Thursday, December 27, 2007

2008 technology prediction!

For the past of couple of days, I have been reading about 2008 prediction. Thought of writing something about it.

Here are some of my predictions:

• Location based services
• Mobile Social Networking
• VoIP Widget providers consolidation. Maybe, the three J’s(Jajah,Jaxtr,Jangl) could partner wih each other. Already, the two J’s, Jajah and Jangl have partnered.
• Google OpenSocial Might loose the steam
• Google will focus more into mobile space.
• Android might have some impact in the wireless industry. Though, I doubt they will pose a big threat to any of these handset vendors.
• More unified communication acceptance in SMB’s. Don’t know how the recession fear is going to affect the SMB’s spending
• More open social networking.
OpenID shall play a bigger role in single identity across services.

On a lighter vein, some odd predictions :-)

Fake Steve jobs and Steve jobs switch jobs
• Google buys Microsoft to claim a stake in facebook. Yes, we own part of facebook!
• AT&T buys all the operators in USA and starts charging user’s $200 monthly bill.
• Microsoft releases a new operating system, which even Bill Gates would shy away from.
• Yahoo social networking mash becomes number 1 social networking platform beating facebook and myspace.
• Tired of acquisition rumor, Digg goes IPO


Here is some 2008 prediction from other sources.

Funny one
Top ten wireless predictions
Webmetrix guru’s prediction
Read write web’s 2008 web prediction
Mashables 2008 predictions
Web worker dialy

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Destination India!

I have been shipped to India on a project work. This explains why I have not posted any new article on my blog. Adding to this mess- I Lost my luggage while flying through Lufthansa. Apparently, it was a big struggle to get my luggage back. Man this really sucks! Big time mess, customer service was acting as though they were doing me a favor. One of my luggages was severely damaged. I’m wondering how I can vent my anger. Feel helpless though.
Anyway, coming back to my blog updates, yes I have missed couple of good stuff over the past few days. Will surely catch up with all that. Stay tuned!

This brings up an interesting point. When u are working full time as a software engineer, how do u spare time for your blog. Sometimes i find it very hard, though i love to write, it's hard to spare time when you are overwhelmed with professional commitments. How do these great bloggers do it? Iam in awe of Alec sanders (CEO of iotum), how does he get time to write such amazing stuff so frequently. Being a leader of the team is by itself draining, not sure if you would have time to breathe. Any tips Alec.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jaxtr 5 million users, where is the money!

Jaxtr has reached 5 million users out of which 85% are international users. Wow, this is definitely amazing growth. Reminds me of skype’s old days, when it was growing at an amazing pace. This is for folks who have not heard about jaxtr, jaxtr is a voip widget that supports anonymous calling through widgets or a unique jaxtr phone number that connects you to the online community. Initially started as social networking voip widgets, later moved into international voice calling business model.

I still fail to understand their revenue model. I'm sure they are spending all their $10 million dollar money giving free jaxtr credits for international calling. It’s a free beer! Who wouldn’t want to have it, this explains their phenomenal growth. The moment they start charging users, iam scared the number’s are gone be pathetic.
Anne Zelenka from gigaom has an excellent post about jaxtr and their 5 million users. Worth reading

Here is some jaxtr user statistics I got from one of the comments from Anne Zelenka post:
India13.7%
Egypt6.1%
United States5.4%
Morocco4.5%
Malaysia3.6%
Dominican Republic3.6%
Jordan3.5%
Palestinian Territory3.3%
United Arab Emirates2.8%
Pakistan2.8%
Kuwait2.5%
Saudi Arabia2.4%
Algeria2.4%
Tunisia2.1%
Philippines2.1%
United Kingdom2.0%
Qatar2.0%
Bahrain1.8%
El Salvador1.7%
Singapore1.6%
China1.4%
Colombia1.2%
Canada1.2%
Sweden1.1%
Oman0.9%
Other countries24.4%

Based on my experience, looking at the user statistics and the countries they belong to – Good luck to jaxtr. Seriously they need big time luck to monetize from these users. Forget jaxtr, even bigger vendors are struggling to make money out of these countries. Though I like their app( I have embedded my jaxtr widget in my blog), hard to understand their revenue model.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Flash based VoiP, Adobe please wakeup!

Flash based VoiP is becoming one of the hot technologies. Looking at the number of startups that are supporting flash based VoiP; it makes me wonder where does adobe stand in terms of supporting flash based VoiP. Is Pacifica the answer for this? It’s been almost more than a year since Om and other’s talked about adobe’s flash VoiP support. Some interesting insight from Om and Ashwath about flash based voip.

Flash based VoiP support makes a great read only for the geeks and application developers that want to support browser based calling without any installs. I don’t think consumers care about all these technologies, all they care about is- ease of
calling from a browser with good voice quality.
Here is a list of companies supporting flash based VoiP
FlashPhone
GoRibbit
PuddingMedia
TringMe

All these guys have come up with flash based voice calling that requires no local installation of plug-ins or soft client. No plug-in install or downloads is definitely a huge selling point. Having said that, you need to have a solid business plan to leverage this technology. Just supporting flash based VoiP by itself is not a killer app. You need to build a community or have tones of users that like your product to be really successful. So, end of the day, it’s your product that needs to stand out rather than the under lying technology. The reason why I’m saying this is- Adobe with its own project Pacifica
can support all these technology with in the flash, and open up some API’s for other third party developers to build VoiP apps for browser. So with this support, building voice apps should be as simple as writing HTML/JavaScript code. So this might trump all these startups that claim to have a workaround to support VoiP from flash without any local installs. From a technology standpoint, you could migrate/embrace pacificia at a later point when it becomes available, but you need to have a good product and strategy to sustain. Bottom line- technology might help you break the initial barrier to success, but it’s the good product and vision that will eventually make it successful. Though being a geek, off late, I look at things from a user perspective. Oh boy! It’s hard and sometimes painful to see a great feature not accepted by the user. In a consumer world, users are the king. Period! We just need to listen to them.

Tom Keating of TMC has an article talking about ribbit launch plan. I guess ribbit is doing something what adobe should have supported themselves. So they fit the bill very well here. Good strategy. Off course, their success depends on the number of flash developers and startups that embrace their platform for building voice apps using flash.
Another interesting startup, pudding media has been getting certain things right with the product. I don’t think they had a good launch reception from blogosphere. Nonetheless, great teams always produce something more than ordinary and I’m sure they will prove the critics wrong.
I need to mention about TringMe here- Looks like these guys are still in that early mode of startup where u tend to digress your focus based on the market and user feedback. I guess it shows their flexibility to adapt, not very rigid and quite open. My observation is based on the number of products they are trying to churn out. Despite the fact that I’m a little skeptical about the VoiP widgets arena, I have to admit, these guys have some stuff in them and a good company to watch for. Not sure if they have any funding in place.

Here is some snippet of adobe Pacifica
• Pacifica is built on top of the open standard SIP protocol.
• Our first mission is to maintain the highest quality voice experience possible, pushing the boundaries of the Flash Platform.
• Right now, Pacifica enables point-to-point (P2P) transmission of the media channel once the connection is established via our servers.
• We are dedicated to a complete P2P solution going forward, to eliminate the complex server back end and configuration needed with most VoIP technologies.

Pacifica’s future plan
• Enable Video over IP
• Enable support for AIR applications
• Enable connections to traditional phone networks (aka PSTN termination)
• Provide support for text messaging
• Improve our model for Presence and availability
• Bake in some advanced firewall and NAT traversal techniques

Looks like adobe has lined up some important features like PSTN connectivity and NAT traversal techniques. Well, future looks primising for flash voip. Question still remains, if adobe will wakeup and when?

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Web 2.0 bubble, Hilarious video

Wow, this is one of best video I have seen after a long time. It’s a must watch to all those web 2.0 entrepreneurs and wannabe's. Enjoy the video

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mobile Killer app is finally here: Part 2

As promised, this is part II of my article on maps and location based services. Using maps and location as the platform, there are so many different applications that can be built. Maps and PND (personal navigation device) service are already available in most of the handset and some of the operators have deployed the same. We could add so many different niche features using the existing platform- For e.g. Location based social networking could become one of the niche social networking platform for mobile. For the past couple of year’s web based social networking companies like facebook and myspace are ruling the web with wide user acceptance. More than that, location is more real time than web, which is more asynchronous and offline. According to some reports, 51% of the operators revenue from data service came from location based services. This percentage speaks for itself.

We could build so many different interesting applications on top of maps and location. Here are some of the categories where interesting applications can be developed and some of them are already being provided either by operators or navigational developers.

Social networking and entertainment
-------- Communities
-------- Instant Messaging
-------- Match Mating( Dating)
-------- Games
-------- Social Mapping
Information
-------- Local search
-------- City guide
-------- Weather
-------- Traffic
-------- Shopping guide
-------- Mobile yellow pages
Navigation
-------- Map display
-------- Turn-by-Turn navigator
-------- Self Guided Tours
-------- Vehicle Assistance (OnStar)
-------- Car parking guidance
Tracking
-------- People tracking
-------- Asset tracking
-------- Automotive Vehicle Location (Fleet tracking)
-------- Fleet-Management
-------- Workforce management
-------- Child Finder
-------- Finding elderly or individuals with Alzheimer
-------- Stolen vehicle tracking
Location Based billing
-------- Voice calls
-------- Data transfer
Location based Advertisements
-------- Location based shopping discount fliers
-------- Location based restaurant discount coupon with direction
Geo Tagging
-------- Photo tagging
-------- Video tagging
Location based alerts
-------- Reminders
-------- Traffic alerts
-------- Weather alerts
Emergency Applications
-------- E-112 emergency services
-------- Body guard services

So folks interesting times ahead for location based services. Let’s hope operators open up their platform for other third-party vendors with innovative ideas. I guess Verizon opening up their platform should be good news for LBS based services.
Check out my article on location based services startups.

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mobile Killer app is finally here: Part 1

Mobile based map applications and location based services are the most favored apps on mobile phones. Off course, this doesn’t discount voice and SMS apps on mobile. According to an article from business week , mobile maps scores big compared to other applications. So this is indeed one of the mobile killer apps. I’m I surprised by this- not really. Infact, this is what I have been saying all these days. I guess its still in the infancy stage. Supporting only map capability by itself may not be a very big revenue generating market. Nonetheless, using map and location as platform and adding features on top of these apps shall be the future revenue generating model. Every big internet company like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft have their own map for the web interface. Google is leading the pack by announcing so many different maps features like MyLocation
, i'm sure there is more in-store from Google than only map functionality. I guess there recent acquisition of Jaiku and zingku will have some role to play in the future of Google map mashups.

Most of these companies depend on the data for their maps from either Navteq or Tele Atlas. These are the only two companies offering such map data bases with global reach, which imbues the prospect of their acquisition by the leading PND and mobile phone manufacturers with particular significance. These are the companies that support GPS based applications like TomTom, GM Onstar, Trimble, Garmin and all online web mapping and local search services. Nokia saw a great potential in this sector and surprised everyone by buying navteq for $8.1 billion dollars. This effectively counters other companies dependent on navteq for services. TomTom followed nokia and offered to purchase Tele Atlas stock for €21.25 (US$30.03) per share, an offer that would amount to $2.6 billion in value.

Interesting facts from ItFacts, the number of mobile subscribers accessing maps and downloading routes using their mobile handsets in Europe and the USA is expected to grow from 4 million users in 2007 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 60.8% to reach 43 million users in 2012. Revenue from subscriptions and advertisement is expected to reach 512 million euros by 2012 from 96 million euros in 2007, a CAGR of 39.8%.

According to a report from by ABI Research,

“GPS-Enabled Mobile Devices", Shipments of GPS-enabled mobile phones will generate over $50 billion in revenues in 2008, rising to $100 billion in 2012. The market for these handsets is expected to grow from around 240 million units in 2008 to over 550 million handset shipments in 2012. At present, most current GPS-enabled handsets are CDMA devices, but ABI expects increasing numbers of GPS-enabled handsets for 3G/WCDMA networks will start to appear in the market from 2008 onwards”

ABI Research believes that the mobile industry has reached the stage where we can expect to see rapid growth in the GPS-enabled handset market. “From cost and technology perspectives, chipset manufacturers now have solutions in place that will allow the integration of GPS in handsets at low cost and provide significant improvements in terms of accuracy, time-to-first-fix, and reception in indoor environments” said ABI. “On the services side, mobile operators and navigation application developers are coming up with attractive LBS offerings. Also, handset vendors are showing greater interest not only in providing GPS-enabled handsets, but also in introducing their own GPS-centric applications and services”.


Here are some of the highlights of the report:
• From cost and technology perspectives, chipset manufacturers now have solutions in place that will allow the integration of GPS in handsets at low cost and provide significant improvements in terms of accuracy, time-to-first-fix, and reception in indoor environments
• Services side shall see more attractive LBS offerings from mobile operators and navigation application developers.

Stay tuned for my part II of the article, I will cover more about location based services that can be built on top of mobile map application.

Some interesting links:
lbs deals are up
List of LBS buyout
nokia-buys-navteq-place-becomes-key

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Verizon Opens Up, Follows Google

Open platform and now Open Network. Off late, I have been hearing only Open, Open and Open! Today Verizon announced that they are going to open up their network to support any device, any app on its network. This is something revolutionary in the telecom world. I guess Google can no more claim that they are the only ones to support Open world. So, did Verizon open up their network because of the pressure from Google’s open handset alliance or the upcoming 700 MHz auction? It’s too early to conclude anything here. Just couple of months back Verizon sued FCC over open access (later withdrew the lawsuit). A better part of me still feels this is more of a PR stunt. Why in the hell would Verizon want to be a dumb pipe? In addition, open API's access for third party developer coming from an operator is something way too much to digest. All that said if they can deliver what has been promised, it’s going to be great start for innovation in telecom world.

Here are the highlights of Press release from Verizon

In early 2008, the company will publish the technical standards the development community will need to design products to interface with the Verizon Wireless network. Any device that meets the minimum technical standard will be activated on the network. Devices will be tested and approved in a $20 million state-of-the-art testing lab which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated new demand. Any application the customer chooses will be allowed on these devices.

This is a transformation point in the 20-year history of mass market wireless devices – one which we believe will set the table for the next level of innovation and growth,” said Lowell McAdam, Verizon Wireless president and chief executive officer. “Verizon Wireless is not changing our successful retail model, but rather adding an additional retail option for customers looking for a different wireless experience.

So what’s in store for consumers:
• Consumers are free to buy phone from any distributor and use it with Verizon network. Freedom to choose from different handset model.
• No more blocking of video or mobile VoIP calls from mobile. Good news to all the mobile 2.0 and mobile VoIP startups.
• Consumers may have to live without the subsidized version of mobile phones that were given by the operators for almost free of cost, off course with a 2 year agreement. I never had an issue with that; I love the free phone option. Don’t really care about the agreement, as long as the service and network coverage is good. ( not sure if the subsidized version of phones shall be scrapped )
• For all those iPhone freaks, this is good news. Apple are u listening! Please, we want iPhone for CDMA network.

So what’s in store for developers and startups:
• Build innovative applications and market directly to the users. No threat from the operator. It’s a direct sell between startups/developers and the consumers. If consumers like your product, you win. You don’t need operators blessing to launch your app. I guess this is a huge opportunity. Operator’s acceptance cycle usually takes somewhere between 12-18 months.
• Using the API’s, developers shall get access to most of the operator’s network resource. ( I’m still skeptical on this, only time will tell the other side of the story)

I’m still wondering where does this leave QualComm? They have to open up their platform for this entire open network strategy to become reality. Boy,u need their blessing to develop apps on handset. CDMA is Qualcomm.
Check out Om’s Insight on this whole Verizon open network. I love the way Om brings out certain points.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mobile VoIP, who will win

Mobile VoIP has started to gain momentum. Thanks to mobile VoIP startups like Mig33, truphone and Fring for being the trend setters in the mobile VoIP arena. Nevertheless, big operators are on a close watch out for these companies and the moment they sense any threat in their voice revenue, they will fight tooth and nail to block these guys. So here is my take on this- either operators can block these third party apps from using their wireless data bandwidth for voice calls or embrace the mobile VoIP technology and provide innovative service on top of wireless data backbone. T-Mobile took the latter approach by launching their dual mode UMA based WI-FI voice convergence using their own hot spots. Bottom line- Mobile VoIP is going to stay and will survive either way.

Mobile p2p voice traffic over wireless data network is the biggest threat to the operator. Consumers with an unlimited wireless data package can use the data bandwidth for unlimited voice calling. This is going to be a big drain in the operator’s voice revenue. Come to think about it, it’s even more challenging for the operators to milk the enterprise market that makes up most of their voice revenue. With WI-FI and unlimited data plan, enterprise users can now pay less for more voice minutes. Wireless data network can be misused for voice calls by using independent third party applications. Although, there are still some concerns about the bandwidth requirement for VoIP traffic on wireless data side. Though evdo-revA, umts HSPA (both uplink and downlink) can support a reasonable good voice quality, it’s still not yet there. Hopefully, with WIMAX, HSPA and LTE initiatives, voice over wireless data backbone should become a reality.

Some operators are reluctant to move their voice from TDM to IP backbone. Despite the fact that IMS was meant to move all the services including voice to IP network, I doubt some of the operators are taking that route. Having said that, with the mounting competition from independent startups that are providing mobile VOIP, operators will eventually catch up and for sure rule this space. Is that a bad news for all these startup’s- don’t think so, as long as these startups have some niche features supported other than the cheap VoIP calling they will do good. My guess is, in a long run, these startups shall be acquired by handset vendors or some big Telco vendor’s.

Here is the Report from disruptive analysis about mobile VoIP uptake. According to the report, mobile VoIPo3g and VoWLAN are going to play a bigger role in the entire operator’s eco system. It forecasts, 255 million active VoIPo3G users by the end of 2012. Man that’s a lot of mobile VoIP users. Operators please wake up!
















Some highlights of the report:
• The use of VoIP over 3G networks is inevitable in the medium term, as cellular operators move towards future all-IP systems like LTE & UMB.
• Operators will deploy VoIP to improve voice capacity, gain synergies from FMC networks and counter competition from WiMAX or other VoIP providers.
• VoIPo3G will be more important than VoWLAN, for operators and 3rd parties.
• Disruptive Analysis forecasts 255m active VoIPo3G users by the end of 2012, with the figure dominated by mobile operators’ own 3.5G+ voice services.
• Despite this growth, penetration will still be below 10% of total global mobile subscribers, and around 20% of all 3G+ users, by 2012.
• Even where VoIPo3G is deployed, circuit voice will still endure for years. Few users will see all their voice traffic transfer to IP; handovers will be critical.
• The key catalysts for independent VoIPo3G are the increasing penetration of smartphones, coupled with the growing availability of flatrate 3G data tariffs.
• Too much emphasis is placed by 3GPP on unproven ‘multimedia’ telephony concepts rather than ‘plain’ VoIPo3G.
• It will be more important to embed mobile VoIP into new devices, services or web applications (Voice 2.0) than adding video or other media streams.
• Improved indoor coverage of 3G through femtocells may catalyse VoIPo3G.
• HSPA+ will be a major VoIP platform, especially for operators without sufficient spectrum allocations to roll out LTE.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Update- Statistics of Voice apps on facebook platform

Look’s like my article on statistics of voip apps on facebook
has created quite a stir in the blogosphere. First it was OM,On Facebook, VoIP Has a Sore Throat and followed by Stuart, Alec, andy and other voip bloggers. What started as a personal curiosity of mine, has initiated a bigger debate on whether voip apps are meant for social networking platforms like facebook and myspace world. I always had this doubt in my mind about these apps and the platform they are targeting. Maybe, this is not the right platform for some of these apps.

Here are some interesting links to this debate
On Facebook, VoIP Has a Sore Throat
Pat Phelan,Slow takeup of facebook voice apps
Stuart Henshall Links
Voip applications are failing
Jon arnold
Ike Elliot
Jim Courtney, skype journal

Interesting reaction from blogosphere:
Giga OM

VoIP widget offerings - they don’t offer a vastly improved user experience when compared with the simplicity of the phone. Sure they save pennies per minute on international long distance calls, but even those costs are coming down quite sharply

Alec sanders
In fact, 27% of Facebook users are users of Facebook mobile. So it's not really a surprise that minute stealers are having a tough time. In fact, I'll go further — anybody who believes that users will really fire up a PC and log into Facebook to make a call when you can just pick up the phone and call for pennies, is deluding themselves

Jim Courtney, skype journal
Facebook is no nirvana for VoIP services; six month total Facebook VoIP installations = 1.5 days' of Skype account registrations

Andy Abramson
While I remain convinced that apps not minutes are what matters, we have to realize that the market that adopts early are largely the online, non talkative crowd. They IM chat and email. They are more comfortable not talking

Thomas Howe
I’m not going to dispute the numbers, but apparently, about six months after the Facebook API was made public, we’ve been through a complete market cycle. VoIP apps are failing on facebook, so it’s time to pack it in and call it a day. You would have to be a complete fool to waste your time there, no? Of course you would. There can’t be anymore than, say, 100k installs of Facebook voice apps to date

OM and Alec have the updated statistics for voip apps on facebook (I have attached the pics to this post). Oh, BTW Alec didn’t like his iotum being added to the voip list. I understand iotum uses TDM switching for voice traffic and doesn’t use IP as backbone for voice. I added iotum as a voice application rather than a voip application. In addition, I see some niche in iotum group conference compared to standalone voice application. To me, these kinds of applications have a greater appeal to enterprise and business users than individuals.
Maybe I should have changed the title of my article to “voice apps” rather than “voip apps”.
I will write a follow up article on this topic to dwell more into what are other communication tools that are being accepted by the users in social networking. So stay tuned!

Here is the latest statistics of voice apps on facebook:( courtesy OM and Alec)
















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Monday, November 19, 2007

Jajah direct calling, freedom from PC

Off late, Jajah is in the news for all the great features they are supporting. First it was free ad based calling , than came the jajah and jangl partnership and now it’s the jajah direct calling. Before even I venture further to talk about jajah direct, worthy of note is - as a company I think jajah is aggressive in their marketing and product strategy. These guys are up again after a lull period with some good offerings. When u construe something’s not working, u don’t sit and brood over it, u learn from it and move on with something new.

So what’s this new product all about, According to jajah-
“JAJAH Direct, an exciting new service which allows you to simply dial local to talk global. Access the JAJAH premium Internet calling system with any regular phone - no Internet or data access needed. It brings the best of Internet telephony to any regular phone with no change for the consumers existing ways of calling - one further step towards our vision of hassle-free global communication without barriers.”

Here are some benefits in using jajah direct
• Ultra-low rates for global calls
• International Internet calling without Internet access
• From any phone to anywhere in the world
• No monthly fees, no connection fees and no hidden costs
• Use what you have and get started in seconds
• No PIN codes, no pre-paid calling cards, no lengthy access numbers, no contract

It’s an interesting feature, but has been around for quite sometime now. Startups like Rebtel , TalkPlus, Mobivox have been providing such services. Nevertheless, the good thing about jajah is u don’t get different local numbers for each contact u call. So in order to initiate the call, u always use the single global number allocated for a particular country or city. Hopefully, they can come up with some kind of fast dialing option ( short dialing) that way user doesn't have to remember all his international contact numbers. Users can updade their profile with all their international contact numbers using the web interface.

Looks like most of the startups in the VOIP arena are targeting the international voice calling business, where the actual money is. It makes so much sense, since this is where companies can actualy make revenue. Alas, web 2.0 voip widgets are not going to generate any revenue for these startups. So more innovation in VOIP can happen only when there is a sustainable revenue model.

This feature should also help jajah reduce their termination charges that applies to web based callback model. In some countries including North America, for all outgoing calls, originator is charged only for his airtime minutes. So, giving a local access number for calling is in a way helping jajah avoid the termination charges that apply for both originator and terminator in case of web based call back model. I guess this should help them reduce per minute charges for some of the countries.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yahoo and Oracle’s social networking ambition's

Look’s like yahoo is trying all the tricks in the world to be back in the social networking game. I have a feeling that they are way too late in this space. Having dished out mash couple of weeks back, I still wonder how many users did actually embrace this platform. And now, couple of day’s back they came up with KickStart for out of college students. Pretty interesting. I read lot of article’s comparing KickStart with LinkedIn. I still fail to understand the real value of LinkedIn, except for seeing all my old colleagues in my contact list; I have not yet seen the cool factor in them. Bottom line -- LinkedIn is so offline. Hope things shall change once developers write some cool applications using OpenSocial for LinkedIn.

So what’s the story with Kickstart and Mash --



Mash is a social networking site similar to facebook and myspace. But a lighter version. In fact, the website looks more like myspace and facebook combination. According to yahoo, its ambition is not to make stand-alone social network and compete with facebook and MySpac. Instead, yahoo Mash will eventually become a layer on top of its various web services. The bigger ambition is to make yahoo as the platform and integrated all the services together. I guess inbox 2.0 is part of this bigger strategy. Fs YI, it’s an invite only site for now. I have some invite, leave a comment with your email id, I will send in the invites



KickStart is for out of college grads. According to yahoo, KickStart is a professional network that intends "to connect college students, recent grads, professionals, and
Alumni" so they can exchange information about internships, jobs, or mentorship’s. To encourage participation, Yahoo said it will donate $25,000 to the alumni association whose college has the most profiles by the end of this year.
Well this one is going to be a big gamble. How many social networking communities will the consumers use? In addition, not sure why would somebody leave facebook and LinkedIn for KickStart. Only time will tell.

Here is oracle’s foray into social networking. It’s a surprising move. I had commented earlier saying “what was Oracle doing in the OpenSocial . So now it makes sense and clear why Oracle became a partner in OpenSocial deal. So is there something for common users? I doubt it. Looks like the social tools they are building is for enterprise market. So this is something to do with enterprise 2.0 than web 2.0.

Oracle has been experimenting internal social networking for quite sometime now.
Some of the social apps from oracle are :
Oracle WIKI ( uses wiki platform Wetpaint )
Oracle MIX , a social networking site for customers with idea voting, groups, user profiles, and Q&A.

Check out oracle’s Blog for more info

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Google Android platform, $10 million developer challenge

As promised, Google today released android SDK software for developing mobile application. As I have said in my earlier posts, there are other vendors who support open mobile software platform. What’s interesting with android is its promise of being more open in every aspect of the software. Also described as “the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices”

Some tit bits about the android SDK
• SDK supported for mac,windows and Linux flavor(Linux Ubuntu Dapper Drake)
• Developers need to use Java as a programming language to write applications
• Eclipse and other IDE supported.
• The platform includes the Dalvik(apparently named after a favorite destination ) virtual machine;
• Android is based on the Apache v2 open source license.
• A high fidelity emulator provided with the SDK
• You can run and fully debug Android applications on a standard PC desktop in an emulator.

The entire Android platform will be made available for free under the Apache Version 2 open-source license in 2008, according to Google. In addition, Google plans to follow the Linux model for android platform.

For developers, it’s a double whammy, an open source mobile platform to play with, and 10 million dollars to smile.
So what’s the deal with this challenger program- Google launched the
, which promises $10 million in awards for great mobile apps, built on android platform.

So here is some more info about the challenger program-
• Two developer challenges announced. Money to be shared between these two challenges.
• Challenge 1- Applications accepted between Jan 2 through march 3 – 2008
• Challenge 1- This will be launched after the first handset built on android is available.
• In the Android Developer Challenge I, the 50 most promising entries received by March 3 will each receive a $25,000 award to fund further development.
• Those selected will then be eligible for even greater recognition via ten $275,000 awards and ten $100,000 awards.

Check out this awesome video from surgery bin and Steve. I loved the maps part, it was mind blowing. What a coincidence, today I got a chance to play around with iPhone maps and here again I see this great map app with touch screen on android. Looks like Googles android has lot of promise for users and developers. Iam very excited about this platform and have decided to digg more on this. Wish to write more about android in future.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Free ad based voice service from jajah and talkster

Free ad based voice call is catching up. Recently it was pudding media, which launched their ad based free voice calls platform. Most of the folks in the blogosphere gave thumbs down to this application. Initially, even I was very hesitant with the approach, later realized you don’t get free beer for nothing. Also, I wouldn’t call it as complete private intrusion. It’s software that is listening to your conversation. Infact, according to an Article from rcr news, users are willing to share personal information for free calls.

So from what I read, Jajah and Talkster also support free voice calls based on ads.
Here is the a snippet of the announcement from jajah
“ We developed a non-intrusive approach. Whereas in-call advertising would normally interrupt a call and disturb the caller, we simply overlay the message above the ring tone right before the call starts. Businesses get guaranteed caller attention, whilst at the same time not alienating our users with intrusive messages that break the rhythm of a telephone call “

Look’s like jajah wants to be AdWords for phone. I remember pudding media also wanted to position themselves as the Adwords for phone. So most of the startups are trying to follow the success of Google adwords, and are applying the same in the voice space. Will it be successful, time will tell.

What’s more interesting is their partnership announcement with Oridian - Online media solutions ltd. This is a very smart move. Oridian already has a large advertisement network, jajah can easily leverage on the existing companies that are being served by oridian. I find this more compelling than other ad based free call startups. You need a strong backing from companies that might be willing to shell out some money to support this kind of model. In addition, this is a new concept and will take some time for the users and the companies to accept the technology. So surviving the beta period is critical. I guess jajah is well positioned compared to any other startup in this arena.

Another company supporting free ad based calls is talkster. This is indeed an interesting move. Though, their calling model resembles rebtel, they are completely free. I guess this is one of a kind free call deals. Jajah and rebtel do charge users for using their service. Looks like talkster is completely free. Nevertheless, I fail to understand their revenue model. Off late, it’s become a mystery for me to understand the whole VOIP widgets and Free ad based voice calls revenue model. Are these guys looking at the Eye Balls as revenue or make fast buck by selling the user base to some bigger player.
Well, looks like interesting stuff happening in voice space.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Sorry no GPhone, its Android-mobile OS

So folks no Google phone,its only open platform software -feeling cheated :-)Look’s like Google is trying to solve the technology problem prevailing in the industry. First it was OpenSocial, and now comes another Open Handset alliance. I was kind of excited with this whole OpenSocial deal. Nonetheless, open handset alliance is big yawning news to share. Why in the world will the consumer care about open alliance platform. Maybe, this news is only for geeks. From an average Joe standpoint, he doesn't give a damn about android or any other OS. All he cares about is some cool features he likes in the handset. Maybe, android promise is to bring in these features on most of the handset. Oh boy, we do have so many mobile OS that can support all these features. One more OS to learn for developers.
So what is android—android is a complete set of software for mobile devices an operating system, middleware and key mobile applications. Open Software, Open Device, Open Ecosystem

Here is what open handset alliance has to say about android

“Android was built from the ground-up to enable developers to create compelling mobile applications that take full advantage of all a handset has to offer. It is built to be truly open. For example, an application could call upon any of the phone's core functionality such as making calls, sending text messages, or using the camera, allowing developers to create richer and more cohesive experiences for users. Android is built on the open Linux Kernel. Furthermore, it utilizes a custom virtual machine that has been designed to optimize memory and hardware resources in a mobile environment. Android will be open source; it can be liberally extended to incorporate new cutting edge technologies as they emerge. The platform will continue to evolve as the developer community works together to build innovative mobile applications “

Check out the video that introduces android( courtesy open handset alliance)


So android should be heartening news for developers and manufactures of mobile services and devices. Using android libraries and tools, developers should be able to unleash lot of innovative applications

More than 30 companies have formed the Open Handset Alliance, which aims to accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumer a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience. Participating vendors include Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC and T-Mobile; but not AT&T and Verizon.
BTW, mobile phones with Android are not expected to be available until the second half of next year.

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Google please announce GPhone!

Iam sick and tired of reading tons of articles and seeing fake pictures of GPhone. If Wall Street News turns out to be true; we should hear something next Monday (Nov 5th 2007). According to some sources, Google is talking to around 25 partners. Sprint and T-Mobile are almost in. From handset vendors, samsumg, HTC and Motorola are tipped to be partnering for Google phone. With its own version of mobile operating system, I doubt Nokia and Microsoft would be willing to partner with Google. In addition, Intel, Texas Instrument, Qualcomm and broadcom are also supporting the Google phone initiative.
I’m a little confused now; should I buy iPhone or Google Phone. For Google phone, I will have to wait till mid next year. I feel it must be worth the wait.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Myspace, Bebo join the OpenSocial party

It’s confirmed Mypsace and bebo to embrace OpenSocial. So this is going to be great news for OpenSocial. Looks like OpenSocial is really opening up the social platform. Well, except for facebook. Look’s like they are giving lame excuses about not being aware of OpenSocial or were not invited to join OpenSocial. (Apparently, in the Google campfire, some of facebook engineers were present. Not sure if this says something).So now it’s all about Google with everyone, and facebook with Microsoft. Interesting competition ahead. I liked the quote from Micheal

"The playing field has been evened, and no one wins. Except Google. They always win."

Here is a press release about myspace and Google

"Our partnership with Google allows developers to gain massive distribution without unnecessary specialized development for every platform," said Chris DeWolfe, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of MySpace. "This is about helping the start-up spend more time building a great product rather than rebuilding it for every social network. We're pleased to collaborate with Google to establish a landmark standard for social applications."

I have to admit, been blogging for couple of weeks now and OpenSocial is the most exciting news I have followed. Gosh, there is so much of stuff written in the blogosphere. Everybody is on their toes to catch up with what’s happening with OpenSocial. From the user standpoint, should he be really excited? I guess so! Though, this is good news for developers and startups building widgets for social networking platform. At the end, it’s the user who decides the winner and ultimately that is what matters.
Some questions still linger my mind:
• How does Google monetize the service
• Will Google insert ads inside the widgets
• If so, does this mean Google will force all the widgets using their OpenSocial platform to use their ad platform
• If facebook plans to join OpenSocial, it will be a conflict of interest between their SocialAd and Adsense

What google thinks about the deal
"There is no question Google will benefit from this," Joe Kraus, a Google product manager, said in a Tuesday interview. "Google's role is highly intertwined with the Web, so anything that makes the Web a better experience tends to help Google."

For more insight, check out marc’s Blog . Also, check out the Video from zdnet and the conference audio.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Google GPhone and OpenSocial plans unveiled

Well, for those of you folks who were praying for GPhone rumors to be true. Somebody heard it! According to Wall Street journal, Google is planning to announce over the next two weeks about Google mobile phone software and some of the applications that would be bundled with this software
Some interesting facts( well its still a rumor, till we see the actual phone)
• Google open mobile operating system
• Google Maps integrated with the OS
• Email integrated
• Search
• Instant Messaging

I guess over a period of time, almost all the Google apps will make it to the mobile platform. I had written an Article about how all the Google apps can make a great fit on mobile platform.

For so long, I have been dying to see some kind of unified access to different social networking community. Something similar to IM clients that unify most of the IM community in a single client( GAIM,Trillium ). So here comes the interesting news. From what I read from techcrunch Article —Google is going to unveil OpenSocial. OpenSocial shall provide common API’s to access different social networking platform like Hi5,LinkedIn,orkut,saleforce,ning,plaxo and oracle. I have no idea what is oracle doing here.

One more social networking or opening up orkut wouldn’t have had much impact. So this is a great move from Google to counter facebook platform. I guess this is called thinking outside the box!

This should be heartening news for all the developers. At least, this rescued them from learning so many different markup languages supported by different community. Someone had to build a common interface access, iam so glad this is supported by none other than Google . With their money and power, they can get most of the Social Networking community to open up for them.
More to come on OpenSocial—Stay tuned.

Some pictures of OpenSocial—Courtesy techcrunch


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Sunday, October 28, 2007

SMS messaging is still the killer app

SMS messaging is still the undisputed leader in the operators messaging revenue. Apart from the voice revenue, this one is holding the fort and is definitely the cash cow for the operator. Analysts predict SMS revenues of between $60 billion and $80 billion worldwide in 2007. According to a report from portio research, by 2012, SMS messaging shall grow by 3.7 trillion messages per year.

As a follow up to my article on voip acceptance in social networking, I guess SMS has lot of promise when it comes to Social Community interaction. What started as a means of sending short messages to and from mobile phones has become a global sensation used by small kids to old people. The uptake for some of other mobile messaging like MMS,MIM and mobile e-mail is still slow. This could be partly because of the dependency of handsets and interoperability. Mobile e-mail is largely dependent on the advanced handsets like PDA’s and smart phones. So obviously, this serves only the niche crowd and business users who are willing to shell tons of money on handset and the wireless data package.

Many companies understand the huge revenue potential SMS has. Despite the fact that SMS is a saturated technology, there are many startups that are trying to build innovative apps on top of SMS. In addition, SMS is already a successful business, finding something innovative for consumers to adopt is the biggest challenge all these startups are facing.

Some interesting apps worthy of mention are:
• Group SMS ( Check out my Article on list of group SMS companies)
• Voice SMS (Check out my Article on list of voice SMS companies)
• Mobile advertisement (non-intrusive delivery of relevant content and advertising on the SMS window)
• Voting on TV shows( For e.g., American idol )
• SMS based LBS service. (Check out my Article on list of LBS startups)
• SMS based social networking.
• Active streaming from handset ( Micro Blogging-- twitter,jaiku etc)
• SMS 2.0 ( Converged messaging )
• Enhanced messaging features like color SMS, Emoticons etc.
• SMS threading (creating SMS threading that emulates an IM interface )

Folks, here a small list of clients that support SMS threading on handsets:
http://benhirashima.com/software/
http://www.freewarepocketpc.net
http://www.mykesoft.com/textr/
http://www.pocketcm.com/

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Statistics of VOIP apps in facebook platform

Social networking or web 2.0 is the hot thing happening to the web. From a social networking community standpoint, there are so many different ways to communicate within the community and outside the community. Voice is one of the most popular communication tool used in these communities. Most of the VOIP startups are trying to play a niche role in this arena. Despite the fact that there isn’t a good revenue model in this direction, most of the voip startups support some kind of voice widgets for social community. Nevertheless, I’m not going to dwell into the revenue models or business case.

I was quite interested in knowing the acceptance of voip/voice apps in social networking community. What better place would that be than facebook, with a valuation of $15 billion dollars, that’s insanity? (Myspace $530 million dollar acquisition looks miniscule) Well, it was a very sorry tale for all the voip/voice apps on facebook. At least, to me it looked like these were not the real hot apps or active apps in the entire application directory that has around 6607 applications (as of today Oct 25th 2007). In addition, I didn’t find a category called voice apps. I had a hard time finding all the voip applications in the applications directory.
So here is a quick look at some statistics of different voip/voice apps on facebook platform (as of today, Oct 24th 2007) -- Total facebook active subscriber count 42 million.

Jaxtr
MyPhone
1,110 daily active users
2% of total
Total users – 55,300

GrandCentral
grandcentral
13 daily active users (4%)
Total Users – 325

Rebtel
letstalk
224 daily active users (6%)
Total Users – 3733

Jangl
phonebook
1,654 daily active users (2%)
Total Users – 82,700

Yackpack
27 daily, 0%

SightSpeed Video Chat
0 active users
Total Users - 0

Talkster
75 daily active users
31% of total
Total Users - 242

Iotum
FREE Conference Calls
245 daily active users
4% of total,
Total Users – 6125

Getabuz
Getabuz voice message
Users:964 daily active users
4% of total
Total Users – 24,100

Snapvine
1,090 daily active users
1% of total
Total Users – 109,000

Skype
Skype me
1,214 daily active users
2% of total
Total Users – 60,700

Babytel
55 daily active users
6% of total
Total Users – 916

Yeigo
yeigo me
18 daily active users
15% of total
Total Users – 120

TringMe
2 daily active users
2% of total
Total Users – 100

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Myspace,Google follow facebook model

Most of the social networking platforms are following the facebook model by opening their platform for third party applications. This is to counter the momentum facebook has been gaining, after they opened up their platform for third party developers. What’s more interesting is, rumors about Google opening their orkut platform for third party apps. Though early to market, the Google’s orkut hasn't seemed to gain traction except for Brazil and Asia. Expect some announcement in the first week of November 2007. This plan was first disclosed by Michael Arrington on his TechCrunch blog, followed by an Article by business week. Compared to other Social Networking companies, Google has an advantage when it comes to different apps supported by the platform. With the acquisition of Zingku and Jaiku , and the gphone rumors; Google is poised for a shakeup in the Social Networking arena. With so many in-house applications like gmail,gtalk,calender,youtube,iGoogle etc, Google can come up with some interesting mobile and web 2.0 convergences . Where does this leave yahoo’s mash, doesn’t seem to have any impact in this space. I was lucky to get an invite. The UI is pretty slick. More on this later.

Here is a list of Social Networking companies planning or already announced opening up their platform for third party application developers( might have missed some of them )
• Facebook
• Myspace
• Orkut
• Hi5
• Bebo

Myspace and Google platforms are going to be the playground for most of the third party apps. Myspace being the biggest Social Networking community, third party application developers are going to have a field day. As per statistics, facebook currently host around 5000 applications out of which only 10 of them are most popular. It’s going to be an interesting business model for companies that are trying to build apps for Social Networking. Despite the fact that not many apps are successful with facebook, we are still seeing a surge in these applications. Check out a very good Article from Tim oreily about social network operating system. Many folks have compared Social Networking platform as a Social Network operating system. ( Web as a platform ). In the same lines, we would be seeing different operating platforms like Myspace,facebook,orkut etc like windows,linux,mac etc. I would be more interested to see some kind of a cross platform between Social Networking. Alas, I doubt Social Networking companies are going to open up their walled garden. Forget Social Networking, we are yet to see IM vendors open up their platform for cross platform messaging. Apparently, from what I read, Google has promised to be more open than any other Social Networking platform. Well, Google has other options to monetize. Besides, orkut is most popular in countries where u can hardly monetize

Here are some features I would love to see in future:
• Single sign on, or OpenID as some people call it for all my registration on the web.
• More control on my personal social graph data.
• Cross platform interface between Social Networking
• Converged messaging platform using which I can share media, post status( active streaming) to all the communities. ( Something similar to netvibes model )
• Single presence status that applies to all the different communities I belong to.
• IM/Text/Email message convergence, I should be able to send messages to my community using any of my messaging tool likes IM,twitter,jaiku web etc
• Very simple mobile interface using which I can share all my media from handset seamlessly with my friends on different Social Networking community.


So folks interesting times ahead in social networking space, expect lot of innovative apps. Feel free to drop me a line on your requirement for social networking platform.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Finally, skype opened their platform for myspace

Skype announced partnership with MySpace to integrate their internet telephony software with myspace im. This is an awesome news. This is the first time skype has opened up their platform for a third-party company. Rightly chosen, MySpace is one of the biggest social networking sites in the world. With over 110 million MySpace users and 220 million skype users, Mind blowing. Scheduled to roll out in November, the new version of MySpaceIM, will enable users to place and receive VoIP calls through Skype’s network, either to other MySpaceIM users or Skype’s own users. In addition, skype users shall be able to IM or call MySpaceIM users. Standard pc-to-pc calls shall be free, but users need to pay for premium options like calling a landline or mobile from the PC.

I always believed social networking needed some kind of voice communication platform that can be used by the community for private and group communication. There are quite a few widgets that support this functionality. However, these widgets have their own limitations when it comes to full access of social media data inside a social networking community. We are seeing the Telco walled garden model being repeated in Social networking community. Even facebook’s tall claim of open platform doesn’t really seem to be true. From a future standpoint, holding social graph data in the walled garden is not going to be a winning model. Skype partnership with myspace should give skype platform access to all the social media data, which gives the client more flexibility in terms of supporting niche features.

Just couple of days back, I was reading rich tehrani’s great Article about how to monetize skype’s success. One of the suggestions was, enhancing skypes social networking capabilities. Well he was right on the money; Skype and MySpace announced their partnership. What a coincidence.
It’s very good news for Skype and MySpace, but maybe a bad news for other voip widgets startups like Jaxtr, Jangl , Jajah etc who have been exclusively targeting social networking platforms. Apparently, it looks like skype is planning to integrate with other social networking platforms. So, in future we can expect more Skype deals with other social networking companies. Hope this deal brings some smile back to voip in web 2.0 space.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Mobivox rings in 11 million dollars for mobile voim and more

I had looked at this company when it was called voxlib. Now Mobivox , raised 11 million dollars in series A venture capital funding from top-tier investment funds in the United States, China, Southeast Asia and Canada. Mobivox supports a rich feature set and the best thing I like about them is-- connecting to skype contacts through VoxGirl. Users don’t have to download/install any client to use this service. On the downside, it’s an IVR based feature. Nevertheless, the advantages supersede the limitations. Also, in addition to supporting skype interface they support lot of other features like local access number and free calling between mobivox users. This might imply; just supporting skype interface from mobile is not a good business strategy from revenue standpoint. You need something more than this cool feature to run your company. I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys also fall into cheap voice calling game. Although, it looks like they are moving in that direction.(For those of you folks, who have tried hacking skype code or used skype API to build a skype server for mobile interface, know for sure this is a Herculean task. Iam one of them. I had tried all the dirty hacks with little success. Most of the startups (Soonr , eqo )that support this kind of interface require you to run their plug-in and skype client on your laptop/desktop for connectivity. The plug-in acts like a conduit between mobile and the skype client. Very few have managed a workaround to this issue; iSkoot, mobivox and Fring).

I guess from skype interface support standpoint, they come very close to iskoot, another startup that provides mobile voim to skype. The only difference between these two clients are, for iskoot u need to install a client on your mobile, mobivox can be used with any phones. No downloads, period. If they can come up with a mobile client that can cater most of the handset models, they are clearly a winner compared to any other startups in this space. Though fring supports a skype interface, they do that using the wireless data network and not circuit switched network.
I used mobivox service to call one of my skype buddies from handset, voice quality was pretty impressive.
Also, they support web based callback like jajah. Register with mobivox and get 10 minutes of free call anywhere in the world.

Mobivox supports multiple features, some of them which I like the most are:
• Mobile interface to skype contacts. (Not sure why my presence was still showing offline in my friend’s skype contact list. Assuming mobivox proxy is logging me into skype network, my presence should have been online. )
• Instant Conferencing
• Group Calls
• Mobile to home transfer
• Add additional members during the call.


Some missing features that could have great appeal:

• Mobile client
• Web based contact and presence management
• Mobivox widget for social networking.
• Interface to other Instant Messenger like yahoo,msn, aol etc. ( Not sure how its gone pan out with VoxGirl)
• Interface from skype to mobile. ( Skype will fight tooth and nail to stop this, as it might impact their skypein minutes)

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Good and bad news for jajah

Jajah came up with a call me widget couple of weeks back. If you guys had looked at their customize button option, there was something exclusive for eBay. From what I read from fierce voip, jajah has been shown the door for supporting a call me widget in eBay. Well, iam not surprised; why would eBay allow some third-party widget when they have an in-house skype call-me widget. This is an interesting battle, though eBay might not be happy with this whole skype buyout. It would be a big let down for skype call me widget, if they support third-party apps to ride on their auction web site. Well for now, it certainly looks like eBay doesn’t want thirt-party call-me widgets to use their website. Anyway, this is going to be a free PR for jajah. Iam sure they want to capitalize on this news.
Good news is Japans eMobile has a jajah client pre-installed, which can be used for local, domestic and international calling using eMobile’s HSPA.
Here is a snippet of the article

“ Japanese mobile operator Emobile has adopted mobile IP phones on its EM branded HSDPA services. The ONE Alpha phone is offered in partnership with VoIP telephony company Jajah. The handset comes preinstalled with a Jajah IP telephony application specially developed for Emobile. Domestic fixed calls are charged at JPY 2.4 per minute while domestic mobiles can be called for JPY 15.99 per minute. Calls to fixed numbers in the US, China and Taiwan cost JPY 2.14, calls to France, Germany, Italy and Spain cost JPY 2.36 per minute, calls to Hong Kong cost JPY 2.7 and calls to Singapore are charged at JPY 2.4 per minute. “

So folks this is good news for mobile voip and voip in general. Let’s not get carried away with this whole sun rocket debacle and paint the whole voip future bleak. In addition, vonage seems to crawl out of their never ending poundings from big Telco’s. I still believe service over ip including voice is going to play a niche role in the coming future age technology. If u guys think otherwise, leave me a comment.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Google acquires jaiku not twitter

Looks like Google is on an acquisition spree. One more to their kitty. (They recently acquired Zingku) Today they acquired Jaiku, a Finnish based company that supports micro blogging, location based presence etc. So this definitely says something is cooking in Google with respect to mobile phone. There has been so many rumor and articles about Google phone. I was amazed to see so many people interested and excited to see Google enter the mobile arena. Albeit, iam one of them.

Iam still wondering why Google bought jaiku instead of twitter, which is the most popular micro blogging platform. I guess part of it could be because jaiku supports a mobile client and it’s more than a micro blogging platform. It has a rich feature set. Other than micro blogging, it supports user location, network location, presence and sharing availability and Web feeds. This could be one of the reasons why they might have looked lucrative to Google. Some people call jaiku mobile client as an active phone book; I don’t believe so. I had jaiku client installed on my nokia 6600 way back in march-April this year. I found the mobile client had way too many options and was a great fit for geeks than other folks. For now, jaiku supports only symbian handsets (nokia), not sure if they have any strategy of supporting other clients. Iam sure they will have an uphill task in supporting all these features on different handset. Anyway with Google on their side, they are definitely in the driver seat.

Here is what Google has to say in their Blog

“Technology has made staying in touch with your friends and family both easier and harder: living a fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle is easier (and a lot of fun), but it's more difficult to keep track of everyone when they're running around at warp speed. That's why we're excited to announce that we've acquired Jaiku, a company that's been hard at work developing useful and innovative applications for staying in touch with the people you care about most -- regardless of whether you're at a computer or on a mobile phone.”

Some info from jaiku Camp (Check out the FAQ)
“Jaiku is joining Google. While it's too soon to comment on specific plans, we look forward to working with our new friends at Google over the coming months to expand in ways we hope you'll find interesting and useful. Our engineers are excited to be working together and enthusiastic developers lead to great innovation. We look forward to accomplishing great things together. In order to focus on innovation instead of scaling, we have decided to close new user sign-ups for now. “


Oh BTW, there is another cool website I found through one of my reader’s comment that aggregates all the Google phone news...
Also, checkout my Article on Google phone.

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Saturday, October 6, 2007

pudding media demo and pictures

I saw the demo of pudding media, pretty impressive. I liked the Paris Hilton part though :-). Check out these links for Demo and picture.
Update:
Here is some answers from pudding media VP (eran) to the questions I had posted in my Article on pudding media.
• How will the speech recognition software understand languages other than English.
- Speech recognition is currently configured only for English. We'll add more languages in the near future.
• Does the user need to install some kind of plug-in to make voice calls. Pudding media claims that u don’t need to download anything to make call from the browser.
- The user doesn't need to download or install any software or plug-in. This is a world's first as well.
• Will it be unlimited calling or some kind of max minute’s limitation
- There are no limitations on the minutes.
• Does it have plans to support international calling in future?
- We will add support for more countries as we add more languages.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

More Click to Call voip widgets; jajah,tringme

Web-based soft phone is emerging as one of the hottest feature to embrace the web. Jaxtr has reached 2 million subscriber ; congratulations to the team. Following their success is Jajah , which recently announced call me widgets for social networking and blogs. For those of you who are new to voip widgets, here is a quick dump; Voip widgets can be used in social networking,blogs and websites for real-time voice communication, leaving offline voice message or sending a offline text message. Check out my Article for a complete list of voip widgets for web 2.0 community.
Jajah might be a bit late into the call me widget arena. Startups like Jaxtr , Jangl , Grand Central (Google) have been offering click-to-call widgets for social networking and blogs for over couple of months now. However, jajah has been around for a long time now with their web based voip calling. I would say cheap voice calling. Also, they have some offerings for SMB like conferencing etc. Pretty impressive track record. As I have always contended, these guys have done a good job with the web based voice calling. From a cost standpoint, jaxtr and jangl are free. Not sure why would someone choose a paying service like jajah.

It makes me wonder how these guys are going to make money from these call me widgets. I guess most of these startups are after the user base, once they get a decent user base, will hope to be bought out by a bigger player.

Another company I stumbled upon was Tringme ; to me these guys are very late in the market. However, the whole web 2.0 community is pretty huge and even if they can get a slice of it would make them a winner. For now, these guys support only leaving a voicemail message with an option of retrieval from gmail or phone. I still don’t understand how they are going to support web based calling without installing a flash plug-in. At least they don’t mention about any plug-in to be installed. Gizmo was the first company to claim a pure flash based web phone( I wouldn’t call them pure flash based solution as they were installing a local process to support this feature). Just wondering whats the story with goribbit, which announced voip support for flash. Wish tringme can find their niche in this crowded space.
Couple of things that is missing in tringme are
• Call back model like any other widget providers. Anonymous calling is one of the niche features. Also, I guess users always don’t use their headset to make calls. Need to support both options.
• Text messaging support from the widget.
• Call me email signature.

Here is what tringme has to say to my comment about their revenue model in the Techcrunch article :
Omfut, you have raised a good question about the general revenue model for our service. We think that availability of the flash-based telephony platform and some of the core applications built on this platform will open up means to generate revenue. We still need to hash out some of the precise details, but wanted to get some early feedback for the service to see how and where we can improve it before launching it commercially.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Free voice calls with pudding media

This is becoming one of the most talked about product. My initial reaction to pudding media’s ad based free voice call was; wow that’s cool deal. However, when I digged into more technical details on how that is achieved, man this is so creepy. I don’t know if I would be comfortable with some one listening to my voice conversation. I can leave with the idea of ads in offline messaging. This is a real-time voice call intrusion. In the Telco world, this is called LI (Lawful interception aka wiretapping). I’m not very excited about the whole deal; well there are folks who would not bother about privacy intrusion for free call (yeh, its free beer). I guess pudding media founders are targeting the teens than the older crowd that might be averse to the idea of call monitoring. Pudding is not the first free ad based platform, we’ve seen ad based free Wi-Fi( MetroFI) and free mobile phone service supported by ads (Blyk ) Also, I read on the web that pudding media was started by guys who used to work for intelligence in the military. Perfect, obviously these guys were working on wiretapping voice conversation.
Though some of the folks might not be comfortable with voice call intrusion, I still think it might cater a selected user base that is not bothered about any of these privacy intrusions.
Couple of things I still don’t understand are
• How will the speech recognition software understand languages other than English.
• Does the user need to install some kind of plug-in to make voice calls. Pudding media claims that u don’t need to download anything to make call from the browser.
• Will it be unlimited calling or some kind of max minutes limitation.
• Does it have plans to support international calling in future?

Another interesting company I stumbled upon was FonCloud. I was reading Alec’s Article on pudding, did write some comments to which shai Berger happened to answers. Apparently, it turns out Shai Berger is also working on something similar or maybe better, with his new venture called foncloud. Some interesting stuff in Shai Bergers Blog . Will digg more on this company later. For now, im desperately waiting for an invite from pudding media.

Here is some extracts from NYtimes Article

Pudding Media is eavesdropping on phone calls in order to display ads on the screen that are related to the conversation. Voice recognition software monitors the calls, selects ads based on what it hears and pushes the ads to the subscriber’s computer screen while he or she is still talking.
The company’s model, of course, raises questions about the line between target advertising and violation of privacy. Consumer-brand companies are increasingly trying to use data about people to deliver different ads to them based on their demographics and behavior online.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mobile Social Networking gaining momentum

We are seeing some momentum in the mobile social networking space. I wasn’t surprised by this trend. I’m really excited and positive on this trend. With the phenomenal growth rate of mobile user base, it makes perfect sense to support some of the functionality that was a big hit on the web. Social networking is one among them.

Except for the form factor and display of the handset, I think it’s a great strategy to support this kind of interface to the users from the handset.
Currently, I can see two types of models that’s been catching up with social networking on mobile

Mobile interface to the social networking web
Given the phenomenal success of MySpace and facebook, it’s very natural for these social networking companies to extend their access beyond the web to mobile. These Web centric communities provide mobile interface to access the web. However, mobile subscribers are owned by the operators and any customization of the handsets to access these sites require operators blessing. Off course, you could do it without the operators, but there is lot of advantages with this kind of partnership. (All u need is a data connection with a browser to access these websites) Some of the operators have already jumped into this bandwagon, to name a few are vodofone, ATT,T-Mobile, sprint, Verizon, Virgin Mobile, Helio etc.

Mobile used as a social networking platform
Instead of providing access to the existing online social communities, some startups are building social community with mobile as a platform. Looks like this is a hot space, VC’s are pouring in lot of money. Companies like Bluepulse, MocoSpace, Nokia,and SayNow etc are building social networking using the mobile as platform. ( Recently Bluepulse and MocoSpace raised 6 million and 3 million dollars respectively)
Infact, Nokia is the first-ever handset vendor to launch social networking. Mosh by Nokia aims to bridge the gap between the mobile and desktop social networking with their cross-platform design. With this client, user can - upload, share, collect, or download various media from your mobile phone as well as desktop. Other companies vying to stake out a place in mobile community business are twitter,groovr,jaiku etc. Worthy of mention is Fox launching free Myspace mobile.

I was looking at these Mobile 2.0 slides from slideshare. Pretty impressive. If you guys want to look at the mobile 2.0 startup ecosystem, this is a great presentation. I like the summary of different companies that are playing a bigger role in the mobile 2.0 space. Check out the list of companies, interesting to see so many startups trying to find a niche for themselves. Also, check out my previous Article for some explanation of mobile 2.0.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gizmo5 is better than other mobile/web callback products

I was reading lot of articles where they compare gizmo5 and other pure callback voice calling models like jajah, nonoh etc. I feel gizmo is a far better product compared to other callback model products like jajah, nonoh etc. Jajah is a pure voice calling service that provides easy interfaces like web and mobile to call different destinations, which includes international calling. However, if you look at gizmo, they have lot of other services like messaging, sms and mobile VOIM (voice over instant messenger) interface to multiple third-party IM vendors. This is something cool. There are so many advantages of having your IM contacts being pushed to the handset. ( Checkout my Article on Mobile VOIM and its advantages) . Though jajah might be doing far better than gizmo; no denial here. From a feature standpoint, I would give thumbs up to gizmo. I think jajah has a great business strategy.
I still don’t understand why lots of these companies call their products as mobile VOIP. To me, a pure mobile voip is something what fring and truphone support. Voice calls originated from handset uses wireless data service, be it WIFI or other data service (GPRS, HSDPA, HSUPA, 3G, EDGE, EVDO-revA). But what most of these companies do is use the existing circuit switch interface to callback the originator and terminator, and bridge the call. It makes sense when one of the users is connected to the internet. What I mean here is; one of the legs in the call is setup using IP interface. Now here is where the secret sauce is; for international calling, the interface between the origination country and destination country could be using the IP interface. This saves the vendors lot of money. Companies like Rebtel use this kind of interface to lower the international calling cost. How in the hell can they support $1 unlimited international calling. Man that’s cheaper than local calls.
I was looking at gizmo’s FAQ for call charging, was not able to understand why they would charge the user twice for calling any of the other third-party IM contacts like yahoo, AIM, MSN. It should be an IP leg on the terminating side, unless they need to connect to a landline. I’m assuming this will anyway use users IM dial-in account.
Just thought of listing out all the different ways these companies (Fring, Jajah, Gizmo, Nonoh, Mig33, Truphone etc) support voice calling from Mobile or Web.
Call through model: When user originates the call to a local number using the client, client first connects to the third-party gateway. A predefined gateway number (E.164) is configured with the handset client for voice call. The friend’s phone number to call is provided to the third-party gateway through out of band signaling. It could use sms or your mobile data plan. So beware if u plan to use these clients for frequent calling. Also, file transfer and picture sharing might use lot of wireless data; make sure you get an unlimited data plan. (You will be charged twice here since the third party gateway bridges the call between you and the called party). It doesn’t make sense to use these clients for local or long distance calling. Makes more sense when it comes to international calling. ( for more details, check out my previous Article on Mobile VOIP )
Call back model: When user originates the call to a local number using the client, an out of band signaling message is sent to the third-party gateway. Based on this out of band message, third-party gateway will initiate a call to the originator and the terminator. (You will be charged twice here since the third party gateway bridges the call between you and the called party).
Call to an IM contact: When the user originates the call to an IM contact, then the third-party gateway would connect to the IM contacts using IP interface. So user is charged only for the originating call, which uses circuit switch network. Apparently, looks like gizmo is charging twice for this kind of call scenario except if the call is gizmo-to-gizmo.
Call through using IP interface: When the user originates the call to any contact, client uses the mobile data service for both call signaling and media. I have my own concerns with this model when it comes to voice quality with the exception of WIFI. The wireless data service is not mature enough to support voice traffic. I’m confident we are almost there. It’s just a matter of time. Also, not sure if operators are going to sit back tight and let others use their data pipe for voice traffic. (Remember T-Mobile and truphone issue).
Web originated call back:Using the web GUI interface, user can enter his and the friends phone number. Similar to mobile calling, here the message details are sent to web server as http data. Based on the http message, third-party gateway shall trigger a call to the user and his friend. It’s pretty similar to the mobile model, except that u don’t need a client installed. All u need is a web browser.
Web originated call through: Using the web GUI interface, user can just enter his friend’s phone number. A voip call is originated from the web browser to the third-party vendor’s gateway. (Note: In order to support this kind of feature on web, u might have to install an activex/flash plug-in. Gizmo has a plug-in that support’s web based voice calling.).
Based on the incoming voice call, third-party gateway shall connect the terminator.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

what is 2.0 ( web 2.0,mobile 2.0, office 2.0 etc)

I have been asked by many folks about what it means by 2.0 in different technology space. I tried to check on the net to see if there is some description of all the “2.0”. Couldn’t find one, or maybe I was short sighted. So here you go guys, just summarized how 2.0 apply to different technology space. ( I know some of these technologies and definitions are pretty old, but surprised to know not many people understand 2.0 other than web 2.0 )

Web 2.0
Web 2.0 has been such a big phenomenon that it’s hard to write a simple description for this phrase. So many veterans have come up with their own description of what web 2.0 means. I guess for me, web 2.0 is a marketing terminology that can be used in different context and application space. Off course, it has already proved to be one of the hottest technology internets has ever embraced. Here is some description of web 2.0 by Tim O’Reilly

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.


I love the hierarchy of web2.0ness described by Tim O’reilly (check out the complete article Tim O’reilly Article on web2.0)
Level 3: The application could ONLY exist on the net, and draws its essential power from the network and the connections it makes possible between people or applications. These are applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. EBay, craigslist, Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Skype, (and yes, Dodgeball) meet this test. They are fundamentally driven by shared online activity. The web itself has this character, which Google and other search engines have then leveraged. (You can search on the desktop, but without link activity, many of the techniques that make web search work so well are not available to you.) Web crawling is one of the fundamental Web 2.0 activities, and search applications like Adsense for Content also clearly have Web 2.0 at their heart.
Level 2: The application could exist offline, but it is uniquely advantaged by being online. Flickr is a great example. You can have a local photo management application (like iPhoto) but the application gains remarkable power by leveraging an online community. In fact, the shared photo database, the online community, and the artifacts it creates (like the tag database) is central to what distinguishes Flickr from its offline counterparts. And its fuller embrace of the internet (for example, that the default state of uploaded photos is "public") is what distinguishes it from its online predecessors.
Level 1: The application can and does exist successfully offline, but it gains additional features by being online. Writely is a great example
Level 0: The application has primarily taken hold online, but it would work just as well offline if you had all the data in a local cache. MapQuest, Yahoo! Local, and Google Maps are all in this category (but mashups like housingmaps.com are at Level 3.) To the extent that online mapping applications harness user contributions, they jump to Level 2.

Mobile 2.0
Mobile 2.0 is an extension of mobile into the web space. It is a leap towards mobile services that are already popular with the web interface like social networking, match making, location based services etc. Open interface and user choice is the starting point of mobile 2.0. Interesting to know that mobile handset is something users cannot live without. So an extension to all the web services that can be accessed through mobile is going to be the future of mobile handset. Also, mobile widgets are already playing a bigger role. I know lots of folks don’t like mobile 2.0 to be called as; mobile and web integration. Extension of web 2.0 applications to mobile is something I would call mobile 2.0. So this includes all those innovative applications that we are crooning about on the web 2.0 space.

Voice 2.0
This was the term coined by Alec sanders, one of the very popular blogger and CEO of iotum. (I like their product called talk-now, which combines some of the interesting features to bring in user/network intelligence). It’s a very interesting area and one of my favorite. I want to write a whole article on my version of voice 2.0. Check out my blog for a future article on this.
Initially voice 2.0 was envisioned as voice and web integration. However, Voice 2.0 can be related to different technologies ( voice,video,im,presence,data convergence etc) that users currently use for their communication. It gives users more control on their availability, accessibility etc. I guess voice 2.0 from technical standpoint is partial FMC, partial unified communication.
Some companies to watch for in this space
Iotum
grandcentral
Talkplus

Enterprise 2.0
Supporting web 2.0 application in enterprise space is phrased as enterprise 2.0. This is a very interesting and crowded space. It makes so much sense to integrate some of the web 2.0 tools into enterprise. Some of the interesting applications that can be integrated into enterprise are:
• Hypertext and unstructured search tools
• Wikis for authoring and linking
• Weblogs for authoring and storytelling.
• Social bookmarking for tagging and building folksonomy.
• RSS Web Feed Server and Newsreaders for signaling
• Collaborative planning software for peer-based project planning and management
• Social Networking to connect people in or associated with an organization
• Real-time Communications such as chat, audio and video conferencing and virtual environments

Telco 2.0
Telecom industry embracing the principles of web 2.0, technologies and services from the internet is Telco 2.0. Operators can leverage on the existing applications and bridge them using some kind of mashups. So, here we are talking about breaking away from the silo model of operators. This will help them from just being a dump pipe.
Check out this web site for more info
Telco2.0

Office 2.0
Integration of different office applications with the web is called as Office 2.0. What this means is, generic web browser that support all the office apps like word,excel,presentation etc. User can share the documents or removing the need for any application to be installed on the computer itself. I call it Office 2.0.
Some companies to watch for in this space
Zimbra
( As iam writing this article, just read that zimbra was bought over by yahoo for about 350 million dollars, wow that’s a lot of money for online apps)
Zoho
Google Docs

SMS 2.0
SMS 2.0 is an enhanced feature upgrade to the existing cell phone sms messaging platform. You could do more than just sending messages to your friends using sms messaging platform. Using sms messaging as a platform, there are so many different applications that can be built; this forms the basis for SMS 2.0. I would call this as a marketing terminology for all the new applications that are built on top of sms messaging platform. SMS 2.0 has converged messaging, content and advertising into one seamless application.

ME 2.0 It’s me interacting with the users through this blog. Just kidding.

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