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:
United States5.4%
Dominican Republic3.6%
Palestinian Territory3.3%
United Arab Emirates2.8%
Saudi Arabia2.4%
United Kingdom2.0%
El Salvador1.7%
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

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
-------- Local search
-------- City guide
-------- Weather
-------- Traffic
-------- Shopping guide
-------- Mobile yellow pages
-------- Map display
-------- Turn-by-Turn navigator
-------- Self Guided Tours
-------- Vehicle Assistance (OnStar)
-------- Car parking guidance
-------- 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

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