Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy holidays to everyone. This has been a wonderful year for me. It was a very depressing year for me last year. It was very painful to see many of my friends/colleagues loose their jobs, market was going south and there was no hope. I’m glad things are picking up. Hope 2010 turns out to be a good year for all of us. Happy holidays and enjoy the moment. Time for wine,beer and scotch.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

O2 gobbles Jajah for $200 million

Update: Its confirmed, Jajah bought for $207 million

O2 won the bidding war to buy Jajah , the web based click to call VoIP startup. Earlier techcrunch had reported a bidding war to buy jajah , which included Microsoft and Cisco. Its surprising that O2 won the bidding war and not one of these other giants Microsoft/Cisco. It would have been a great fit for jajah to be with Microsoft/Cisco instead of an operator. I don’t know why an operator who already has its own network would buy a VoIP click to call startup.

Jajah was founded way back in 2005 and has been doing quite good. It has raised a total of $35 million dollars so far from the likes of Intel, Sequoia and Deutsche Telekom. According to sources, jajah serves over 25 million consumers and business callers in more than 122 countries. In addition, Yahoo messenger with 100 million users uses Jajah for Voice calls. Lately, the M&A activity are heating up including Google buying Gizmo. So it’s definitely a good news for lot of startups. I’m surprised why Google did not try to bid for Jajah. With Google getting into the Voice arena, jajah would have been a good fit. Microsoft’s bid for jajah was to bolster their enterprise UC offering. Google could have done the same thing with Google Wave/UC combo for enterprise. More later, Stay tuned!

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Google Phone is Real!

Google Phone called Nexus One is all over the blogosphere. It’s been a crazy weekend for gadget blogs, it’s just Google Phone. According to many sources, Google will be selling unlocked GSM phone directly to the consumers. The phone called Nexus One was designed inside Google and manufactured by HTC will be sold without any partnership with operators like iPhone and other Droid’s. Google has started giving away these phones to some of its employees . This pushes Google more into the mobile arena, which is going to be hot for advertisement in coming years.

As the focus of internet is moving towards mobile phones, Google is aggressively moving into the mobile arena. With Google Voice and the recent purchase of AdMod and Gizmo, Google is preparing itself to be the leader in the mobile advertisement.

Will this be an iPhone killer? Though I have not seen the phone, I still doubt it will be an iPhone killer. Will there ever be a true iPhone killer? Yes, only from Apple. In the meanwhile the count of iPhone killer phones keeps increasing.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Apple tablet coming soon

Looks like Apple tablet will be available sometime first quarter next year. This is definitely good news to all the tablet fans. So this should be a bad news to all the existing tablet vendors like Amazon, Sony, Microsoft and off course the JooJoo( iam not sure if this is gone fly with so much of bad publicity). According to sources, the tablet is a 10.1 inch multi-touch display using the iPhones LTPS LCD technology. Iam guessing it will have all the goodies like WI-FI,picture,video,mic,camera etc. Apple is also in negotiation with lot of publishers to distribute their contents. With more than 100,000 applications and growing more and more, this will be the most anticipated device of 2010.

I have been using iPhone for couple of weeks now and this is one of the best gadgets I have owned so far. This is no doubt a revolutionary product. Infact I have become a Mac fan after I started using iPhone. Mac simply rocks!. With tablet, apple is sure to set a new benchmark in the tablet market. The downside of the tablet could be its pricing, which is expected to be in the range of $1000 dollars. Let’s hope we can see another revolutionary product from apple next year first quarter. Till then, enjoy using iPhone.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Google Phone may be real!

Gizmodo reports that Google Phone may be coming soon and it’s real. Earlier there were rumors of Google Phone being a VoIP phone . With Google voice positioning itself very strong, and with the recent acquisition of Gizmo Talk, there is definitely something cooking at Google. Not sure what would be so compelling to go for a data only Google Phone. Selling a Mobile VoIP phone is not going to be a game changer. With LTE, Wimax etc the future is already moving towards IP wireless network, so there is not much to differentiate. Even operators are going to use IP as transport for voice.

All that said a Google VoIP phone with a built-in Google Voice could be a threat to some of the other VoIP players like Skype, Vonage etc. Google VoIP phone could use the Google Voice number for origination and termination of calls via data network. I’m guessing Gizmo could be playing a big role here if it turns out to be true. Will the Google VoIP phone be free with advertisement? Time will tell, for now lets hope Google comes out with another killer product.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Skype as a Next Generation Telephone platform

Skype with more than 500 million users is bigger than Facebook or Myspace. Off course the features what Skype provides today is different from other social networking platform. But the question is how difficult is it for Skype to support some of these social networking features. With the new management and the legal issue put to rest, I can see a rejuvenated Skype hunting for more success. According to OM , Skype CEO Josh has outlined platform as one of the key product idea for the future. Iam not surprised by the new strategy. With one of biggest social graph data, opening up their platform is a next logical step for Skype to reap in more revenues from voice and messaging.

With all the next generation platform talk , will Skype get the platform right? A part of me still feels that it would be disaster unless done right this time. We all know how Skype screwed up their Third party Developer program. I have myself used their API’s to write some apps and found it miserable. I don’t even want to call them as API. It was a closed API that was restrictive in every god damn way. Iam not sure how the heck can anyone write innovative apps on top of it. We have seen so many big vendors move into Platform play with little or no success. The success of the platform depends on the developers, developers and developers. Considering Andreessen’s involvement in the new management, iam sure his experience would come handy in building a successful next generation platform.

The concept of client based API, where in a Skype client is required to be running for third party applications to initiate services is gone be a disaster. Instead, Skype needs to consider opening up Voice,Video,Chat,Presence etc as a service for other developers to embed these features in any of front end interface like web,mobile,gaming consoles call centers etc. Skype can share presence information via API’s for gaming consoles based on which intelligent applications can be built. Some of the folks like ribbit,voxeo,ifbyphone,tringme are already playing the telephony platform role. The biggest advantage for Skype is that they already have millions of users, and that is very lucrative for developers to build apps using Skype platform API’s. It’s a WIN-WIN for both Skype and developers. With video conferencing becoming more and more popular, Skype can become one of the major players in video conferencing. In the past couple of weeks, we have seen so many acquisitions in the video conferencing market. ( Lifesize,Tanderberg etc).

The platform doesn’t have to be limited to Skype users alone. Developers can build Voice/Video/Messaging applications using Skype platform API’s to cater different social networking platform users. Skype as a telephony platform has a huge opportunity provided its done right.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vodafone 360 a Bold move

Vodafone 360, a social connected address book initiative is a very ambitious and a bold move by the operator. I guess this is the first time an operator is introducing a service that can work across different network. It’s a mix of cloud computing and rich multi media messaging. Maybe we can call it as “Cloud computing 2.0”. The 360 initiative is riding on the acquisition of Zyb, a mobile location and address book syncup startup that was acquired by Vodafone last year. With Vodafone 360, customer’s contacts, status updates and messaging services are brought together in one place enhancing the customer’s experience and use of social media. Customers will have integrated contacts, music, photos and mapping services and can share their favorite music choices and even their physical location, how and when they choose, with their chosen groups of friends. In addition, there will an app store similar to iPhone app store. ( I had written about Social Address book sometime last year, here is the link check out Part1 and Part2 of the article.)

Here are some of the features of Vodafone 360:

• Vodafone 360 is a brand new set of internet services for the mobile and PC which gathers all of a customer’s friends, communities, entertainment and personal favourites (like music, games, photos and video) in one place
• At its heart Vodafone 360 has the most personal address book available, bringing together all of the contacts from the mobile phone, social networks and other internet accounts. It works across a range of mobile phones, including the new, exclusive Vodafone 360 phones, and synchs automatically with the PC
• Connected address book – Vodafone People, open to everyone on any network across over 100 popular mobile phones, automatically synchs all contacts from a customer’s phone, Facebook®, Windows Live Messenger™ and Google Talk™, and will soon also include Twitter, Hyves and studiVZ
• New suite of internet services accessible on multiple handsets as well as PC or Mac, including a wide range of apps, games, music and mapping services

Vodafone 360 suite of services has been designed and developed by Vodafone on top of Limo operating system. At launch the full Vodafone 360 experience will be available on two exclusive handsets built to Vodafone’s specification by Samsung.

It will be interesting to see if Vodafone has any plans to launch this service for customers in US. I would definitely try the service if launched in USA.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Best startup pitches on the web

For startups during early days it’s very critical to get good amount of traction. One of the key things is to present the idea to a bigger audience without boring them to death.

Here is a list of some of the best startup/idea pitches:

Steve Jobs at Next Part 1:

Steve Jobs at Next Part 2:

WWDC 2008: Loopt Shows new app for iPhone:

AdMob - Omar Hamoui Demo at Micrsoft:

Evan Williams talking about Twitter at TED:

DropBox launch at 2008 TechCrunch50:

Aaron Patzer launches Mint at Techcrunch40:

This one blew me away. I was speechless. Don’t miss it. A true innovation from Pranav Mistry. The embedded copy of video is not available at this moment.

Check out additional videos here

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

iPhone vs Droid vs Pre vs Blackberry

Lately it’s been an all out war between iPhone and the rest of the smartphones. Verizon is very aggressively pushing android phones as an alternative to iPhone. I have seen both the phones and don’t think Motorola’s Droid is anywhere close to iPhone. I guess none of the smartphones out there can compete with Apples iPhone. Maybe, for a change Steve jobs needs to launch another Smartphone that can really compete with iPhone :-).

Check out the comparison points. (Picture courtesy InfoWorld)

For the past couple of weeks there have been numerous articles written comparing these smartphones. InfoWorld has come up with a very good comparison of these phones. For personal use, iPhone 3GS looks like the best available in the market. What’s surprising is HTC Droid Eris faring better then Motorola Droid. I have seen both iPhone and Motorola Droid. Didn’t get a chance to play around with HTC droid, so can’t say much here.

Don’t forget to check out iPhone vs Droid comparison

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Google gobbles Gizmo and AdMob

Looks like good days are back again. Definitely M&A is picking up the steam. Google gobbled Gizmo and Admob today. Gizmo deals with VoIP calls and voice service in general and AdMob deals with mobile advertisement. Gizmo seems to be a smaller deal compared to AdMob for which Google paid $750 million. According to techcrunch, Gizmo deal is in the range of $30 million .

There were lots of rumors last month about Skype’s plan to buy Gizmo. That did not materialize. I’m not sure what the rationale behind Google buying Gizmo is. Is it because of their PSTN connectivity, which Google Talk can use to bring in the PSTN calling or the strong SIP backend that Google products like Google Wave , Gmail, Google talk etc can use for VoIP connectivity.

With Gizmo acquisition, Google seems to be very aggressive with their Voice service. Beware Skype, Cisco, and Microsoft! The giant is moving in the Voice arena.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Skype legal issues almost over

Update: According to techcrunch , Skype co-founders are getting 14% of share and not 10% in return for the P2P technology.

Looks like Skype legal issues with Co-founders Niklas and Janus seems to be heading for a good and happy ending. According to Kara Swisher from BoomTown, Skype co-founders are set to get 10 percent and an option to buy 3 percent more of the company. In addition, they get two board seats. So for now, Skype doesn’t have to worry about migrating to a different P2P architecture. Apparently, the lawsuit has helped Skype Co-founders get what they wanted.

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100,000 iPhone applications, Do we need so many?

Apple announced that they have more than 100,000 iPhone/iPod applications . This is phenomenal and one of the biggest mobile app store. Apple's iPhone has set a benchmark for smart phones. Today, Every Smartphone released in the market is compared with iPhone. I wonder where are the Nokia’s and Motorola who were the leaders in the mobile handset market.

Here is what apple has to say about the app store:

“The App Store, now with over 100,000 applications available, is clearly a major differentiator for millions of iPhone and iPod touch customers around the world,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “The iPhone SDK created the first great platform for mobile applications and our customers are loving all of the amazing apps our developers are creating.”

“The App Store has forever changed the mobile gaming industry and continues to improve,” said Travis Boatman, vice president of Worldwide Studios, EA Mobile. “With a global reach of over 50 million iPhone and iPod touch users, the App Store has allowed us to develop high quality EA games that have been a huge success with customers.”

Coming back to the number of iPhone applications. I still wonder if you need so many apps for a mobile. I guess most of the iPhone applications are useless except for the few of them. I myself have installed bunch of them and don’t see a need to install more than few apps. According to AppsFire, an app tracking and sharing service, majority of the applications are unused. The usage of apps ranked at #5 is 51.5% and #1000 is only 1.76 percent users. So there is huge difference between top apps and bottom numbered apps. The usage/installs of apps that are ranked 2000-10000 are negligible. I guess by charging developers to put their apps on app store, apple is still making money.

So far none of the smart phones are a good competitor to iPhone. Verizon is aggressively pushing more number of smart phones into their market. Motorola’s droid looks promising. The reviews have been good so far. It’s built on top of Android 2.0. Google’s Android app store has around 10,000 applications. Sure, not a match to iPhone’s app store. Only time will tell if iPhone will have a real competitor. Till then, enjoy using iPhone and the apps.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Skype to open source Linux client

Skype is planning to open source its Linux client . I guess the core library will still be closed with only UI part being open sourced. Even this seems to be good news to lot of developers. The closed library can be used by third party developers to build Skype applications. This opens up door for lot of wireless devices running Linux OS.

Here is what one of Skype spokesperson writes:

Yes, there's an open source version of Linux client being developed. This will be a part of larger offering, but we can't tell you much more about that right now. Having an open source UI will help us get adopted in the "multicultural" land of Linux distributions, as well as on other platforms and will speed up further development. We will update you once more details are available.

In the comment section, one of the questions asked is whether the closed library can be used by third-party clients to support Skype protocol. And the Skype spokesperson says yes.

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Why Google Voice restricts calls to some numbers

Google Voice is becoming more popular than what most critics would have expected. Currently there are close to 1.5 million Google Voice users, and another couple of million waiting for the invitation. So this surely makes them a new phone company. Last month, AT&T had complained to FCC about Google not terminating some of the calls to rural numbers. The irony is that AT&T did the samething couple of years back to block free conference calls. So what is the deal with restricting calls to some of these rural numbers? Well, in order to call a rural number, the phone company needs to pay an exorbitant termination rates to the local rural phone company. Apparently Google providing Google Voice service is a phone company, and needs to pay very high termination rates to the local rural phone company

The Call Termination to some of the rural numbers is quite expensive. As per the FCC regulations, these termination charges which typically is 4-5 times higher than the normal termination rates is required to allow rural telephone companies to provide phone service to rural residents. However, this loop hole is being exploited by some free conference call and sex chat providers, who partner with rural operators and allow users to make free calls using the rural operator provided phone numbers. These services drive high volume of traffic to the rural phone numbers, which is called “Traffic Pumping” in the telecom industry. The revenue generated by these services is split between vendor and the local rural operator. This is how all the Free Conference call service provider exist today. Check out my earlier article on how Free Conference call works and who pays for the call.

Interesting comment from Google public policy blog

“AT&T apparently now wants web applications -- from Skype to Google Voice -- to be treated the same way as traditional phone services. Their approach is what a former FCC chairman has called "regulatory capitalism," the practice of using regulation to block or slow down innovation. And despite AT&T's lobbying efforts, this issue has nothing to do with network neutrality or rural America. This is about outdated carrier compensation rules that are fundamentally broken and in need of repair by the FCC”

According to Google’s FCC Reply , the traffic generated by free services were accounted for 26.2 percent of the total US cost. Earlier Google was restricting the calls to the entire rural region. However, Google has found a new way to restrict calls to certain numbers instead of the entire region. For now, Google is only restricting calls to few numbers that are black listed.

Interesting article from Newyork Times on this. Andy calls it Traffic pumping or pimping

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

VoIP is still alive and raking in big revenue

Who said VoIP is dead, According to Infonetics , demand for residential and business VoIP services continues to grow. In the first half of 2009, the VoIP services market grew to $20.7 billion. This shows there is strong demand for VoIP services and Voice is still the undisputed cash cow for operators. The future looks promising for hosted UC. This should be good news to Microsoft, Cisco, Avaya and Skype. I don’t know of any service (excluding cable TV) today that can guarantee monthly revenue as voice and SMS.

Some of the highlights of the report:
• IP connectivity services currently make up about a third of total VoIP business service revenue, growing to 40% of the total by 2013 (managed IP PBX services and hosted VoIP and UC services make up the balance)
• The current sweet spot of the North American IP Centrex market is small business (those with fewer than 100 employees)
• Roughly two-thirds of all IP Centrex seats sold in the first half of 2009 went to small businesses
• While the largest VoIP services opportunities are in North America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), demand for VoIP services is growing fast in Asia Pacific and Central and Latin America
• The number of residential/SOHO VoIP subscribers is forecast to top 225 million by 2013

Most of the VoIP Services should have been free since it uses the existing internet infrastructure to route the calls except for PSTN termination. It’s because of VoIP that we are seeing such a low price for international calling. Some of the operators like Vonage support unlimited international calling, which was a dream for some folks a decade back. As long as VoIP is alive, consumers can enjoy cheap and affordable national/international voice calling.

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Back from India

Finally back from India. It was a hectic trip, didn't get time to update the blog. Hope to catch up with all the interesting stuff happening. Oh BTW, just got my iPhone 3GS yesterday. I have been busy installing lot of apps. Let me know if you guys have any suggestion for apps.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

What should be Skype’s strategy to replace P2P?

Folks from Skype are wary of the fact that the P2P technology they use is under lawsuit from former Skype founders, and could become a bottle neck moving forward. Lot of Folks have shared there thoughts and concern with the technology. Phil Wolff from Skype journal has posted this mail from Volpi, which has some interesting tit bits

Some interesting data:
• buy Skype, replace p2p with SIP (standard-based, open, can interwork with other VoIP systems – like the Cisco phones)
• use social graph to augment other socials via API or develop its own social
• replace heavy client with flash/html/java version – make it lightweight for embedded devices (mobile)
• clean up staff and cut costs while private

It’s going to be a herculean task to change the whole architecture of Skype. However, changing the architecture from closed proprietary technology to more open standard like SIP/XMPP etc will be a welcome move.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Destination India!

I have been shipped to India for some official work. It’s been really hectic. So I’m on a blogging diet. This explains why I have not updated my blog for quite sometime now. I owe and apology to all my readers for going on a blogging diet. Lot of interesting things happening in the VoIP, Telco world. Hope to catch up with all the interesting stuff and share my insights. Stay tuned!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Skype’s new revenue plan, Enterprise Telephony

Skype is finally moving into a market segment where the actual money is, and that is Business Telephony. Lately it has been playing very nice with most of the Enterprise Telephony service providers. “Skype for SIP” offering already interops with Shoretel. According to Om , Skype is likely to announce tomorrow that the Skype for SIP offering will interop with Cisco Systems Unified communication 500 systems. This is a big leap forward. It’s and interesting combination. Cisco being the leader in Business telephony and Skype, the undisputed leader in PC based consumer telephony. The journey for Skype doesn’t end here, they are also working with another major player in enterprise telephony, Avaya communications. Avaya recently bought nortel's enterprise division.

Hopefully moving closer towards standard protocol like SIP will help them mitigate the dependency on P2P protocol, and come out of the legal issues they are facing with Joldid. I guess it may take a while before they can build a workaround for P2P.

The recent moves from skype other than the legal issues are quite promising and looks like they are on the right track after the recent buyout from private investors

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

India might ban VoIP calls

India’s intelligence bureau has requested Indian government to block all Voice over Internet Protocol services till it finds a solution to trace VoIP calls. The reason being, VoIP services are used by terror groups for communication, and currently India doesn’t have the capability to wiretap these calls. I do understand the seriousness of the concern with the national security. However, what I don’t understand is how come India could not find a solution to trace VoIP calls. Its not that India is the only country facing the security threat from VoIP services, there are many other countries that are going through the same hell. But not all of them have banned VoIP services; instead they have found a solution to wiretap VoIP calls. For e.g. in US, it’s mandatory for any VoIP vendors to support wiretapping capabilities. There are well written standards to wiretap VoIP calls.

Banning VoIP services is not an easy task. There are so many loop holes in the technology that one could easily hack the system. In addition, P2P technology makes it harder for wiretapping VoIP calls. We all know how skype is not complaint with the wiretapping rules. I’m not sure how security forces can wiretap Skype, which uses P2P technology for communication. For tracing and listening to the VoIP calls, you need servers that have the capability to intercept the voice, and provide a backdoor to the security agencies to listen to the conversation. I know it sounds creepy, but that’s the way it is. When it comes to national security, anything is ok as long as innocent people are not wiretapped.

So instead of blocking VoIP, Indian government should focus on building solid technology to trace such calls. They need to follow US government policies, and find a way to expedite the process of bringing in new technologies that can help them monitor VoIP calls.

For folks that call India often, this might be a bad news. The reason we are able to make International calls to India at such a low rate is because of VoIP. A ban could prove costly and would increase per minute rates to India drastically. Lets hope Indian government finds a solution to monitor VoIP calls instead of banning VoIP services.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Unlimited Calling, Skype or Vonage?

Skype with the new management has lot of things on the plate to address. With more than 400 million users, it needs to provide premium features for which users would be willing to pay. One of the biggest cash cow for skype is the SkypeOut feature, using which users can call landline and mobile from skype client. This makes the client more than just a normal PC client. Skype has unlimited calling plan for $12.95. However, VoIP service providers like Vonage are also aggressively moving into this arena; marketing their products for a cheaper price. Vonage world prized at $24.95/mo provides unlimited calling to 60 countries, which includes India, Mexico and Canada.

From a product standpoint, Skype and Vonage are quite different. Skype is a PC VoIP client and Vonage a VoIP landline service provider. However, both these products allow users to call national and international landline and mobile phones. The subtle difference is in how you make and receive voice calls. You need a PC to call Skype users and other phone numbers. With vonage, you can use your regular phone to make and receive calls. Both of them have a cap to the unlimited calling plan. With skype, the “unlimited” plan is 10,000 minutes per month and for Vonage, its 5,000 minutes per month. So the tall claim of supporting unlimited call is not really unlimited.

If you frequently talk to friends and families who live outside USA then “Vonage world” should be one of the best deals around. It not only allows you to call more countries, it also provides so many additional features bundled in the monthly $24.95 package.
Here are some of the features that are bundled with the monthly package
• Unlimited local and long distance in the U.S. and Puerto Rico
• FREE unlimited landline calls to all cities and locations in more than 60 other countries**, including India, Mexico and Canada NEW
• Convert all your voicemails to emails and text messages with Vonage Visual Voicemails
• Caller ID, Call Waiting and Anonymous Call Block, Call Hunt, Call Transfer, Do Not Disturb, Click-2-Call,Ring List etc
• Number portability that will allow you to keep your current number

I have used skype couple of times and the quality was always awesome, not yet subscribed to Vonage, so can’t comment about the quality. I know bunch of my friends and colleagues have switched to Vonage and so far they seem to love the service. Let me know what you guys think about these services. Additional thoughts from experts Here and Here

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

For Skype it’s a New beginning

Skype says, Freedom at last. Free to do what its best at. Not gone get bogged down by all those big corporate policies. Today, eBay, the company that made the founders of skype billionaires , announced it has signed an agreement to sell its Skype communication unit for $2.75 billion. The buyer is an investor group led by Silver Lake and includes Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board. EBay will retain 35% equity investment in Skype. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Here is what eBay CEO says about the deal:

“This is a great deal, unlocking both immediate and long-term value for eBay and tremendous potential for Skype,” said eBay Inc. President and CEO John Donahoe. “We’ve acted decisively on a deal that delivers a high valuation, gives us significant cash up-front and lets us retain a meaningful minority stake with talented partners. Skype is a strong standalone business, but it does not have synergies with our e-commerce and online payments businesses. As a separate company, we believe that Skype will have the focus required to compete effectively in online voice and video communications and accelerate its growth momentum.”

Josh Silverman, CEO of Skype calls it a beginning of a new chapter for Skype . He has been instrumental in leading the company in the right direction after the founders cashed out. There was a great momentum going for Skype in the mobile arena under the guidance of Josh. The revenue projection for this year looks solid and stands at $600 million. Skype carries 8% of the global long distance traffic.

From a technology standpoint, eBay did a poor job by not acquiring the P2P technology IPR. The P2P technology used by Skype is proprietary and is owned by Joltid, a company that was founded by Niklas. Yes, Skype doesn’t use a standard VoIP protocol. It uses a proprietary protocol. Time and Again, folks from VoIP industry have raised this issue many a times. I don’t see a motivation for skype to support standardized protocol like SIP. NADA! From a user standpoint, they don’t give a damn what protocol is used for communication as long as the quality of service is good. However, from an interoperability standpoint, it makes sense to support a standard protocol. (They do support SIP protocol for PSTN interface and maybe for SIP trunking.) I guess this is more to do with software support than hardware. Supporting standard protocol is gone cost them tones of money. They need to build SIP proxy servers, media servers to traverse NAT fire walled clients and support CALEA compliance. All these infrastructure cost would affect their revenue margins as well. With 400 million users worldwide, they could probably become a bigger MagicJack, which is making close to $100 million in revenue .

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jajah and Microsoft to power Enterprise Voice

This is an interesting partnership. Microsoft and Jajah are partnering to provide business users with the capability to make Voice call using Jajah’s SIP trunking gateway. Jajah is one of those VoIP companies that did not loose the steam during recession. It’s a big validation for Jajah’s claim to become a Global IP telephony provider. They already power yahoo’s voice calling capabilities. Now with this partnership, they can support Microsofts Office Communications Server (OCS) users’ to make voice calls using their SIP trunking gateway. Check out the Link for more information about Jajah’s SIP trunking capabilities.

I have been following Jajah from the days when they started as a Web based VoIP calling service. From just being a web based VoIP client to diversifying their product strategy is truly amazing. They have a potential to become a Global VoIP telephony provider. They already provide VoIP service to some of the big customers like Yahoo, eHarmony,,Microsoft etc.

From a business standpoint, Jajah is trying to cater end users, carriers and enterprise users. So iam not sure what is their end goal, be a global VoIP backbone provider or a cheap calling service provider for end users. I guess it all depends on what is that they want to do down the line. If it’s an IPO route, they will have to probably try something more than being a cheap VoIP calling service provider. Iam not sure if these social networking Voice calling services are gone bring them any big revenue. It makes more sense for one of the Big VoIP service providers to buy Jajah and instantly gain access to millions of user base and the technology. Will digg more on this an update you guys. Stay tuned!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

IMS not a pregnant pause, its real!

IMS( IP Multimedia System) has always been a fancy jargon used in the Telecom World. It’s been making headlines for years with no uptake. However, lately most of the operators have started rolling out IMS,LTE,and WIMAX technology into their network. So it’s good news to all those mobile applications that use wireless data networks for voice and messaging. I guess in couple of years, most of the operators in the world would have upgraded their network to all IP. So the future of wireless is going to be all IP. We will see a transitioning of signaling from SS7 to SIP world. The future is going to be great for SIP.

According to Infonetics Research Survey IMS Plans: Global Service Provider Survey, IMS technology is advancing from early-stage services to the next phase. With the introduction of IMS, there will be a fundamental shift from plain vanilla voice calling to rich multimedia calling( Video, Picture, message sharing ). Top three business drivers for deploying IMS include Opportunity to offer converged services, Availability of new applications/services and Network consolidation.

Here are some Highlights of the survey:
• 80% of Infonetics’ service provider respondents run fixed voice over IMS today or will by 2011, making fixed-line VoIP service the current mainstay of IMS deployments
• More than half of the service provider respondents plan to deploy video telephony and converged mobile/fixed-line services over the next 12–18 months
• The top three IMS applications operators expect to offer over the next two years are mobile-related: FMC, mobile presence, and mobile messaging

From a vendor standpoint, looks like Ericson is holding the fort. However, Huawei is making very good progress in terms of deployments and trials. Other big vendors in this space are Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens, ZTE, Sonus networks and broadsoft.

So looks like the future of wireless is going to be very interesting. Hope we can see lot of innovation in this space. The barrier to entry for mobile applications would be minimal, which in turn would trigger innovation.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Top 15 VoIP Blogs of 2009

Focus has come up with a list of Top 15 VoIP blogs for 2009. Again, this blog has been nominated. Earlier, this blog had made it to the Top 25 VoIP blogs for 2007 and Top 100 telecom blogs for 2008. Thanks to David Hakala for choosing this blog as one of the Top VoIP blog for 2009. Also, thanks to all my readers without whom this would have been a distant dream. Its an honor to be on the list that has some of industry veterans like Jeff Pulver( he is the evangelist for VoIP), Jon Arnold( One of the leaders in VoIP) , Brough Turner’s ( CoFounder and CTO of NMS communications) Andy Abramson( PR guru for VoIP, his reaction), Rich Tehrani( CEO TMC, His thoughts on list ), Alec Saunders( The man who invented Voice 2.0, CEO of Iotum), Luca( One of the top Blogger and CEO of abbeynet) Stuart Henshell( Founder of Skype journal, CEO of phweet) and Ashwath Rao( One of the pioneers in telecom industry, founder of enthinnai)

One thing I noticed about this blog is its name. When I started this blog, I didn’t give much importance to the name of the blog. Failed miserably in basic blogging rules (choosing the right name for the blog). So every time somebody nominates this blog, there is always a word of caution not to get fooled by the name of the blog. Does name really matter :-) . Hope you guys are enjoying reading this blog.

So far the journey has been overwhelming. To me, blogging started as a curiosity and an avenue to share my thoughts and ideas. Hope I could continue writing good content that you guys could enjoy reading. Thanks to all you folks.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mobile VoIP, will it be disruptive?

We are back at it again, Mobile VoIP and how it’s going mainstream. According to unstrung’s new report called “Mobile VoIP: A Disruptive Service Goes Mainstream” , Mobile VoIP is no longer a cheap telephony call, its all about building communities and enabling voice based mashups using IP as transport. I have argued earlier on who will win the race, Operator or Mobile VoIP Application startups . Mobile VoIP uses wireless broadband network as a transport media for Voice Traffic between mobile devices. (Check out my earlier article on how Mobile VoIP works )Currently, most of the operators use Circuit Switched network as transport for voice traffic. This is however changing with the unveiling of IMS, LTE, and WIMAX etc. These technologies enable an all IP wireless network. It’s going to be a long way before we can actually see a fully functional all IP wireless network. All that said, from a consumer standpoint, all he cares about is quality of service and rich features. I don’t think consumers care about how the voice traffic is transported.

There are many startups that have developed compelling mobile applications that use mobile IP technology for voice and rich media communication. Many operators (AT&T, TMobile etc) have restricted applications like Skype, Truphone, Fring, Mig33, Nimbuzz etc from using their IP network for voice communication. From an operator standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to kill circuit-switched cash cow by allowing Mobile VoIP. Iam sure, eventually when all operators move to an all IP network, these applications will be given a free ride. These mobile applications demonstrate innovative features and have the potential to become killer app for the future all IP network. The business model for most of the apps would be to partner with operator or get bought by a handset vendor

Here are some key findings of the report:
• Many mobile VoIP players are broadening into other applications, integrating with other systems, and stimulating further adoption.
• New services such as voice-enhanced IM, voice mashups, and voice plugins are being used to build communities.
• Operator resistance to mobile VoIP is gradually softening worldwide, as major incumbents such as T-Mobile drop their bans.
• New Flash technology enabling peer-to-peer voice capability without requiring plugins or soft clients could be a game-changer.
• Venture capitalists remain interested in disruptive mobile VoIP technology, which they view as still in its early days of development.
• Security is an ever-present issue in wireless markets, but the WPA2 standard provides robust security.

Companies analyzed in the report include, Fringland, Hutchsion 3G UK, iSkoot inc, Jajah inc, Mobilkom, Nokia,Skype TringMe, Truphone, Vyke etc

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Service Innovation key to subscriber retention

There is a growing threat to operators from different web companies that are trying to get into mobile arena. In addition, Upstart regional service providers are threatening the status quo of big Telco operators. In times like these, Customer retention is critical to most of the operators. According to McKinsey, Satisfying and retaining current customers is three to 10 times cheaper than acquiring new customers, and a typical company receives around 65 percent of its business from existing customers.

What does it take to increase retention? Folks from CMO council have come up with a new report called “Service Invention to Increase Retention”. The report dwells into details on subscriber retention and how to avoid churn. The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, founded in 2001, is dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide-range of global industries. The CMO Council's 5,000 members control more than $125 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide.

According to the report, Key shifts that are impacting churn and loyalty
Rates include:
• Convergence of technology (voice, data, video and wireless) and competing,bundled Offerings from multiple providers.
• Advent of new Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers and web-based social networks and interactive communities.
• Merging of wireless communications with high-speed Internet connections in homes and public access environments.
• The rapid shift to wireless-only households from lucrative wireline accounts (32 percent of U.S. households will have wireless-only services by 2012, from 15 percent today).
• Flat-rate unlimited calling plans from new upstart regional service providers.
• Market embrace of the digital lifestyle and more personalized,on-demand services and experiences.
• Increasingly diversified and fragmented entertainment,information and interactive offerings from niche providers.
• Loss of confidence and attrition of accounts in the financial services industry as consumers and businesses struggle with the economic downturn, credit crunch, huge portfolio losses and net worth declines.
• Digital device dependency and the advent of mobile entertainment, connectivity, banking,payments, remittances and other essential needs.

For more information, please go ahead and download the free report Free Report. The free report has some valuable information. If you find the free report interesting and valuable, Please go ahead and buy the report.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Make Free calls using Google Voice and asterisk

Folks from Nerd Vittles have come up with an in-depth Tutorial1, Tutorial2 on how to make free U.S calls using asterisk and Google Voice. Apparently, this little experiment started out because of the frustration with Gizmo5, which announced free unlimited Google Voice service last week, later retracted to plain old marketing tricks. Initially they started with free, unlimited U.S calls using Google Voice number and quickly morphed into 20 minutes, 3 minutes and then 2c per minute for Google Voice calls.

Hopefully if I get sometime this weekend, will play around with asterisk to configure my setup as mentioned in the article. More later.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Google Voice, FCC questions Apple and AT&T

The suspense surrounding the Google Voice App rejection by Apple is not yet over. It’s getting more and more interesting. Apparently, FCC has stepped in and has sent letters to AT&T, Apple and Google in this regard. For reference I have added the letters to the end of this post.

Apple has rejected so many applications so far. However, this time, it’s none other then Google apps, which has attracted every major media and blogger’s attention. FCC stepping in is good in so many ways. It brings in lot of transparency and net neutrality would be given thumbs up here. Iam not sure if this means that we would get to the bottom of the issue and know who actually played the spoiler. Nevertheless, we would definitely know some information about what went behind the backdoors to reject Google Voice App

Jeff pulver, the champion of VoIP has his Thoughts penned in the recent article. Here is what he has to Say:

And as to the reasons why Apple/AT&T decided to block access to Google Voice, it is clear to me that despite whatever was said in the trade press, in the end the wireless division at AT&T still has not fully embraced the impact of what it means when “Voice is an Application” and no longer just a service. Or maybe they have and they have decided to do everything in their power to prevent the widespread use of VoIP inside of WiFi hotspots on mobile devices which are under their influence.

Here are the FCC letters sent to Apple, AT&T and Google

To Google:

1.Please provide a description of the proposed Google Voice application for iPhone. What are the key features, and how does it operate (over a voice or data network, etc.)?
2. What explanation was given (if any) for Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application (and for any other Google applications for iPhone that have been rejected, such as Google Latitude)? Please describe any communications between Google and AT&T or Apple on this topic and a summary of any meetings or discussion.
3. Has Apple approved any Google applications for the Apple App Store? If so, what services do they provide, and, in Google’s opinion, are they similar to any Apple/AT&T-provided applications?
4. Does Google have any other proposed applications pending with Apple, and if so, what services do they provide?
5. Are there other mechanisms by which an iPhone user will be able to access either some or all of the features of Google Voice? If so, please explain how and to what extent iPhone users can utilize Google Voice despite the fact that it is not available through Apple’s App Store.
6. Please provide a description of the standards for considering and approving applications with respect to Google’s Android platform. What is the approval process for such applications (timing, reasons for rejection, appeal process, etc.)? What is the percentage of applications that are rejected? What are the major reasons for rejecting an application?

To AT&T:

1.What role, if any, did AT&T play in Apple’s consideration of the Google Voice and related applications? What role, if any, does AT&T play in consideration of iPhone applications generally? What roles are specified in the contractual provisions between Apple and AT&T (or in any noncontractual understanding between the companies) regarding the consideration of particular iPhone applications?
2. Did Apple consult with AT&T in the process of deciding to reject the Google Voice application? If so, please describe any communications between AT&T and Apple or Google on this topic, including the parties involved and a summary of any meetings or discussions.
3. Please explain AT&T’s understanding of any differences between the Google Voice iPhone application and any Voice over Internet Protocol applications that are currently used on the AT&T network, either via the iPhone or via handsets other than the iPhone.
4. To AT&T’s knowledge, what other applications have been rejected for use on the iPhone? Which of these applications were designed to operate on AT&T’s 3G network? What was AT&T’s role in considering whether such applications would be approved or rejected?
5. Please detail any conditions included in AT&T’s agreements or contracts with Apple for the iPhone related to the certification of applications or any particular application’s ability to use AT&T’s 3G network.
6. Are there any terms in AT&T’s customer agreements that limit customer usage of certain third-party applications? If so, please indicate how consumers are informed of such limitations and whether such limitations are posted on the iTunes website as well. In general, what is AT&T’s role in certifying applications on devices that run over AT&T’s 3G network? What, if any, applications require AT&T’s approval to be added to a device? Are there any differences between AT&T’s treatment of the iPhone and other devices used on its 3G network?
7. Please list the services/applications that AT&T provides for the iPhone, and whether there any similar, competing iPhone applications offered by other providers in Apple’s App Store.
8. Do any devices that operate on AT&T’s network allow use of the Google Voice application? Do any devices that operate on AT&T’s network allow use of other applications that have been rejected for the iPhone?
9. Please explain whether, on AT&T’s network, consumers’ access to and usage of Google Voice is disabled on the iPhone but permitted on other handsets, including Research in Motion’s BlackBerry devices.


Why did Apple reject the Google Voice application for iPhone and remove related third-party applications from its App Store? In addition to Google Voice, which related third-party applications were removed or have been rejected? Please provide the specific name of each application and the contact information for the developer.
2. Did Apple act alone, or in consultation with AT&T, in deciding to reject the Google Voice application and related applications? If the latter, please describe the communications between Apple and AT&T in connection with the decision to reject Google Voice. Are there any contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T that affected Apple’s decision in this matter?
3. Does AT&T have any role in the approval of iPhone applications generally (or in certain cases)? If so, under what circumstances, and what role does it play? What roles are specified in the contractual provisions between Apple and AT&T (or any non-contractual understandings)regarding the consideration of particular iPhone applications?
4. Please explain any differences between the Google Voice iPhone application and any Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications that Apple has approved for the iPhone. Are any of the approved VoIP applications allowed to operate on AT&T’s 3G network?
5. What other applications have been rejected for use on the iPhone and for what reasons? Is there a list of prohibited applications or of categories of applications that is provided to potential vendors/developers? If so, is this posted on the iTunes website or otherwise disclosed to consumers?
6. What are the standards for considering and approving iPhone applications? What is the approval process for such applications (timing, reasons for rejection, appeal process, etc.)? What is the percentage of applications that are rejected? What are the major reasons for rejecting an application?

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Apple, AT&T say no to Google Voice iPhone App

To folks who were happy using Google Voice apps on iPhone. It’s a sad day. Apparently, Apple removed all GV apps from the app store. Also, the official Google Voice app has been rejected by Apple. Now the questions really is? Who was it? Is It Apple that sensed a threat from Google Voice App or is it AT&T, which didn’t like the Google app getting into the operator network. Some say it was the handy work of AT&T and other folks argue why would AT&T do that . It’s interesting to read different opinions and perspective.

Obviously Apple has an upper hand in deciding which apps to allow and which ones to reject. From a feature standpoint I don’t see how GV app can be a threat to Apple, unless apple is planning on building its own voice apps that is similar to GV. I don’t see that as a possibility. Now coming back to AT&T, hmm.. I can see lot of scenarios where GV app can make AT&T uncomfortable. Using GV app, iPhone users can
• Send free SMS message
• Call international number for a low price
• Support Number portability.
• Being in the middle of the conversation, Google can provide free calls and monetize in different ways.

Most of the above features are already supported by many startups, and these apps have not been rejected by Apple. But when it comes to Google, everybody is scared, and they should be. These guys are big, have money power and they can make a big impact compared to other startups. All that said, we will never know the exact reason why GV apps were rejected.

What others are saying
Om Malik:

If AT&T indeed was the villain here or Apple was against VoIP calls, then by now all voice applications would have been given the boot. My Skype, Truphone, Nimbuzz and Fring accounts are all working fine. You can download them from the iTunes store. So again, I think people are jumping to conclusions here.

Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch
Of course, it’s not hard to guess who’s behind the restriction: our old friend AT&T. Google Voice scares the carriers. It allows users to send free SMS messages and get cheap long-distance over Google Voice’s lines. It also makes it trivial to switch to a new phone service, because everyone calls the Google Voice number anyway.

John Gruber from daring fireball
Well, so much for my speculation. A reliable little birdie has informed me that it was indeed AT&T that objected to Google Voice apps for the iPhone. It’s that simple.]

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

How Google Plans to monetize Google Voice

We all know Google’s innovative way of making money via search advertisements. Except for the search revenue, Google is yet to find a revenue model for all of its different applications like gmail, gtalk, youtube, docs, picasa etc. The folks from the telecom world were left wondering how Google would monetize Google Voice services. So the puzzle is kind of unraveled via the patent application called “Ringback advertisement” . It was first noticed by unwire folks. Google has plans to make money via playing advertisements instead of the ringtone. These advertisements shall be played during call being setup, on hold and suspended.

The type of advertisement that shall be played is based on the calling party number. Based on the calling party number, the location of the user shall be retrieved. However, this might not be accurate if the subscriber is roaming national/international. Google plans to support playing advertisements for all kind of interface, IP, mobile, LAN, WAN etc. Advertiser shall be charged based on the length of time the audio advertisement is played. Different rates shall be applied for individual advertisers. If the voice call is made via web browser, then Google can provide more accurate advertisement based on combination of location and profile data.

I think it’s a great idea. The solution has its won drawbacks. I can tolerate ads popping up when iam browsing, but don’t think I would tolerate advertisements during a call. I would rather pay premium money to keep the advertisements away. That’s just me. Iam sure there are lot of folks that wont mind listening to advertisements for free calls. Also, this is not something new. There are quite a few companies that tried Advertisement based free call model. Iam not sure how successful these venture are. Having said that, Google is a different beast, if anyone can make it work, that would be Google.

Some highlights of the patent application:
• A computer-implemented method, comprising:receiving an indication of a telephone call being placed from a calling number;determining an audio advertisement to play; andplaying the audio advertisement prior to a called party answering the telephone call.
• The method of claim 1, further comprising:receiving the audio advertisement from an advertiser.
• The method of claim 1, wherein determining an audio advertisement to play comprises:determining a location associated with a calling party; andidentifying the audio advertisement based on the location.
• The method of claim 1, further comprising:determining a length of time the audio advertisement is played; andcharging an advertiser associated with the audio advertisement the total time amount based on the length of time.
• A system, comprising:means for receiving an indication of a telephone call being placed from a calling number;means for determining an audio advertisement to play based on the calling number or the called number; andmeans for playing the audio advertisement based on the determining.

Let me know what you guys think of the solution.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Google Voice Moves into Mobile Arena

Looks like Google is very aggressively pushing the Google Voice product to compete with the likes of Skype, spinvox, phonetag to name a few. Today they announced the launch of Google Voice Mobile apps for blackberry and android . In fact with so many other in-house features like Gmail, Wave, calendar, docs, video etc, they can build a strong unified communication product that can compete with bigger giants like Cisco, Avaya in the communication space.

So using this app, users can actually call friends/family or colleagues, and when they receive the call, users Google voice number will show up as caller id. Once Google starts supporting number portability, this would be a killer product. Iam not sure how long they can provide this service for free. I don’t see any advertisement being planned for this feature. Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if they start showing up some ads next to voicemail, sms etc. Being in the middle of all conversation makes Google more powerful. This will give them access to all forms of communication. They are already acting as a router between consumer and information. The notion of Google being the brain of communication seems not so far fetched.

Using the mobile app, users can:
• Access your voicemail: read message transcripts, follow along with "karaoke-style" playback of messages, read SMS messages sent to your Google Voice number (even if your phone doesn't receive SMS messages) and access your call history
• Place calls that display your Google Voice number from your address book, the app dialer (Blackberry) or the native dialer (Android)
• Send SMS messages that display your Google Voice number
• Place international calls at low rates

Check out the video on how it works:

From an operator standpoint, they wouldn’t be taking Google emergence into Telco market lightly. Does it mean Google would become a Phone Company? I don’t think so. To me, Google is focused on being in the middle of the conversation. In order to be a phone company requires infrastructure and huge network investment, and iam sure that is not what Google wants to be. They are dependent on the MNO's for supporting voice and sms communication. I’m surprised why none of the operators are providing Google Voice type of features themselves.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Google Chrome OS, Excellent PR!

Look’s like Google has a way to announce new products. It’s always a huge BUZZ in the media. So today they announced another ambitious product called Google Chrome OS. There is so much written about Google Chrome OS, so for a change, instead of me being a meme writer, thought of collecting some interesting articles written by other folks. So if you would like to know more about Google Chrome OS, check out these article:

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Antitrust Administration to go after Operators

According to WSJ, Department of justice has started looking into whether big Telco operators like ATT, Verizon Inc and Sprint are ignoring Antitrust laws. Look’s like obama’s administration is very aggressively pursuing antitrust enforcement.

Why should ATT,Sprint or Verizon worry about this move? Exclusivity agreements! ATT has an exclusivity agreement with Apple for iPhone, which is a bigger selling point for ATT and a drawback to most of the other operators. Though this should be good news to Verizon. However, they have their own exclusivity problems( BlackBerry storm and some other phones). Sprint has exclusivity with Palm for Palm pre.

Antitrust laws have played a bigger role in shaping the telecom sector. We all know how Ma Bell” was broken into multiple regional carriers. I guess lately the reverse is happening with big operators. AT&T merged with SBC,Cingular wireless. Verizon bought some small operators like Alltel wireless. Together, these two operators own 60% of the 274 million US wireless subscribers.

This should be good news to all the folks who are happy with their wireless service providers, and don’t want to switch their service providers for that cool handset. Be it iPhone, Palm Pre or Blackberry storm. The issue still remains as to whether these antitrust laws could be applied against these operators for exclusivity deals.

According to WJS, Here is what carriers have to say about the exclusivity:

The carriers say such exclusives enable them to take risks on expensive new smart phones and bring them to market at discounted prices. The deals limit the ability of manufacturers such as Palm, Apple and HTC Corp. to distribute their devices widely. But some analysts say those companies benefit by getting a significant share of a carrier's marketing and sales resources.

"If you are launching an absolutely new product to the market, pairing up with a Tier 1 carrier gives you instant visibility and buzz and a first-rate marketing campaign," said Andy Castonguay, a wireless analyst at Yankee Group.

Paul Roth, AT&T's president of retail sales and service, told Congress last month that the billions of dollars the company invests in its network and services would be put at risk if government were to "impose intrusive restrictions on these services or the way that service providers and manufacturers collaborate on next-generation devices." Mr. Roth said there is plenty of competition and innovation in the wireless industry

Some Antitrust experts believe that it would be hard for the antitrust administration to open Sherman Act case against these operators. For now, let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope something better comes up for consumers.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Change your Google Voice Number for $10

If you are not happy with your Google Voice number and would like to change, feel lucky, Google Voice will let you do that for a small one time fee of $10. I just changed my number; paid $10 and got a number that ends with RAVI( 7284). I know some folks who changed their number without paying a penny.

Here is how you change the number, you login to your Google Voice account and next to your number, there is Change button. Once you click the change button, a popup with the following information shall be displayed:

There is a $10 one-time fee to change your Google Voice number. Here is how it works:
• Pick a new number in the area codes we have.
• Pay $10 with Google Checkout, using your credit card.
• Your new number becomes active right away.
• Calls to your old number will keep coming to your Google Voice account for three months, so you have time to tell everyone about your new number.

Also, there is a tool that will help you find the number you wanted.

Here are some results I got for my name "RAVI"

(901) 213-7284 - (901) 213-RAVI
Memphis, TN

(916) 672-8474- (916) 6RA-VI74
South Placer, CA

(916) 672-8474 - (916) 6RA-VI74
South Placer, CA

(262) 607-2845 - (262) 60R-AVI5
Williams Bay, WI

(469) XXX-7284 - (469) XXX- RAVI ( I picked this number )
Dallas, TX

BTW, your old number stays active for 90 days. So you’ve got plenty of time to notify all your contacts about your new number. Iam still waiting on Number Portability, which is gone be the game changer. For now, iam happy to have got a new local number that ends with “RAVI”.

For More info check out the following links,BoyGeniusReport and Techcrunch

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

MagicJack revenue more than 100 million dollar, recession?

We don’t talk about vonage anymore, its all about MagicJack now. MagicJack, the cheap internet phone gadget, using which, consumers can make unlimited calls via a USB jack. The service works by hooking up a standard home phone to the USB jack provided by magic jack. The USB jack is sold via stores like Best Buy, RadioShack and Walgreens. The price of the USB jack is $40. For the first year, unlimited calling is free. After that, its $20 a year. I remember paying more than $30 for a month for landline, and this one beats the price by a mile. The downside with the service is that you need to keep your computer powered all the time. So there is some money you pay for the computer power consumption.

The company sells about 9,000 to 10,000 units per day, and according to the Borislow, CEO of MagicJack, the company will make more than 100 million dollar revenue. Looks like recession has no impact on this company.

What is the Magic behind MagicJack service? It has its own network to support voice calling. Its parent company YMax communication is actually a CLEC (Competitive local exchange carrier). Unlike other internet phone companies who pay to get phone numbers, YMax as a CLEC doesn’t have to pay for phone numbers. ( Remember Google voice bought 1 million phone numbers via Level 3 communications) In addition, they make money via inter-carrier termination charges. Check out their YMax CLEC rates.I doubt if they generate all their revenue via inter-carrier termination charges. I guess this could be one of their cash cows. They still have to pay for Call Origination from the MagicJack phone. Don’t know how this is covered.

Who is using the service? Many older people, frequent travelers and overseas customers who want to make free cheap calls to America and Canada. They have some cool innovation up their sleeves; A Femtocell gateway that will allow consumers to use their GSM cell phone with MagicJack service and Number portability support.

For some Folks, MagicJack is a Scam and for others it’s a boon. Let me know what you guys think about MagicJack. Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Google Voice invites on the way

Couple of days back I had written about Google reserving 1 million phone numbers through Level 3 Communications. I was hoping they would launch sometime this year. Well this one was quick, Today Google officially announced that they are sending out invites to those folks who had registered earlier. Check your mails for an invite from Google Voice. If you wish to have a Google Voice number, and have not registered yet, here is the link to register

What more, Google voice would let you choose a phone number that is specific to your area code. Off course, this is based on the availability of the phone numbers.

Check out the video:

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Apple sells more than 1 million 3GS iPhone’s

Apple sold more than a million 3GS phones . This should be a good news to Steve jobs, who apparently resumed his work today . I guess the numbers are based on three days after launch. Pretty impressive! In addition, around 6 million customers have downloaded the new iPhone 3.0 software in the first five days. Though iPhone 3.0 software has some issues, customers are not shying away from downloading the software.

The hype and excitement surrounding the new iPhone 3GS has not been a disappointment so far. Despite the competition from RIM Inc’s Blackberry and Palm Pre launch, iPhone has been steady with the growth.

Here is what Steve job's has to say:

“Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “With over 50,000 applications available from Apple’s revolutionary App Store, iPhone momentum is stronger than ever.”

The new iPhone 3GS has lot of powerful features. Though Nokia leads the Smartphone market with a market share of 41.2%, iPhone is catching up slowly. RIM stands second with a market share of 20% and third comes iPhone with 10.8% share. I guess there are not many enough enterprise features from iPhone to entice enterprise customers. Blackberry is kind of ruling this arena.

Here is the market share of different handset vendors for 1Q 2009 and 2008(pic courtesy, appleinsider)

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Google Voice, 1 million lucky users

Google has reserved 1 million phone numbers with level 3 communications. So this should be good news to all the folks waiting to get a google voice account. Hopefully, Google will launch the service public sometime this year. With the number portability being added, Google voice definitely looks lucrative and can be a strong contenter in the voice 2.0 arena.

Here are some of the features of Google Voice:

• Call screening - Announce and screen callers
• Listen in - Listen before taking a call . It’s cool that u can listen to the voice mail being recorded and a chance to talk to the caller while he is recording his voice message.
• Block calls - Keep unwanted callers at bay . I love this feature. Now you have a way to block all those annoying telemarketers and spam calls. Lately, I have been getting so many spam calls.
• SMS - Send, receive, and store SMS
• Place calls - Call US numbers for free . Enjoy the free calls.
• Taking calls - Answer on any of your phones
• Phone routing - Phones ring based on who calls
• Forwarding phones - Add phones and decide which ring
• Conference calling - Join people into a single call
• Call record - Record calls and store them online
• Call switch - Switch phones during a call
• Mobile site - View your inbox from your mobile
• Personalize greeting - Vary greetings by caller
• Listen to voicemail - Check online or from your phone

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Google Voice, keep your current phone number

According to Techcrunch , Google voice is planning to support Number Portability; this is definitely a good news to folks who have a Google voice account, formerly grandcentral. It’s a very ambitious move from Google. I’m not sure how they are gone achieve this big ambition. The reason for my skeptism- Google is not an operator, uses level 3 communications for number portability, which is not an operator as well. So this is where it gets interesting and tricky.

What is Number Portability?( according to wiki)
Local number portability, (LNP) for Fixed lines, and full mobile number portability (FMNP), for mobile phone lines, refers to the ability to transfer either an existing fixed-line or mobile telephone number assigned by a local exchange carrier (LEC) and reassign it to another carrier. In most cases, there are limitations to transferability with regards to geography, service area coverage and technology.

In short, Number portability helps consumers keep their current phone number and switch to any carrier of their choice. The biggest problem so far for Google Voice adoption is that consumers have already been using a certain phone number for decades, and changing that is not trivial task. There is a huge switching cost. So supporting Number Portability makes Google Voice very lucrative.

It makes me wonder what the hell the operators are doing to counter voice apps such as Google voice. It should be a no-brainer solution for them to support the same. I would love to see one of the operators support such a feature. The question really is, would I pay for such a service? Off course, I will, and iam sure lot of other folks will.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Jaxtr, Free voice calling service bites the dust?

Jaxtr, the VoIP widget company, has been acquired by Sabsebol, a free conferencing startup. (Hotmail cofounder saber Bhatia is behind the startup SabseBol) To me it looks like a firesale. I have always been critical about jaxtr revenue model. Free model doesn’t work. Voice 2.0 is not about giving away free stuff, it’s about innovation. The irony is that sabsebol has been around less time than Jaxtr. So Is this a good news or bad news. Depends on how you see the deal, Good that the technology and some folks will be saved from disaster. Bad that another startups bites the dust in the Voice 2.0 arena.

Venturebeat talks about merger between Jajah and Jangl, which is not Completely true . There was no merger between jajah and jangl. It was the demise of jangl that triggered the acquisition of jangl’s technology and hiring of some key folks.

The concept of Call-me-Widget for blogs, social networking seemed like a huge idea. Alas, there was no revenue model around this cool idea. Jaxtr, for instance, had raised more than $21.5 million dollars. So where did all this money go? It was all used for supporting Free international calls. I’m guessing they ran out of money and the inevitable happened. The fundamental business model behind free service is weak. The users who like free service will always look for free service. Free doesn’t generate revenue. I have written about jaxtr and their business model many a times in the past. Check out these links here and here.

I still don’t see a synergy between a free conference call provider and call-me-widget startup. To me, it looks like the deal is all about the 10 million users that Jaxtr has amassed all these years. And Maybe, sabsebol wants to penetrate social networking arena. It will be interesting to see if sabsebol will continue to provide free international calling.

I hate to write sad things about Voice Startups. Will I ever get to write about a Voice 2.0 startup that really makes it big? Please no skype; there are enough folks out there to rave about them. Maybe ifByPhone, Jaduka, Voxeo, Iotum,Phweet etc. What do you guys think?

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