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December 10, 2002

ReThinking Telecom Panel

Couple of comments:

"While P2P has been trashed it is going to happen. People will have their own servers etc." "Cost structure for tv via satelite is more effective (versus cable)"

studio.tellme.com VoiceXML another signal of change.

August 25, 2003

Wi-Fi Hospitality

Headline reads "WI-FI Hits the Spot" again quoting Gartner Dataquest who estimates there will be 22.6 million users logging on to 53,300 spots in the US by 2008.  Then IDC says 28 million will be using Wi-Fi by the end of 2003.  Hard to understand how these firms survive.  Who buys these perspectives? Consumer or business numbers? Is that really something like 20 people per spot / hour? Is that current maths? What about all those homes installing Wi-Fi?

At least the Chronicle article picks up on small business owners who are giving it away - free (please buy another coffee).  It's the way forward.  Rule of thumb number.  $50/mth DSL line plus the modem plus the Wi-Fi Router and installation.  Less than $1000 all up per annum.  Number of coffees at $2.50 40%GP (it's much better almost double -- than this!!!) = 1000 coffees extra.... that equals..... about 4 per day or maybe one every two hours.  I'm willing to bet that Wi-Fi coffee lounges get more people hanging around pretty quickly on a daily basis --- this hospitality will pay out. 

So lets think laterally and exponentially rather than the straight-line straight-jacket forecasting that appears to be going on in the article.  What's happening in the Palm PDA market?  What's happening in homes everywhere?  What are kids doing?

Well last Christmas PDA's were becoming a gift item for Soccer Mums --- the $99 Palm.  (Was that really just last Christmas?) More recently PDA's are morphing with phones and ..... some are adding Wi-Fi.  My head is still rules my heart --- the HP 5455 still looks real nice and remains expensive.  Still Wi-FI cards are becoming cheap.  If you are a student.... on an enabled campus... could this replace your cellphone?  Could a $300 Wi-Fi PDA be the next gift instead of moving your student from desktop to laptop? Yes laptops are gettting cheaper and PDA's are cheaper still. PDA's have one over phones when connected to IM.

On the flips side I'm visiting friends and colleagues recently and Wi-Fi at their houses is no problem.  One buddy pulled out his new Palm last week and just connected to AIM and an IRC chat off the PDA all with a gadget the size of a billfold. For those with Broadband already... little more than $30 will provide a connection for your guests. Run a B&B?  Get Wi-Fi. Etc.  Etc.

When students or Soccer Mums want to network then the always on IM buddylist connection is unbeatable.  It may result in a message "can u talk now?" (and thus may go VOIP or to the phone) the fact is accelerating Wi-Fi and IM adoption may go hand in hand.  Campuses are converting now. Schools will go Wi-Fi or the neighbors near schools may just provide it; Safeway supermarkets too.  With Wi-Fi PDAs loyalty programs will finally begin to make sense.  Shopping lists, and promos all in one. Yes I know it is not tomorrow.... Still these early indicators may point in new and unforeseen directions. 

So here's the start of a scenario has to impact on the numbers above.  Let's call it "Wi-Fi Hospitality".  If you have broadband... it's simply impolite not to provide Wi-Fi in your home or business.  If you keep me waiting in a waiting room at the doctors office.... let me at least have my link.  As for Starbucks --- pity their deal with T-Mobile.  Nothing like a hospitality brand that is no longer a good host! I want and expect free access.

There was once a time when visiting where we asked politely to use someones phone. Now the script is written --- please excuse me a minute... I must go and make a call (cellphone).  There is no returning  our guests to the "polite" ---- do you have Wi-Fi?  Do you mind? It may be as offputting as asking --- "Can I use your computer?" --- there is a level of privacy and lack of indepence involved in that request. 

So to be THE HOSPITABLE HOST hook up Wi-Fi so the next time a friend enters your house and their PDA smiles... WiFi inside you get to hear the "Cool Dude - I'm connected! Thanks!" You may just expand your network and in the short term impress your friends! 

All in all this has very little to do with linking Wi-Fi and blogging.  I just feel that how we connect affects how we blog. 

To close. If you are an enterprise using the Gartner / IDC numbers for planning I'd think carefully about what they are telling you.  Make sure you ask the the question; "How could we be wrong?"  

November 12, 2003

Picture This from Korea

Sometimes I look back and think hmmm that blog came out of left field. That was how I felt when I posted on camera phones. There's an opportunity to use this tech beneficially and I have a particular interest in tying them to photo blogs in corporate environments.

Well the heavy hand of regulation is falling again. South Korea has mandated that all new camera-phones emit a 65db beep whenever a picture is taken. Now the "beeps" in conferences won't represent deleted audio tape edits. Frankly this type of regulation makes no sense. See Alan's report. Consider too how many times a day one is on security cams (look at England's numbers) and then how long till "nano-dust" is available for pictures? Sprinke and vacuum!


Number Portability

Looking forward to a little change in perspective? When will the telecoms give us what we want. Carl Ford writes:


The Carl Ford Blog: Local Number Portability

For me, my cell phone and my home phone represent very different parts of my life. And the idea that I should combine them means that I will lose the selective call processing capability I gave myself with the cell phone.

Don't know me and want to reach me? Here is my home number.

I want to reach you anytime, I call from the cell.
I expect that about 20% of the landlines will get this kind of migration. I also believe they can get about 5% back in a few years.

Meanwhile you can still reach me on IM.


The issue here is not the phone number but managing degrees of access. What it demonstrates is we now want at least three lines each. We're used to a shared home line, we like the personal mobile line, and also have various IM accounts with different profiles. Managing this access is just a nightmare. Similarly managing various devices can be a nightmare.

In "early days" of Skype I posted on this. Numbers may still be required to connect certain services. However what's really required are relationships, introductions, mediated exchanges, conferencing capabilities. See this too on profiles.

On the 20% migration claim... I'l like to enable my cell phone to handle a second line that is shared with my family. I can toggle it off /on at various times of day. When everyones phone rings in the house we know what type of call it is. Voice messages there are for all etc. Then the phones really will become wearable.

That's what still excites me about the Skype type potential. Enabling me to manage access, profiles and multiple lines. At the moment my buddy list continues to grow. I want' to run my own exchange. Guess the phone companies aren't going to encourage me.


November 14, 2003

Landline May Need A Lifeline

Combine disruptive innovation, expensive upgrades, overvalued balance sheets, stratospheric sales and marketing costs, old technologies and trouble is on the horizon. This comment is on the numbers....

The leapfrog effect where one technology makes the next obsolete can work in two ways. The new technology can be so much better that it really undoes the primacy of the former. Or, the new technology can screw up the financial rationale keeping the old tech companies afloat.

Meanwhile, new phone companies, like the wireless kids and even some long distance carriers, get the same switching functionality for millions less. This adds up to a multi-billion dollar loss in competitive (dis)advantage for every landline company. And none of this appears (yet) to be calculated into their stock prices. Once it is....

TheFeature

February 18, 2004

Skype's Mobile Conference Potential?

Last night I had a mind bender from a friend who said: "With our solution each Skype conferencee (each on a different continent) could be on a cell phone - and each one could be on a different continent to their PC-now there's a weird extension!"! It sounds pretty farfetched and I'm still trying to get my head around it. Yet effectively this is just one of the possible implications that may emerge from current progress.

PCPro gets the news out today heralding in Skype's new conference service, while Clay Shirky sums up my ramble from two days ago in a nice crisp short sentence. However, I think it runs deeper.

  • Today sees Skype claiming the accolade of the world's first IP-based conference-call service using peer-to-peer technology. PCPro
  • The biggest difference between VoIP and the circuit-switched phone network we've got is not going to be cheap phone calls. It's going to be ridculouly easy group-forming. Many-to-Many

  • Via Roland I know more than a few perked up their ears at the next link from Telepocalypse. This brief paper makes clear the emerging disruptive world of WiFi. When WiFi become mobile many new things happen and not only with mobility but also the handsets and who competes in that market.

  • You don't have to be a genius to see that low-latency plus high-bandwidth looks like a tasty recipe for next-generation IP-based voice apps. Voice is still the aśkiller app. But it is evolving once freed from the clammy dead hand of circuit telephony. Should enterprises start demanding end-to-end encypted voice, then Flarion can deliver it using off-the-shelf technology. Integrate presence, IM and voice a-la Skype? No problem. Anyone left with a faux-circuit network will be left spluttering. Telepocalypse
  • The cool thing about 802.20 is that it has "doppler tolerance" which means that unlike the currrent version 802.16, 802.20 can be used for mobile. Go Wireless ISPs and 802.20 go! Roland Tanglao

  • However that's only the tip of the iceberg. In all of the above we are only talking about new mobile solutions to the same old problem --- how can you talk while on the move:

    Voice Avatars:
    Last night I suggested we take a deeper look at Wave Market, while I've also had a few more thoughts about Flickr. The real voice applications are still to emerge. While I'm encrypted in conversation with Skype I think for the most part I pretty much sound like Stuart Henshall. Now imagine a different world. A mobile world where people are not identifiable by their live voice but rather by a voice avatar. You may never hear the real me if you are outside my direct social network. Peeling away layers of identity may involve exposing voice too. Think this is weird? Just think of the TV interview where the investigator wants to protect someone's identity. Extend that to conference calls you are in. Some may hear the real you others may not! This game is played in chatrooms around the world. Provide the same anonymities as text and watch for an explosion. Join a wireless chat channel in the Airport etc.

    Voice and Location:
    Similarly, as systems improve full stereo may become the norm. Total immersion in a game would enable me to hear where my friends are and where the danger is. I still want to play America's Army this way with my mates in the soundscape. In other situations walking towards one another in a crowd could be directed by sound.

    These last two items just begin to show new ways for rapidly forming groups and tying them into social networks. They are just one part of trying to solve the "always-on" connection questions and what it means to have an open line and varying degrees of presence no matter where you are. I'd also suggest we don't limit the exploration to the current paradigm. Small group conferencing via Skype is just the beginning. Playing music to the group while in conference might be the next item.... Might just give a reason to leave an open channel on.

    For those trying to learn more about Skype's conference call function a forum group put their experiences down in this pdf document. Skype Forum

    See also comments via Skype on future conferencing additions.

    March 6, 2004

    Mobile Phone Retailing Sucks

    I recently made a purchase decision for a new phone without any detailed help from the retailer, limited insight from the web and with limited infomation from the manufacturer although I've visited all the key websites before. Perhaps this rant is similar to Robert's last year when out looking for a new Laptop. I did list some fix it points at the very end.

    Frankly this is a post about the state of mobile retailing and why it sucks. I've been in the market for a new phone or contract potentially for three years. My current phone was over four years old and I haven't had a fixed contract with Verizon for over two years. As part of the purchase process I've visited Cingular, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile - "DISPLAY" retail stores. These are the stores that only exist to sell you a plan and a phone. I've also visited Radio Shack and keep a watching eye out when I am in Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA even Target etc. For the most part I'd bet all of you have been in or past some mobile phone display at least once in the last year.

    Typically when entering a Mobile retailer you find phones lost on tables and on flimsy shelves where there is a small feature list and price card with them. The phone is not operating. It may well be tied down with some form of harness. Because of the limited assortment a typical store may actually spread the same phone in a couple of locations. So when you are there you know there is not much to look at. The phones are all small and the space is all big.

    So what's this post about..... The fundamentals of Mobile Retailing in the US are sick and ready for a new format. This UK data probably applies here too.

    two thirds have to see and touch a mobile phone before buying it,
    over 60% resort to a retail store to buy their mobile phone.

    So most of us go to the store to buy a phone or are given one. The likely exceptions are buying one for a busy partner (eg on the family plan) or when a friend has simply sold you on their model. Only then would an online only shopping approach make sense. So retailing is important to the cellphone purchase.

    It made sense to retail phones in the high street when no one had them and making them visible was part of securing adoption. For months I've been told by Verizon that they will give rebates for trading up to a new phone and locking in to a new contract (two years). That means handsets are being marketed as commodities rather than branded products that fit with different lifestyles. The new phone merely an incentive to lock me up.

    On reflection I found there there is a lot wrong with the experience. After visiting many online sites I found they were plan-centric rather than communication centric. Thus you may as well make your basic choices on the web first. Mobile providers are like car dealers Each one only has a few models. Having then made your choice you visit the retailers store.

    These are my reflections:

    Continue reading "Mobile Phone Retailing Sucks" »

    March 11, 2004

    Integrating Communications

    A great summary by Rajesh Jain on converging technologies and telephony. Reading between the lines I think Rajesh may just want to try out a Nokia 9500. Me too! Add to it the BT Communicator / Yahoo announcement for their new VoIP IM service today for another indicator of rapid change.

    Nokia recently announced the 9500 model which is a Wi-fi enabled successor to the 9200 Communicator series. In another announcement Skype developers said they had plans to port their popular P2P net telephony software to PDAs. Can unified telephony become a reality, made possible with the convergence of Wi-fi, VoIP and cellular services? These three stories speculate on various outcomes.

    One Person, One Phone


    Indoor Wi-Fi coverage would be offered by cellular carriers as an added service. Subscribers would likely have to pay an extra $5 to $20 a month for it, says Ken Kolderup, vice president of marketing at Kineto Wireless in Milpitas, CA, but they’d get cheap Internet calls when they were on the Wi-Fi network. And by providing more reliable service indoors, the cellular carriers would be able to fully compete with traditional telephone companies...

    And Kineto has developed a network controller that can be installed on a cellular-telephone company’s network to bridge cellular and Wi-Fi. If a cell-phone user is indoors and near a Wi-Fi access point, his or her phone would sense the stronger Wi-Fi signal and tell the controller that it should route any incoming calls through the Internet, and ultimately through the local access point. Three carriers in the United States and Europe are now testing Kineto’s technology; Kineto expects dual-mode service to be available this year.

    Net2PhoneÂ’s VoIP play


    Net2Phone, one of the oldest Internet telephony services in the US announced Voiceline, a VoIP service that is custom tailored for the cable operators. A prime example is St. Kitts’ lone cable provider, The Cable, which is going to roll out VoiceLine to provide their customers with a reliable VoIP service using their existing infrastructure and with minimal cap ex. Cable operators can also choose Net2PhoneÂ’s PacketCable Managed Telephony, a managed broadband telephony service. I have a feeling that Net2Phone and Vonage will be butting heads in their bid to capture the private label VoIP market.

    Could WiFi Kill the Cellular Star?


    New voice-over-IP (VoIP) phones promise free wireless calls while at work using special phones that let you run voice on Internet packets. But this technology is only now maturing, previously beset with long delays and poor quality phone calls. I tried out a VoIP phone from Clarisys recently, along with a Vonage SoftPhone on a laptop. The phone was wired into my laptop, but I could make and receive calls through my laptop anywhere on my wireless home network. The quality was decent and my phone conversations were nearly normal.

    [E M E R G I C . o r g]

    March 13, 2004

    Looking at Stuff 4th Street

    Through the lens... capturing items in stores. I've captured more that 100 pictures this week people, products etc, and sent at least 50. Is it a short term thing or a new habit? It may just be the latter. Thanks to the phone.

    choc bunny food.jpg darwinschildren.jpg Face.jpg EST Book.jpg
    decorations.jpg larry niven.jpg not mums spin brush.jpg Times Eye.jpg
    artist fonts.jpg french soap.jpg strange marmalade.jpg plate.jpg

    March 17, 2004

    Skype Phone I

    Via Geekzone. Add this to Skype Business Model (See also Red Herring). thinking for a September European Launch. Some of the other product Siemans announced at CeBIT look desirable. This one would eliminate a couple of plugs and more.


    siemensm34.jpg

    Siemens is launching the Gigaset M34 USB PC Adapter. This is the world’s first consumer Internet telephony and messaging solution for cordless phone products. Developed in partnership with Skype Technologies, the peer-to-peer telephony company, this product merges data and voice communications technology in a simple and intuitive platform, expanding the frontier for consumer choice and flexibility in communications.

    This new telephony product allows consumers to easily utilize and manage all of their traditional Internet applications such as instant messaging, chat, buddy lists, Internet radio and emails, from their Gigaset handset, wherever they are in the home.

    Gigaset M34 USB PC Adapter offers an open interface to enable third party solution providers to integrate cordless phones into their applications for VoIP, messaging and home control. To encourage developers Siemens provides a free Software Development Kit (SDK), Internet-based support, as well as 24 hours hotline via the Siemens mobile developer portal. The portal contains detailed information about the interface, the SDK and the hardware and tool environment.

    The Gigaset-Skype Internet telephony solution is the first product from the Siemens Cordless Product VoIP Integration Roadmap that will soon include Gigaset Residential Voice and Data Gateways, and Gigaset WiFi devices.

    The Gigaset-Skype I
    Geekzone, mobile forums

    March 21, 2004

    Mobility Games

    I've been souping up my Nokia 3560 again over the weekend. I've added an Photographer, Opera Browser and Agile Messenger, plus numerous games. This is in addition to the Kablog and BlogPlanet aspects I've already experimented with. Some real successes and some troubles with Bluetooth along the way.

    Expermimenting with Photograhers panorama function.

    04-03-22.jpg

    I found most of these via these links for getting the most out of the Nokia 3560 and the Symbian platform. See this PAGE for links. Plus here is the Symbian wiki and MySymbian appears to be a good source.

    04031.jpg First up, mirror images... Photographer! It adds new functionality to your camera. From a 5X zoom, to a panorama camera plus masks and trick effects. Next weekend I may just try one of the video products that enables videos longer than a minute. (Example: 3GPP Camcorder Pro -- I upgraded to a 128kb card in the phone.) Althought I'm not about to make music videos. For mobloggers take a look at TextAmerica, or Mobi2pic which also enables short movies in your MT blog.

    I added the Opera web browser. I've still learning the keys to fast surfing and the response via GPRS is fairly mediocre. I won't be doing a lot of surfing using this method. Number one like was being able to Google anywhere and click quickly to Google news. Will have to bookmark a few more sites. Opera likes a lot of memory, so no other programs run at the same time. It uses the full screen very effectively.

    agile_messenger_1.gif
    The program I've found most interesting in the last week is Agile Messenger. This is Trillian for the cellphone. It enable concurrent connections to all the major IM providers, AIM, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo. Thus it's the closest you can come to managing presence on your cellphone! Wonder if Skype might launch a stripped down text only messenger for cellphones? That could be an interesting product. Let me share --- subject to some further testing. I made a laptop to bluetooth to Cellphone to Internet Connection and then made a short Skype connection before being dropped. My neighborhood isn't the best for this. I think a GPRS connection should be similar to a dial-up modem but am sure it can be slower. Maybe it is just latency in this type of connection?

    This resulted from the last leg of the weekend experiments which got bluetooth running on my T-40 laptop pairing it with the 3650. My first experience with bluetooth failed. I used a D-Link USB bluetooth adapter and returned it after n times trying to install it and make it work. I finally got it working after ordering a Belkin card via IBM. I'm not that enamoured with Bluetooth. My bluetooth headset had to be returned (it was not Nokia) because it was incompatible with the 3650. Still to get my Internet connection it took a final hint from T-Mobiles technical department. Setting that weren't installed or explained at the store when I bought the plan. I am not alone. See this discussion for problems installing you are not alone. However if you have a T-Mobile Internet account $19.99 per month you can use it all you want. That's a good deal... still careful you end up like Joi Ito. So I checked the rates for global roaming $15-$20/mb! WOW!

    September 21, 2004

    Mobile + SIP Convergence

    More on how converged networks mean I could get my cellphone ringing on my PC, my homephone ringing on my Wi-Fi enabled cell phone etc.?

    The initiative shows that, however reluctant some cellcos have been to embrace Wi-Fi and the potential erosion of GPRS/3G revenues, there is now a critical mass of operators that realize multiple networks are the way of the future. Wireline and full service carriers such as BT and France Telecom are also moving rapidly towards converged next generation networks and services that support cellular, wired telephony, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Wi-Fi/cellular hand-off standard proposed :: Voip User ::

    Be interesting to see some mobile operators provide some SIP interconnect packages. At least then i could effectively use my cellphone number on my computer at home. This is not a new thought.

    "We believe SIP-based instant messaging on the fixed Internet could take off as fast as SMS and create a significant market for SMS to SIP gateways. In this scenario, it is likely that mobile operators will benefit most from SIP deployment." Session Initiation Protocol: SIP

    September 28, 2006

    Fring - Fringing Interesting

    Fring, a new mobile app looks interesting. I want to try it out on my N80 with Wi-Fi and so do many others in the Fring forums. Come on Fring make it available for the N80 and N91. I'd say "fringing fantastic!". Lots of claims on the Fring about page including Skype and GoogleTalk compatibility.

    "fring™ is a 3G mobile application that allows you to make free mobile calls, send instant messages to other fring users, and communicate with PC based VoIP applications such as Skype and Google Talk." Fring

    Andy points me to a new Ken Camp. Alonge with VoiPNow they talk Fring. The Red Ferret really has the low down. Unfortunately, I can't test it till I get home and change handsets. It will work on Nokia N70's and similar. The challenge for Fring is there just aren't enough handsets out there yet. For my two cents. Go after Nokia N80 and N91 users.

    The Wi-Fi enablement in these handsets makes the 3G connection irrelevant. My guess is a flat rate GPRS in that mode is all you need. The people already buying the N80 and N91 are ready to push them to the limit. It will spread. At the moment these handsets lack applications that really use their WiFi strength. Example Shozu2.0 preview. It's is set up to synch when I'm on Wi-Fi hotspots; like work and home. I don't burn a data plan when traveling outside the US and I still get my Rocketboom on my mobile.. It could become much cooler.

    Still someone is going to ask. Will the operators block it?

    October 5, 2006

    Nokia N80 - Mobile TV - Radio

    Here I am in India with 50+ cable channels to watch and just like home there's nothing much worth seeing. With no "fast broadband" connection at home I can forget Slingbox for now. So how do I cope? Simple. I bring the small amount of TV with me.

    At home the Tivo records the programs I want to watch. Tivo then passes them over to my home PC via TivoToGo (extra cost software) and they are all converted into Quicktime movies. Before leaving home I simply burn one or two DVD's with last month's content. Simple. I can watch it via iTunes or even on my Nokia N80.

    The latter really intrigued me. How would I find TV watching on the small screen of a mobile phone. After all it is even smaller than the Video iPod. Actually, it's very impressive. It's not big screen big, however the clarity and general watch-ability are just fine. I have a one GB memory card in the N80. Thus it will take a three hour movie or 3 hourly installments of House and still leave room for photography. It's really more fiction than pleasure, however with a few changes I'd get a real kick out of what I could do. Still I know I am not alone. The first thing my son did with the N91 was upload Family Guy segments (I'll blog his initial thoughts separately). Videos were more use to him (more impressive and entertaining) than filling it with music.

    So where is YouTube  for my Nokia with best of the day, perhaps the latest IT conversations. In this way the N80 really has something over the iPod Video. I don't synch my iPod daily. Too much hassle. I synch it before trips generally to get a selective list of Podcast updates. I then listen on the plane.

    By contrast the N80 with Wi-Fi can capture this without access or docking with a computer. When I can get a 4GB card for it I'll add it. When would I look? Standing in lines, waiting for lunch, going home in the back of the car? So I'm convinced. I want an iPodder for it and I want it to auto schedule downloads over Wi-Fi.

    May 8, 2007

    N95 - Battery Life

    I wrote my post last night on the N95 before checking up what others say. A link by Aaron today and my general desire to get back blogging requires some discipline and watching on my part. So I learn that Ken wasn't all that impressed (another noting a battery-life). Phoneboy provides some suggestions for picking up maps and oh no slams the battery too. I also re-checked out whatAlec "> Alec had to say. I think he is an enamored with it as I am (although I bet he has gone back to his Blackberry). Battery life again raises it ugly head.

    This is a list of top Nokia N95 Tips. I'd add use your ShureHeadphones with it. I have a set of I3C's which plug in neatly and they make all the difference. They may not be noise canceling but the foam plugs mean I don't hear anything much on planes, and on or off they they require a lot less volume than the standard headphones which enable you to split the Nokia mic and go hard wired. I tossed all the wires back in the box. It's bluetooth or decent earphones for music..

    I think I can live with the batterylife. It's the WiFi and constant Truphone connection in the home that is just eating the battery. Today after an hour on Truphone the battery charged over night was dead by lunchtime. A bigger battery should be a rush upgrade at Nokia. Double the size of it. I don't mind the extra weight. Provide a new back plate with it. Urgent!

    Ken mentioned loading Gizmo onto it. I went back to GizmoVoip and it wasn't obvious to me how to. I did use Gizmo on occasion on the N80. I've just learned with experience that the Truphone codec is more efficient in low bandwidth environment and thus more reliable. I've also become aware of Wifimobile although the charging structure wasn't that clear to me. I already have enough free VoIP lines that another isn't that attractive and they also offer SIP to SIP for free. If there is a rate plan it is buried somewhere on their site.

    I added Jaiku onto the N95. I like it more that Twitter for potential. I will write more about that separately. I'm also going to add Fring again. There is at least another week of playing with it.

    Now to just get to the N800 on my desk which to me looks like the best alarm clock and desk calendar ever. More seriously I've not yet had the time to really try it out. It's intriguing although I'm not sure I need it yet. I have some ideas what I want it to do; yet that can wait for another post.

    The official N95 Blog is here.....

    Powered by ScribeFire.

    May 30, 2007

    Skype and Relevance in Communications

    What do we do when our communication systems keep fragmenting? Alec and Ken comment of Skype losing relevance. The key point is "cost". What made Skype work was free P2P telephony that worked. Now the same proposition is emerging everywhere.

    The result is even more highly fragmented communications. A colleague complained to me last week that I have too many numbers (time to try out Grand Central again!) and they were right I do. In fact I have way too many "handles" from phone numbers to messenger accounts and mail services. Really nobody needs them all. Yet what should I hand out? Often it is defined by the perceived relationship. Setting it right later may add to the confusion. Concurrently callerID becomes more irrelevant because it doesn't effectively represent me when I use a different number to call them. Don't believe me - then check out emerging profile aggregators.

    I too have a sense that many in the early adopter group have moved on from Skype. With Wi-Fi handsets GizmoVoIP and Truphone have proven to me that I don't need to wait for Skype on the mobile. Also, massive exposure to shared presence (broken today) doesn't enable better access control. Nor does it enable you to manage your availability selectively. Yes a few companies are working on it.

    Like Alec says. There is still huge potential in leveraging the desktop. I agree. While Twitter is broken, the opportunity for shared context has never been greater. Presence information will become disintermediated from the communication channels. There is absolutely no reason to think that your presence service should or must tie to a specific communication channel. What it reveals and to whom is another matter. As presence breaks off "numbers" go back to being numbers. The "Presence Dialer" will be under a user's control. This works when an "Abstract Identifier" emerges (Eg OpenID or similar with better authentication).

    Sharing availability on the mobile is even more important. It's more personal than the desktop; even more intrusive when the wrong person calls at the wrong time. Skype provided a view that was part of the way there and has completely missed the boat on mobile. As such its "handles" will never become the number of the future. "Click to talk" is what we want. IM lists prove it. Jaiku Mobile takes this a step closer (but nobody keeps using it - another post in that!), while Skype and other IM presence data is too simple to be meaningful. Available says "channel is on", anything else means the "channel is off or may effectively be off". We don't live in an "on" or "off" world. You just have to sniff out the open channels for communications.

    Thus what Ken and Alec really allude to is their connections have shifted. They are more available now on new connections and perhaps less available on others. My guess is they don't talk or message less. Probably it is more than ever; without the shackles of cost.

    So when Alec says he's abandoned Skype for technical reasons, he's made himself a little less available to some. He's also making more use of "mobile" solutions that are more useful to him. Eg Jajah . I've done the same. There are some workplace issues (don't install that program on your PC) that encourage Meebo and the newer Yahoo Messenger on the Web. Skype doesn't have a solution for these.

    So relevance relates to communications needs; Skype remains relevant although its lack of reach into mobile makes it less and less relevant when I am on the move. We underestimated the general goodness in the handset and the impact that "handsfree" with a bluetooth headset can provide. So when "free" communications are now available to me from any WiFi hotspot on my Nokia I pull the phone out before booting up a PC. I do the same at home.

    July 20, 2007

    Skype for Nokia N800

    I just updated my Nokia N800 Internet Tablet with Skype. In my case it makes the tablet many times more attractive to carry around.

    Nokia's N800 Gets Skype - Skype Blogs

    Namely, Nokia’s funky N800 Internet Tablet now speaks Skype. Officially, that is. (You may have noticed in late June that Skype did a pre-release demo of Skype for the N800 in New York). Andrew Brennan from Skype Gear has written a nice review that you can read here. Once you’re convinced it’s something for you, install the latest Nokia firmware version from here, as instructed by Andrew’s review. Or download Skype for the N800 here.


    How does Skype work on it?
    It takes awhile to load my buddylist which is a painfully long scroll. There are no groups (which I also miss on the Mac). It doesn't seem to work with multi-chats. I find getting from one chat screen to another isn't exactly intuitive or obvious (AH, now found the blue button - makes it easier). Yet it works as you would expect Skype to. As far as I can make out there is no video support, no SMS or file sharing. Video is particularly disappointing as it is already available on N800 to N800 GoogleTalk exchanges.

    Impact. I may just start carrying around the N800 again. I have a bluetooth keyboard for it. I may also just get the navigation kit and put both in the tank bag on my motorcycle. Not sure I should ever be looking at it there. Still bluetooth headset and maybe it would all work. The N800 remains an interesting device for me. It is also still a curiosity. I've not found it habit forming. One of the reasons is I already have a phone that does it all and more in the N95.

    In the end I'd have been much more impressed if Skype launched a Symbian app.

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    September 25, 2007

    India Online - in the palm of your hand.

    What's your strategy for India? Would you rethink it if you thought that in less than 3 years 250 million could be online, with an email account, networking on Orkut and responding to localized ads? This is not completely far fetched. Even if the number is only half that, it's quite possible if we look at the mobile as the computer in the palm of your hand.

    When I first went to India 18 months ago it was still unusual to see an auto-rickshaw driver with a cellphone. This trip every driver / cabbie that drove me around had a phone. The houseboat captain had a phone etc. Today even in the smaller villages you can recharge your prepaid mobile. I've experienced Indian "broadband" (256kbps if you are lucky) in the home and noted that it is hard to buy routers and Wi-Fi accessories from the local electronics store. Concurrently,VoIP lines are going into homes; most of the infrastructure seems to be creaking from the pace of growth; customer service is often lousy and billing may be a mess. Phones will always come before PC's.

    I know the big players in mobile (eg Vodaphone and Nokia) already understand why India is "THE" market they must win in. Many other tech players understand this. Eg Orkut and Google, probably HP etc. I also believe many companies don't or many not be managing it well. Eg Yahoo, Dell, Motorola and many more.

    I keep returning to India because I believe successful global companies and startups must all have an India strategy and you won't understand it from 12000 miles away. The impact of mobile growth is only one of the reasons and the focus of this post. The "numbers" simply dwarf other markets (other than China). As these new users come on line they will tip product development, reshape the web and teach us new ways to interact. Real innovations in mobile are likely to come out of India.

    The rough numbers:

    Internet: Approx: 40 million online of which 25 million are active (weekly). Of that 10 to 12 million are on Orkut and most probably have a Gmail account. Note in India there is only 40 million landlines. Internet access is dialup or a choice of DSL and Cable. Speeds remain slow. A Reliance wireless network connection remains a viable or only option for some.

    Mobile. The number ranges from about 180m to 240m. The article below uses 185m of which 39.46m are rural. Thus approx 20% of the user base in India is now rural. Penetration in major cities is approaching 50% while rural penetration ranges from 3% to just over 20%. Of the next 250 million users that go mobile at least 100m will be rural!

    Growth: Mobile dwarfs Internet / PC market. In two to three years India will have doubled the current number of users. I have a suspicion that many Internet users are "Users at work"; Orkutting as soon as they arrive at the office. They may not have a connection at home. Internet in the home is likely to remain disappointing.

    Other leading indicators that are important!

    Airtel recently announced and has been promoting Prepaid for Life. This means you buy a prepaid SIM 495rp and the number never expires (requires 200rp spend every 180 days). It's clever as it provides phones for those that can't even afford to make calls.

    Vodaphone which bought Hutch back in Feb 2007 has recently changed the name and is has announced new links to Orkut. Concurrently Google is offering an Adsense like program for Mobile. See this article for Google details. Nokia is also active in this space (see enpocket).

    Observations:

    What we really do today with computers can be done on mobile. email, directories, networking, search, maps etc. Enable all these mobile phones with email accounts / Orkut accounts and you are looking at 100+ million users in no time flat. Given the price differential for mobile advertising rates and it is easy to see how Google can potentially arrange a revenue split with carriers. It's not too far fetched to see limited mobile data connections being "free" as a result.

    Broadband to the home in India will remain disappointing. It will lag behind mobile growth. Already programs like Reliance NetConnet (USB to PC or PCCard) are popular 3G programs and the coverage is reaching deep into rural areas. The speed can be variable and is often not much better than a dialup connection. I am fairly sure GPRS can not scale to the data requirements of hundreds of millions going online. Thus only the infrastructure and its installation is likely to stall or frustrate the growth of online mobile web users.

    It needs to be free: They aren't going to pay for it as they don't understand the value. They want email but it must be free etc. They will happily view an ad while an email is downloaded. Ads can be ajaxed down earlier and retained in the background.

    Big Education Job: Only a combined effort by Mobile operators, perhaps Google and businesses can make this happen. It's not impossible. Just a few years ago almost no one had a cellphone in India. Most people in India still don't really have an address (street address). Given the speed of adoption of the mobile - they will want these!

    Whether you are a marketer, run commerce, trade, provide services etc. it is time to prepare your strategy for India. The numbers are just too huge. The companies that learn how to reach these new communicators and create the channels for conversation will create powerful platforms for growth. The battle will move to the handset and will never be for the desktop in India.

    About Wireless

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