Thursday, May 29, 2008

Big Telco’s mindset change, embracing the unknown

There is a big change in the way operators are looking at the business model these days. With the existing voice revenues taking a nose dive, I guess its time for some introspection. With voice and messaging platform’s threatening to erode the ARPU even further, Big telcos are realizing that its time to embrace the unknown territory (webification,open network platform for thirdparty access). This should be good news to some of the platform providers. I’m sure telcos would partner with some of these existing platform providers like jajah, ribbit, ifbyphone, broadsoft, metaswitch rather than re-invent the whole wheel again. The focus of web telephony is slowly moving towards platform play. I can see a lot of enthusiasm in the blogosphere and the media about the voice and messaging platform play.

In order to prove their vision about voice and messaging platform, jajah has done some research talking to CTIA delegates and C-level telecom executives in Europe and North America. Here are some snippets of the research finding.

• Landline churn: The biggest fear amongst fixed line telecommunications companies is the loss of landline connections. Four out of five companies put landline replacement revenue at the top of their agenda.
• Value Added Services the savior? The majority of carriers rank the addition of Value Added Services to their portfolio as a higher priority than their network. Two-thirds of chief-level executives state Value Added Services are the single most important factor for increasing customer loyalty and revenue.
• Talkifying the Web: It is unclear how to deal with the perceived threat from “new-style” competitors, with two-thirds more concerned about Google than new triple-play competitors.
• IP telephony strategy gap: Many companies identify significant room for advancement in IP telephony strategy. Two-thirds stated IP telephony represented the future of telecommunications and are looking to carrier-friendly companies like JAJAH to partner with to quickly advance its IP offering and IP backbone.
• The future is international: International markets hold enormous potential; Ninety percent expect significant revenue growth abroad, rather than in domestic markets in the next five years.
• Infrastructure investment black hole: With a lack of funding for infrastructure investment, more than 60 percent of the executives questioned believe they will outsource a greater proportion of infrastructure development by 2009.
• Triple play boom: Service expansion by telcos will lead to an increase in triple play offerings in the U.S. and Europe in the next twelve months. More than one-third of single and dual play companies plan to launch a triple play offering within the next 24 months. Of those companies looking to expand into IPTV, more than half will do so via acquisition.

Alec Saunders has penned a great article talking about how the Big Telcos are realizing the potential of Value Added Service. The big shift I see in many of the big operators is the acceptance of web voice and message convergence. Checkout these two slides, courtesy, saunders blog

What caught my attention were these two slides that give and interesting analogy of how the Long tail conversation can be milked by the operator. In one of my very old article, I had talked about how web can be used as a voice platform. Looking at the carrier 2.0 slide, it reminds me IMS, which was created exactly for the same reason. Break the silo model and bring the transparency to build plug and play applications. We can build most of the applications promised by IMS using the existing platform and technology, don’t know what the compelling business case is for IMS. IMS to me is a pregnant pause.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Facebook 1st anniversary, application fatigue

It’s almost a year since Facebook opened its platform for third party developers. I have a mixed feeling about the kind of applications that are available for the users, and the kind of applications that are popular among the users. According to adonomics, there are around 1,000,537,129 installs across 25,914 apps on Facebook with over 200,000 developers currently evaluating the platform. These applications were used 34,175,797 times in the last 24 hours and have a combined valuation of $385,777,928. Wow! That’s pretty huge. Nevertheless I don’t think most of these applications are worth mentioning or talking about.

I agree with Jason from techcrunch on his analysis of facebook apps. There is dearth of “revolutionary” applications that has stickiness. Looking at the applications that are very successfull, it makes me wonder if this platform is worth spending time building something beyond fun stuff. Don’t get me wrong, the statistics says that most of the apps that are successful on this platform are those that are used for fun.

Without a doubt, facebook platform has been a phenomenal success with thousands of developers and applications. It has close to 70 million users. From a user standpoint, it is a sheer application fatigue when it comes to choosing the application from a list of 26000 applications. How many applications can a user add to his profile? . Too much of application choice is paralyzing. This is something facebook should be wary about. They should start some cleanup process to get rid of those apps that are either useless or not bringing in any value to the platform. I know it’s hard, but inevitable.

Apart from the platform, facebook has come a long way from supporting other cool features that in a way compete with the likes of FreindFeed,Twitter,Digg etc. There has been lot of talks about facebook becoming the Web OS. ( FYI, today facebook announced that they will open source their facebook platform , more on this later ).

Here are the top 10 applications on facebook platform:

Here are some details about Voice and SMS apps:

What an irony, jangl seems to be growing on facebook platform. Look at their valuation, its impressive. Only if the VC had faith in them . Comparing the top 10 apps active users with the Voice and SMS applications active users, it’s disappointing! . ( I have written about this earlier ).
It makes me wonder how much revenue is iotum’s Free Conference app generating with just 500-1000 active users per day. Not sure if this can generate enough dough to run the company. Well, I’m sure Alec must be working on that.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Microsoft CEO’s trend continues, its egg this time

Oh Boy, this is not good. Being the CEO of Microsoft is not fun anymore. God damnit, why the hell would someone behave like this. Some kind of weirdo shit. It happened to Bill Gates earlier, now Steve Ballmer ducks it. This is to the Hungarian dude, steve doesn’t gives a damn about those eggs. If you really want to hurt Him, stop using windows. Did I tell you Linux rocks!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Finaly, 3G iPhone is coming this june

According to gizmodo, Gizmodo 3G iPhone is going to be launched this june 9th 2008. So this must be good news to all those folks that have delayed their wish to own a iPhone because of 3G. So folks make sure you get one this time.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Microsoft should buy yahoo,facebook for what?

Looks like the blogosphere is all busy figuring out why or why not Microsoft should buy facebook. Another interesting angle to this is about the dataportability and the walled garden silo creation. Robert Scobleizer instigated this hot debate on why Microsoft shall buy facebook and yahoo search engine. (Here is the source for this big discussion )

Here is what Robert has to say about the deal:

Now Microsoft/Yahoo search will have access to HUGE SWATHS of Internet info that Google will NOT have access to.
Data and social graph portability is dead on arrival.
Microsoft just bought itself a search strategy that sure looks like a winner to me.
If all this is true there is no way in hell that Facebook will open up now.
It’s Facebook and Microsoft vs. the open public Web.

So this whole discussion is two fold. One is- why should Microsoft buy yahoo and facebook, and a follow up to that is the social data portability; will it ever happen. Here is what I feel about this whole discussion. If the rationale behind buying yahoo search engine and facebook is to use yahoo search engine in facebook platform, than I don’t think that is good thinking. Where does this leave Microsoft’s own search engine? Microsoft doesn’t have to buy facebook to use its own or yahoo’s search engine capability on facebook platform. Microsoft already has an advertisement deal in place with facebook, a further negotiation is all it takes to get them rolling. I agree facebook social data looks very lucrative; nevertheless facebook is not the only social data platform. We cannot ignore myspace, which is a bigger player compared to facebook and others like hi5, bebo, orkut, twitter, friendfeed, plaxo etc. I fail to understand Roberts’s argument on how FriendFeed, which is a feed aggregator, can compete with facebook. I guess this is bit far stretched. Sometime I feel we geeks as early adaptors tend to be more biased towards certain application/product. Erick from Techcrunch and Josh from readwriteweb have some good insight on this.

Coming back to the other argument where in Robert talks about how Microsoft together with facebook will become one big walled garden locking down user’s social data forever. Who are we kidding here? Looking at the history of internet, users always rule the internet. Even if microfacebook lock down user social data creating data silo’s, if the user is not happy with the lockdown; he will find another social platform that is more open than facebook. This will bring in more myspaces and facebooks to the market. Why not! This is good for the users and it is inevitable. Look at what happened to AOL’s walled garden strategy, they failed miserably. Even the biggest operators like ATT and Verizon that were operating in walled garden mode are opening up. As Alexander says , Even I wish Microsoft follows the User centric web and set the users free rather than lock them down.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Comcast wants to taste social web, grabs plaxo

Yes, Comcast the largest U.S cable company acquired Plaxo for a Rumored $150 to $170 million dollars. I’m a little confused here. Something doesn’t seem right here. Both these companies have history of issues handling consumers. What in the hell is a cable company gone do with an address book aggregator. I hope Comcast doesn’t spam all these email addresses with their product offering. I guess its time for me delete plaxo account. It’s not an out of the blue acquisition, Plaxo and Comcast have been working together for the past year. Look’s like plaxo is powering the universal address book for Comcast SmartZone communication center, which is slated to be launched later this year.

Here is what Plaxo has to say about the acquisition

Together, we intend to deliver on a vision of making “social media” a natural part of the lives of regular people, not just early-adopters. For example, you should be able to securely post family photos online in Pulse, and have them viewable by any of your family members, whether they are online, at work, on their mobile device, or in their living room watching TV. And you should be able to discover new shows to watch, based on what your friends and coworkers have recommended.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Google Android Top 50 is all about LBS apps

Google ambitious project Android is moving in the right direction with developers thronging for the cash cow. Android announced the Top 50 applications that have been shortlisted. Iam happy to see lot of LBS based applications making a splash. I have a mixed feeling about the list. I wonder what was the criteria in selecting the Top 50 apps. Out of 1788 entries, 50 were the choosen. This must have been a humongous task. I was bit surprised not to see any MVoIP/SMS/MMS based applications. Maybe, the frings and mig33’s have not inspired the developers. So each of these selected 50 applicant shall receive 25,000 thousand dollars to build the apps on android platform. I guess more than the money is the recognition of the idea.

Looking at the list of apps, LBS apps are just ruling the roost here. The list has atleast 7-8 application built on top of GPS. This is one of the hot arena to be in. I have written lot of articles in the past talking about advantages of LBS apps. Iam glad to see so many apps in this category. Some interesting ones in this category

Breadcrumbz allows users to navigate and record a route using images instead of a map. I guess they are building a community with geotagging content sharing.

Pocket Journey is a mobile application that connects your location to the voices of a global community of artists, historians, architects, musician, comedians, and others so you can quickly know everything about anywhere.

GolfPlay has been created as an answer to the high demand existing amongst golf lovers for reliable, accurate and free software. Its objective is to give support to all the real time necessities of a golf player during a game, using GPS location and an online querying site where it is possible to access to their game statistics, tournament creation and a social network to exchange impressions with other users about the sport that links them: golf.

Commandro is a Geo-centered social networking and inter- and intra-contact communication application. Uses GPS to display true real-life event and location information with regards to your and your friends.

City Slikkers is a Pervasive Game (alternatively Location Based Game) which takes place in the real-existing city. It is designed to connect a large number of players through-out the world and change the way the surroundings are seen.

PedNav is a location based personal assistant.

Other apps that caught my attention are -
Android Scan -- Use your phone to scan a barcode, get pricing information from dozens of stores, product reviews and more. Never make a bad purchase again!
Splash Play-- SplashPlay offers the next generation in musical tuition and learning to play the guitar just got a whole lot easier. Simply attach the pod and light panel to your guitar and start strumming to your favourite songs in minutes.
Em-Radar is a revolutionary mobile product that alerts you about emergencies and severe weather anywhere, any time.
Phonebook 2.0–- Looks like some kind of address book aggregator with syncing support. More like zyb?
SocialMonster-- The name says it all. Must be something to do with Web 2.0.
TuneWiki-- Our goal is to have the lyrics always on, always available, always synchronized to music - on any device that can play music back and connect to the internet.

Here is the complete list:
• AndroidScan - Jeffrey Sharkey
• Beetaun - Sergey Gritsyuk and Dmitri Shipilov
• BioWallet - Jose Luis Huertas Fernandez
• BreadCrumbz - Amos Yoffe
• CallACab - Konrad Huebner and Henning Boeger
• City Slikkers - PoroCity Media and Virtual Logic Systems
• Commandro - Alex Pisarev, Andrey Tapekha
• Cooking Capsules - Mary Ann Cotter and Muthuselvam Ramadoss
• Diggin - Daniel Johansson, Aramis Waernbaum, Andreas Hedin
• Dyno - Virachat Boondharigaputra
• e-ventr - Michael Zitzelsberger
• Eco2go - Taneem Talukdar, Gary Pong, Jeff Kao and Robert Lam
• Em-Radar - Jack Kwok
• fingerprint - Robert Mickle
• FreeFamilyWatch - Navee Technologies LLC
• goCart - Rylan Barnes
• GolfPlay - Inizziativa Networks
• gWalk - Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus ten Hagen, Christian Klinger, Marko Modsching, Rene Scholze
• HandWx - Weathertop Consulting LLC
• IMEasy - Yan Shi
• Jigsaw - Mikhail Ksenzov
• JOYity - Zelfi AG
• LifeAware - Gregory Moore, Aaron L. Obrien, Jawad Akhtar
• Locale - Clare Bayley, Christina Wright, Jasper Lin, Carter Jernigan
• LReady Emergency Manager - Chris Hulls, Dilpreet Singh, Luis Carvalho, Phuong Nguyen
• Marvin - Pontier Laurent
• Mobeedo - Sengaro GmbH
• Multiple Facets Instant Messenger - Virgil Dobjanschi
• MyCloset - Mamoru Tokashiki
• PedNav - RouteMe2 Technologies Inc.
• Phonebook 2.0 - Voxmobili
• PicSay - Eric Wijngaard
• PiggyBack - Christophe Petit and Sebastien Petit
• Pocket Journey - Anthony Stevens and Rosie Pongracz
• Rayfarla - Stephen Oldmeadow
• Safety Net - Michael DeJadon
• SocialMonster - Ben Siu-Lung Hui and Tommy Ng
• SplashPlay
• Sustain- Keeping Your Social Network Alive - Niraj Swami
• SynchroSpot - Shaun Terry
• Talkplay - Sung Suh Park
• Teradesk - José Augusto Athayde Ferrarini
• The Weather Channel for Android - The Weather Channel Interactive Inc.
• TuneWiki - TuneWiki Inc.
• Wikitude-the Mobile Travel Guide - Philipp Breuss
• Writing Pad - ShapeWriter Inc

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Google friend connect video

Google friend connect is making all the right noise. Is this the real dataportability that user's were waiting for so long? or is it some kind of buzz tactics to counter MySpace and Facebook announcement. Will digg more and update soon. For now, watch this video

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Top 100 Telecom Blogs you cant afford to miss!

VoIP Now has comeup with top 100 telecom blogs . They have split these blogs into 7 categories ( Voip, Corporate, Mobile, Wireless , Outside the US, Niche, Toys and Gadgets). My blog has been selected under VoIP. Iam happy to have made it to the list. When I looked at the list, I was surprised to have missed so many of these blogs myself. Iam sure this one would have been one hell of an exercise. Kudos to Voip Now, and thanks for including my blog in this list. This is second time I have been voted as Top VoIP blogger, previously was voted by Voip-News as one of the top 25 VoIP blogger.

Folks if you want to know the latest and all the innovative things happening in telecom world, check out some of these blogs.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Is the Voice 2.0 bubble breaking!

According to Om, TalkPlus has the same fate as Jangl . Thomas Howe has written an excellent article.

Looks like the Voice 2.0 arena is facing hardship. Jangl, one of the consumer VoIP widget providers for Web 2.0 communities has closed the doors . For those of you folks that is not aware of jangl, here is a quick dump- Jangl is an anonymous calling web based VoIP widget. Mashable has a nice post discussing the whole story. I was always critical about companies (jaxtr etc) that were solely focusing on building Voice apps for social networking communities. Where is the money? What is the acceptance rate of these widgets in social communities? I guess jangl might have found it hard to generate revenue from users that are basically looking for free stuff. Look at the statistics of these apps in social networking community. Its dismissal!

What surprises me is- Jangl had partnership with some of the big social networking community. It had a revenue sharing model with match and advertisement on PlentyOfFish. In Addition, they had partnered with Various, Inc.,, Fubar and Revision3. That was an impressive list. I thought maybe match making sites like match and plentyoffish was a better place for these kinds of voice widgets that provide privacy and anonymity. Apparently, it looks like these partnerships did not generate enough revenue for these guys to survive the downtimes. I have gone through startup shutdowns; believe me, its hard. The good news however is, Michael, Ben and 5 other folks are joining jajah’s team.

Here is what Michael Cerda, the CEO of jangl Michael Cerda, the CEO of jangl has to say:

We accomplished more than most companies do on the amount of money we raised and the time we spent on it. And in our opinion it needed another 18-24 months worth of runway to realize its fullest potential; but at the end of the day every venture capitalist has their own coefficient of venture. To that end, we took company forward into an M&A process. Unfortunately with much bigger things happening in the marketplace it turned out to be the worst time in a few years to be selling

I guess there are lot of lessons that can be learned from this tale. First and the foremost, startups that are building applications for Web 2.0 platform need to have a strong revenue model to sustain the business. Even If the value proposition of the startup is to get acquired, you need gas to stretch that extra mile. Need to understand the target market very well. If the target platform is not the place for generating revenue, need to find alternatives. For e.g., Enterprise VoIP as a target platform is a better place for monetizing these Voice and messaging applications than Consumer platform. There are very few players that have managed to survive providing freebies to the users.

All that said this is too Jangl Folks- Bad luck guys! You guys did a better job than most of the startups I know off. Shit happens!

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Top 15 emerging wireless startups

Fierce Wireless has come up with top 15 emerging wireless companies . I can definitely think of lot more startups that can be added to the list. Well, for now, let’s look at what has been published by fierce wireless.

Here is the list of top 15 wireless startups mentioned in fierce wireless:
DeviceAnywhere FireTide
Mfoundry Pelago

My pick from the list, and some information about them.

bluepulse started as mobile social networking is now focusing on messaging. That’s an interesting move from the company. It’s a mix of social network and instant messaging. The statistics looks unbelievable 150 million messages per month (2,000 per minute)

chacha a human powered search engine. Cool service. Users can either call an 800 number with their question or send a text to the short code 242 242. Within two or three minutes, they receive their answer. The answers are not only provided quickly and accurately but also with a human personality. I wonder how they manage to keep up with so many topics.

DeviceAnywhere is something very innovative. I was in awe when I read about how the solution works. You can virtually play around with thousand of gadgets using internet

Loopt, LBS based social networking. I guess loopt is ruling the roost in this arena. They have the blessing of operator, which is a biggest accomplishment

Pelago’s whrrl is Google maps with twitter. It’s a location based social tagging where users tag the location they visit.

uLocate is another LBS based startups. They have an impressive list of carrier deals -- Boost Mobile, Helio, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Alltel and MetroPCS as well as partnerships with Autodesk, Navteq, TeleAtlas, MapQuest and iDEN GPS company Trackem. Content providers like Eventful, EveryTrail, Zipcar, Twitter and Yelp have also inked deals with uLocate to mobilize and localize their offerings for the mobile phone.

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