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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