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Well, I asked for it -- a lo and behold, look at what happened a few days later. In my blog post about Web-based VoIP provider Jajah teaming up with Web-based VoIP provider Jangl on Thursday I wrote: “Maybe it isn't part of the plan, but I hope that Jajah and Jangl will team to deliver a USB phone that plugs into one’s computer or perhaps even a router enabling a home phone network via one’s PC to help accelerate adoption of their Web-based services. I think letting users also use a regular handset, in addition to their computer, would go a long way to accelerate adoption of the two companies’ Internet phone services.” This was based on my opinion that in order to really drive consumer adoption of Web-based VoIP, you have to make the experience as close as possible to using traditional phone service. That means you have to be able to use a regular handset – and without having to punch in numbers on a Web site via your computer in order to connect calls. Well, yesterday, Jajah launched Jajah Direct, a new VoIP service letting users make low cost long distance calls over a regular telephone. No, it’s not a USB phone that plugs into your computer – in fact you don’t even need a computer – or a broadband connection! Here’s how it works: First you have to dial an access number given to you by Jajah (or visit the Jajah Web site) and then you select a local number that you “assign” to a particular person you call with some regularity. After you select the “local number” of the person you want to call, you can continue to use that number to connect to that same person each time you call them.
In deal which will no doubt spur the Internet’s transformation into a giant voice network, VoIP provider Jajah and “social communications” company Jangl have teamed up to make IP telephony a standard and integral part of the Web. This deal is huge, as these two companies have already done much to make VoIP a familiar term to millions of Web users. Jajah specializes in “click-to-call” VoIP for online advertising and retail Web sites, in addition to offering its popular Web-based telephony service via its Web site, Jajah.com, which connects users all over the globe. Meanwhile, Jangl offers a similar service (using your email address) and also specializes in bringing click-to-call VoIP and text messaging to social Web sites, including technology that lets members communicate via their Web-enabled mobile phones. This partnership will combine the strengths of the two companies and promises to bring new, innovative and low-cost text and VoIP services to consumers, thus making Web-based voice communications to become practically ubiquitous. The two companies will work together to market their combined solutions and bring new solutions to the fore. "The goal of this partnership is to create several natural synergies for both Jajah and Jangl, and has the potential to strengthen both companies' positions going forward," said Rebecca Swensen, research analyst, VoIP Services for IDC, Inc., in a press release.
I was watching TV with my 7-year-old daughter recently when this ad for “Amazing Amanda” came on. I’ve always had an interest in speech recognition technology so this particular doll really caught my attention: You see, Amazing Amanda “is a doll like no other. In fact, she's the closest thing to a real child that a young ‘pretend mommy’ can have. By responding to voices, recognizing objects and showing emotions with realistic facial expressions, Amazing Amanda establishes an interactive mother-daughter bond that is unparalleled among children's toys.” This doll is like an android. Through a combination of advanced voice recognition, sensory response and animatronics technologies, this thing is as close to a real child as you can get… or might want to get … I mean it’s almost spooky … in an almost “Chucky” kind of way. According to the promo on Target’s Web site, Amazing Amanda not only learns to recognize her “mommy's” voice, she also “recognizes objects such as her outfits, toothbrush, sippy cup, various foods and her potty.
VoIP service provider Jajah has teamed up with online advertising solutions provider Oridian to deliver a jointly-developed in-call advertising solution. The deal means advertisers who use Oridian’s privately owned ad network will have the opportunity to inject audio advertisements into the call streams of Jajah users. However, today’s press release does not explain a lot of the details, so I’ll take my best shot at explaining this: Most people are already aware of the power of online advertising when it is coupled with VoIP. Many websites are now hosting advertisements with built-in click-to-call capabilities. These enable a user to simply click on a button in the advertisement to launch a VoIP session which connects them directly to the advertising company’s representatives (i.e. call center). Under most models, the click, in effect, pays for the call, and should the user opt to purchase a product or service, the company hosting the online ad on its website gets a small cut.
Hey, we all knew it was coming -- VoIP’s explosive growth, that is. Considering that the major telecommunications carriers in the U.S. have been using VoIP on their long haul networks for nearly two decades now, it only makes sense that eventually it would find its application on the last mile networks of today’s fixed line and mobile broadband service providers. It’s all part of the ongoing evolutionary process in communications technology: Find a better way to do something and eventually everyone will want to use that method. Consumer awareness of VoIP is growing rapidly, as people come to discover the many advantages it holds over traditional phone service (not the least of which is its super low cost – typically either free for local calls or pennies per minute for long distance).
In case you haven’t heard the news, Vonage has settled its patent suit with Sprint, and will pay the telco about $80 million in a cash settlement. As per the agreement, Vonage will pay $35 million for past use, $40 million for a license going forward, and $5 million in prepayment "for services." In addition the two companies announced that they are about to enter into an unspecified business relationship. A federal jury ruled last month that Vonage had infringed patents belonging to Sprint and ordered the company to pay $69.5 million in damages, plus future royalties. Vonage said it would appeal, but instead ended up settling. Meanwhile, Vonage is still hoping for a favorable verdict in the patent infringement case brought against it by Verizon last year. Last month a U.S. appeals court upheld a verdict that Vonage had infringed on patents held by Verizon.
Network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. has reportedly agreed to buy privately-held call center and business intelligence software company Latigent. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Chicago-based Latigent specializes in Web-based business intelligence and analytics reporting solutions, with a focus on contact centers. The company last made news on TMCnet in June, when it announced version 3.0 of its BlueVue X-Ray Edition business intelligence software, which is said to give managers and executives an “X-ray view” into their contact center operations. The new version of the software offers Real Time Performance Manager (RPM) and “cradle-to-grave” reporting for Cisco ICM & IPCC, plus expanded support for Cisco IPCC Express. Some no doubt saw Cisco’s acquisition of Latigent coming, since the two have been working closely together for years. Latigent's products will add nicely to Cisco's suite of Unified Customer Contact solutions.
San Jose, Calif., start-up Pudding Media has unveiled a new Skype-like VoIP service which allows advertisers to deliver targeted advertising content to user’s desktops while they are chatting away on their PCs. Basically, the company is using speech analytics to monitor, or eavesdrop on, people’s VoIP calls, and then based on what words are used in the conversation, targeted, personalized advertising will be displayed on screen, corresponding with what is being said. So, for example, if I’m talking to my wife about what to have for dinner tonight, a frozen food manufacturer can have their ad pop up on my screen when I say “dinner.” Advertisers pay based on how often users click on their ads, with prices similar to those offered through Google’s AdSense network. Pudding Media reportedly plans to add other payment models, like charging for each ad impression or by the number of calls an ad generates to the advertiser. I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’m going to let someone monitor my calls for the purpose of delivering personalized advertising. I mean, if I’m watching a cooking show on IPTV and a local store that sells gourmet food or cookware wants to show their ads during the commercial break, that’s fine. But monitoring my calls to find out what I’m talking about is just a little too Orwellian for me.
I just want to thank Apple's Steve Jobs for reminding me that the holiday shopping season is already upon us ... even though here in Connecticut it’s still in the 80s and people are swimming at the beaches. I also want to thank him for lowering the price of the iPhone from $599 to $399 barely three months after the phone hit store shelves. Now maybe I can afford to buy one as a Christmas gift for someone special. Or should I wait until January, when the price will drop to $199? Granted, Jobs issued an apology to those who already bought the iPhone for the full price $599. Plus, Apple is now offering a $100 rebate to everyone who purchased it for the full price, meaning that the original full price was, in fact, $499. But in my view, anyone who went out and bought the iPhone right away (perhaps even waited in line for it) got what they deserved.
Each year, Customer Interaction Solutions magazine publishes a comprehensive list of both domestic and foreign teleservices agencies. This list, which will be published in the October 2007 issue, is considered the definitive source for shopping for outsourced customer services. (Please note: This listing is for companies that offer call/contact center services to other companies on an outsourced basis.) To get on the list, please send an e-mail to CIS Associate Editor Patrick Barnard (firstname.lastname@example.org) with “Who’s Who” in the subject line and provide the following information: --Company name --Company contact person --Postal address --Phone number --E-mail --Web address --Type of service (using key below): A: Inbound B: Outbound C: Multilingual services D: Interactive (IVR, Automated Agents) E: E-mail capabilities F: Other Web-based communications (text chat, co-browsing, videoconferencing, etc.) This is a great opportunity to give your teleservices company exposure in the leading and longest running trade publication focused on the call center industry, Customer Interaction Solutions. Submissions must be received no later than Sept. 14.