Sunday, March 30, 2008

PulverMedia heading to deadpool?

So folks it’s a bad news for VoIP industry. The news out there in the blogosphere is that PulverMedia is in big trouble. Apparently, TICC who funded them earlier backed out. It’s a big setback to VON. The cat was let out of the bag by Marc from IPCom insights followed by Andy. As always, Om has interesting information about the while story.

Wish Jeff comes out of this mess unscathed

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Monday, March 24, 2008

If u want to advertise, please check this video

I found this cool video on seth godin blog .

Interesting, though, for the first time, I missed the bear completely. Gosh! Was I sleeping? Anyway, it reveals an interesting correlation between Ad's meaning and marketing.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

How to make Free Voice Call from Web browser

I talked about Mobile VoIP calling options in one of my earlier post. While writing this article I had some thoughts about Web based voice calling, how this is achieved and some of the niche players ruling the roost. Web based telephony has become one of the hottest technology to embrace web from a voice perspective. Gone are those days where in u need a telephone to initiate voice conversation. Technology has evolved over the years and especially VoIP has made it easy to achieve lots of innovation in the Web Telephony arena. Though, VoIP is not limited to Web interface alone, but the technology has made this possible. Initiating voice conversation’s using the Web interface is termed as Web telephony. Voice communication using internet was made popular by some of the IM soft client like Skype, Yahoo, Msn, Gtalk etc. Nonetheless, these software’s mandate a soft client download and install for making voice calls. In addition, some of the IM soft clients don’t support calling PSTN/Mobile numbers.

So let’s look at some of the different ways of initiating voice calls from Web browser
• Web call through model
• Web call back model

Web call through model
Voice Calls can be originated from web browser, voice packets traverse through the internet. If the user calls a sip client, then the call terminates directly to the sip client using either third-party vendor proxy or publicly available server. If the user calls a landline or mobile phone, voice packets reach the third-party server through internet. However, the third-party server connects to the landline/mobile phone using the traditional operator’s network.

Advantages of this model:
• Free voice call, if calling a sip client or Instant Messenger clients. Cheaper voice calls, if calling landline or mobile. In fact, Earthcaller supports free voice calls from web to any phone in USA. Cool Deal.
• Cheap International calls. No need to carry a phone. All you need is Web with internet connection and mic for speaking.

• Need to download third-party plug-in for browsers to support call signalling and voice packet transmission. ( Some of the startups like flashphone and tringme support voice calling with no plug-in downloads)
• Need a microphone for two way voice conversation

Here are some of the companies that support the above calling model. Go ahead and use them for free/cheap voice calling.

Web call back model
In this calling model, User types in his number and the destination number to call. Third-party server shall connect the user and the destination number. Pretty easy to use the service compared to call-through model. Very handy, if calling international numbers.

Advantages of this model:
• Call any number from anywhere.
• No need to install third-party plug-in.
• Don’t need a long distance or international plan with the operator. Just need an account with the third-party company to call any number on the planet.
• Very easy to call from Web Browser.

Here are some of the companies that support the above calling model. Go ahead and use them for free/cheap voice calling.
Jajah,RakWeb,VoipBuster,Jaduka dukadial

Jajah is one of the pioneers in the above calling model. These were the guys who popularized Web based callback model.

So, I guess Web is evolving as a communication platform. Be it social networking communication or enterprise, Web is sure to play a bigger role in the coming future. Apparently, Web 2.0 has caved in a different niche for communication applications.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

For Freedom from lengthy phone menus, use fonolo!

Shai berger CEO of Fonolo has replied to my questions.Please find the replies inline

Are u guys tried of going through different IVR menu options to reach the customer service representative? I’m sure many of the folks would agree with me how cumbersome and time consuming these IVR menu options is. It reminds me Citibank ad, which basically boasts of live customer interaction, cutting out those complicated IVR options. I guess the good news is that some of the folks at Fonolo are working hard to help overcome this mess. Fonolo's "Deep Dialing" feature enables a caller to skip those time-consuming touch-tone and IVR-driven menus and connect directly to a point inside a phone menu to reach the person or department he/she needs. Another cool feature of fonolo is- it keeps track of your calls, notes and recordings.

In fact, I did talk about these guys earlier in one of my article on pudding media. So how does this work-- fonolo does transcribes the phone menus of large companies to give users access to visually navigate the menus. By doing so, you can skip those phone menu’s and dive into the menu option that you are looking for.
According to fonolo website, here is what they have said about the technology behind it

“We’ve built revolutionary technology that "spiders" the phone system, much like a web search engine spiders the web. Our system dial companies, navigate their menus and use a combination of speech recognition, signal processing and human editing to maintain a map of “phone space”.

Every time a user requests a “Deep Dial”, we validate the entire path through the phone menu using this same technology. In real-time, we listen to audio from the call and use speech recognition to determine if it’s a match to the information we have stored in our database. Our approach of “node validation” ensures that we always route customers to exactly the right spot in a company’s phone menu.”

Interesting idea, still at its infancy. Here are some of my thoughts about this product:
• Availability of Phone numbers across different countries
[shai] We are focussing on US and Canada for now.
• In order to use the service, user may have to pay more for voice call’s.( Call is first connected to fonolo’s server, which in turn shall connect to the actual company)
[shai] The user will not pay more for calls. Fonolo works via callback method. That is, you select the point in the menu you want to call, then we call the company, navigate to that spot and call you back. So you end up with a (slightly shorter) inbound call instead of an outbound call.
• How big is the market segment for this? I mean, how frequently do u keep calling companies that run u through their IVE menus.
[shai] Judging from the response we've had so far, I'd say there is considerable desire out there for this service. I think it is a common point of pain.
• How will they monetize the service
[shai] Browsing the phone map, Deep Dialing and Intelligent Call History are free and ad-supported. Later on, we’ll add some premium features that require a monthly fee. We also have some interesting partnership plans in the works, but I can’t disclose any details here. Stay tuned!
• Not sure how they can traverse multi lingual IVR menu options
• IVR menu options keep changing; need to keep up with these changes.
[shai] We dial in repeatedly to validate the phone menu. Furthermore, every time you Deep Dial through Fonolo, you are helping us validate that particular menu path.

All that said, Wish Shai Berger a great success and hope to see fonolo come out a winner. (I have requested for an invite, will update with more details about the product. Stay tuned)

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Top 40 VoIP applications you can’t afford to miss

Voip News has come out with an interesting 40 VoIP application . I have talked about many of these applications in my blog.

Some of my favorite VoIP applications listed are:

Nonetheless, was a little surprised not to see fring,mig33,iSkoot( I guess the 3 skypephone is triggered by iskoot) not in the list. Also, there are so many other applications listed, which I have never heard of. Well, just because I have not heard of these applications doesn’t mean they are not good. Just that I don’t have my eyes open always. Well, now that i have heard of them, dont have an excuse.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Startups can’t afford slackers, need passionate slaves

I was reading this article by Micheal from techcrunch over the weekend. I guess it was triggered by an article from Maholo CEO Jason . There was such a huge outcry for some of the suggestion. I guess in the end, it boiled down to two groups, one that agreed with Jason and the other that differed and were ballistic in their outcry. It is an interesting argument though. So far, I have worked for 4-5 startups. I have experienced/seen some of these firsthand.

Here are some of the other bloggers reactions to this article:
Robert Scoble
Dave Winer
Pat phelen
Duncan Riley

Apart from what these guys have to say, here are some general comments I had about startups:
• I agree u need animals to work in startups. These are the guys who would work their ass off 24 hours. Nonetheless, you need to give them some breathing time and respect their commitment. The moment u start treating them like god damn slaves, they are gone with a wink. So my point is, respect the staff that is giving their heart and sole for the vision of the company. Don’t treat them like real animals.
• Hire the right kind of guy in key roles. If you screw up filling up these positions, god only can save such startups. I mean, these slackers would just de-motivate and screw up the morale of the team. Especially, u need to be careful hiring kiss ass guys. These guys would spend all their energy and time kissing their boss ass.
• Saving money was spot on; my previous company burned around 90 million dollars in less then 2 years. That’s insanity and foolish.
• Use Open Source and free software where ever possible. This saves startups lot of money. I guess for initial prototype or an alpha launch, open sources software is very ideal.
• Create a culture in the company where creative/innovative ideas flow easily from bottom to top. It doesn’t have to be restricted to founders or top level management.
• Start blogging, seriously this should tones of money on PR

However, one of the tips from Jason was way over the limit:

“Fire people who are not workaholics…. come on folks, this is startup life, it’s not a game. go work at the post office or stabucks if you want balance in your life. For realz.”

This text was later changed to “Fire people who don’t love their work”. I still see his point. Startups run with resource crunch and you cannot afford 9- 5 employees. However, You cannot expect every employee to work like the founders do. There is tradeoff between an employee and the founders. I guess this is a bitter truth and the founders need to understand that. Common guys, you can’t expect the staff that is getting less than 50k works his ass off like founders. If the startup succeeds, founders are the guys that’s gone pocket huge sum of money. Its the same old shit hole for all those god damn employees.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Time to milk the cow(users),J and J trying hard

Jaxtr wondered what to do with 10 million user base that was built by giving away free beers? It claims to have gained 10 million users in less than a year. Wow! what an achievement. Nonetheless, it makes me wonder if it is so difficult to get users hooked up to your service that is basically free. Everybody loves free stuff. From what I understand, the VC’s money is all spent giving freebies to all those tire kickers looking for cheap/free calling minutes. For those of you folks that have not heard about jaxtr, here is some info about them-- Jaxtr is a voip widget provider that can be used for anonymous calling. Similar to jangl and jajah

So at last jaxtr has realized that in order to survive in the market, need to generate some revenue to stay afloat. Not surprisingly, jaxtr café is born. I guess this is a very good move. So what is this café? Jaxtr café is a social networking for communication (voice and text). All the 10 million users of jaxtr can communicate with each other and discuss various topics of common interest. Jaxtr shall make money through advertisements. I’m still wary of two things here; already users are tired of so many social networking sites, jaxtr café adds to this ever-growing list. Not sure how are they going to monetize their service based on advertisements.

According to TechCrunch every user of Jaxtr is grandfathered in to Jaxtr Cafe’s profile database. You can search amongst these profiles based on interests and geography

Jangl, another anonymous calling web based voip widget is launching its own ad based calling partnering with pudding media. Jangl Mobile Media Initiative kicks off with Pudding Media and leading advertising and communications agency, Ogilvy’s Digital Innovation Group, to bring flexible mobile advertising solutions for today’s top brands. Compared to jaxtr, Jangl already has some revenue generating model. It has revenue sharing model with and advertisement on PlentyOfFish. In Addition, they have partnered with Various, Inc.,, Fubar and Revision3.

Stacey from gigaom has a very Good Article about jangl. More than the article, the comment section is set on fire by Om and jangl media.
According to Om

“ @ 10 CPM, you would need a million calls to make $10,000 “

Here is what Timothy Johnson () has to say about jangl-

“Jangl makes money two ways: one rev stream is subscription-based $ in dating/personals sites, and another is free, ad-supported voice and SMS services in social networks”

From a user standpoint, it is still good news. These startups are trying hard to keep the service free. I guess a small privacy intrusion is ok for free beer. Isn’t it folks!

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Social Address Book,Next Killer App:Part 2

This article is in continuation to my previous post where I talked about details of Social Address Book. Some of the early applications that caught my attention are yahoo’s OneConnect , Plaxo pulse , Zyb and Fidgt . I was overwhelmed to see yahoo’s OneConnect, which in more ways represents Social Address Book platform. I guess from a mobile application standpoint, yahoo is a step ahead of Google. Off course, you cannot discount Google ambitious project android. Apparently, OneConnect looks more like what Google is trying to achieve with its most publicized OpenSocial,Social Graph API and Android.

I have to admit, yahoo OneConnet looks very promising and I just loved the whole idea of connecting different social networking interface and other applications into one single interface.

“ Yahoo’s oneConnect will feature the ability to tie together popular emailing and instant messaging clients from the likes of not only Yahoo, but also Google, AOL and Microsoft. It will also feature the ability to send and receive updates from most social networking sites including MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and LinkedIn as well as many other popular social tools such as Twitter, Flickr and “

Check out these two videos to get more insight on OneConnect. It’s a must watch

Some of the features to mention are:

Socially-connected address book
Provide users the capability to integrate activity from popular social networks, professional networks, and communities into their address book, keeping it always in sync. Consumers will be able to view status updates, photo uploads, and the recent activity ("pulse") of contacts across all their networks.

Integrated mobile messaging
Offer seamless integration of IM and SMS, including threaded conversations. Any messaging service will be able to use Yahoo! oneConnect's open APIs to plug into the application's messaging feature - enabling consumers to access a wide range of popular services, such as Yahoo! Messenger, Google(R) Talk, AOL(R) Instant Messenger and MSN(TM) Messenger.

Give consumers the capability to view their contacts by their most recent status updates on popular social networks, as well as update their own status on their favorite social networks - in one easy step - and automatically broadcast it to their friends.

Provide consumers the functionality to see a dynamic overview of what friends are up to, including recent photos, their status, profile updates, and recommendations based on their most recent actions on popular social networks.

Keep the people consumers interact with most at their fingertips. Users will be able to set up messaging shortcuts to make reaching out as quick as possible.

Social contact card
Allow users to aggregate the most relevant information on any given contact, including archives of past communications, detailed pulse history, and one-click ways to initiate communication.

Innovative location-sensing technology
Provide new ways to locate, chat with, and exchange contact information with nearby Yahoo! oneConnect users. Proximity alerts will notify consumers when a contact enters their vicinity.

Talking about zyb, they started off as a phone book and calendar sync up service. Using a phone that supports SyncML you can back up and restore to and from their servers. I guess they realized that just being a phonebook syncup is not going to take them any place. Well, looks like they are also moving in the direction of social connected address book. Thinking beyond the plain old address book. It can aggregate your activities from services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. and share them as a feed with your friends. The plan is to bring this functionality to your phone too in the form of a Java app. Also in the cards are location information of buddies and location mapping.

I guess plaxo should be a perfect example of address book. Initially they were aggregating email address book, and now they have moved beyond this basic aggregation. How can we forget what happened to Robert scobleizer when he tried to import all his contacts from facebook through Plaxo. I guess this issue kind of gave more ammunition to data portability. Plaxo is well positioned in this space. Well, iam tired of hearing so many rumors of plaxo being acquired.

Fidgt is another social address book I came across recently. For now, they support aggregating friends and media from flickr,,AIM,MSN,Yahoo.

If you guys know of any social address book application, please let me know.

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