend upon the place in a swarm of blue shirts. This is an excellent venue for a conference.   I sat in the beginning of day two of the SIP Trunking and UC Summit day sponsored by InGate. I wasn't able to spend all day in here due to other commitments, but the day looked interesting given the discussion to be had on UC in the service provider market, hosted UC, Enterprise UC and even going over a case study. I also spent some time in the 4GWE part of this conference, heard Avaya speak at lunch about innovation, and also spent time in the Mobile Communication track piece of the conference I spoke it.  This all just confirmed my belief that this is a good conference to attend. 

Dialogic's Deals - Veraz Merger is Complete and the Magic of Early October

October 4, 2010

Yes, it's early October and that means the magic of baseball playoffs in New York. Unfortunately, increasingly, and much to my disappointment, this has nothing to do with the New York Mets. But it's still exciting at this time of year since early October at Dialogic has typically been deal time, meaning, we've either announced or completed a deal - in 2006 (Dialogic assets from Intel), 2007 (Cantata), 2008 (NMS), and now 2010 (Veraz merger). On Friday, we announced the completion of our merger with Veraz Networks. The combined company will be known as Dialogic and is now listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker DLGC.

Since the agreement to merge was announced in May, I've been asked multiple times why we did this deal. People typically commented to me that they figured we'd do a deal, but didn't see a deal with Veraz coming. OK, that's fair enough, but let me explain why.

First of all, we like California and need to go there more and given Veraz is in California; it made sense! In all seriousness though, this does fit into the Dialogic strategy of expanding more into the service provider market. The combined Dialogic now has a very comprehensive portfolio of both multimedia processing infrastructure (which includes media server platforms, VoIP gateways, video gateways, and session border controllers) and call control infrastructure (softswitch and signaling). Dialogic has also touted for quite a few years the importance of security and session border controllers because of the emergence of border elements in general (i.e. IP to IP, including elements of media and signaling and security), and given Veraz has an SBC product, this now means Dialogic is squarely in this space.

And the Veraz portfolio is excellent. In fact, in June, Gartner published a Magic Quadrant for Softswitch Architecture and Veraz moved to the challenger quadrant "because of its focus on its core competency, as well as good execution in emerging markets and with alternative carriers." And the Veraz bandwidth optimized gateways give Dialogic an improved presence in the emerging optimization space.

From a technology perspective, we are clearly unique and differentiated in that we now have media processing, signaling, switching and security technologies and products. I honestly feel that no one else in the market has this breadth of technologies and products. It will be up to us to leverage all these assets appropriately, such as with building improved integrated border elements and marrying video and optimization technologies, but I am confident we will do so as we will be able to focus a larger engineering organization on this. So in a nutshell, the product sets all fit into our strategy.

  This means our customers will benefit because they can now focus on their development and deployment competencies by leaving the complexities of network call control and media processing to us. Our customer base and prospect base can build out their networks, or build their value-added service solutions on Dialogic. 

  It's important to remember that even though this deal is about improving the service provider footprint for Dialogic, the enterprise segment is still forecasted to comprise about 40% of the overall revenue for the combined company, and we will remain focused on the enterprise customer base. We plan to continue with support of Project DiaStarâ„¢ and associated telephony open source initiatives as well. At a higher level, the enterprise customer base will stand to benefit from this deal given that more and more enterprise applications are moving to the cloud, and there is potential synergy among the service provider relationships with Veraz. 

  It's up to us now to successfully integrate into a single Dialogic. We've done that successfully with each of our previous deals, and I'm confident we'll be able to do it again here and that the combined Dialogic will continue to serve your needs if you are a current customer, or will if you have not already worked with us.

  And from our legal department, since this blog is somewhat forward looking, I have the following important message: This material is covered by the Dialogic Legal Notice and the Safe Harbor provisions set forth therein.















The Growth of Location-Based Services

September 28, 2010

                                            
I've been seeing a growth in the marketing of location-based services so I decided to look into it more. If you want to learn more about LBS, go to the Creativity Software website, which has a good overview of location based services.   One thing that the mobile operators have as an advantage (with regard to the over-the-top players) is that they know your location. Now, someone could map every wifi connection in the world as per something similar on this website, but clearly there will be more coverage and more accuracy with a mobile operator. And another advantage is that the mobile operators know how to bill you, which is important since LBS is worth monetizing.   Two of the fist and best known LBS apps are fleet management tracking and "family finder," which helps you keep track of where your children are. According to Creativity Software, people are willing to pay at least $1 ARPU/month for this, which makes these kinds of apps very appealing and which make for an easy return on investment for the mobile operator. Clearly, then, upping the take rate of these family finder apps to yield a higher subscriber update would be an excellent marketing campaign for a mobile operator.    I also view location-based mobile advertising as a huge growth area for location-based services. If you can get an ad to a mobile phone that is relevant to the location of the phone, the person may be more apt to take advantage of that ad.    This concept is conveyed well in the Dialogic corporate video and I put a snapshot of that above. The restaurant ad pops up as someone is watching a soccer game near the restaurant. Then when they click on the ad, the next screen shows up.    If the restaurant had a special and wanted to "advertise" it, a basic way of course would be to advertise it in the newspaper. But instead of doing this, what if they made a deal to advertise it to a phone near the location? The ad could be clickable to a voice call or a website to set up a dinner reservation as well (which is how this video showed it).   There is a digital advertising ecosystem that could make this happen. I would guess that within a few years this will be fairly commonplace.




The Mobile Phone Gamer

September 22, 2010

Games are another avenue for money-making in the video value-added service value chain. What is a "game" though on a mobile phone? Your mobile phone probably comes with some games downloaded already - possibly some kind of card or board game, or some kind of simple basic game where you need to move a target or shoot at a target. It's very interactive. So like downloading a ring tone, or wallpaper, there is a market for downloading games to your mobile device.    But games can be more complicated as well. There are many internet games - just go on the internet and play some game that would be web-based. You can play these on your phone as well. But there are some games that you can't access from a mobile device, and I can see for sure that in the future, we'll be able to play games like these. And lo and behold, when I was in Korea some time ago, they were able to play internet-accessed games on their mobile devices (which also had fairly large screens).   The games can be solo games, like a card game, or can be multiplayer games, like my son does with this X-Box.   With mobile devices, though, playing a multiplayer game can be time-consuming, and can mean you are on the "phone" for a significant portion of time, possibly becoming an expensive proposition depending on your payment plan.    I'm guessing that mobile phone games will continue to grow and that they will incorporate the touch screen and location in these games so they are in fact unique to the mobile device, as opposed to being some game accessed by a different broadband mechanism.

Wither a Whipsan WiMax?

September 15, 2010

Try saying that 5 times fast. But with Intel announcing it is purchasing Infineon's Wireless Solutions Business for $1.4B, Intel is getting into LTE in a much bigger way. Or did they do it since the Intel logo and the Infineon logo look quite similar? Assuming they did it to drive LTE, though, I'm sure the logo similarity couldn't have hurt. But what does that mean for Wimax? Oh, that woebegone Wimax. Intel once supported that and even drove that wholeheartedly, likely even hoping WiMax would become the "next WiFi" so that could drive a whole new laptop refresh. Intel is saying all the right things about supporting all wireless initiatives, such as WiFi, 3G, LTE and WiMax, but this has to hurt WiMax, at least mobile WiMax. 
  WiMax, from what I recall, was created to address the last mile as a wireless alternative to cable and DSL.   Mobile WiMax came later.  So perhaps WiMax could still play an important role if it does that really well. After all, from a personal perspective, I get my broadband through cable at home, and I do notice speed issues from time to time - I definitely would be open to an improved broadband experience if it really was improved and cost-effective. I'm sure I'm not the only one. So potentially fixed Wimax for the last mile could still be in play, and could be useful for even mobile backhaul. 
  So let's not write WiMax off just yet, but there clearly are hurdles ahead.

Everything Everywhere Except...3G and HD Voice and...

September 8, 2010

As some of you may know, Everything Everywhere is a merger of the UK Orange and UK T-Mobile. The EU took a hard look at it since it would be the UK's largest mobile operator and approved the deal in March
  Everything Everywhere just announced the first tangible benefit of the deal is free roaming between networks. This makes sense as it's the easiest thing to do. A September 6th press release actually claims though this is the "single, biggest improvement of network coverage since the birth of mobile". As a marketing guy, I love how bombastic this is, but really? 
  To me, the network coverage is exactly the same. There are no extra towers being built. It's just a first step in a single network. But this is only for 2G services. Why? I don't know. Is it because most people are on 3G now and that won't be free if you happen to roam between networks?  I hope there is a technical reason as opposed to that since only a 2G benefit is specious.
  Given Orange UK just announced HD Voice coverage in the UK, HD Voice calls also can't be switched between networks at this time since T-Mobile UK would need to have that implemented, including having HD capable phones. So it's not quite everything everywhere yet, except as a vision. A good vision at that, but the everything and everywhere part still has some ground to plow.


A Mobile HD Voice Update

September 1, 2010

As readers of this blog know, I periodically write about HD Voice. And I've written about Orange being a leader with mobile HD Voice. On their website, they claim that "by the end of the summer 2010, their 3G network will be 100% HD voice." (Note: you can click the Google translate bar if you don't read French!). And today, they have announced that they are the first operator to launch mobile HD Voice in the UK. This is indeed good news and it's good to see that Orange is sticking to their commitments regarding HD Voice on their network.
  While we know mobile HD Voice is a known quantity in Europe, and is known in the US (though more on the enterprise side), it's also good to see that HD Voice is getting a voice in Asia. Here is an excellent article written by John Tanner in Telecom Asia. Remember that there are 5 pages in this article, so you need to click to go to pages 2, 3, 4 and 5.
  If you want to hear more about HD Voice, you can come to my panel in the Mobile Communication track at IT Expo in Los Angeles in early October.

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