Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fall VON Session - VoIP Friendly Firewalls - Hear All About It

At Fall VON in Boston, I'll be doing a few things, including moderating a session on VoIP Friendly Firewalls.

To help spread the word, the Pulver team is putting together podcasts to describe each session. This is a really great idea, and I think I'm the first one out of the gate to do one.

So, if you want to hear a bit more about what we'll be doing at this session, click here, and you'll get my 3 minute commercial. This podcast is produced by VON Radio, and to access the full set of archives, click here. If you are radio-challenged, click here for a text-based summary of the session.

Our panel will be on Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 3:30-4:45. Hope you can make it.

I'll also be sharing my IP views at the Analyst Roundtable, which is on Wednesday, from 10:30-11:45.

See you in Boston!

Skype Developers Competition - Jyve Gets Top Prize

Skype has taken a very enterprising approach to developing its developer ecosystem. According to today's news, the competition - which was launched in April - attracted over 100 developers, and has yielded more than 400 applications to help make Skype even more functional, and of course, sticky.

The winners were just announced, and Jyve's plug-in was deemed the top entry. Jyve allows you to do neat things like add Skype functionality to webpages or blogs - Skype virtual business cards, presence indicators, etc. Definitely another ease-of-use feature that will help make Skype more ubiquitous, which is the name of the game.

For all their efforts, Jyve gets a 2,000 Euro cash prize, but of course, the recognition is the real payoff. That said, Skype is only out of pocket 2,000 Euros, which makes this a pretty inexpensive R&D exercise. So, not only does Skype gain amazing traction with zero marketing spend, but they get a very full pipeline of cool, new apps and lots of highly motivated developers for next to nothing. You have to like this model! Now, the trick is to turn this into money. The concern of course, is that Skype becomes a superhighway for all these apps, and that the developers will be the ones making the money. Somehow, I don't think Skype will let that happen.

Skype has now adopted the trade-marked moniker of being the "Global Internet Communications Company", which is a far cry from the wild west roots of Kazaa. This is another sign that the IP voice space is quickly growing up. Just like rock stopped being about the music in the early 70s and became a business, Skype is finding itself surrounded by bigger players - some more corporate than others - and will start having to play by the rules sooner rather than later. I for one, hope they still can keep it fun and real.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

PhoneGnome - Funny Name, Cool Product

Had a briefing today with David Beckemeyer, Founder and CEO of TelEvolution, and learned about this really neat product for residential VoIP. I don't normally talk about specific products, but this one really caught my eye as something different that is really designed with the end user in mind. David was the co-founder of EarthLink, and I'd say that if he thinks this is a good idea, it probably is.

This photo isn't very big, but it looks like a typical ATA.


While it looks like an ATA, and functions like an ATA, PhoneGnome is really all about the end user - not the service provider. First, it supports SIP, and provides free telephony between any two endpoints using the device. So, it's got that peer-to-peer feel, and for that reason, PhoneGnome is often sold in pairs - one for each party. Sort of like broadband walkie-talkies. This is totally independent of your service provider - all you need is a broadband connection. You just connect PhoneGnome between your router and regular phone, and you make the call just like you normally would. That's real simple - don't have to worry about extra digits, or any web interfaces.

Another thing that's cool is how you can subscribe to any Internet based LD calling plan in the world, and PhoneGnome will automatically pick that up when you make LD calls to PSTN endpoints. So, if I make a lot of calls from Toronto to Tokyo, and really like an LD plan from a provider in Tokyo, I can sign on to their service, and dial the number just like I normally would with POTS. So, again, no extra digits to dial - just use your phone as you always have - no big behavior changes here.

There are other neat features as well, including free voice mail to email, and telemarketer blocking. No doubt, others are in the pipeline as TelEvolution seeks to turn this into a must-have product for those who want a simple, POTS-like VoIP experience.

It's not fancy, and it's not web based, and it's just about cheap voice. But that's what the market wants, and the best part is you don't have to subscribe to a broadband voice service to get the benefit of VoIP. I suspect that many, if not most subscribers to these services - Vonage, Lingo, CallVantage, etc. - are NOT replacing their landlines, for a variety of reasons. As such, they're not decreasing their telecom spend at all - unless they are heavy LD users - i.e. spending $30 or more a month. With PhoneGnome, you don't have to subscribe to any such service. Just keep your basic POTS line and DSL, and dial away. Signing on to an Internet LD plan will be way cheaper than a Vonage-type service, plus you get all the upside of the reliability that comes with POTS. No worries about 911 or losing service when the lights go out. What's not to like?

Sure, this isn't for everybody, but I think the thinking behind PhoneGnome reflects the essence and spirit of what the IP revolution is all about - empowering the end user to control their communications experience. I'm not crazy about the name, but it sure lets you have it your way. David may not make many friends in the broadband operator community,and the RBOCs may even embrace him as the savior of their wireline business. It's early yet, but anything is possible in this market, that's for sure.

PhoneGnome is not widely available yet - it retails at Staples, but only in Southern California so far. However, anyone can buy it online, either at their own website, or on Voxilla. These online channels are another example to me about why this product really reflects the spirit of IP - just order it and use it - doesn't matter who you use, as long as you have broadband.

Canada Calling - Invitation to Podcast

The Canadian IP communications market is very dynamic in its own way, and I'm trying to bring that message to a broader audience.

One way of doing this is podcasting, and I'd like to invite anyone out there who can offer an informed perspective of our market to get in touch with me.

Jeff Pulver's VON Radio has been podcasting for some time, and I'd love to build up a roster of Canadian podcasters to help tell our story. Check out the main index, and you can see lots of timely podcasts from a wide range of people. Recent podcasts of note include David Beckemeyer of PhoneGnome, Eli Katz of XConnect, and Ben Freedman of Jasomi - now part of Ditech.

To get on the Canadian podcast bandwagon, please ping me here, or email me directly:

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Wall Street Journal VoIP Article - Redux

In my Friday posting I mentioned I didn't have links to any of the articles mentioned there.

However, there was a link to the Friday WSJ article right under my nose. This is Shawn Young's piece on the state of things in VoIP right now. Our leading business daily in Canada - the Globe & Mail -runs a WSJ page each day, and on Friday, Shawn's article was front and center. So, I couldn't get the story from the WSJ website, but I can from my local Globe & Mail website.

Since then, I see that the story was picked up by several papers elsewhere across the US. One of these crossed my path - the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - but I'm sure it turned up in many other papers.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Good Week in the Media

While digging out from moving on Monday, the press managed to find me and some good stories ran.

Today, the Wall Street Journal ran a Page 1 story on the overall state of VoIP. I was quoted briefly about the size of the market, while Jeff Pulver and Jeff Citron were featured more extensively, primarily talking about the challenges facing all VoIP providers in the face of steadily declining prices. Sure, the consumer wins, but one is still left with the big question about making profits.

Yesterday, WSJ also cited me briefly, again about the market outlook. This time it was in the context of the news of Vonage reportedly going IPO. This has not been substantiated, and I heard the same message myself in following up on this. Kind of ties in to today's WSJ piece, and it makes you wonder what the outlook is for all the "von-abees". No doubt, the low barriers to entry create a gold rush mentality, but this cannot last. The regulations are going to get tougher, not easier, and the window gets smaller by the day as the MSOs and RBOCs make their moves. On the other hand, all this competition - and choice - is great for consumers, and hopefully it will remain this way after the weak become separated from the strong.

Although I was too late to post about Google Talk, I was cited on both Wednesday and Thursday on this topic in Canada's largest daily, the Toronto Star.

Maybe I should move more often.....

I'd like to provide links to these articles, but you need to be a paid subscriber for the WSJ, and you need to register with the Star to access those articles. I can send soft copies if anyone wants to read them. Just drop me a line -

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Joys of Moving in the Internet Age/New Use For Skype

In terms of big stories in the IP world, I sure picked the wrong week to move. Boy, it sure has been busy...

- Vonage IPO story - but not 100% confirmed
- Google Talk
- Skype opening up APIs to the web community
- Skype working with Intel for better voice quality on PCs

We moved house on Monday, and it's been very chaotic all week, and I haven't been able to post at all. At this point, these stories have been well covered by the usual suspects - Jeff Pulver, Andy Abramson, Om Malik and Mark Evans.

As these stories unfold, I plan to comment where I can add something to the mix.

That said, I'd like to share my personal ruminations about how central the Internet has become to our daily lives, especially for people like me. Moving is never easy, and I found it very interesting that among all the hundreds of material possessions one has to sift through and organize when packing, that my notebook was the very last thing to go. When all the packing was done at 1:30 in the morning, my PC was still up and running, and the last thing I did before going to sleep in our old house for the last time was to shut it down.

Fast forward to the end of the move, and what's the first thing I'm looking for in the new house? An Internet connection. Not the phone line, not the TV, but email and VoIP. You may think I'm nuts, but I suspect this is pretty typical for Internet users when they move these days. It made me realize just how dependent I've become on the Internet for my livelihood. Not only that, but also how quickly my working routine resumed once I was online - even without my landline from Bell. In fact, until yesterday, I was living mainly off our mobile phones for all our calls - business and personal - and really didn't miss the Bell line all that much. I think that says a lot about how things are changing in the world of communications.

This also reinforced for me just how convenient Skype is. It was certainly much easier and faster to get up and running than my Bell line - which, not surprisingly required a visit from a technician to activate the service. No truck rolls with Skype, that's for sure.

So, where does this leave the wireline incumbents? For now, they're probably ok, but these experiences really brought home the benefits and advantages of IP versus TDM. I'm preaching to the converted here, but with giants like Microsoft and Google getting into the game, the landscape is really going to shift big time once the mass marketing machines take over. IP is simply a better product, and once the world gets this religion, I really wonder how the legacy telcos will hold their own. I think it truly will come down to "innovate or die".

Oh - what's the new use for Skype? Home intercom. Really simple. We have 3 levels in our house, and my office is in the basement - it's ground level, so it's got a great garden view actually. My 12 year old son spends a lot of time on his notebook, doing games, and lots of IM. Skype too. In our old house, we were on the same floor, and it was real easy to talk to each other. In the new house, the distance is just too great, as Max is two floors above me. I suppose we could use the phones in the house - that's old school. So, we just Skype when we need to communicate. Sure beats yelling real loud, or running up/down a whole bunch of stairs. I stopped thinking a long time ago about using Skype just for long distance. I probably use it just as much for local calling or in-house communicating - simply because it's where many of the people I'm in touch with are. To me, it's all about convenience - we all have a multitude of ways to communicate, but we almost always default to the path of least resistance - it's just human nature.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Excel/Brooktrout - VoIP Consolidation Continues

Light Reading's Mark Sullivan wrote a good piece today on the latest deal in the VoIP equipment space.

This is an interesting play as Excel's forte is carrier networks, especially TDM, while Brooktrout has been primarily an enterprise play. Brooktrout acquired Snowshore last year for pennies on the dollar, as Snowshore became an early casualty among the well-funded startups who failed to get traction at the right time. While Snowshore was squarely an IP play, their demise has taken them out of the race for hardware-based media servers, a space that is dominated by Convedia, along with IP Unity and AudioCodes. They have since changed gears, focusing on software-based solutions, which have some applications in the enterprise.

Another twist here is that Excel has also recently entered the media server space, and have had some good results to date. So, they now have 2 media server products on their hands, and it will be interesting to see how they handle the business, as well as the R&D, management, and intellectual property.

On top of this, Brooktrout partners with AudioCodes in the media gateway space, and it looks now like they'll go with Excel's gateways. Then there's the IP Unity connection with Excel, which will now have to go by the wayside.

Perhaps the only common thread here is geography - all 3 companies - Excel, Brooktrout and Snowshore are based in Massachusetts. Gee, now all we have to do is put Acme in the mix, have Sonus buy them all, and we'll have a killer Bay Colony IP cartel. The mind boggles at how many good Red Sox seats all these guys would have....

As the VoIP equipment space matures, this game of musical chairs becomes more complicated as vendors evolve from being single product offerings to multi-product players. AudioCodes is perhaps the best example of this, and inevitably some partnerships have to give way for the sake of the marriage. A bit like having to stop seeing your old girlfriend once you get engaged.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Videotron's VoIP Heating Up Quebec Market

Kevin Restivo ran a nice piece today in the Financial Post on how effective Videotron continues to be taking business from Bell in Quebec with its low priced service.

The article talks about Videotron signing up 62,500 subs since launching in February, and claim to be on pace to hit 180,000 by year end. Bell pretty much has a monopoly on local phone service in Quebec, and Videotron claims that almost half of their subs cancelled their Bell service. That's got to send a clear message to both Bell and the CRTC that consumers welcome choice and competition for phone service. Of course, it remains to be seen if Videotron can make money with a $15.95 basic price point, but they're certainly winning mindshare with the consumer.

For those of you outside of Canada, 62,500 subs may not sound like much, but remember, the US is 10 times our size. Yes, Time Warner has already hit this number on proportional basis - they're up around 700,000, but their footprint is exponentially bigger. Videotron launched in only one market - Montreal - and at that, only in the South Shore section. So, just imagine the takeup they can achieve with a province-wide rollout, especially as Bell is distracted with its CRTC Telecom Policy proposal, and their Digital Voice VoIP offering being limited to 3 small Quebec markets.

No doubt, Rogers is closely watching, as they are in the same position to roll out cable VoIP here in Ontario. They've already done so, but in much quieter way - and not surprisingly, are not receiving much attention. Somehow, I don't think it will stay that way for long.

IP Is Flying High - From Vanity Fair to Jeopardy

When we talk about ubiquitous IP, it's usually in the context of carrier networks and desktop applications. Two recent media citings about Skype and Jeopardy are good examples of how ubiquitous IP is becoming in popular culture, at least here in North America.

The Jeopardy citing was sparked by Jeff Pulver's posting the other day about seeing VoIP used as a question on an episode that ran last November. More recently, today's Financial Post ran a nice article discussing VoIP being used on Jeopardy as a sign of the times. Unfortunately, I'm not a subscriber, and don't have a link to pass on.

More interesting to me is the current issue of Vanity Fair, which has a nice piece on Skype. No link to the article here - you'll have to go out and buy it, and if you're a Skype fan you probably should. The article is based on the writer spending time with Niklas and Janus at 3GSM, and then over in Tallin with them and their developers. Nothing really new in the article for Skype followers, but it paints a good picture of how disruptive Skype is becoming and why the Yahoos and AOLs of the world have a rising urgency to court them.

Best part comes at the end, where Niklas talks about The Godfather being "the best management movie ever". He goes on about the scene where Sonny proclaims he's going to take out a cop for revenge. His ailing father points out "it's not personal - it's strictly business". Even though Skype has little business to speak of, at least in revenues, the article concludes that Skype has nothing personal against the RBOCs - they just want to redefine the business.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

IMS - Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask

UK-based Moriana Group has just published an extensive report on IMS, and has been in the works for some time. I know there is overkill on IMS these days, but this is worth a look, and I'll explain why below.

I don't normally post about market studies, but I've got a good reason this time. For those of you who do not know Moriana, they operate on a very different model, and their reports are available for free. It takes a moment to register on their website, and from there you can download PDF files in various formats and pieces.

Mac Taylor has been running Moriana since 2000, and has built a nice track record with other reports using this format - you can see for yourself on the website.

I should also explain this is different from the standard industry studies that focus on market size, market share, etc. The title should explain why - "An Operator Guidebook to IMS". It's quite long and covers much more than the market basics.

The report has numerous sections that stand alone nicely, and here is a basic outline of the contents:

- Section A - Moriana Group's overall conclusions and summary of the research, along with an overview of the IMS architecture
- Section B - vendor analysis
- Section C - resource list of IMS applications
- Section D - IMS white papers from various industry sources
- Section E - Vendor profiles
- Section F - Detailed descriptions of IMS solutions

If you really want the lay of the land with IMS, this is a great one-stop shop, and the best part is you won't have to spend any money!

I've only reviewed the exec summary so far, and here are the key takeaways for me.

1. We're not there yet with IMS, and the long term value proposition may not be that great. Mac notes that Capex/Opex savings and ROIs will be less than what is being touted now. Furthermore, mobile carriers don't need IMS to do most of what they do today, even with 2.5G. Good examples cited are SMS and push to talk.

2. IMS features such as IM and presence only work within IMS networks. Most of the mobile world doesn't work this way, so it doesn't address issues relevant to the majority of end users.

3. Legacy networks will be with us for a while, and IMS is a long term play. Mac notes that it took 10 years for GSM and CDMA to reach wide adoption, and these standards will not be easily displaced.

4. IMS is an expensive, unproven proposition, and new alternatives continue to emerge that cost very little and are adopted very quickly. The usual suspects are cited - Skype, Yahoo IM, etc. It's early in the game yet, but IMS is not THE answer.

5. Distinctly different visions exist within the IP world about whether IMS is a good thing or a bad thing. The SIP purists view IMS as running contrary to their bedrock principals of Net freedoms and decentralized architectures. They believe IMS puts network control back in the hands of the operators, and will kill innovation and lead to less choice for subscribers. I certainly know a few people who feel very strongly about this - right Jeff? Right, Henry?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Canadian Telecom Policy Review - For Whom The Bell Tolls

Yesterday, Bell Canada issued its press release on their view of how telecom policy should unfold going forward.

Only in Canada can an incumbent put forward such a detailed, comprehensive proposal about how things should be done to modernize telecom rules and regs! The full submission weighs in at an astounding 1000 pages, and the summary alone is 64 pages. I don't know about you, but that's not a document I'm in any hurry to get into. That's what the lawyers are paid for, right?

To be fair, Telus - our other major incumbent - is of the same view, but they're not making nearly as much noise about it. This is understandable given that Telus is embroiled in a messy headline-grabbing labor dispute - mainly in its home turf in Western Canada - and can't devote as much bandwidth to matters in far-away Ottawa. So, this isn't entirely a Bell undertaking - but it sure looks that way.

True to form, Bell made sure the word was heard today during a 2 hour presentation here in Toronto, led by their uber regulatory advocate, Lawson Hunter. You have to give credit where credit is due - Bell does a great job of creating an accessible forum to hear their story, and engage the analyst community in dialog.

I'll leave it to the regulatory experts to dive deep into what this all means, but here are the key takeaways for me.

First, as per an earlier posting, this initiative strikes me as an end run around the CRTC. Bell is masterful at this, and is proactively trying to change the frame of reference by making telecom an issue about policy rather than the regs to enforce it. So, they're taking it to a higher plane of being strategic instead of tactical. To impart some local flavor, this is akin to the gay marriage debate. I believe the main reason why Canada now supports gay marriage is that those on the pro side were able to re-frame the issue from one of morality to one of legality. You can't legislate morality, but once gay marriage fell into the legal realm, the battle was over. In this context, the issue was reduced to a simple matter of human rights, something which Canada enshrines to an absurd degree. Game, set, match. Enough on that - back to Bell...

1. To make telecom a strategic issue, Bell has based their submission on the "productivity gap" argument, maintaining that we're falling further behind our G7 colleagues because we don't invest enough in information and communications technologies (ICT). There's definitely some credence to this, and they've backed it up with references to all kinds of studies quantifying our shortcomings. So, once you get the Federal government to buy into this, the scope broadens well beyond telecom and it then becomes an issue of economic policy. In Bell's view, ICT would become nothing less than a "national priority", under the direct leadership of the Prime Minister. The CRTC might as well pack up and go home.

2. Not only should ICT become a "national priority", but the government - oops, taxpayers - would be leading the charge to invest in ICT. Government, health care and education - all with but a few exceptions are 100% publicly-funded - are among our largest employers. What better place to start to whittle down the "productivity gap"? No doubt, the spirit of the message is noble - stimulate R&D in ICT, and putting our public institutions at the leading edge of efficiency. What forward-thinking government wouldn't want that?

Not only that, but they'll also be handing out generous tax credits and write-offs to suppport private sector ICT investment.

Don't get me wrong - it would be great to see all this happen. Just strikes me that our government is doing all the heavy lifting here. And Bell leads the way with all the wonderful technology and solutions to restore us to our rightful place as high tech world beaters. After all, it's their vision. And a good one at that - so long as there's room for everyone.

3. A regulatory framework driven by the magic of "market forces" instead of the need to ensure competition and choice for consumers. In this world, regulators would be reduced to policemen, merely monitoring and adjudicating misuses of market power. The CRTC would no longer make the rules - they'd just enforce them. And of course, looking after those lofty social issues like ensuring access of services to the disabled. Or taking care of messy things like interconnection. Bell is advocating that the big picture stuff be handled where it belongs - authorities like the Commissioner of Competition, and the Competition Tribunal, according to the Backgrounder brief they prepared.

4. These issues are simply too big for the CRTC now. Bell wants an "integrated" approach to telecom, with "consistent" rules for all the players. In principal, they are totally correct. We do need an overhaul of things here. Bell has carefully outlined its 7 "guidelines" for achieving this - all we have to do is sign on the dotted line and our troubles will be over. These guidelines all merit discussion, but not here. I just wanted to say they address the various shortcomings that all the incumbents saw in the May 12 ruling, and it's perfectly understandable from their point of view. The cablecos, of course, won't agree, and that's another conversation. Something tells me this story still has a few chapters to be written.

5. Finally, for the coup de grace, Bell has to show that the world is on their side. They went to great lengths to cite findings from a recent study showing that most consumers believe they have "adequate choice" for local phone service. Bell's argument for most of these issues is based on the premise that their market power is not absolute, and does not by default transfer to the VoIP world. So, research like this is a key benchmark to validate their position.

Not only that, but they also pointed out that consumer perceptions about choice are far more favorable for local phone service - 66% - than for cable service - 38%. Did I hear Ted Rogers say ouch? If I was Bell and had this data, I'd be using it this way too. After all, fair is fair, and we have to compete with whatever tools are available.

The saga no doubt will continue...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

It's Official - the Internet Rules

Great piece of research cited in the Globe & Mail yesterday showing how Canadians now spend more time online than any other form of media. It's something we all knew would happen, and it's nice to finally see some numbers to prove it. Of course, we're talking about the sweet spot for advertisers - the coveted 18 - 34 demographic. They're spending just under 15 hours a week online, compared to roughly 12 hours each for radio and television. The scary one for me is newspapers - only 2.5 hours a week. Gee - for every hour people spend reading the paper, they're spending 6 hours on the web. Must be all those bloggers out there sucking away newspaper readers.....

I'd love to see what those numbers looked like 10 years ago when the Internet started to happen, but TV and newspapers were no doubt much higher in terms of mindshare. Sure will be interesting to see how IP TV impacts this mix.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Seek and Ye Shall Find - Bell's GPS Wireless Service

Well, you can't say Bell Canada is all stodgy and safe. Bell Mobility has just launched Seek & Find - a GPS service to help parents sleep easier at night. This mobile LBS allows parents to track the whereabouts of their kids via their cellphones. They can even pretend they're at NASA Mission Control by monitoring them on the Internet.

Ok, sure it's a great safety feature to make sure the kids arrive at school or soccer, but you can certainly dream up all kinds of other uses that can really compromise privacy. No doubt suspicious spouses will find ways to use this to track wayward partners, and kids will find ingenious ways to confound their parent's efforts to put this electronic leash on them.

This sounds like one of those ideas that worked well in the focus groups, but am not sure it will turn out that way in real life. Having conducted countless focus groups over the years, I know how this plays out in the confines of a research setting, but I just see more potential for misuse than good use. Time will tell.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Huawei going after Marconi?

Quick post - this is an interesting story worth following. Building on their recent success with British Telecom, Huawei looks to be staking deeper roots outside its home market in a bid to become a major global IP player. I suspect they will ultimately be successful, and Marconi could turn out to be an important piece of the puzzle for them.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Bloggers Making News

Wanted to share some nice extended pieces that a couple of leading IP bloggers have had recently, namely Andy Abramson and Erik Lagerway.

Erik has been getting some nice recognition for an interview he recently conducted with Cisco's Cullen Jennings about SIP. There's a lot here, but the main idea is how peer to peer SIP is gaining momentum, especially within the IETF. This really helps build the case for SIP being the driver for open standards and enabling end-to-end IP on a scale to match and perhaps surpass Skype.

This raises another important point from the interview - as good as Skype is, it is still a closed system. Of course, the definition of "closed" when you talk about Skype is a matter of debate, but clearly, P2P SIP can reach a far wider community once all the stars line up.

Erik has posted the full-length interview with Cullen on his blog, which you can download as an MP3. It's a terrific listen, and Erik is a fine interviewer! The Reader's Digest version is also posted there in the form of a well-written article by Carolyn Schuk of Voxilla.

Andy is flying high these days. He was just featured in the in flight magazine of Southwest Airlines. Andy gets to talk about how VoIP fits into his digital lifestyle - it's a great way to get the IP story out to the broader population. Great going Andy! And don't forget, Andy is chairing the blogger's roundtable at Fall VON in Boston next month - definitely a must-see session.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Oakley's RZRWIRE - Shape of Things to Come - Right, Chief!

I'm not a gadget guy, but you gotta love this one from Oakley. The RZRWIRE integates Bluetooth wireless access to your cell phone into a cool pair of shades. Talk about lifestyle technology! I'll admit it's pretty geeky, but I have no doubt that the Sonys and Panasonics of the world will soon take this a few steps further and integrate communications technologies into all kinds of mainstream devices or appliances. IP for all seasons will soon become blase.

For those of you who remember Get Smart, the shoe phone was probably the most ingenious idea ever from a TV show, and the RZRWIRE isn't too far removed. Now if you really like Get Smart, you'll no doubt remember the "Laser Blazer". Just had to throw that in since it sounds like the RZRWIRE. C'mon - only Mel Brooks and Buck Henry would dream something like that up - the button on the blazer doubles as a high intensity laser that blows holes through buildings with a single push of the button. Boy, these guys were way ahead of Star Wars. I'll bet if you go back to some of these obscure episodes, you just might come up with the IP killer app we've all been waiting for.