Sunday, December 21, 2008

Does free voice calling still work?

Free is word that will attract hordes of user. Most of the folks are spoiled by freebies. When I read about Jaxtr new feature that allows free voice calls, it just occurred to me that they are still struggling to find the revenue making business model. The management shake up has not done much to their business strategy. What we are seeing from jaxtr is the “me too” play, which many other competitors are already providing.
















Jaxtr announced a new service called FreeConnect.Using this service, members can make unlimited free mobile or landline calls to other jaxtr members worldwide. This is achieved by providing local numbers to both jaxtr members. This is not something new that has been invented by jaxtr. Rebtel, another mobile and landline VoIP startup has been supporting this model for a long time now. They started selling this feature for $1 unlimited weekly. Not many countries were supported when I checked them long time back. Jaxtr claims to have more than 10 million users in 220 countries.


I’m not sure how jaxtr is going to support this free calling. The international calls could be routed via a VoIP backhaul network. However, there is money involved in connecting a mobile or landline via local PSTN network. Other clients like Skype use P2P, and between skype users it’s free because the call is carried all the way via internet. There are lots of other companies like mig33, jajah, fring, mobivox etc that also support similar service with some variation.

The fundamental business model behind free service is weak. The users who like free service will always look for free service. These are like spoilt kids who will not change their habits. Free doesn’t generate revenue for the company. Free model is adopted by companies that look for registering tones of users and look for some bigger player to acquire them. With the economy going south, I’m skeptical this will be a viable option. Though freemium model has some credibility and is a proven model, iam not sure if that can be applied successfully in the case of jaxtr. Om has an excellent article on this topic. Some of the companies like jangl, talkplus, eqo that treaded this path either closed or they are struggling. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, social voice apps are as good as dead.

For international calling cost comparison, check out the following website LowCostMob. Good job guys!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Finally back from India after a long break

Wow! This was one of my very hectic and awesome India trip. I had good family moments to relish. The memory will linger for a longtime. We had two marriages in our family. I sometime wonder why we spend so much money and time on Indian marriages. I guess we could cut down spending lavishly on these marriages and instead use some of the money to help people in need. I know I didn’t do that. Maybe, I will, in future.

Another incident that hurt me the most is the Mumbai terrorist attack. The attack was very catastrophic and brutal. I don’t have words to express the horror. I was glued to the TV for almost 3 days. The pictures and videos still linger in my mind. I’m angry and helpless, so are most of the Indian citizens. I’m not an expert on terror, so will refrain from making any comments on the topic. However, killing innocent people and justifying the act should be condemned by every religion. People who justify such ACTS are fanatics and don’t deserve to be called human being. My thoughts and prayers are with all those families who lost innocent lives.

One thing I missed the most is blogging. With all these activities, was not very active with my blog. Hope to catch up with all that I missed. Stay tuned! .

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nimbuzz is ruling the Mobile IM and VoIM arena

Looks like Nimbuzz is doing great in the Mobile VoIM and Mobile Chat arena. In addition, they have found the revenue model that has been elusive to most of the other Mobile VoIP, VoIM and IM startups. For folks that don’t know nimbuzz, here is a quick summary; Nimbuzz offers a social interaction service combining (geo) presence, IM, and VoIP. The free application is available on the mobile phone, PC and Web, for (group) calling, instant messaging, (group) chat, file sharing across popular Instant Messaging communities and social networks. Recently they partnered with studiVZ, which counts over 12 million users spanning across Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. To me, nimbuzz sounds more like a meebo of voice.

Iam not sure if they are making any money right now from revenue sharing, though they claim to have 10k users logging in each day. Talking about partnership with social networking reminds me off Jangl ; they had partnership with many social networking sites. In the end, we all know what happened to them . It’s an open secret that making money out of social networking is like raising money via IPO in this market condition. All that said, what's most promising here is the instant user base they get with this kind of partnership. This might make them hot for acquisition. Fring, Mig33, eqo beware or follow nimbus model. There are very few startups that can survive in this arena.

Here is some good news to iPhone users; Nimbuzz is now available for the iPhone. This gives users additional capability to chat with facebook or myspace users in addition to Yahoo Messenger, MSN, Skype and Google Talk













Here are some of the features supported by iPhone app:
• Landscape-chat makes it easy and fast to type
• Call your IM buddies all over the world for free on your Wifi connection: Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger (MSN), Google Talk
• Chat with social network friends: Facebook, MySpace, Gadu-Gadu, studiVZ, Hyves

You can find more information here

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Web telephony platform arena gaining momentum












Looks like web telephony platform startups are doing great in these troubled times. Earlier BT acquired ribbit , the – “Silicon Valley’s First Phone Company” startup. Last week another platform player intelepeer raised $18 million dollars to expand their business across different regions. This week, ifbyphone announced series B funding of $4.6 million. Existing investors Origin Ventures and Apex Ventures led this round as well. These platforms expose API’s using which developers can build web apps enabled with voice/sms/messaging. The good thing about these API’s are, they enable developing complex apps very quickly without the need to understand the core telecom technology. This, by itself, is a big game changer. Another web telephony platform startup jajah has been quite for sometime now. Either jajah is up to something big or they are lost in the economy turmoil.

This week Ribbit launched their web phone platform . The platform was in beta for over a year now. The company claims to have more than 7,500 developers signed up for their service. They will be presenting the platform at Adobe MAX. In addition, they announced a killer app challenge with prize money of $100, 00. This should definitely boost their developer numbers. I like what they call “Bring Your Own Network”. What this means is- The Ribbit platform can connect to the network in two ways: via MPLS links or a SIP interconnection. So even operators can partner with ribbit and offer platform-development-as-a-service to their customers over their networks.

Intelepeer AppworX open communication platform and voice peering grid network gives application developers the ability to create high-quality interactive voice, video, SMS, data and other rich media services that boost productivity while reducing telecommunications and operational expenses through the hosted business model. A communications-as-a-service (CaaS) offering, IntelePeer AppworX is ideal for increasing collaboration among business application users, fostering closer connections with customers and introducing communications-enabled business processes that drive efficiency and deliver cost savings.

Compared to ribbit, Intelepeer claims to have partnership with more than 50 customers leading global carriers and service providers – letting those carriers complete calls more cheaply internationally. Also, software companies (MS, WebEx), carriers (BT, AT&T, Verizon) and online businesses (Facebook, TMCnet) are already using its service to integrate phone services within their applications. WebEx uses their platform to assist in an emergency response system.

Another hosted web telephony platform company to mention is IfByPhone. Ifbyphone also provides hosted platform to build telephony applications. They support bunch of features like Call Routing, Smart Conference call, Smart Click-to-Call, Phone-Me-now etc. Worthy of note is that Fierce Voip voted them as Fierce 15 VoIP companies . Check out their developer site for more information

For more Telco 2.0 platform companies, read my earlier article

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Monday, November 17, 2008

High-Def conference startup Vapps acquired









Citrix systems gobbled Vapps, a startup that provides audio and video conference for 26.6 million dollar cash. In the troubled times where we hear only about layoffs and company closures, these kind of news is soothing. High definition voice is nothing but good voice quality, which is achieved by recording the voice at a higher sampling rate (16KHZ). Also, “wideband” codec’s are used to for the voice calls to support high quality voice. Check out the website for more information on High Def conference

Here are some of the features supported by Vapps hi-def conferencing:
• Max 25 participants in a conference
• Free Web Controls, Recording & Hand-raising
• No Reservations needed
• Skype Call Duration – Unlimited
Skype participants have no additional charges and can call in for an unlimited amount of time

Azure which is one of the biggest investor in Vapps, said that it got a 3.6 times return on its investment over 18 months. So this turned out to be a good investment for azure.

Hope we get to hear more M&A news such as this. In the troubled times, keeping ourselves positive is very important. Though the acquisition amount may not be bigger, but it does convey the message that there is still lot of money with big companies.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Obamas weekly address on YouTube

Iam sure this must be another first time, a president of USA, is giving weekly addresses to the nation via internet. It’s a milestone in the adoption of new media. Looks like obama’s campaign team is net savvy. Even his campaign was all about facebook, YouTube, twitter etc. I was rooting for obama all along and iam so happy that he won. The win was symbolic and very inspiring for lot of folks who believe in achieving greater heights. I’m sure lot of folks would agree with me that this kind of phenomenon will never happen in India. It will just be a dream.

Check out the YouTube video of obama’s first weekly address:

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Google adds voice and video to Gmail

Earlier we were able to switch to chatting from gmail, now Google added voice and video support to gmail. Users can now initiate voice and video conversation via browser. I’m not sure if we can initiate video conversation via Gtalk. This feature enables seamless experience of all in one, mail, chat, high quality voice and video. In order to use this feature, users need to download and install the voice and video plugin . As always, these features are developed using open internet standards such as XMPP, RTP and H.264, which means that third-party applications and networks can choose to interoperate with Gmail voice and video chat


Check out the video for more explanation




Looks like Google is finally trying to bring in all its disparate services together in a seamless fashion. With the addition of more features like whiteboarding,conference etc could be a perfect beginning to enter Unified Communication play, which is a strong hold of Microsoft,avaya,cisco to name a few. I’m sure this must be a wakeup call to some of the video chat clients like skype, sightspeed etc.

Here is what Google has to say about the launch:

“Our team is spread between Google offices in the US and Sweden, and video has really changed the way we work. Collaborating across continents and timezones is a fact of life for us, and it sure is easier (and greener) to click "Start video chat" than to get on a plane! And when I do have to visit another Google office, I can use Gmail voice and video chat to check in with my family”

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Startups, economy, and the survival

Off late it’s all about startups and their survival. Not a day goes by without hearing about pink slips and startups closing. Well, this is what happens in a bad economy. Even the elections focal point this time is all about who can handle the recession well.
I found this article, 10 lessons to learn from startups heroes very interesting and thoughtful. Thought of sharing with you folks


Ten Lessons Startups Can Learn From Superheroes

I have been reading lot of articles that suggest how startups can come out of this recession. Cost cutting is by default the first option for companies to survive the downturn. Hope we can come out of this recession sooner than expected.

Here are some additional articles I liked:
Rules for startups
why to start a startup in a bad economy
How to save money running a startups- 17 really good tips

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Android Source Code released as promised

Google announced the availability of android source code today . Android is one of the most promising product of Google. It better be. This will give them a major boost in the mobile market, where the advertisement arena is still wide open. This should be a boon to all those developers that want to build innovative apps on the mobile. Though the android market may not be as big as iPhone, given the fact its open source, u can expect hordes of developers to flock the platform.

From a mobile platform standpoint, it’s a complete end-to-end solution built on linux kernel. In addition to the OS, it has lot of other middle ware tools that can be used to build different applications. Developers can download the entire source code from here.
The source code includes:
Linux kernel
Middleware
Android runtime
Application Framework
System library
Graphics
Media codex
Dialer
Contacts manager
Google rich miner etc

According to Om, numerous companies are playing around with android platform to build a slew of gadgets-- everything from set-top boxes to navigation systems to mobile Internet devices to smart picture frames. Also, he states that Google has started talking to leading universities – MIT, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard and Carnegie Mellon – to develop teaching programs around the OS, ones in which students would be given lessons in Android UI, for example, or taught about the uses of Android as an embedded environment.

For techies,Currently android source can be built on linux and Mac and not on windows. To build the source on linux, you need to install ubuntu. The source code is around 2.1GB in size and requires around 6GB to build.

Check out the video:

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Economy crisis, Not again!

This is like déjà vu all over again. The economy is spiraling down like a roller costar. It’s really sad. For the past couple of days, all I hear is- economy crisis, stock meltdown, global meltdown and VC panic. OMG! Not again. Last time when the internet bubble occurred, my startup had to close. It was a one of worst moments of my career. That was the day I decided not to work for startups anymore. Alas, It’s been more than 6 years after that, here iam working for another great startup.

What’s more worrisome is that VC’s are acknowledging the economy facts and pulling the strings from every corner. Some of the VC’s like sequoia and benchmark are already cautioning their portfolio companies. Check out this presentation from sequoia


Some other interesting links:
Sorry, Startups: Party's Over
What will the crisis mean for VC?
VCs to Entrepreneurs: Seed-Stage Startups OK. Others? Not so much
Sequoia rings the alarm bell silicon valley in trouble
Benchmark capital advises startups to conserve capital

One of the popular mobile VoIP and IM aggregation startup EQO slashed around 60% of its work force . Another video comment startup seismic cut down 7 of its employee

So folks looks like tough times ahead. We need to be strong and stay focused in this troubled times. I have gone through this trauma earlier and trust me it’s not fun. Hope the market recovers faster than what analyst and critics predict.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Destination India!

Yep, that’s right; I will be traveling to India (Bangalore) for couple of weeks. Partly office work and some personal work. Last time I flew Lufthansa and what a mess it was. Alas, iam flying Lufthansa again :-) . I will be on a blogging diet. In the meanwhile, if any of you guys want to meet me for a chat/lunch/dinner/drink, send me a mail to geekupate at gmail.com. ( I know my gmail id is weird ). Infact I would love to write about local Bangalore startups.

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Finally, Fring makes it to appstore

After a long wait, finally fring makes it to the app store . Fring is one of the most popular Mobile VoIP applications. They fit in both as a Mobile VoIP and Mobile VoIM applications. I like the skype calling from fring applications. Apart from skype, Fring also lets supports other third party IM servers like MSN, GoogleTalk, AIM, Yahoo.
















Check out the video:



Voice calls are still routed via WIFI and not 3G/GPRS network. This is a big NO NO from apple. I’m sure operators would do anything to block applications from using their 3G network for voice calls. Frings user guide mentions that “Currently it is not possible to make VoIP calls over 3G/GPRS networks “. Couple of months back, I had written an article on Mobile VoIP and who will win? . Frings iPhone user guide has more information about different features and usage.

Congratulations to fring for making it to the appstore. Folks go-ahead and download this app on your iPhone and enjoy fringing!

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Skype opens up for asterisk

Today Skype and Digium announced a partnership that would allow skype to be integrated with asterisk platform via a channel driver. This sounds like an interesting collaboration. It’s definitely Good news to all those asterisk developers and corporate folks that use asterisk platform as PBX. What this brings to the table is an interaction of 338 million skype users with millions of asterisk users. The not so good news is that the channel driver is not open source. It comes with a cost. According to sources, the licensing shall be done per channel basis.

Picture courtesy, fiercevoip














Here is what users of asterisk get:

• Make, receive and transfer Skype calls with multiple Skype names from within Asterisk phone systems, using existing hardware.
• Complement existing Asterisk services with low Skype global rates (as low as 1.7€¢ / 2.1US¢ per minute to more than 35 countries worldwide).
• Save money on inbound calling solutions such as free click-to-call from a website, as well as receive inbound calling from the PSTN through create virtual offices all over world using Skype’s online numbers.
• Manage Skype calls using Asterisk applications such as call routing, conferencing, phone menus and voicemail.

Skype integration is not something completely new to asterisk developers. There were other workarounds that allowed some kind of integration with skype earlier. For e.g. using ChanSkype , asterisk users were able to call skype users online, Receive up to 30 incoming Skype Calls, Bridge with SIP channels etc. However, today’s announcement has more significance, because it’s coming directly from skype, and hope this is beginning of skype opening up! Asterisk already supports different VoIP protocols like SIP,H.232,MGCP,SCCP etc. Skype protocol will be a new addition to the list.

I’m interesting in knowing how much did skype open up to digium for this integration. The platform is open for beta. If you’re an Asterisk user or developer, you can apply for a beta at Skype Asterisk Beta . The initial beta is limited to a select number of users, developers and integrators

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

How palins yahoo mail was hacked

Republican Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's private Yahoo e-mail account was hacked by one of the hacker , whose identity is yet to be established. It’s funny though how easy it was for the hacker to reset palins password and take control of the mail. Out of curiosity, I tried resetting my wife’s yahoo mail password, it was no-brainer. I guess mail servers need to introduce more security layers than authorizing based on some stupid secret questions. Some of the common questions these servers ask are- “what is your birth city”, mothers maiden name, favorite star etc. Anybody with little knowledge about the person can hack the email.

So here is the first-person account of how the email was hacked:

rubico 09/17/08(Wed)12:57:22 No.85782652
Hello, /b/ as many of you might already know, last night sarah palin’s yahoo was “hacked” and caps were posted on /b/, i am the lurker who did it, and i would like to tell the story.

In the past couple days news had come to light about palin using a yahoo mail account, it was in news stories and such, a thread was started full of newfags trying to do something that would not get this off the ground, for the next 2 hours the acct was locked from password recovery presumably from all this bullshit spamming.
after the password recovery was reenabled, it took seriously 45 mins on wikipedia and google to find the info, Birthday? 15 seconds on wikipedia, zip code? well she had always been from wasilla, and it only has 2 zip codes (thanks online postal service!)
the second was somewhat harder, the question was “where did you meet your spouse?” did some research, and apparently she had eloped with mister palin after college, if youll look on some of the screenshits that I took and other fellow anon have so graciously put on photobucket you will see the google search for “palin eloped” or some such in one of the tabs.
I found out later though more research that they met at high school, so I did variations of that, high, high school, eventually hit on “Wasilla high” I promptly changed the password to popcorn and took a cold shower…
>> rubico 09/17/08(Wed)12:58:04 No.85782727
this is all verifiable if some anal /b/tard wants to think Im a troll, and there isn’t any hard proof to the contrary, but anyone who had followed the thread from the beginning to the 404 will know I probably am not, the picture I posted this topic with is the same one as the original thread.
I read though the emails… ALL OF THEM… before I posted, and what I concluded was anticlimactic, there was nothing there, nothing incriminating, nothing that would derail her campaign as I had hoped, all I saw was personal stuff, some clerical stuff from when she was governor…. And pictures of her family
I then started a topic on /b/, peeps asked for pics or gtfo and I obliged, then it started to get big
Earlier it was just some prank to me, I really wanted to get something incriminating which I was sure there would be, just like all of you anon out there that you think there was some missed opportunity of glory, well there WAS NOTHING, I read everything, every little blackberry confirmation… all the pictures, and there was nothing, and it finally set in, THIS internet was serious business, yes I was behind a proxy, only one, if this shit ever got to the FBI I was fucked, I panicked, i still wanted the stuff out there but I didn’t know how to rapidshit all that stuff, so I posted the pass on /b/, and then promptly deleted everything, and unplugged my internet and just sat there in a comatose state
Then the white knight fucker came along, and did it in for everyone, I trusted /b/ with that email password, I had gotten done what I could do well, then passed the torch , all to be let down by the douchebaggery, good job /b/, this is why we cant have nice things
The “white knight fucker” was the /b/tard who thought that going through Sarah Palin’s email wasn’t cool. He logged in, changed the password, and sent an email to a friend of Palin’s warning her and letting her know the new password. Unfortunately, he then posted a screenshot of this email to let the other /b/tards know their fun was over. He failed to blank the password, and they all tried to log in and change the password — which tripped the automated Yahoo! freeze. Since then, the account has been deleted. “Rapidshit” refers to rapidshare.com — i.e., rubico wanted to download the emails, put them into one file, and put that file up on rapidshare for /b/tards and the world at large to download. But he panicked, or didn’t know how to download the emails, and so pawned that task off on Anonymous, which he didn’t realize wasn’t monolithic and in his favor.
As Paul Harvey would say, “And now you know…. the rest of the story.”

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Fonolo wins gigaoms mobilize conference

Today Gigaom hosted Mobilize conference, some startups were given an opportunity to show case their products. Fonolo, the IVR menu crawler, which I had written about couple of months back ,won the first price. There are very few times u get a WOW feeling about a product or company, fonolo is one among them. Necessity is the mother of innovation. Fonolo is definitely a company to watch for. I’m not sure what their funding status is. Will update more once I have more information

Congratulations to Shai Berger, CEO of fonolo, on winning the first prize.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Talibans abusing VoIP Skype client

This doesn’t sound like good news to skype. They were able to get away with their encrypted signaling and media protocol for so long. However, with the latest news of Taliban’s using skype to coordinate attacks against British and American troops will force them to work with the law enforcement officials

So what does it mean to support LI (Lawful Intercept) - Current mobile and landline calls can be wiretapped by a LI officers and listen to the conversation. The voice sample here is not packetized. It’s a normal TDM(Time Division Multiplez) PCM sample. Off course this requires that the suspect in voice conversation is the target and an approval is procured for wiretapping. In case of VoIP calls, and especially skype calls, the media or voice packets are encrypted and packetized. In order to listen to the conversation, you need to be able to decrypt the packet, which requires the understanding of the protocol. This is one of the big problems with the proprietary protocols. I’m surprised that FCC has not forced skype to support CALEA. Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act

Some tidbits from the news:

‘The trouble with this technology is that it is easily available but devilishly hard to crack,’ the source said. ‘The technology can now be accessed on mobile internet devices and the country’s mobile phone network is expanding rapidly.’

Sir David Pepper, the head of GCHQ, the British Government’s top-secret listening post, has told MPs that internet calls are ‘seriously undermining’ his organization’s ability to intercept communications.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

140 million Mobile Social Networking users

Abi research predicts 140 Million Mobile social networking Users by 2013. Web has already played a bigger role in bringing the best out of social networking. I’m not sure if there is enough room for additional Mobile Social networking platforms. Assuming a user is already part of social networking on the web, the chances of user signing in to another social networking platform purely because of mobile is slim. I still feel micro mobile social networking based on location, music etc will find some niche. In addition, what is required is a unified social network hub that can connect multiple platforms and allow seamless messaging and multimedia exchange.

The recent announcement of ATT and Verizon’s social networking application validates the point that Mobile social networking is indeed gaining momentum. Off course you can argue that these apps are just providing an interface to the existing social networking platforms. I still see a lot of potential in these kind of applications.

Some snippet from the ABI research news:

“Subscriber numbers for mobile social networking will climb at a relatively modest rate for the next three or four years, but will then start to accelerate sharply,” says research director Michael Wolf. “That uptick is based on assumed acceptance levels in the giant emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Those countries are wildcards, very difficult to estimate, so we are quite conservative in our forecasts.”

Some of these social mobile apps bring in lot of value in terms of adding more content and messaging. With adoption of mobile skyrocketing everywhere in the world, it makes perfect sense to add social aspect to mobile. These apps will surely turn into a cash cow for the operators. As I said earlier, it has great potential to increase the data and SMS/MMS usage, which in turn shall increase the ARPU for the operator. In addition, advertisement can play a huge role with these apps. A recent end-user survey conducted by ABI Research showed that mobile users of social networks are likely to consume two or three times as much digital mobile content (pictures, music, videos and games) than their “asocial” peers. That would suggest a golden marketing and advertising opportunity yet, says Wolf, that isn’t happening: “They are not offering the right kinds of products for these users. The advertising isn’t that sophisticated yet.

Additional reading:
Location based social networking has a huge potential
Mobile social app has a great future

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ATT and Verizons Mobile Social Networking app

Who said that Telco operators are old school, slow on innovation. ATT and Verizon proved the pundits and critics wrong. Today both ATT and verizon launched mobile social networking applications that provides a unified interface to multiple social networking platforms. ATT calls this app “My Communities” and Verizon has named its app “Social Life”. Welcome to the world of Telco 2.0!

What this launch means is that, operators have realized lately that just being a dumb pipe is not gone help sustain the revenue model long-term. By providing an application that can interface with different social networking platforms, they are providing a utility to the consumers to use more data, messaging(SMS and MMS). This will bring in additional revenue stream from data and messaging. This is in addition to that lucrative $2.99 or $1.49 monthly charge. I’m a little surprised that they are charging users for using the application. They should have let the users download the application for free and make the money from messaging and data package. Oh did I say free. Free is so alien to Operators :-)

Both these apps are powered by Intercasting Corporation , a leading mobile social networking company. So according to intercasting corp., there are some differences between the two deployments. AT&T is offering more features than verizion. I think this is one of the cool companies to watch for.








This is what verizon has to say about SocialLife

Social networking is fast and spontaneous, which makes it a perfect fit for a wireless phone. SocialLife gives people the opportunity not only to get to all of their social networking communities at once, but to update, communicate and stay in touch with friends,” said Jennifer Byrne, director of digital media at Verizon. “By bringing all of these communities together in one place, SocialLife makes it easier for people to stay connected and up-to-date.

ATT My Communities currently offers couple of social networks interface that include MySpace, the mobile-only community Rabble, blogging sites including LiveJournal and Xanga and the photo-sharing site Photobucket. Using this app, users can upload photos from their phone to social networking sites, view and post comments and perform contact management all in a single interface.

Our social networking applications are among our highest-performing category, and we anticipate sustained interest from consumers as social networks continue to explode in popularity and diversify in purpose," said Mark Collins, vice president of Consumer Products for AT&T's wireless unit. "The My Communities application brings unmatched simplicity, increased functionality and deeper integration to this space, a combination we believe will win over active users and newcomers alike.

Is yahoo again too late for the party, what is going on with their OneConnect. Where does this leave startups like xumii, jibe and juicecaster ?

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Google’s Browser ambition

Iam too late for the party. Google is introducing a new Web Browser called Chrome . This is surely to counter Microsoft dominance in the Web Browser market. What is interesting with this launch is the Cartoon book that explains the browser functionality.


















There are tones of articles talking about Google’s Chrome. So instead of repeating the same old stuff, I picked some of the best articles that might give a good insight on chrome. Check out!

1) How Bright Is the Outlook for Chrome?
2) First Test of Google’s New Browser
3) Our review: Chrome more than capable of taking on IE and Firefox
4) Browsing with Google Chrome
5) Does Google Have Rights to Everything You Send through Chrome?
6) Chrome: Nice, But Not a “Killer” Browser Just Yet

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

1 year of Blogging, What I learnt



















Wow! This was an amazing year for me. What started as a curiosity has just turned into passion for me. Before I started this blog, I used to read lot of other popular blogs and would always wonder; maybe I should write my version/analysis of the story. So it did take a little while for me to jump into the world of blogging. I have been having so many different thoughts/ideas and was looking for an avenue to echo these things and here iam talking to you folks. I have written around 115 articles so far, that is around 10 articles a month. (I will share some of my best articles for folks that have missed it)

During the course of my blogging came some big motivation. This blog was selected as Top 25 blogs of 2007, (thanks to VoIP News) within a short span of time. This was like a short in the arm. After this there was no turning back. This year, it was rated as one of the Top 100 telecom blogs by VoIP Now (Thanks VoIP Now). More than the recognition of the blog, I was thrilled by the fact that it was rated alongside some of the great bloggers i admire like Gigaom, Jeff pulver , Alec Saunders, Luca, Andy, Jon Arnold Jon Arnold etc. Worthy of mention is the Facebook voip statistics article that created quite a stir in the blogosphere and was quoted by many blogs and big news websites.

So here are something’s I learnt over the year of blogging:
• Blogging is fun when u enjoy it. It’s not fun when your blog drives you rather than u driving it. Ike has some good insight about this. Ike, iam following your words “So, for my fellow bloggers: don't let the blog run your life, and show the blog that you are the boss. Maybe your blog will even improve”
• It’s hard to keep up with writing articles everyday. From what I have observed, the traffic increases when i blog everyday. The question really is, do u blog to drive more traffic or you blog to share some valuable stuff to your blog readers. I am inclined more towards writing quality stuff rather than being a meme.
• Though I have been recognized as a one of the Top VoIP blogger, In the course of time I have realized that there is not much innovation happening in this space. ( Pardon me Phweet , wonderful mashup and sorry folks for not writing about this phenomenon)
• You need to be very clear on why you are blogging-- is it for extra money or just the passion. (I tend to write blog because of passion; don’t get me wrong for the Forbes and Google small adsense I have enabled. This is to experiment about the adsense and how it works. Will write more about the research later. Maybe I will enable hordes of advertisement when I needed money :-) )
• When I started blogging, I did not have a niche arena in mind, which is the basic rule of blogging. Nevertheless, I choose to write more of telecom related stuff, which could be because of my experience in the telecom and startup world. So my niche by default became telecom.
• It’s tough to be jack of all blog. Very few blogs have mastered and succeeded in doing so.

What you can expect in Future:
I have been fascinated by some of the emerging technologies and have decided to focus more on these areas as well. Doesn’t mean that I will stop writing about Voice 2.0; These new stuff shall be in addition to what I have been writing so far.
Some of the technologies I will talk about in future are:
• Lifestreaming
• Location 2.0
• Mashups
• Mobile applications

Iam very grateful to all my readers of my blog. Hope you are enjoying and learning something new and iam definitely learning a lot from you guys. Would love to hear from you guys, please leave a comment or send me a feedback to geekupate at gmail.com

Also, would like to apologies to all the PR agencies and startups that send me PR news that I don’t cover in my blog. The fact of the matter is that iam not a full time blogger and I get very little time for this blog, mostly late nights (Have to thank my wife and the little one for that :-) )

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mobile VoIP going Mainstream

Business week has come up with an article about Mobile VoIP and some of the players that are ruling the roost in this arena. What this mean is that Mobile VoIP is gaining momentum and mainstream is recognizing the potential in this technology. From a technology standpoint, this has been there for a long time. What wasn’t available was a good wireless data network bandwidth to carry voice packets. Earlier it was GPRS and with the evolution of EDGE, HSDPA, 3G, CDMA rev-a, data bandwidth has gained a big boost. I guess what matters to the users trying out these mobile apps is the QOS and with the right bandwidth, you can get a very good voice quality. Check out my earlier article on different Mobile VoIP calling options















Business week sites how users could save lot of money using applications like Gorilla Mobile that relies on Internet-based technology. Some of the applications like truphone, fring, mig33 support free calling if both the originator and the recipient have their clients installed. Basically this bypasses operator’s circuit switch network completely. ( Truphone as a MVNO 2.0 ) Off course this is worrisome to the operator. For those consumers who make lot of international calls and national calls with limited voice calling plans, Mobile VoIP is a blessing and big time money saver. What this means is- u could just get a unlimited data plan and basic voice plan and use one of these clients to make voice calls.

Acoording to the article:

Wireless carriers are expected to generate $700.7 billion in sales of voice services this year, according to consulting firm Ovum. Still, carriers in the fiercely competitive mobile-phone industry will be none too pleased with newcomers snapping up a portion of the almost one-quarter of all wireless minutes now devoted to long-distance and international calls. Insight Research estimates that together, international and long distance will make up 24% of the 1.2 billion wireless minutes used this year.

From a business standpoint, Telco operators are not gone sit and watch some third-party apps use their wireless data network and eat away their voice revenue, which is already taking a beating. I have mentioned this earlier many a times in my earlier articles about why operators would do anything to block Mobile VoIP calls. The recent dogfight between truphone and T-Mobile, Nokia dropping VoIP capability and Apple no iPhone SDK support for VoIP calls over wireless data network clearly proves the point. T-Mobile supports WIFI based calling via their own hotspots, caveat is, u need to pay $10 dollars for additional calling plan. Another point to mention here is that with unlimited voice calling minutes becoming cheaper day by day, using these apps makes more sense when u make more international calls. Also, Mobile VoIP would make perfect sense for corporate users who make lot of voice calls. We have seen lot of innovation in this arena FMC, UC, Femtocel. Not sure if any of these technology made big headways.

End of the day, all these apps are at the mercy of Operators. They have the potential to block any app that threatens their revenue.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Where is my SMS, obama campaign










Barack Obama campaign was suppoed to announce the VP candidate via SMS and Email. I thought it was one of those cool idea. So i went ahead and registered with short code 62262 to get an SMS message. I got a confirmation message saying

"Welcome to Obama Mobile. You will now be the one of the 1st notified when the VP candidate is selected"

Well i was not the 1st to be notified. I had to read cnn to know that Senator Joe Biden being selected as the VP candidate.
So where is MY SMS?

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Some interesting news

Couple of news that got me buzzed( wanted to write but was busy the whole day )
OpenSocial reached 350 million users









Its definietly catching up with facebook

Intel and Yahoo to bring Widgets for TV
Ten startups pitching to VC's, some of them are cool ideas

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Monday, August 18, 2008

We want Internet Telephony in India

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) acknowledges the huge potential of VoIP. TRAI has recommended that calls made over the internet be allowed to be received on telephones rather than just computers. If it succeeds, it will be good news for those of you folks that wants cheap calling solution to india. In addition, this shall open up lot of competition among vendors that are into IP backhaul play. According to the report, india currently has 11 million internet subscribers compared with about 326 million mobile and land-line phone connections.

Currently, in india, ISP’s are not permitted to have connectivity with PSTN/PLMN within the country. However, the restrictions imposed on use of different devices/ATA/Adapters to provide Internet telephony were removed as per subsequent guideline issued by DoT. Now any device or adapter conforming to the Standards of International Agencies can be used to make Internet telephony calls to PSTN/PLMN abroad. So what this means is- you can buy MagicJack and ship to India, your friends/family can call a USA number using the MagicJack adapter.

Interesting analysis from the report

US analysts Telegeography predict that revenues from Internet Telephony (termed as VoIP) will reach USD 5 billion having 16% of total telephony subscribers by 2010. Other estimates are much higher. According to Juniper Research, revenues from VoIP services in the business sector alone will reach USD 18 billion by 2010, with hosted VoIP business revenues reaching USD 7.6 billion. Source: iDate

The amount of money predicted in business and consumer VoIP is humongous. Iam not sure about the credibility of these reports. Lets hope these reports come true.

Some highlights of TRAI recommendation:
•The service providers must inform QoS parameters supported by them to their subscribers so that they can take informed decision.
•Internet telephony may be permitted to ISPs with permission to provide Internet telephony calls to PSTN/PLMN and vice-versa within country and necessary amendments made in the license provisions.
•National Long Distance (NLD) Operators shall be permitted to connect to ISPs through public Internet (Internet cloud) to facilitate termination of Internet telephony calls on PSTN/PLMN and vice-versa including among ISPs both within telecom circle as well as across the telecom circles.
•Allocation of E.164 number resources may be permitted to ISPs also for providing Internet telephony.
•Lawful Interception and Monitoring

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Intel PCs to wakeup for VOIP calls

Have you ever wished your computer wakes up to receive calls; your wish will come true. Intel Corp in partnership with Jajah is unveiling new technology that will let computers wake up from their sleep state when a phone call is received over internet. This shall be accomplished using Intels Remote Wake technology. This new component will be announced Thursday.

With JAJAH’s telephony support, the computer has direct access to JAJAH’s IPtelephony network, enabling the PC to both make and receive high quality, low Cost phone calls. JAJAH was selected by Intel to be the first telecommunications provider to implement Intel’s Remote Wake capability into their core telephony infrastructure.

This is indeed a big deal for jajah. What this mean is, manufactures will be able to provide computers with Jajah ready configured. With the help of microphone and headset, Consumers can now use jajah to make calls to any fixed or mobile phone anywhere in the world. It has a huge penetration for jajah software.

Here is what intel and jajah have to say about the deal

“Intel and JAJAH have a common objective to deploy technology building blocks that deliver a richer communication experience for consumers," said Joe Van De Water, Director of Consumer Product Marketing for Intel. "Intel is delighted to be working with JAJAH on its latest offering, which supports Intel Remote Wake technology. The combination of our technologies enables added convenience and energy efficiency for consumers who want the PC to be a genuine two-way communication platform for their IP-based telephony services.”

“We are delighted to enhance our existing telephony services with Intel’s innovative hardware-based solutions,” said Trevor Healy, JAJAH CEO. “JAJAH combined with Intel’s Remote Wake capability brings the industry closer to a global IP-based telephony system with simple to use functionality and advanced environmental friendliness.”

Jajah has more than 10 million users across the world and this new deal is surely gone to surge their user base

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Yahoo’s Fire Eagle, Location Platform

Good news for location based apps. Yahoo announced the general availability of Fire Eagle. Fire eagle is an open platform that can be used for updating location information of users to the web with more privacy controls on who can access the data. I guess the platform approach is a good strategy. By providing an open interface for all location related data, yahoo is positioning itself as the location distributor. It’s like Google’s OpenSocial glue for location information to various applications.

When it was launched initially, lot of folks complained about the privacy issue and it looks like yahoo has taken that feedback seriously. With the general availability, if u sign up for the service, users are given the option to receive regular emails from Yahoo to see if they are still comfortable with sharing this kind of information. In the privacy setting tab, user is given two options






HideMe can temporarily hide yourself from sites and services you've authorized to use Fire Eagle. Fire Eagle will still receive information about your location but won't share it with anyone else until you unhide yourself





You can purge your location information completely from the Fire Eagle database...

Some insight on the platform, Fire Eagle platform provides a way to share location information’s to multiple apps, and an interface to update user location information via multiple apps. It is designed to help users safely share information about their location with sites, services and people on the Internet.
The picture below should give a good insight on the platform

















The service has two major functions for users—it allows a user to update their location and then gives them full control of how and where they share that location. A user can perform these functions on the central site, but can also update or access their location data using any other authorized 3rd party application - on the web, on a desktop application or on a mobile device. Applications that access a user's location information can then personalize their service accordingly.

There are already lot of applications that are using fire eagle platform for location sharing and updates. Some of the popular ones using fire eagle are Brightkite, Dash, Dopplr, Movable Type, Pownce, and Loki.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Don’t know Chinese, use jajah

Going to Beijing for Olympic Games and don’t speak/understand Chinese, don’t worry Jajah is at your service. Jajah launches JAJAH Babel a free, real-time voice translation that works from any phone. The first release supports English-Chinese Mandarin and vice versa, with additional languages to follow. Developed with support from IBM Research, JAJAH Babel is the latest breakthrough in JAJAH’s mission to remove the barriers to global communication.

Here is how Jajah babel works From English to Chinese or in reverse:
• Dial JAJAH Babel from any phone. U.S. local access number: +1-718-513-2969
• Choose which language you want your message translated into (either English to Chinese or Chinese to English)
• Say your message and press #
• You will be able to confirm that your message was properly understood by the system.
• The message will automatically be played back in Chinese. If you wish, simply hand your phone to the other person or put the phone on loudspeaker so they hear the message.
• The other person can then record a message in Chinese, following the steps
above, and you will hear their message in English.

Another product they launched in colloboration with mobivox( one of my other favorite startup ) is JAJAH Concierge ,Very relevant for consumers that need to make calls hands free, JAJAH Concierge voice activates JAJAH services so there is no need to scroll through address books or dial long phone numbers. This free service gives JAJAH customers a local number, which can be used to initiate phone calls, send a text message or establish conference calls, all with voice commands at JAJAH's low rates and without lifting a finger. This new service does not cost anything additional and leverages MOBIVOX voice application.

Here is how jajah concierge works:
• Go to JAJAH Concierge to get your local access number.
• Call your local access number; JAJAH Concierge will answer with a personal greeting and await your instructions.
• Say the name of the person from your contact list you wish to call and your Concierge will connect you.
• Concierge can also add other parties to the call, send an SMS or add a contact to your JAJAH address book.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

$3.3 billion in Location Based Mobile Social Networking

Yes there is money in location based social networking. According to ABI research , location based mobile social networking revenue will reach $3.3 billion by 2013. Iam a big fan of LBS based applications. This is indeed good news for startups that are building LBS based applications. I see a great potential in location based mobile applications including the mobile social networking. I guess mobile social networking is one of the applications that has potential to explode. Iam sure over a period of time, every social networking platform will provide location information of their users.

There are so many applications I can think off based on location and I have talked about them earlier . We are yet to see a mobile social networking leader and this is definitely a space to watch for. In addition, integrating all the different silo LBS apps into mobile social networking platform seems interesting.

Here are some highlights from the report: article(Info to buy the article )

“Location-based mobile social networking revenues will reach $3.3 billion by 2013, but successful business models may differ from what many observers expect,” says ABI Research principal analyst Dominique Bonte. “While location-based advertising integrated with sophisticated algorithms holds a lot of promise, the current reality rather points to licensing and revenue-sharing models as the way forward for social networking start-ups to grow their customer base and reach profitability. Recent evidence: the agreements between GyPSii and both Garmin and Samsung. Similarly, Loopt has established partnerships with all major US cellular carriers.”

Location-based mobile social networking constitutes a framework within which previously independently-launched location-based services such as search, friend-finder, people tracking and user-generated content find new momentum by complementing and reinforcing each other. Hence, it comes as no surprise that Nokia is moving in quickly with the acquisition of Plazes and the beta launch of the location-enabled Nokia Chat social instant messaging application.

It’s been a long time since I wrote about LBS based apps. So this news has charged me up. Stay tune for some interesting update on current LBS applications. If any of you guys have found cool LBS based apps, buzz( leave a comment) me, will include in my future article.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BT gobbles ribbit, WHY?

So all the rumors that were floating around couple of days back about BT buying ribbit turned out to be true. No smoke without fire. Today BT acquired ribbit for $105 million dollar cash. This is indeed very good news for platform players. I was surprised by the amount that was paid for the acquisition. Considering ribbit has only couple of thousand developers, this must have been a great offer for ribbit to reject the deal. In addition, BT with their 21CN platform is truly innovative and a great initiative coming from operator. I’m very positive; jajah is the next target for acquisition. I don’t have much information about their platform developer program. I know for sure they have a platform that is catering voice and messaging service to some of the big companies in the industry.

So let’s take a look at why and what is the rationale behind BT buying ribbit.
BT currently runs its own platform play called 21CN. 21CN is BT’s global, software driven customer network that introduces a new, simpler portfolio of next generation services.
21CN in a nutshell:
• driving a radical simplification
• BT's enabling infrastructure for growth
• a world class customer experience
• greater control, choice and flexibility
• today's most complete, exciting and ambitious business transformation
• implementation and industry consultation is underway
• it applies to our international business too















So the goal of 21CN is to provide end-users ability to access voice messages, data or video at any time on any device. In addition, provide users the option to share personal contact directory across their home phone, PC, mobile and PDA. I see a great potential in this type of applications and it’s heartening to hear that this initiative is coming from an operator. BT is quite focused on growing as an open global network. Lately, most of the telecom operators have realized the potential of open network and the developer community. I guess the thought of being a mere dump pipe is driving most of these operators to think beyond the walled garden.

This is where ribbit, another independent platform player minus customer base is playing the role of providing developers with all the tools required to build Telco 2.0 type applications. Ribbit platform enables developers to bring together the richness of voice calling and Web 2.0 experiences. This platform enables faster, simpler ways of build voice and messaging apps that can be integrated into the web 2.0 worlds.














Though some of the functionality is already built in 21CN, ribbit brings in lot of additional features and interfaces that BT can leverage with its existing platform. Some statistics of developers, BT has around 9,000 developers and ribbit around 5000. It’s not a lot for sure. However, considering BT huge vision of rolling out 21CN across 170 countries, this merger has great potential. I wouldn’t be surprised if BT shops around more. Om is skeptic about the whole deal, reason being the promise of BT 21 CN was never fulfilled. I personally believe there is huge potential in this type of platform, and it’s the future. Having operator alongside shall have huge impact. We are talking about millions of subscribers here. I see facebook, myspace, apple appstore, telco 2.0 etc as the future platform players. In fact, Telco 2.0 platform can be used to build applications for any of these web 2.0 communities. Check out my earlier article on platform API’s revenue model .

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Free iPhone from Hictu

Folks if you are a die hard iPhone fan and still don’t own one , here is your chance to win a free iPhone. Luca is giving away an iPhone. For more information, check out his Blog.
(I would love to have one, still thinking should I pay for that unlimited data and SMS.)

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Will Cuil dent Google’s might?

Cuil aka cool is the latest search engine that is gone compete with the mighty Google. Yeh, I know what you guys are thinking. Same here. There are tones of startups that claim to dethrone Google’s No 1 position in search engine. Nevertheless the surprising thing about cuil is their media coverage. I have to admit they really pulled it off well with the media. New York Times Article calls it “More Comprehensive” than Google. One of the reasons why the media loves cuil is because some of the folks that started them are ex-Googler.

Did we not see giants like yahoo and Microsoft try the same thing with their search engines that had little impact on googles search engine. What makes more interesting here is that Google had come up with some news before even cuil made them.

Here are some tidbits from Google's last Friday post

We've known it for a long time: the web is big. The first Google index in 1998 already had 26 million pages, and by 2000 the Google index reached the one billion mark. Over the last eight years, we've seen a lot of big numbers about how much content is really out there. Recently, even our search engineers stopped in awe about just how big the web is these days -- when our systems that process links on the web to find new content hit a milestone: 1 trillion (as in 1,000,000,000,000) unique URLs on the web at once!

We don't index every one of those trillion pages -- many of them are similar to each other, or represent auto-generated content similar to the calendar example that isn't very useful to searchers. But we're proud to have the most comprehensive index of any search engine, and our goal always has been to index all the world's data.


So out of curiosity started playing around the cuil, was disappointed to get a message saying (something different this time... No fail whale)














Apart from the no result due to excessive load, Webware complains that they saw the results to be either wrong or irrelevant. I think it’s too early to write off cuil. This is one of the startups to watch for. Maybe if they get things right, Microsoft may even consider them instead of yahoo.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Revenue model for Mobile VoIP and SMS apps

I was reading an article from iLocus about the revenue model of mig33. This was something I always wondered about. How do these startups that are in Mobile VoIP and SMS play make revenue giving out free beers. The issue is not only with VoIP or SMS apps; it’s the same with most of the other mobile apps that don’t have a revenue model. Thought of sharing some of my thoughts on the current and possible business model for Mobile VoIP and SMS apps.

Most of the mobile VoIP companies rely on long distance and international calling service for revenue generation. So here are some of the options for generating revenue for Mobile VoIP companies. (There are other revenue generating models based on mobile content and location, the below talks only about Mobile VoIP apps. I will write another article talking about general mobile apps and their revenue model)
• Cheap International calling service. (The annual revenue of IDT is close to 2 billion dollars). Most of the folks that started as Mobile VoIP or Click-to-Call Widgets ended up providing this kind of service. Reason being very simple. This is where the money is! Some of the popular ones are Mig33 , Mobivox, Fring, Truphone , Nimbuzz etc
• Audio based advertisement voice calling. Some of the folks like Pudding media tried this route, I have written about them earlier . Not sure how they are doing now. If anyone has information, pass it on.
• Partner with social networking sites and provide voice calling to users and make money based on the revenue that is generated using advertisements. Off course, jangle tried this route and failed. Nimbuzz has signed have signed up 10 social networks and 3 mobile operators.
• Whitelabelling- Charge subscriber with a license fee for the usage of the application

SMS revenue generating model:
• Ad based SMS messaging. Blyk and others are like jaxtr support this model
• Partner with operator and share the revenue. Getting operator to like your app is a Herculean task. However, if you are blessed by the operator then you have almost made it big.

There is another model for startups that is called buyout/acquisition :-). Just build a huge user base and hope for some big player to gobble the company. This is the model many of the startups are vying for. Unfortunately, I don’t see any kind of M&A happening in this space. The only company I can think of that has the potential to be acquired is Jajah.

So wondering what next? Where are these companies heading? Acquisition, IPO or run as an independent company till u burn the VC cash or VC’s pull the plug. Let me know what your thoughts are on this. Would love to hear your perspective.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Google looking at digg, Not again!

According to Techcrunch, Google is in talks to acquire Digg for around $200 million dollars. This is the nth time iam hearing such rumors about digg. Last time Jay Adelson, CEO of digg had to clarify in his blog. Currently, digg has an advertisement partnership with Microsoft. It makes sense for Microsoft to buy them rather than Google. Well, not sure if Microsoft has been able to make any headway in advertisement revenues.

Comscore’s June report shows digg user visits growing from 4.4 million to 6.2 millions. Critics have always doubted the potential of digg. Some say it is very easy to build such service. Look at reditt, hacker news etc. I see a great potential in digg community and not behind the technology. Even if any company is looking to acquire digg, it’s for their community and user base and not the technology. It’s that simple! Iam sure Google can build their own digg service, something similar to what yahoo did with Buzz. Nevertheless its the community and user base that makes digg hot than the technology.

The downside of Google acquiring digg is that it might see the same fate as some of the other startups Google gobbled. I still wonder what happened dodgeball, grandcentral, jaiku and others. Here is the list of companies Google has acquired so far .

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Yes there is money in API’s

Dameon has written an excellent article asking “Is There Money in Voice API’s” for Gigaom. This article has some of the best comments I have seen since long time. (Check my comments as well). I couldn’t resist talking about this topic. I agree with dameon that startups cannot just open up Voice API’s and call that as a business strategy. But I see lot of potential in these API’s. In general, API’s regardless or whether it is voice, messaging, video, music etc has a great potential to make money. The question really is who gets the Pot of Gold. I see a great future for mashup applications that can render data from different platforms filtered and customized as per user’s taste.

The way I look at API is; it’s just an additional avenue for companies to make money. For e.g., twitter opened up their platform with API’s that can be used to build applications on top of it. We saw tones of apps that were built and some (summize, twirl etc) of them were bought. So what did these apps do to twitter; 1) they increased the usage of twitter, 2) Developers built innovative apps that pulled data from different third-party servers. 3) Twitter branding. Similarly if you look at other products like YouTube, Last.fm, Google Maps, Flickr, Yahoo mail, Friendfeed etc. All these products provided API’s using which developers could build applications. Here is some statistics from programmableweb ,
There are currently 3209 mashups with 822 API’s.

There are some folks that are pure API providers like ribbit, who are into the platform play. The model here is to provide API’s for developers to build standalone applications. What is missing here is the branding. For e.g., I can build a mashup application that can pull up Youtube video and a matching flickr picture. There is already a brand called YouTube and Flickr. However, in the case of ribbit, they are just a pure platform player. So the branding is missing here. In addition, ribbit business model solely depends on the developers. It makes money only if the developers succeed in building compelling apps.

Another concern that most of the folks raised was standardization of these API’s. I couldn’t agree more with these folks. I guess there should be some kind of standards that needs to be followed with these API’s. If not, we will see the repeat of SILO models, where every API’s shall be proprietary and you might end up learning 101 different languages.

I still wonder what the deal with operators is; I mean they are ones that should have been playing a bigger role in pure platform play. With the infrastructure in place, all they need is glue that bridges the platform and the API. Isn’t this the IMS role?

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Windows mobile gets a true mobile VoIP client.









Jajah, today announced that it’s enhancing its mobile sip client to support both incoming and outgoing voice call via wireless data network. This is interesting. I’m surprised by Japanese mobile operator EMOBILE move to support such a client. If a consumer has unlimited data package, he is as good as getting unlimited voice calling. When would we have something like this in USA.

By providing users with their own local DID (Direct Inward Dialing number), users can be reached by dialing this number. The voice is carried over the data network. For a monthly fee of $5, EMOBILE customers can purchase their own DID, or Direct Inward Dialing number, for their Sharp EM•ONE Ultra Mobile Device running Windows Mobile 6, which turns their device into a fully functioning mobile phone, without a cellular connection. This local number operates as any normal phone number. It can be used to make and receive calls, and can be stored in a phone or address book. Calls are routed over JAJAH's IP-telephony network so customers take advantage of JAJAH's low calling rates.

This is what Jajah CEO has to say about the news:

"Through our collaboration with EMOBILE, we were the first in the industry
to deliver pure voice over mobile broadband," said JAJAH CEO, Trevor Healy.
"With added call functionality and a personal direct number, we are not only
enabling the consumers desire for a truly connected life on the go, but
taking another leap forward in the future of mobile communication."


There are lots of clients that support MVoIP outgoing calls like fring, mig33,truphone( uses WIFI) etc. What’s interesting in this news is the involvement of the operator that wants to support outgoing/incoming voice call using data network. Jajah is making the right moves and iam sure they are positioning themselves for a big buyout. Apparently there are rumors about Google being a potential buyer. I can see so many different possibilities here. Well, for now, iam just gone pass this rumor. Stay tuned folks.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

1 million iPhone and 10 million Apps

Wow, this is pretty amazing. According to apple , 1 million iPhone have been sold the past weekend. It took just 3 days to reach the milestone.

What Steve Jobs said:

“iPhone 3G had a stunning opening weekend,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It took 74 days to sell the first one million original iPhones, so the new iPhone 3G is clearly off to a great start around the world.”


Another milestone is about apple’s app store. iPhone and iPod touch users have already downloaded more than 10 million applications from its app store since its launch last week. A total of 800 native applications are now available on the App Store. More than 200 are available for free and the rest charged less than $10 dollars.

What Steve Jobs said:

“The App Store is a grand slam, with a staggering 10 million applications downloaded in just three days,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Developers have created some extraordinary applications, and the App Store can wirelessly deliver them to every iPhone and iPod touch user instantly.”

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cool iPhone apps video

With the iPhone store going live, there are so many applications that have been added to the app store. Check out some of the cool apps video below. More on Techcrunch.

Limbo



Shozu


Loopt



Pandora radio



Foreflight



Remote control for iTunes and Apple TV

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wetpaint reaches 1 million wiki’s

Wetpaint, the social publishing platform that allows users to make wikis and social networking sites easily announced that they have exceeded one million wikis Web sites in their diverse network. This is indeed a great milestone. Congratulations to the folks at wetpaint.

They are celebrating this milestone by announcing the “The 2008 Golden Paint Can Awards”
Here is more information about the same

“To commemorate the one-million site milestone and celebrate the best Web sites and contributors across the Wetpaint network, Wetpaint is also announces today the first annual “Golden Paint Can Awards.”

The awards feature a roundup of the 70 best sites nominated across 15 categories, including: “Heart & Soul - Best Cause Site,” “Mating, Dating & Relating - Best Romance Site” and “Weird and Wonderful - Best Site that Defies Description.”

Wetpaint will determine award winners by three methods: judges’ choice, community voting and statistical data. Participating judges include Sam Decker of Bazaarvoice, Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz, Matt Harding of wherethehellismatt.com, Lee LeFever of CommonCraft, the editorial staff of BuddyTV and other notable online personalities.

Voting begins today and concludes at midnight EDT on Tuesday, July 22, 2008. Wetpaint will announce winners the following day, Wednesday, July 23.

To view the Golden Paint Can Awards Web site and vote for your favorite Wetpaint sites, visit Golden Paint Awards . To create your own free Wetpaint site today, visit WetPaint

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SMSGupShup is no Twitter!

SMSGupShup the Indian Twitter startup is making waves with the number of users it has amassed so for. Pretty impressive. I have read lot of article where SMSGupShup is compared with twitter and in fact they call SMSGupShup the “twitter with no downtime”. Comparing SMSGupShup with twitter is in itself a compliment to twitter. Twitter is like a benchmark to all these startups that are playing a niche in Group Communication arena. Whenever there is a new search company they always compare that with Google; Why, because Google is the one that lead and showed the path for search. I see the same trend with twitter. I’m sure twitter had its bad moment for so long; I guess its time for twitter folks to buckle up and show the world what they have in them. Really! I love twitter, period.






Another thing I beg to differ with folks that compare twitter with SMSGupShup. Here is why I feel they are different
• Twitter is micoblogging tool using which users can post a short message up to 140 characters on anything and everything they want to share with their friends and follower. It doesn’t have concept of group. Where as SMSGupShup is built as a SMS Group Communication application where in user’s can create a group and invite friends to join the group.
• Twitter doesn’t really support a group creation or invitation to join the group. However, they support follow and notification options using which anyone can follow anyone and receive updates if notification enabled.
• SMSGupShup has no concept of individual users, it’s a group based communication. So users can create group, join groups and post messages to the group.
• Users that follow me on twitter become my implicit group, and any message that I send to twitter is broadcast to the entire group (My followers with notification ON receive the message). If one of my follower replies to the message, it’s not broadcast to the entire group, it is just sent to the message originator i.e. ME. Where as in SMSGupShup, if a member of a group sends a message, its broadcast to the entire group and any reply from the members is again broadcast to the entire group. This something similar to a group chat, except that it can be done using SMS message.

According to pluggd.in, Om and Micheal , SMSGupShup has raised around $10 million dollars funding. SMSGupShup has over 7 million subscribers and 300,000 publishers. The usage is more on Mobile than Web interface. In India, SMS message packages are very cheap compared to USA and other countries. Also, incoming SMS message is free where as you get charged for incoming message in North America. This explains why the usage of service is more SMS based than web.

The trigger for writing this article was based on this paragraph I read from VentureBeat article, which talks about how tribes were using SMSGupShup as a communication channel. Bravo SMSGupShup

“ I’ll close with a vignette that illustrates the magnitude of the need. One day the GupShup spam control team noticed several messages that looked like gobbledygook to them. So they sent these suspected spammers account termination notices. They didn’t expect the response: messages not just from those senders but from many others, pleading with them not to terminate the accounts. It turns out the messages were in a language called Hmar, only spoken by some 65,000 tribal people living in the hilly regions of India’s northeast. There are now several Hmar groups on SMS GupShup; the tribal group sees this as a major communication channel. Being too small to attract mainstream media, the group also sees SMS GupShup as their main form of media and a way to save their language and culture from extinction as they assimilate into the Indian mainstream.”

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