VoIP, Nortel, Blackberry and Google Analysis

You can learn a great deal about the VoIP and broader communications and technology markets if you just listen (or in this case read) carefully. For example this week saw the launch of a new VoIP service by the name of TalkDaddy. The company differentiates itself by charging an annual fee of $179 for residential service and $299 for business. While this is not the first company to try an annual VoIP pricing plan it certainly continues a disturbing trend of service providers competing on price and not quality or features. Customers pay for better products in every product category from cars to suits. Coming out with the cheapest phone service means you are doing exactly that — announcing a cheap service. Customers aren’t thrilled to have their 911 calls carried by the el-cheapo carrier.

Before you price your VoIP service ask yourself this important question. If a close family member had to go tot the hospital what logo would you want on the ambulance — Yugo or Honda?

Of course this doesn’t mean you can price terrible service as expensive as possible but it tells you if you want to last in this business, build a Honda and price like a Honda. Even Hyundai is now trying to be Honda with upscale vehicles, upscale quality and prices.

Some thumb-inspiring news comes from the world of Blackberry where the company’s recent headlines have been more like a soap opera than a typical technology company. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see this drama recreated on the Soap Opera Channel.

The upshot this week is that Judge Spencer decided to postpone his decision on the matter of suspending the service due to patent litigation from NTP. Some predicted the handheld computer maker would be shut down this week.

My take on this is that everyone with any enterprise decision making authority is annoyed enough with RIM at this point that they will jump to a viable competitor. Now the market is just waiting to see who that might be. Palm? Microsoft? It is a bit soon to tell. If Apple’s Steve Jobs was to come out with an iType or iMail or whatever he would call a handheld e-mail device, I would bet the market would standardize on it rapidly.

But getting back to VoIP, Nortel has been in the news a great deal this week with news from not one but two market researchers announcing they are leading the market in a number of PBX related categories. According to the article the two market research companies are Dell’Oro and Infonetics. Not bad.

The company stumbled a while back but seems to be more than back on its feet.

If you allow me to digress from companies to concepts I would like you to read an excellent article about customer experiences in your organization. The question the article tries to answer is do you have a Chief Experience Officer?

From concepts back to companies we take a trip to one of the largest organizations — well at least the acknowledged search leader — Google. The company recently got a slap on the wrist from the Justice Department. Well if you consider an 18-page brief to be a slap. When you think about it, having indexed billions of pages what’s another eighteen or so?

If you recall, Google decided it didn’t need to cooperate with the Justice Department on what it characterized as a child pornography witch hunt that would divulge its user’s privacy. In response the government has said no way Jose, you better give us what we want or else. The Justice Department submitted a declaration recently by Philip B. Stark, a researcher who rejected the privacy concerns, noting that the government specifically requested that Google remove any identifying information from the search requests.

"The study does not involve examining the queries in more than a cursory way. It involves running a random sample of the queries through the Google search engine and categorizing the results," Stark, a statistics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said.

My take on this news is that Google is fighting a losing battle but has made its point. It doesn’t want us to think that it is Evil — after all the company’s famous motto is Don’t be Evil. So on behalf of my readers and of me, Google I would like you to know that we realize you aren’t evil. If the government is indeed asking for anonymous records and you think they aren’t going to give up… Why not give them a peek?

Speaking of a peek, Google gave us a peek at a program called Google Pages a service that allows you to design your own web pages in a drag and drop fashion. Some have complained that the service is too basic but as you can see from this page that was designed in a flash, this writer was fairly impressed.

Google pulled the service off the market temporarily due to strong demand. It is back online as of this writing. When you have as many users as Google, you’re likely get used to massive amounts of immediate demand. These of course are good problems to have and while Google isn’t perfect it keeps reminding us that it can instantaneously change consumer behavior as it rolls out news services.

With that, enjoy your weekend, stay out of trouble and take a gander at my Google Page that took a few minutes to create. The service is more of a Yugo than a Honda but it’s free and drag and drop… What more can you ask for?

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