Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cisco should buy Skype not Facebook

Facebook and Skype are planning a deep integration partnership, which will allow its users to communicate with each other using voice chat or sms messaging. Sounds like an audacious plan. For the most part this is definitely good news to FB users. So Facebook has started adding value to its platform by providing communication utilities to its users. The strategy of Facebook is not to reinvent the wheel and instead use one of the existing products that can cater its users. It’s a smart move. Building a communication platform for 500 million users is not a trivial task. Also, Skype is the best when it comes to Internet Telephony. So the marriage is perfect.

Skype currently has more than 560 million registered users. So with facebook counting more than 500 million users, we are talking about a total of more than billion users. Off course most of the users could be registered on both Skype and Facebook. Apart from Voice and messaging, Skype brings the video chat, which is gaining momentum. Thanks to Apples FaceTime. Both these companies are very aggressively positioning themselves as the next generation communication and messaging platform.

So does it mean Facebook should buy Skype as Om suggest? I don’t think it makes sense. The first question I would ask anyone suggesting Facebook to buy Skype is-
How many FB users currently communicate to each other using Voice Chat. We all know what happened to some of the VoIP applications on Facebook who tried the same communication game and turned out to be a disaster. Even Skype had its own Skypeme app on Facebook, which didn't do well either. Some startups even closed shop. Even if FB users use Voice Communication, the call should be delivered via SkypeOut or SkypeIn in order for Facebook to make any money. Now this is a big stretch in my opinion. If its purely a VoIP call, there is no money.

Instead of Facebook buying Skype, I would still bet big on Cisco buying Skype. I think Skype fits well in the Unified communication arena. With Cisco very aggressive in the Unified Communication space, this makes a killer combo. Also Cisco doesn’t need to fight hard to enter the communication space, with Skype acquisition; they will have instant access to 560 million users. And Skype Video will blend very well with the telepresence and other UC related Video communication.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Free VoIP calling for iPod touch users

Pinger, the company behind textfree, a very popular application for iPhone and iPod Touch is venturing into Voice area by providing Free Voice calls for iPod touch users . The company already supports ad based text messages and Users have already sent more than 4 billion text messages using pinger application. The VoIP application will work on both 3G and Wi-Fi network. Pinger provides its user a unique phone number and has distributed 1.7 million phone numbers so far. Unlike text messaging, Voice calling will have a monthly cap and user needs to buy additional credit when they run out of the monthly cap.

It looks like a good deal for iPod touch users. However what is not clear is the monthly free minutes, and the per minute charge after the monthly free minutes is exhausted. At least these guys understand that giving free unlimited minutes is not gone fly from business standpoint. Many players tried free calling model and shutdown the shop. I’m not sure why advertisement is not considered for free calling instead of charging for the extra minutes. Getting a unique number for iPod and free minutes are big pluses of this application. However, Number of free minutes, call quality and per minute charge will determine the success of this app.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MetroPCS first operator to launch LTE

Its MetroPCS and not Verizon to be the first operator to commercially launch LTE service in United States. Today they officially launched LTE service in Las Vegas. The service offers voice, text and 4G Web access starting as low as $55 per month including taxes and regulatory fees. Add another $5 for unlimited on-demand video streaming from 14 networks. Also they are offering first commercially available 4G LTE enabled handset, the Samsung Craft. Pretty impressive for a small operator to aggressively pursue LTE and launch as promised. Metro PCS is very aggressive in the prepaid market and doing pretty good in this segment.

Here are some of the highlights of the launch:
MetroPCS is introducing many new applications and features that take advantage of its 4G LTE network, including:
• MetroSTUDIOSM, powered by RealNetworks, is available on the $60 service plan. MetroSTUDIO is a new source of multimedia content, including access to full-track downloads, ringtones and ring-back tones, as well as premium video content from NBC Universal, Black Entertainment Television (BET) and Univision, available on-demand and on-the-go from one easy-to-use application.
• A new social networking and instant messaging aggregation application, which harnesses notifications, friends and content from the Facebook, MySpace and Twitter social networks and AIM, MSN and Yahoo! IM clients into a single interface that consumers can access with one click.
• Upgraded MetroNavigator® feature with the addition of voice-activated GPS and turn-by-turn directions.

MetroPCS is initially offering the Samsung Craft in Las Vegas metropolitan area stores and online for $299, after $50 instant rebate, plus tax, while supplies last. As the world’s first commercially available multi-mode 4G LTE/CDMA handset, the Samsung Craft was created with Web and multimedia content in mind, delivering a stunning visual experience.
The device offers:
• Incredible clarity and rich color for viewing crystal-clear multimedia and video images with its 3.3 inch AMOLED (Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) screen.
• A 2GB microSD card preloaded with Paramount Pictures’ hit movie “Star Trek.”
• A combination touch screen, slide-out QWERTY keyboard and Samsung’s TouchWiz™ user interface to surf and text message with whichever input format users prefer.
• A 3.2 megapixel camera with flash and camcorder to capture images that can be shared while on the go on MetroPCS’ fast 4G network.
• Wi-Fi capability.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wireless call quality, Verizon leads, AT&T trails

According to J.D Power and Associates Report , Verizon and Sprint lead the pack with respect to call quality. AT&T lags in most of the regions. So the issues are just piling up for AT&T. One of the biggest plus for AT&T is the exclusivity of iPhone, and iam sure AT&T will fight tooth and nail to keep it intact. Loosing exclusivity on iPhone is going to be a very bad news for AT&T. With such a bad call quality rating, it will be a hard sell for them to keep the subscribers intact loosing iPhone. Verizon on the other hand is sitting pretty with a good network, and call quality very good in most of the regions except for some. J.D Power sites that one of main reason subscriber will switch carrier is dropped calls. So with Verizon iPhone launch rumor, they can surely expect lot of disgruntled AT&T subscriber switching over to Verizon.

I think it makes sense for both Apple and Verizon. Apple needs to find new avenues to sell its flagship product. With android catching up fast, launching iPhone with more operators is the best bet for Apple.

Below is call quality rating for different regions. The call quality rating was calculated based on dropped calls, failed call connection on the first try, voice distortion, echoes; no immediate voicemail notification and no immediate text message notification.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sears online shopping experience, fraudulent

Sorry folks this article is not about technology but it’s a personal rant about my online shopping experience with sears. It was one of my worst shopping experience and iam so disappointed by sears online shopping. I would never recommend anyone shopping online with sears. I don’t think sears understand what online shopping customer satisfaction is. In fact after dealing with them for the past three days I kind of felt that they don’t really care for their customers. Seriously sears should take lessons from Amazon or any other online vendor who value their customers. So this labor day I was looking for a good canon DSLR to fulfill my photography passion and bumped into the following link.The price of this canon( Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR Camera with Canon EF 24-105mm IS lens) was way too low and an awesome deal. Initially I was a little skeptical. So I called up sears customer service, and the lady assured me that the vendor is authentic and that sears does a lot of background check before they allow anyone to sell their product on sears website. So fine. I believed her, went ahead and ordered this camera. Though she assured me about the vendor and all that, what I didn’t realize was that she had no clue about the third party vendor. She did not even do a basic vendor check. Why? Because the contact number for seller was invalid and the company was using Gmail account. Something fishy.

So just out of curiosity I sent a mail to the vendors(The electronics limited) contact email id ( asking him about the details of the camera and the response I got was-

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR is brand new and also comes with Canon EF 24-105mm IS lens, we have packaged the item already for shipment but unfortunately we were unable to proceed your specified payment method because our merchant is down. So we advise you proceed to make payment through Western union money transfer and send money to the information below.

Name: Latanyia Bennett
City: Baton Rouge
State: Louisiana
Country: USA
Zip code: 70802

Immediately after the transfer is made kindly get back to me with the following details.
Sender full name :
MTCN number
Amount sent :
Country :

We shall proceed to send out your order and get back to you with the tracking number.


The above mail scared the shit out of me and got me thinking. I started getting a bad feeling. Googled for more info on the deal and found some other folks also going through the same shit on slickdeals forum .This is when it dawned on me that the whole thing was a SCAM!. In addition, all the folks who bought the camera got a order shipment confirmation with the same bogus tracking number for UPS(ZA7894988597890).

After I got to know it’s a SCAM. I called up sears customer service rep and the first person I talked to said iam being impatient and need to wait for couple of more days to get the camera delivered. What a bummer. So I called up again, and this time I asked for the supervisor. I explained the details to supervisor and she agreed that it seems fishy. Finally someone understood. After all this, the problem did not get resolved. All I heard is that “we will get back to you after our investigation” and nothing happened for another 24 hours. So I called up the sears customer service today and they asked me to talk to my credit card company. That’s about it.

Also what’s disgusting about this whole fiasco is that even after they knew that vendor is a fraud, the link to the product is still live on sears website, and you can purchase the camera by checking out. So as we speak there are folks who may get fooled by this offer. In fact while writing this article, I was chatting with a sears online rep and she had no clue that the product she was trying to sell me again was a SCAM.

It was such a bad experience for me. I will never ever buy anything from sears and would not recommend anyone either. In short, I feel like cheated by sears and not by “The electronics limited”. I purchased the camera based on sears customer service promise and sears brand. (BTW, sears rep who sold the camera to me would not reply to my mails even after repeated attempt.) For all the shit I went through, I would have been happy if sears had accepted that it was there fault and provided some alternatives to all customers. Alas! That never happened. Sears management should take responsibility to have let a fraud use their website to cheat customers like me.

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