Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Telco API’s, How to make money?

We have seen thousands of applications built using Web 2.0 API’s( Application Programming Interface) that are exposed by facebook,myspace,flickr,google maps, twitter etc. These API’s have enabled smart developers to earn unbelievable money. The barriers to entry for these apps are nil, and all it takes to build an app on top of these platforms is a good understanding of the API’s. The good thing about opening up API’s for developers is that it brings in lot of innovative applications to the platform. This enhances the platform’s usage. It’s a WIN-WIN for both the platform provider and the developers.

According to programmable web , which maintains a list of API’s and the mashups, there are around 1200-1300 API’s available and 3924 mashups developed. Its not only the Web 2.0 players that have opened up their platforms via API’s, even the telecom operators are betting big time on platform play. However, the biggest issue with the platform API’s are, how do we monetize them? Folks from telco2.0 will be presenting with some analysis on how to monetize API’s. In addition, Alcatel-Lucent will be sharing new research on what enabling capabilities ‘over-the-top’ players are willing to pay for.

Here are some of the leaders in API programme joining the debate:
TM forum
MEF Smart Pipes
Orange Partner

For folks that can’t travel due to other restrictions, you can opt for distance participation. Check out the event registration site for pricing information.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Susan Boyle, the audacity of Hope!

I was just bowled over this video of Susan Boyle, the 47 year old new internet sensation. You know there are times when you see hope in despair moments. After watching this video, I had a great feeling. It just moved me. I’m happy for Susan Boyle and what a great show she put up. The sad part was that before even she could exhibit her talents, the judges and the spectators were in a denial mode. They knew she didn’t fit the bill. I guess we all go through such moments in our everyday lives. Maybe, its time we all take a good look in the mirror and think about the way we judge people. What Susan Boyle displayed was the self belief. The belief that she can become a singer and that is what kept her going against all odds. In her success, we see our failed dreams creeping back. Susan Boyle has become an Internet sensation. This is what I call the AUDACITY OF HOPE. Susan Boyle has already won the hearts of millions of people and I wish her great success.

Enjoy the video:

Check out the graph below:

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Zero1 Communications, the Magic Jack of Mobile Wireless

Zero1 Communications Communications, a Las Vegas, NV based mobile communications company, is planning to launch a new mobile service with unlimited voice and data. The deal looks very lucrative and hard to believe. This is one of a kind deal compared to what other operators are offering in terms of pricing. All this comes with no contracts or commitments and is priced affordably at only $69.95 per month with taxes and fees included. How does this work? In short Mobile VoIP. Zero1 routes all the voice calls via GSM operator’s data network. I guess we could call this as a Magic Jack of Mobile phones. To me it looked like an MVNO. But Ben Piilani clarifies that they are a new type of communication carrier.

Zero1 relies on major GSM cellular carriers to the data links and uses the same to transport Voice. I’m not sure which GSM cellular carrier is providing them with the data link. It downloads client software on the handset and assigns its own IP address. A VPN (virtual private network) or encrypted data tunnel is established between the handset and its switches. Except for those "last mile" wireless connections, the service runs entirely over the company's own switching and backbone network infrastructure. I’m a little skeptical about this whole Voice Over wireless data network for two reasons. One is the QOS and other coverage. I don’t think operators have 100% data network covered across North America. So this will be a big show stopper for a service like this to succeed.

To start with, they have bunch of windows enabled handsets. However, they plan to support additional platforms like Google Android, Blackberry and iPhone phones.

Here is what Ben Piilanie has to say about the service:

"We are the first mobile service to offer consumers a true national unlimited voice, data and Internet plan without any contracts or commitments that is priced affordably at only $69.95 per month with taxes and fees included. We have licensed patent pending proprietary Veritable Mobile Convergence (VMC) Technology that allows each smart phone user to make voice calls or transmit data by sending voice communications through a VoIP system," explained Piilani, CEO, Zer01 Mobile. "Zer01 Mobile is not a new mobile virtual network operator (MNVO). We are a new hybrid-communications carrier."

Check out the video:

It seems to be an interesting solution. I’m sure the success of this company would depend on the Voice Quality, Coverage and ease of use. It would be interesting to see how operators would react to such a service. Since Zero1 relies on operators data network for voice calls, they are definitely at the mercy of operators. All the said, I wish Zero1 success.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Java Support for Google AppEngine coming soon!

Here is some good news to all those java developers who were deprived of no java support for Google app engine, the wait will be over pretty soon. Google is working out details to officially announce java support . They showcased some of the java apps that were built on top of app engine. Check out the video below.

Look's like today’s campfire was meant to showcase the java apps. Expect additional features like cron,firewall, database backup etc. More on Techcrunch.
You can download the Sdk here . Here is the link for Google Eclipse Plug-in

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Skype for iPhone limitation, Free Press to rescue

Ok by this time everyone who has tried Skype on iPhone must be disappointed by the fact that it can be used only via Wi-Fi network and not 3G network . Is that a technical limitation? No not really, (Maybe Quality of servic could be an issue). This is a limitation/restriction imposed by Apple to please the operators. From an operator standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to allow users using their 3G network for making voice calls. This is a big NO NO! Users of iPhone have unlimited data package and majority of them would have subscribed for a limited voice call minutes. So by allowing voice calls via AT&T 3G networks is going to seriously erode their voice revenue. And don’t forget, international calling is another big cash cow for the operators. So this is a no-brainer decision coming from the operator. And for Apple, they don’t want to piss off the operators. They need operators love and its mutual.

Apparently there is more bad news for skype in Europe. Deutsche telekom AG, Apples iPhone provider in some European countries, said Thursday it may prevent T-Mobile subscribers from using skype even on Wi-Fi Network. AT&T is still liberal compared to T-Mobile. Look’s like this restriction has not gone well with public-policy maker and consumer advocates. The free press sent a letter to the acting Chairman Michael J.Copps, FCC expressing concerns over wireless operators violating Commissions internet policy statement. Check out the Free Press letter here.

According to UsaToday, this is what AT&T had to say about the whole issue:

“Jim Cicconi, AT&T's top public policy executive, says AT&T has "every right" not to promote the services of a wireless rival.
"We absolutely expect our vendors" — Apple, in this case — "not to facilitate the services of our competitors," he says.
"Skype is a competitor, just like Verizon (VZ) or Sprint (S) or T-Mobile," he says, adding, Skype "has no obligation to market AT&T services. Why should the reverse be true?"

Mobile VoIP restriction restriction has been there for a while now and skype’s restriction was not a big surprise to me. I don’t think this big hue and cry about blocking VoIP is going anywhere. These restrictions will go away as soon as operators find a way to charge the subscriber for voice calls usage via data network. Till then we will have to live with this limitation.

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