First Coffee for 26 November, 2005

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for 26 November, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is John Rich’s “One Bud Wiser” (“Well, I’m one Bud wiser/Than I was a minute ago…”)

Boy, the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the news wires are humming, boy, lemme tell you, so much hard industry news it’s hard to know what to say first…

Right. We have to go out of North America to find any news at all.

From Israel comes the news that InterObject, a provider of turnkey outsourced software development projects, as well as customized software products, has announced that Global IP Sound has chosen to integrate the company’s MPEG-4 and H.264 video encoding and decoding technology with its own technology base.

Global IP Sound, whose voice processing tools enable real-time communication over packet networks and are integrated in such VoIP software products as Skype, has chosen to embed InterObject’s technology within the foundation of its VoiceEngine Multimedia.

Eli Schwarzfuchs, InterObject co-founder and general manager, says their suite of MPEG-4 and H.264 software components are available for a wide range of processor platforms.

Gary Hermansen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Global IP Sound said easy integration of these codecs with their own technology base will “keep development efforts down to a minimum while enabling us to remain focused on our core capabilities.”

Happy birthday, Charles Schulz. The first Peanuts comic strip featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Schroeder, Linus and Sally appeared October 2, 1950. As Writer’s Almanac says, “Charlie Brown was the first character in an American comic strip to suffer anxiety and insecurity, and Peanuts became the most popular comic strip of all time.”

In a canned announcement released late yesterday, Net2Phone, Inc. says that the Independent Committee of Net2Phone’s board of directors is “expressing no opinion and is remaining neutral” with respect to IDT Corporation’s unsolicited tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of Net2Phone’s common stock that IDT Corporation and its affiliates do not currently own for $2.00 per share in cash, net to the seller, without interest.

Consequently, stockholders should “make their own decisions on whether to tender their shares and accept the offer, based on all of the available information, including the factors considered by the Independent Committee.”

These factors are described in Net2Phone’s Solicitation/Recommendation Statement on Schedule 14d-9, which is being filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and mailed to stockholders.

A week ago Net2Phone announced getting $18.8 million from Altice One, an investment fund with interests in cable properties, due to “a recent change in ownership of those cable properties.”

On November 15, Altice notified Net2Phone that a third party had acquired a controlling interest in Altice, that the third party would not agree to be bound by all of Altice’s obligations under the Agreements, and that therefore, the Agreements were being terminated. Simultaneously, Altice wired an $18.8 million buyout payment to Net2Phone.

This amount is less than the predetermined buyout payment Net2Phone believes is required by the Agreements, and Altice has indicated that they would welcome further discussions with Net2Phone in this regard.

Net2Phone has informed Altice and its third-party acquirer that the buyout provisions of the Agreements require an additional payment of approximately $29 million and that it reserves its rights to all claims that may result from the termination.

Today, in 1942, the movie Casablanca premiered at New York’s Hollywood Theater to mixed reviews.

In Australia, “New South Wales electricity utility Country Energy will soon follow its Tasmanian counterpart Aurora and start selling broadband Internet services over its power line infrastructure,” according to industry observer Renai LeMay.

LeMay says the company has been “evaluating broadband over powerline technology [a technology that can see broadband delivered at speeds of up to 200Mbps through a normal electrical wall socket] for several months through a limited trial in the NSW town of Queanbeyan but is preparing to kick off a more widespread trial in about three months’ time.”

“We’ll continue to use that particular Queanbeyan trial site as a technical trial,” the company’s telecommunications chief Geoff Fietz told LeMay. “In parallel, we’re putting together a business case to go to the company early next year, for a commercial pilot.”

Aurora Energy is running a trial of BPL in Tasmania. That trial, LeMay says, “will last for nine months and is initially providing broadband and Internet telephony services to Hobart homes and businesses.”

The Aussie government’s in the process of thrashing out its attitude towards VoIP, and thankfully they seem to get the picture. Communications Minister Helen Coonan said the government saw no “immediate need for any changes to the regulatory framework” for VoIP communications, report Louisa Hearn and Sam Varghese in the Sydney Morning Herald, but “would support the introduction of a new number range to help develop the services,” in the reporters’ words.

These include “creating a non-geographic number range so customers can keep the same number when they move home, improving connections to emergency services, and regulation of customer service.”

Interesting opinion from Louis Columbus, a former senior analyst with AMR Research, who thinks that Google won’t drop the ball on CRM the way Microsoft did.

He passes on the rumor that Google’s interested in buying Friendster, which will give them a low-end, widely-used sales force automation product, and says watch the positions Google’s hiring for, as he does: “Google is hiring for CRM right now.”

“It’s only a matter of time until Google unleashes a free low-end hosted CRM suite,” Columbus writes. The heart of the business model for free CRM, he thinks, “will be the potential for driving up advertising revenue while at the same time up-selling advanced CRM features.”

Microsoft could have done this, Columbus thinks, but they decided to make users wait. Bad move: “With Google Analytics launched and delivering a depth of features other free analytics packages can’t touch, the progression of Google’s product strategy is starting to take shape.”

Columbus is impressed Google Analytics’ ability to “parse site metrics by the three roles of Executive, Marketer and Webmaster,” and given that there is also support for Marketing and Content Optimization, “when Google brings out CRM expect to see multiple roles or views of customer data and the opportunity to upload various CRM-specific file formats.”

Now here’s what First CoffeeSM calls real CRM: The Hindu Business Line is reporting that, as part of their Customer Relationship Management strategies, Toyota and Daimler-Chrysler are both offering free gas to car buyers.

In America, purchasers of certain Daimler-Chrysler cars are given a card worth $2,000 to swipe at gas stations. In India certain Toyota purchasers are given “1,200 liters of petrol” (about 300 gallons of gas) free for a year or 100 liters of gas every month for a year.

Sure it’s just moving “rebates” and “discounts” around under a shell, but it’s a cool idea.

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