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?
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Posted by Ravi Shankar at 5:30 PM
Thursday, June 25, 2009
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:
Posted by Ravi Shankar at 10:05 PM
Monday, June 22, 2009
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)
Posted by Ravi Shankar at 9:54 PM
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
Posted by Ravi Shankar at 9:05 PM
Saturday, June 20, 2009
- Facebook Finally Catches Up To MySpace In The U.S.
- Twitter Takes A Breather
- State Department to Twitter: Keep Iranian tweets coming
- iPhone 3G S review
- iPhone 3.0 Update: 10 Hidden Features
- Streamlining the Inbox
- Wikipedia Gets Ready for a Video Upgrade
- Twitter Plans to Offer Shopping Advice and Easy Purchasing
Posted by Ravi Shankar at 9:18 PM
Sunday, June 14, 2009
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.
Posted by Ravi Shankar at 9:29 PM
Monday, June 8, 2009
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?
Posted by Ravi Shankar at 9:03 PM
Ok Folks, the cat’s finally out of the bag. Apple today announced the most awaited iPhone 3GS , the newer, faster, most powerful iPhone yet, packet with incredible features. Oh BTW, the “S” stands for speed. Looks like Palm Pre is déjà vu now. Everyone is talking about the new iPhone. It’s a repeat of Google Wave vs. Microsoft’s Bing. Blame it on Apple.
Lots of interesting features with the new iPhone 3GS:
• Upto twice as fast as iPhone 3G. A new processor built in. Launching messages is 2.1 faster.
• Longer Battery Life
• 3 Mega pixel sensor
• 7.2 Mbps HSDPA for faster networking speeds
• With iPhone 3GS you can send photos and video by email or MMS and post them to MobileMe or YouTube with just one tap.
• Camera with auto focus, auto exposure, and auto white balance
• Special macro and low light modes
• iPhone 3G S takes advantage of the OpenGL ES 2.0 standard for stunning high-quality 3D graphics, making mobile gaming and other graphic intense applications better than ever
• Hands free operation using Voice Control feature.
• With voice control you can play your favorite music by artist, album or playlist.
• iPhone 3G S features a new built-in digital compass for instant navigation. The Compass app shows you which way you are headed and rotates as you change direction.
• Nike + built in
• Zooming of text, inverting video, and voice over support
Price and Availability:
• $199 for 16GB version.
• $299 for 32GB version.
• Available on June 19th.
If you don’t find the features that you wished was part of the new iPhone, Don’t worry, there is an app store with more than 50,000 applications. Hmm. Makes me wonder who the hell needs so many apps.
Posted by Ravi Shankar at 7:33 PM
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I got a mail from one of the representative of IEEE mentioning about “Change the world Competition”, for which 15 finalist have submitted their ideas. I was really impressed. The reason being, its not one of those regular startup PR pitches. This is a contest that gives students from across the world an opportunity to demonstrate excellence in the development, design and implementation of technology that solves a real-life problem, and ultimately benefits humanity.
Listed below are some of the projects:
Guide Robot for the Blind
This project is trying to improve the dynamic of the blind people when traveling from one point to other and while they are in a building or group of facilities.
The idea of applying Robotics in agriculture is very new. The main area of application of robots in agriculture is at the cultivation stage. The agricultural industry is behind other industries in using robots because the sort of jobs involved in agriculture are not straight forward and many repetitive tasks are not exactly the same every time. In most cases, a lot of factors have to be considered (i.e.: Environmental conditions and nature of crop) before the commencement of a task.
Project Spread The Light
The Nigerian state has over the years been experiencing an epileptic power supply, transmission and distribution problems. The spread the light project is an initiative we developed to address the electricity problem in Nigeria from a small scale perspective. due to the abundance supply of sunlight in Nigeria a tropical country we designed a solar energy generation module which utilize this abundant sun hours ( an average of 9hrs) to provide electricity in a small settlement in the eastern part of the country. The settlement has been off the grid with no plan of being connected in the near future.
I know these projects are not as fancy as twitter/facebook/myspace apps, but they are done for a noble cause. So if you guys have some spare time, go ahead and vote for the best project.
Posted by Ravi Shankar at 10:25 PM
Monday, June 1, 2009
We have used Click-to-Call technology and now here is Click-to-meet technology from Tungle, the intelligent meeting scheduler. The new service helps scheduling meeting very easy. Tungle.me gives users a personalized URL where contacts can see a user’s free/busy calendar and quickly schedule a meeting by proposing multiple meeting times without ever having to sign up to Tungle. When the meeting is booked, everyone gets a meeting confirmation and their calendars are automatically updated. The personalized Tungle.me URL can easily be sent to anyone via email, IM, Twitter and other networking and communication outlets.
I have not used the service yet, but it definitely seems like a very useful tool. In addition to tungle.me URL, it support facebook and web widgets using which users can display their availability real-time. The Tungle.me Facebook widget gives an “at-a-glance” view of the availability of all friends that have the Tungle.me Facebook app installed, making it easy for users to connect with their network
Check out the video below:
I can see a lot of potential in this application. In a corporate world, not a day goes by without a meeting being scheduled. In fact, this is something Microsoft should have supported themselves. Well, no complains, we have tungle for help. Tungle allows people to share calendars across companies and platforms, easily schedule meetings with individuals or groups inside or outside their company, propose multiple meeting times in invitations and much more. It currently syncs with Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple iCal and Entourage for Mac. Tungle is also working with IBM to accelerate Lotus Notes.
So folks go ahead and Tungle, it’s free
Posted by Ravi Shankar at 10:16 PM