Monday, April 30, 2007

Microsoft One Care Review - and Max Arnold's Blog

I've got a backlog of posts like this I'm trying to get done - product reviews, both by me, and my oldest son, Max.

I've posted reviews by Max before, but he's leapfrogged me, and recently started his own blog, which I must say is quite good. So, this is really two posts in one. First, it's a review of Microsoft OneCare, from a 14 year old's point of view. Microsoft has been involving me in some of their launches - including OneCare - and as a result, I've been using some of their products for review. Max has been using OneCare longer than me, so he's reviewed it first.

Secondly, I'd like to welcome Max to the blogosphere, and encourage you to read him. He's on my blog roll now, and all RSS feeds would be welcome as he's trying to generate some traffic. Stay tuned for his upcoming reviews of the Nokia n800, and later the N95 (mine too).

Plus, our long-discussed video blog is coming very soon, where Max and I will be doing tech reviews on We'll keep you posted.

Technorati tags: , ,

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mitel Acquires Inter-Tel for $723 Million

This story broke late yesterday, and I just wanted to draw attention to it. Not much public detail or blog coverage yet, but I think it's a good story. This is a $723 million deal, so it's not a small thing, and speaks loudly to Mitel's ambitions about becoming a bigger player in a rapidly growing market.

Mitel has long been a leading IP telephony vendor, especially in the small/mid size end of the enterprise market. Inter-Tel has a strong communications platform, and both companies are leading advocates of SIP and standards-based technologies.

It's another industry consolidation play, and will build two mid-tier players into a big, single mid-tier player who can dominate their space as well as better challenge the top tier vendors. Sounds like a good move for both companies, and it will be interesting to see how they combine their portfolios and manage joint customers.

Another angle to watch is how a private company absorbs a public company, especially with Mitel being Canadian and Inter-Tel being American. Also, Mitel has been on-again/off-again about going public, so this may be one way to address the issue, although my understanding is that Mitel will be remaining private.

For reference, I recently did a podcast with Don Smith, Mitel's CEO. He didn't tip his hand then about these plans, of course, but no doubt talks were underway at that time.

Technorati tags: , ,

Blogs, Baseball and a Bloody Sock - Why Not?

Just a quick post about a news item that combines a few things that I really like - baseball and blogging. Not so sure about the blood part, but just like Tommy Lasorda bleeds Dodger blue, it's only fitting that players for the Red Sox bleed red - right?

So, there's been a bit of a story brewing in the sports media that the fabled "bloody sock" from Curt Schilling during the 2004 ALCS Series against the Yankees - perhaps THE defining moment in Red Sox history - was bogus. You don't have to look far to find this story, along with the subsequent denials from the Red Sox to discredit this ridiculous claim. The more I think about it, this is sounding a bit like Verizon's patent claims - I digress.....

Well, this could be a lame excuse to talk about the Red Sox, who are off and running, and have a golden opportunity this weekend to stick it to the Yankees right in George's house - weather permitting. I won't deny that, but what I really want to post about is that the protagonist in this story - Curt Schilling - who we all know is outspoken and very media friendly (he's a regular on the Boston sports talk show scene)- also happens to have a blog. It's called 38 Pitches, where he blogs not just about baseball, but his personal life and his activities outside of baseball. If you're a gamer, you might already know this, as gaming is one of his passions, and 38 Studios is a venture he started up to develop games. It's all there on the blog if you want to poke around.

Back to the sock incident - they picked the wrong guy to accuse for a sensational story, and Curt has wasted no time putting up his personal take on the matter. Today's post, titled "Ignorance has its privileges", provides his rebuttal to this nonsense, along with his some criticism about the media in general, especially when the media itself becomes the story, as opposed to getting the story.

I've scanned the major U.S. sports sites, and while everyone is talking about this story, outside of the Boston sports media, Curt's post isn't being picked up. Either they're steering clear of it because they don't like the message - or they don't know what to make of jocks who blog (which may well be true). Or they don't know he's got a blog - which I would be surprised to learn. In any event, if ESPN was smart, they'd get an RSS feed going to my blog, at least for my Red Sox posts! :-))

There's a whole can of worms here around sports stars and celebrities who blog, since they're going to have a built-in following, and you never know what their real agenda is. That's another discussion, but I just wanted to tie in a few themes here, since this story just emerged the other day, and it happens to focus on a guy who blogs, and is pretty articulate in the first place, and just happens to play for the Red Sox.

I'm done - back to work...

Technorati tags: , , ,

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Mario Belanger - Avaya Canada and IP Telephony

On this week's podcast, my guest was Mario Belanger, President of Avaya Canada. I try to have a mix of large and small companies on my podcasts, and it was nice to hear how an incumbent vendor sees the market. Mario and I spoke about the state of IP telephony from Avaya's position, and the issues around getting enterprises to see the vision and value of IP as business transformation tool.

That's an ambitious agenda, but it's certainly one Avaya is banking on - as are other vendors. It's not easy migrating from PBX to IP PBX to business transformation - for both the vendors and the customers, but that's where IP is heading. There's a good story here, and I urge you to hear it for yourself.

You can download the podcast here, as well as read more about Mario. Enjoy.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Vonage - Rallying for the Little Guy - Will You Vote?

In the wake of Vonage's "permanent stay" reprieve this week, things are quickly falling into line as a David and Goliath story, and Vonage is taking up the mantle now in the name of competition, choice and free markets.

Yesterday, they launched a "national grassroots communications campaign to educate and mobilize consumers about preserving the freedom to choose their phone service provider." That pretty much says it all, and when you're fighting for your life, this is a pretty noble cause to initiate.

To get behind this, Vonage has launched a website, "Free to Compete", where you can hear what they really think, and more importantly, sign a petition. The site makes it very clear they think Verizon is trying to patent VoIP, and use analogies like "Can you patent an orange?". Well, of course you can't, so the logic makes sense, but - I couldn't resist - we're really talking apples and oranges here (and I don't mean Apple...). That's a bit of a stretch, but I will say that I don't think Verizon can patent VoIP, but it's a much grayer area than Mother Nature.

The site also mentions that Vonage has taken out full page ads in national papers about this, but being in Canada, I wouldn't see these, but I'll assume they're a variation of what's on the site.

Anyhow, so what is this petition all about? Well, if you go there thinking it's a vote for free competition and preserving choice for the consumer, you may be surprised. Those are the reasons I would go there, and those are solid reasons to be voting.

However, the petition is for Verizon to drop its case against Vonage. Well, that's very different in my eyes. Ultimately, yes, it's about choice - if you follow the logic that if Verizon wins, Vonage is out of business, and consumers have less choice. There's a lot of causal logic going on there, and Vonage needs to be careful that this doesn't come across as a pressure tactic to rally public support behind them to get Verizon to back down. Public sentiment may be favoring Vonage in the David/Goliath scenario, but am not sure it will be this favorable.

The campaign could work very well, but it could also backfire. What if people don't sign it? What if people are worried about somehow getting on Verizon's bad side by doing this, and their phone service or Internet service all of a sudden starts acting up? Do you really think Verizon will just stand by and ignore this initiative? Maybe they will - deliberately. Or maybe they'll launch their own counter effort to tell their side of the story. They've got pretty deep pockets, and am sure they don't like being painted as the bad guy. They do own these patents after all - for better or for worse.

I definitely have mixed feelings about using public forums like this to sway opinion and rally support. Vonage's survival cannot be regulated, and in a free market, consumers make their choices, and that's what determines who wins and who loses. If it comes down to who uses PR more effectively, Vonage might be on the right track here. Or they may not.

If the glove fits....

Technorati tags: , , ,

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Next Stop - IT360 Conference, Toronto

Trying to stay closer to home these days, and for a change, the next conference I'm participating in is here in my back yard.

Next week is the IT360 Conference and Expo here in Toronto. It's put on by IT World Canada, which is an affiliate of giant IDG. The IT focus isn't of much interest to me, but Linux World is part of this, so there's a strong Open Source element.

I'll be giving a presentation on Unified Communications on Tuesday, May 1, at 11am so if you're in the area, I'd love to see you there.

In terms of star power, there are two speakers I'm keen to see. One is author/consultant Don Tapscott, who will draw heavily on his latest book Wikinomics, and explore how technology is creating a more collaborative economy. Later that day, Digium's Kevin Fleming will talk about the future of Asterisk. And lucky me - my presentation is sandwiched between theirs, so I'm in pretty good company. Hope to see you there.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Vonage - I Made the Right Call - This Time, Anyway

Well, as it stands this afternoon, I made the right call about Vonage. Yesterday - and previously - I said Vonage would win, and so far, that's how it's turning out.

Vonage has wasted no time issuing a press release about getting a permanent stay, so they're free to continue signing up new customers, and doing "business as usual".

Investors are pretty happy, as their stock price has zoomed up 49% so far, up to $4.30 or so. Good time to buy - or sell? Depends on your timelines and greed factor, I guess.

Actually, I'll just comment that I hope Vonage DOESN'T go back to "business as usual", as Jeff Citron has been saying. That's exactly what's gotten them into this mess - they need to be doing business as UNusual. I've been talking to BusinessWeek about this today, and have been saying they have two very valuable assets right now - customers and cash. You got those two, and you should have a successful business. Seems to me they need to deploy these resources very differently now - not just to keep what they have, but to intelligently build on this going forward.

All I can say now is that they need some radical thinking to get this business right. To me, Verizon's case may be the best thing that's happened to them - it's a major wakeup call, and I don't think they'll get a second chance like this again.

Technorati tags: , , ,

XConnect Raises $12 Million - Validation for Peering

Very nice press release that went public today, so it's ok to talk about it now. XC Global Networks just got its first major capital raise, and at $12 million, this gives them some space to really move VoIP peering forward. XConnect has been a leading advocate of VoIP peering, a space that is a bit like session border controllers. It's new, not well understood, not clearly defined, and not extensively deployed yet by carriers. There are a number of players taking different approaches to peering, with different models, settlement mechanisms, and solutions.

Anyone following this space would recognize the familiar faces, such as Stealth and Arbinet, and moving further afield, Nominum and Neustar, and on the SBC front, NexTone and Acme Packet. They all have a place in the ecosystem, but I think we're going to see consolidation as the peering space matures into a real market.

With this funding, XC is certainly in a good spot to be a key driver, and stepping back a bit, it's a very good sign of confidence that peering is being seen as a business opportunity. IPOs in the IP communications market have been dicey, and VCs are being selective about their investments, not just because IPOs are no sure thing, but also because it's hard to find good business models in this market.

That said, peering has nowhere to go but up, and no doubt the VCs see parallels in the market Acme Packet is addressing in terms of being at the beginning of the uptrend. On that front, it's a big day for XConnect, and for the health of VoIP peering in general, let's hope there will be more funding announcements to come.

Disclaimer - I am an Advisor to XConnect, so I'm personally happy about this news. However, I've tried to make this post as objective as possible, and hopefully that's how it comes across.

Technorati tags: , ,

Monday, April 23, 2007

Iotum - New Presence Getting Validation

I haven't posted about Iotum for a while, but they're not hard to find these days, and they have some exciting news you should know about. Two things, actually, and both should go a long way to getting them on your radar. One is public, and the other is going to hit the wires this morning.

1. The Gold Standard in analyst firms - Gartner - has just named Iotum a "Cool Vendor" to watch in a new report titled "Cool Vendors in Enterprise Communications 2007". Doesn't get much better than that. This was announced late last week, and the press release is up on Iotum's website.

2. Gartner will certainly get them noticed in broader circles, but so will their latest deal. On Tuesday they will announce a partnership with Jajah to work together on their Talk Now solution that is being deployed now on the Blackberry. If you don't know Jajah, they recently hit the 2 million user mark, which is pretty amazing for a startup most people have never heard of. There are a lot of good angles to this story, but in essence, the combination delivers intelligent presence and low cost mobile calling to Blackberry users, which is enough of a story itself. This is a great mashup in the sense of bringing New Presence (Iotum's mantra) and Voice 2.0 together, seamlessly addressing two big problems facing mobility users - mobile presence and lower cost for making calls on the go.

So, what is New Presence, anyway? Well, if you're betting on companies like Iotum making it big (as I am), you have to see what they see - and more specifically what their CEO and visionary Alec Saunders sees. You can certainly scour his blog to gauge his thinking behind the concept, but it's probably more objective if you read what others are saying.

A lot of smart people have picked up on Alec's New Presence thinking, and I'll steer you to two posts in particular - MobileCrunch and Thomas Howe. This is all very much 2.0 stuff - Presence 2.0, Voice 2.0, Mobility 2.0 - you get the idea. It's all about adding value and peronalization to the mobile experience, and Iotum is way ahead of the pack on this one. And once people digest the news, it will be a no-brainer to see how powerful a combination this will be with Jajah riding over Blackberry. And that's really just the beginning.

Why do I say that? Presence is definitely hot now, and everyone is trying to build it into their applications and platforms. Most vendors see that it's important not just for wireline use, but wireless as well. Isn't that why Cisco acquired Orative? To extend their reach to mobility and strengthen their unified communications solution. And isn't that one of the reasons why Microsoft acquired Tellme? Sure, it's more about mobile search applications, but once you add presence to the mix, it becomes a whole lot more interesting.

That said, from what I know and have seen first hand, these vendors definitely see the value of presence, but are really just doing Presence 1.0. I recently attended Cisco's Channel Partner event, and last week I attended MetaSwitch's customer forum. Both were excellent events, and both are using presence to varying degrees in their solutions. But neither is doing what Iotum is doing, which really doesn't surprise me. They are bringing a lot of new functionality to the market, which is great, and for now, Presence 1.0 is probably sufficient. However, Iotum is doing Presence 2.0 today, and I suspect that's where the other vendors will follow - down the road. But by then, Alec and company will be on to Presence 3.0, and maybe the Senators will have won the Cup. Only then will Alec be a truly happy and fulfilled man....

Technorati tags: , , , ,

Vonage's Appeal Ruling - is The End Near?

Tomorrow - the 24th - Vonage's appeal ruling will be determined, so I'd say it's a pretty big day for them, and the VoIP space in general. If it all goes Verizon's way, even I'd say Vonage will be hard pressed to remain a going concern - at least they way they do business today. If it goes their way - which I think it will - they'll have some options, but will still be pretty deep in the woods.

I've been commenting about this story pretty regularly, and just want to reiterate my position, which I suspect is largely in the minority - Vonage will win tomorrow, and get a second life, so to speak. Let's see how it unfolds.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Marketers Finding Value in Social Networking

Looks like mainstream marketers are picking up on social networking - which covers a lot of ground - and how it can be used to improve their programs as well as get richer, more direct feedback/input from customers. Industry bellwether Advertising Age just ran a nice article today about this, and cited you know who - Andy Abramson - and his use of blogger relations programs for his clients. Regular readers of my blog will know exactly what I'm referring to here - and if you don't, please drop me a line, and I'll explain.

The article also highlighted one of Andy's clients - Grand Central - as an example of how they engaged key bloggers early on to get input before taking their offering to a wider audience.

Very nice to see all this hard work and pioneering use of new media to get such mainstream attention. We could all get used to that.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Friday, April 20, 2007

MetaSwitch - Harley Time....

Last night was MetaSwitch's party, held at the Harley-Davidson dealership. Even here, it seems like a slice out of DisneyWorld, but is sure was fun, and brought out the inner biker in everyone.

This is definitely Harley-land - home of the brave, God bless our troops, and hold the quiche, please. In this world, men are men, women look great in leather, and geeks - well, they play pool in the back and drink wine. Once inside, it didn't take long for all the requisite tunes to kick in and set the mood - Born to be Wild, Allman Bros., Bob Seger - you get the idea....

I had no idea that SO many women were into tatoos - even if they're not real.....

There's always a Canadian connection....

Why would anyone want to drive a car after taking all this in? No doubt, bikers have more fun. Way to go, MetaSwitch - great party! As Ahh-nawld would say, "I'll be bahhk...."

Technorati tags: ,

MetaSwitch Customer Forum - Day 2

Lots of good sessions yesterday, with various product and strategy roadmaps from MetaSwitch's executive team. What happens in Orlando stays in Orlando, so that's all I'm going to say about that. The only thing I'll share with you is that MetaSwitch has some forward thinking ideas about new applications and how they are supporting their customers. Their UC9000 conference server is a sign of things to come, and there was a public announcement about their MarketVisions initiative, which I think is a great idea. You can read more about it in the press release.

Otherwise, I'll let my Nokia N93 cameraphone do the talking. Vendor exhibits were a nice feature too, and the traffic was really strong.

Got one more post coming from the party last night - stay tuned.


Andy Randall, John Lazar

Exhibiting vendors - MetaSwitch, Minerva and a couple of Canadians - Aastra and Soma.





Empty cans - no particular reason - just liked the way they looked sitting there on a tray...


For 5 minutes I got to be a nature photographer. Check out this Gecko (I think that's what it is) perched on a tree. Very neat...


Technorati tags: ,

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Acme Packet Equity Coverage

Colleague Catharine Trebnick has been covering IP communications companies for many years, and certainly has a good perspective on technology trends. Currently, she�s a Research Associate with FTN Midwest Securities, and they just initiated coverage of Acme Packet.

She�s put together a nice report on them, which I�ve had a chance to review. Basically, her view is positive and sees Acme as having a defensible niche for session border controllers. The report tags Acme as a buy, with a target price of $18.55.

There has been an ongoing concern that SBC functionality will be subsumed by other network elements such as routers, gateways and firewalls. To some extent this is happening, and Catharine explores all these scenarios and the various SBC architectures. However, her view � which is similar to mine � is that Acme has built up sufficient traction with Tier 1 carriers, and they continue to build out the platform, making it an even stronger offering that will be difficult to displace.

Another concern often voiced is whether Acme can sustain its high margins and profitability, which was a key factor behind the success of their IPO. Catherine sees an inevitable decline coming in these metrics, but not enough to derail the company or their growth prospects. One of the key reasons is that this is still an early stage market, and growth will come from two sources. First are the existing customers � which Acme has in spades � who will keep buying from them as they continue to transition traffic from TDM to IP. Second is the untapped market, which is even larger, and Acme is as well positioned as anyone to capture their share as SBCs become a must-have for carriers getting into IP.

Not only do they have the dominant solution for Tier 1 carriers, but they have now come to market with a disaggregated offering where the media and signalling pieces are offered separately. This gives them more options to sell into the much broader market populated by the Tier 2/3 carriers. This remains to be seen, but they clearly understand that this end of the market has different needs than Tier 1 carriers.

Catharine�s report also does a nice job outlining the competitive landscape, which is broader than you might think. There�s discussion there about what the telecom vendors have been doing with SBCs, as well as who the other major players are. She notes that NexTone is Acme�s strongest competitor, and is next in line in this space for an IPO. No argument there.

If you want to follow up with Catharine about her report, feel free to contact her directly.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

MetaSwitch Customer Forum - Day 1

Am in Orlando this week at MetaSwitch's Customer Forum. Today's focus was a mix of hands-on sessions and market-focused panels. Everything I've seen so far has been very well done, and they've certainly attracted a strong turnout. The session I moderated on enhanced services was packed, so there's definitely interest in these topics.

Most of the attendees are customers - typically Tier 2/3 CLECs. They all have similar challenges, and it's a great way to build community. There's also a small exhibitor showcase, but that's not until tomorrow.

Most interesting thing so far was the lunchtime keynote by Bill Blessing of Embarq. It's always tough to get people's attention during lunch, but on top of that, lunch was outside, and Bill only spoke - no slides. It actually came off very well, and he covered a lot of ground related to the realities carriers face transitioning to IP. Some of his messaging wasn't exactly pro-VoIP, so I came away with mixed feelings, but after all, big carriers are in a different boat, so they have needs too.

I'll leave it at that for now, and will pass on a few photos taken with my Nokia N93.

Morning sessions on Unified Messaging and hosted PBX


Bill Blessing speaking at lunch. No, we're not deep in bayou country, but it sure looks that way. DisneyWorld is around the corner, after all, so settings like this aren't so hard to believe around here.


Hotel views - looking out from my balcony, and the atrium inside


Technorati tags: ,

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Craig Betts and Intelligent Content Routing

On this week's podcast, my guest was Craig Betts. He's the Founder/CEO/President of Solace Systems, which is based in Ottawa, one of Canada's major tech hubs. Actually, they're based in Kanata, but for most people, Ottawa will suffice.

Craig's company focuses on intelligent content routing, which is something I haven't had much exposure to, so this was a good learning experience. Basically, Craig explained how solutions like his help service providers and enterprises better manage the flow of content over IP networks. This means a lot of things, such as speed, scale, reliability, security, and intelligent routing. Better for Craig to explain this, which he does quite well during the podcast. We also touched on where he sees the market going, especially in terms of shifting from real-time data to multimedia, which is far more complex.

You can download the podcast here, as well as read more about Craig and Solace Systems.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Monday, April 16, 2007

Vonage - More Bad News - No Workaround In Sight

This ran in today's USA Today, and is not good news for Vonage - ugh.

Reading this article makes it very clear that it's going to be all or nothing with this Verizon patent claims issue. The language they're using indicates that if it all goes Verizon's way, Vonage simply does not have a future.

This just shows you how much their backs are to the wall. At this point, without a workaround, they have to convince the judge and jury that these broad, sweeping patent claims are indefensible, and that in essence, Verizon didn't invent and doesn't own VoIP. I think they have to bet the farm on it, and my guess is they will win.

Admitting they have no workaround may in fact, be true, but the way it's positioned now, this seems like a gambit to raise the stakes and show how one-sided this thing really is. If the ruling totally favors Verizon, then Vonage's days are numbered. And once that happens, they'll be emboldened to go after the cablecos. They could go after the other VoIP pureplays, but that won't be necessary, since once Vonage is vanquished, the others will simply go away on their own (mind you, 8x8 is rightly making a lot noise lately about all of its patents, so they may be spared).

The potential domino effect here is ominous, and while I don't think it will all come to pass, the possibility alone should be enough for the judge/jury to see things in a more balanced light. If Verizon gets all the spoils, competition would be crushed, the price of VoIP will surely increase, and consumers would have less choice and less innovation.

The plot thickens...

Hat tip to Alec Saunders on the USA Today story. And if you're wondering how the bad weather looks in Ottawa today, you gotta check his blog...

Technorati tags: , , ,

Friday, April 13, 2007

Nokia N95 - Not What the Wireless Carriers Had in Mind

It's been a Vonage-centric week for me, and I increasingly seem to be the go-to guy for the media when they make news (as you can see from my most recent media citings listed on the right side of this blog page).

Between that and project work, I'm a bit behind on other stuff, but wanted to comment on an item from yesterday that caught my eye.

Being part of the Nokia N Series blogger relations program, I get to trial some pretty cool phones. The latest is the N95, which I don't have yet, but others do. That said, I don't have to have the phone in hand to understand what N95 users are rightfully complaining about.

Andy Abramson posted yesterday about what's going on. The N95 has a lot of great features, with WiFi and Internet telephony being key. Well, it looks like some European mobile operators are disabling the N95's capabilities to make VoIP calls. Just basic self-interest at play here, of course. Why divert profitable minutes off your 3G networks to providers who are basically enabling free mobile calls?

So, just because you can do that, does it mean you should? That's the bigger question, and the one we really have be wary of. Oligopolies often behave in a manner that serves their interests first, and they do it because they can. With WiFi networks springing up like mushrooms, it's only a matter of time before mobile VoIP goes mainstream, and if you alienate the early adopter, you'll surely lose them when everyone is doing this. It's really no different from what the landline operators have gone through, and they're paying big time now that the cable operators have come to market with great VoIP and attractive bundles. History is going to repeat itself with wireless VoIP, and the incumbents can only put things off for so long.

Until that time comes, subscribers will be shortchanged, and downright angry when they lay out good money for breakthrough phones like the N95, only to find out the operators don't want them using some of the best features. Truphone is one of the mobile VoIP operators being affected by this, and there's a nice video on their blog that explains this in more detail.

Looks like this is a case where it doesn't pay to be ahead of the market, and maybe the N95 is here too soon. I would say the opposite, actually. WiFi is here today, and the sooner handset vendors bring these types of devices to market, the more consumers will realize that carriers aren't playing fair ball. It will take more than a few early adopters from the blogosphere to get the carriers to cry Uncle, so the sooner the better, I'd say.

Speaking of the Nokia N95, colleague Alec Saunders posted his review earlier today. He's a tecchie par excellence, and his review is really great, covering all the cool things you'd want to know about this fabulous phone. Can't wait to get mine, and will share my thoughts ASAP.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Kate Morgan - Business Uses for Podcasts

For my current podcast, we talked about... podcasting. Never done one like this before, but why not. My guest was Kate Morgan. She's a Toronto-based entrepreneur, and her company, Podwise Social Media, is all about helping companies use new media tools like podcasts and blogs to build their businesses.

Kate and I talked about various facets of blogging - what works, what doesn't work, how best to use them, etc. She also provided good examples of how she's using them with her clients, especially in helping personalize their business for their customers. If you want to learn more about this and how Kate is building a business around this, you'll find this podcast of interest.

You can download the podcast here, as well as read more about Kate.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vonage Speaks - Want to be Their CEO?

How's that for an opening to this morning's investor call???

Vonage had three spokespeople this morning - CEO - then Chairman - now interim CEO Jeff Citron, Sharon O'Leary and John Rego.

Jeff did most of the talking - no surprise there - and the first order of business was to announce that effective yesterday, Mike Snyder has stepped down as their CEO, and a replacement search is underway immediately. Any takers? Talk about an opportunity for a turnaround artist... or perhaps someone more aligned with where Jeff Citron wants to take the company.

It's not clear to me if this was Mr. Snyder's decision or the board's, but Jeff explained it was in the best interests of the company to do this. Until a replacment is found, Jeff will be the interim CEO.

Of course, by law, Jeff Citron can no longer be the CEO of a public company, so "interim" is the operative word here. Vonage may be his baby, but for now, he probably doesn't have much choice.

The call was barely 30 minutes, and there were 2 other key takeaways of note, and I'll also comment on some of the secondary items.

- Vonage will be doing internal restructuring and consolidating, both operationally, and on its marketing activities. No surprise there, but Jeff said this would include Canada and international operations, and would result in a $30 G&A reduction. No details were provided, but I could see that translating into closing down these operations, which would be bad news for Canada, and maybe even my Vonage line. Hmmm. Would they continue to provide service outside the U.S.? I hope so - and not just for my sake. Building Vonage into a global brand - "the world's broadband telephone company" - so to speak - is certainly one path they could take going forward, but I don't know if they're thinking that way. Doesn't look like it.

Operationally, it's mostly about cutting back on the marketing spend. Jeff said the 2007 spend will be down by $110 million from last year, and will come in at $310 million. That's still almost $1 million a day, but it is coming down. In short, he said they will have fewer new customers, but they'll come at a lower cost.

Jeff also explained that much of their marketing spend is "highly variable", and to get this down, they will cut channels and programs that are bringing in "marginal" customers. Sounds like a plan to me.

-Sharon provided a high level summary of the litigation issues and their take on things. At face value, she explained how they feel Verizon's allegations are too broad and not directly related to the technologies Vonage is using. She noted how Verizon's blanket allegations were pushed through and accepted wholesale by the judge in far less time - an hour - than the norm, and the technology was not reviewed or explained in enough detail to make a fair assessment. Well, if she's right, and if after a more balanced consideration is given to the case, and the jury sees it this way, then there's hope for Vonage. That would sure change things, at least for Vonage.

Being based in Canada, I can't help but notice the parallels here to the Conrad Black trial going on Chicago. That's another post in itself, but not today.

Some other items and dates of note she shared....

- 3 of 5 claims from VZ were upheld - 2 for address translation and 1 for wireless - the other 2 claims were rejected
- VZ has until Friday to file for a permanent injunction on VG
- VG has until the 17th to reply to this application
- court will decide at 10am on April 24
- she expects the appeals process to take 1.5 to 2 years

Otherwise, there some basic facts and figures worth passing on...

- Q1 revenues were $195M - up 63% from a year ago
- ARPU is expected to stay flat - that's not what I wanted to hear
- Q1 reported 2.39 million lines, with 332,00 adds
- Q1 marketing spend was $91M - down from $96M in Q4
- Q1 customer acquistion cost was $275 - wow! - but down $31 from Q4
- Q1 churn has stabilized at 2.4%
- Q1 cash balance was $420 million
- full earnings release coming in May
- expect $140 million in savings coming from these new initiatives

Jeff summed up by saying it's business as usual for now, but results have not been meeting expectations, so these changes are needed. They will also continue on finding workarounds to VZ, and he would only say that "these will take time". Your guess is as good as mine as to whether they are hot or cold in terms of having anything here.

There was some interesting dialog during the Q&A, but mostly cautious commentary. When asked about a profitability timetable, Jeff said it was too early to say how the 5.5% royalty scenario will impact earnings. Fair enough. I don't think profitability is Vonage's biggest problem right now, but this is what financial analysts want to know, and they were asking almost all the questions.

I tried repeatedly to get in the queue for questions, but never got the go ahead, which is too bad. Especially toward the end when they asked if there were any other questions out there, and then quickly said there were none, so it was time go. Arghh. Maybe they don't want to hear from Canada - or maybe Canadian area codes don't get picked up at their end. I'm reaching here, I know - and for the record, I was dialing in on a Vonage line. Needless to say, I wanted to ask Jeff what "consolidation" will mean for Vonage Canada. Guess we'll know soon.

Oh, two other Q&A items of note...

- good question about how the VZ claims differ from Sprint. They explained that Sprint's were more specific to Vonage's technology, whereas VZ's was a blanket claim and very general. Sharon also commented that the motivations behind each claim were different, but didn't elaborate other than saying with Sprint, a business arrangement is a more likely outcome than a legal settlement. Hmmm. Could that be a clue about Vonage's future???

- finally, the best question - I thought - came from fellow analyst, Daniel Berninger. Figures - the best questions come from the industry analysts, right? :-)) Anyhow, Daniel asked what I wanted to ask as well - why Vonage? To understand behavior and root cause you have to start with a motive. Why did VZ go after VG, and not someone else? I've said my piece on this already, but since you've got Jeff on the phone, you have ask, right? Well, we got nada on this one from Mr. Citron - "you'll have to ask Verizon". Maybe I should, but I suspect they'll tell me to go ask Vonage.

Back to work...

Technorati tags: , , ,

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Unified Communications Podcast - MetaSwitch

I've had a number of posts recently regarding the Unified Communications Strategies portal, and some of the content I've contributed there. Most recently was a podcast done by Blair Pleasant, interviewing me about Unified Communications.

Since then, I did a podcast of my own with Andy Randall of MetaSwitch, where we talked about their UC9000 conference server, and how applications related to UC figure into their product mix. Pretty interesting stuff, and it was just posted to the UCS portal the other day. I'm still in catch-up from last week's Cisco event, so I'm just getting around to posting about it now. Hope you like it.

Technorati tags: , , ,

What Will Vonage Do Next? Find Out Thursday...

Anyone following the Vonage/Verizon saga knows there's a lot of uncertainty right now, but clearly, Vonage is under siege, and they're going to have to come up with a solid game plan. Not only do they need to figure out an alternative to Verizon's patents, but they have to keep their customers in-house, and create a reasonable degree of comfort with shareholders and investors that they have a plan and that the house isn't falling down.

In short, for better or worse, the patent issue is catching up to them, and they've lost their mojo in terms of being a cool, innovative disruptor. It's very hard to see how they - or just about anybody - can make a go of things in today's VoIP market as a landline replacement service.

VoIP has SO MUCH more to offer, and while they've gotten the low hanging fruit, getting the rest is going to take a bit more, and the only thing getting in the way of that is innovation and creativity - either with the basic voice offering, or the cool IP services/apps you can build around that.

So, what is Vonage going to do? We're all dying to know, so here's your chance. They're holding an investor call this Thursday at 8am, EST. This could be the most important public statement they'll ever make, and is a classic scenario for their PR firm - WeberShandwick - to earn their keep. Let's see how it goes.

Here's what you need to know to get on the call...

"Vonage announced it will hold an investor update conference call on Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 8:00 AM ET. To participate, please dial (800) 289-0533 approximately ten minutes prior to the call. International callers should dial (913) 981-5525. The call will be simultaneously webcast and accessible via Vonage's Investor Relations website at A replay of the call will be available on Vonage's Investor Relations website shortly following the webcast for two weeks."

To set the stage, here's a quote from a recent press release that I think says a lot about how they're positioning this....

"Vonage also continues to believe that this case is an attempt to do in the court room what Verizon could not succeed in doing in the marketplace -- which is to put Vonage out of business."

Can't be any more in your face than that. The gloves are off, and let's see what David can do against Goliath....

Technorati tags: , , ,

Monday, April 9, 2007

Verizon Boxing Vonage into a Corner

Friday's news about the Verizon injunction on Vonage is not good news unless you don't like competition. I was in transit most of Friday, and haven't been able to comment about it directly until now, and I'm sure you've already followed as much of the story as you care to.

That said, the media did find me Friday morning, and before leaving for the airport, I managed to do one print story for Business Week and a radio spot for CBS Radio about the news.

I don't have a clip of the CBS Radio segment, but it would have played nationally throughout the day. If you caught it, please let me know - I'd love to know how it turned out.

The Business Week story did run on Friday, so that will give you a sense of my initial reaction to the news.

Finally, the week before, I was interviewed about the Verizon/Vonage situation by IT Business Edge, and you can read it here from their website. Michael Lindenberger, one of their writers, referred to the interview in his blog post on Friday, so he's added an update to my perspective.

All of this coverage took place before news of the reprieve on this injunction later on Friday, so it looks like Vonage has a bit of breathing room. But not much.

Taking all this into account, though, it's still not clear to me just how restrictive this injunction is - or could be.

- Can Vonage pursue new customers in the business/SOHO market, where Verizon isn't really selling VoIP?

- Can Vonage pursue new customers outside of Verizon's geographic footprint?

- Can Vonage pursue new business outside the U.S.? Of course, I'm thinking in particular about Canada. What are the implications here?

I suspect that all of these are/could be off limits to Vonage, and that's a pretty tough spot to be in. Ultimately, if the courts rule in Verizon's favor - regardless of how real or frivolous these patent claims really are (and that looks to be very debatable) - Vonage will likely be the author of its own demise. In that event, you could conclude one of three things - i) they underestimated Verizon's claims, ii)they didn't see this coming at all, or iii) they were aware of its potential, but gambled Verizon would never make a case of it - or never thought they would be able to make a case of it. You could also argue they never would have expected Verizon to take such an anti-competitive stance and use this as a basis to put them out of business. But that sure looks like what's happening.

Maybe I'm the eternal optimist, and maybe I'm the only one holding out hope for Vonage, but they do have one thing going for them that could come into play if they can somehow devise a workaround and keep going independent of Verizon. Being a virtual operator, they can do business wherever they can get last mile access, and are not limited by the footprint of a wireline network.

As mobility continues its ascendancy, this factor becomes less important, but still, I think this can be a virtue for Vonage. I may be grasping at straws, and lacking a network is the true Achilles Heel of any virtual operator --- but if they can somehow extract themselves from this mess, they certainly have many options to do business and steer very clear of Verizon.

I realize network access is a different issue from this litigation, but ultimately, Verizon is trying to bury Vonage, and this is the only way they can really go after them. If Vonage can survive this, I'm sure they'll find ways to do business with anybody but Verizon. And if they can't, Verizon will only succeed in hurting the biggest VoIP pureplay. They don't have a monopoly on VoIP, and everyone else in the game will find ways to do business without them.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Cisco Partner Summit - Final Thoughts/Photos

I've had a chance now to get some photos uploaded as well as reflect on the past few days. An interesting part of the summit was the Technology and Solutions Forum, which had an array of vendors exhibiting all kinds of applications/solutions that are supported by Cisco. The variety speaks to the breadth of their partner ecosystem, and I got a chance to get a few short demos. I've included some photo highlights at the end of this post, courtesy of my Nokia N93.

Before getting to that, I wanted to comment on the presentations made on the last day of the summit. One of the things that stood out for me during these was the thesis put forward by author Marcus Buckingham earlier in the day. It took a while to understand how his message was relevant to the audience - Cisco channel partners - but it did sink in, and it has a lot of merit. Basically he's saying you should focus on your strengths - that's what's going to make you successful - as opposed to devoting a lot of timing improving on your weaknesses - which he contends will always be weaknesses, so don't bother. Well, maybe - but I do agree, you can't be great at everything, so might as well be exceptional at what you're good at.

That's the feeling I got walking about at the Technology and Solutions Forum. This was where the event seemed very alive, and you could just sense there are a lot of really good companies doing interesting things things under this umbrella. Of course, Cisco does a lot of things very well, including putting on a great event, and on such a large scale.

Reflecting on this, though, Cisco isn't exceptional at everything, and a couple of things came to mind here on the marketing front. I don't know their CMO, Sue Bostrom, but it looks to me like she had a lot to do with Cisco's new branding, which for the most part is pretty good. Definitely like how they�ve dropped �Systems� from their name � it�s all about selling the company and the Cisco brand, and not IT systems.

She actually talked about how Cisco is now looking to come up with a sound that people can associate with their visuals - an audio logo, so to speak. A bit like the sound Windows makes every time you log on, or the bootup chime that Nokia phones make. Those are instantly recognizable, and are a big part of those brand identities. Cisco is looking to do the same, and I can see the logic there. It will be interesting to see what kind of a sound they come up with. Nothing really comes to mind for me right now - any ideas out there?

On that note, however, there were some other marketing/branding nuances at the summit that didn�t really work for me. It�s clear that Cisco is positioning itself to be a major global brand, and well they should. After all, this is a global summit, and a lot of channel partners in attendance were from outside North America. That said, there was pervasive imagery at the summit in their posters and visuals with global themes, but they were very heavy on third world images. Lots of exotic looking people, vibrant colors and rustic/primitive settings. There was lots of first world imagery too � astronauts and wide-eyed kids, but that�s not what I�m getting at here.

Some images showed people in far away places using cellphones and laptops, but a lot didn�t. They could have come straight out of National Geographic. Cisco may have a global reach, but I can�t see them being that relevant to people working in rice patties or standing at the edge of a river. I think it�s 3-5 years too soon for Cisco to be seen as a company that touches this many lives around the globe. To me, they should have just stuck to imagery from urban settings in emerging markets, showing shopkeepers, merchants, teachers, etc. � people who are more likely to touched today by the human network Cisco is evangelizing.

This is just my opinion, and I wanted to state it in the context of Marcus Buckingham�s thesis. In other words, stick to what you do best, like the Technology Forum � that�s clearly a strength. Cisco seems to do this better than anyone, along with many other things. Global branding is much trickier to do, and I think Cisco is trying too hard right now to come across as this warm, benevolent enabler of human potential for the entire planet.

That didn�t work for me at the event, but I can see them getting there in a few years time. It�s not a weakness in the sense of what Marcus is saying, but this type of global branding doesn�t strike me as quite right yet. I think you had to be there to have heard Marcus�s message amidst all of Cisco�s messaging from their executives and visionaries to follow what I�m saying. So, if they�re listening, my suggestion is to keep the global branding ideas a little closer to today�s reality.

If you get that right � as John Chambers says about what�s happening now to Cisco � �the market has come to us� � then the rest of the world will follow. I think he�s right � the market has come to Cisco, and I�m certain that if they execute on their vision, they will become that truly global brand that makes the world a better place.

And that ties in nicely to the motif of the whole summit event that ran through all the presentations � �Aspire. Achieve.� Two simple words, but a powerful message, and if you dream big, anything is possible. And that�s what the human network is all about.

I do see that, and actually think there�s something to this, and yes, Cisco seems to be the right kind of company to make this possible. As any die-hard Red Sox fan would say, �you gotta believe�. I know � I just know - that these ideas will work here in Las Vegas, where the distinction between fantasy and reality is almost impossible to make. The true test for me will come when I get home and tell all this to Max, my 14 year-old cyber whizkid. If he thinks it�s for real, then it�s time to buy Cisco stock�.


The UC500 - Cisco's SMB UC solution-in-a-box, announced at the summit.


Very nice demo here with IBM, showcasing their Sametime integration with Cisco, and supported by Radvision for videoconferencing. My photo of their display screen shows two video screens and a softphone during a video call we did on the fly. I'm in the bottom video inset, taking the picture of the screen.


Demo of Cisco's UC capabilities for mobility - which worked very well.


Digital signage - something Cisco is talking up quite a lot, and I think is going to become popular. It's pretty neat to see how these signs can change content on the go, depending on how they're programmed.


IP video surveillance - another example of how Cisco is extending to all forms of media


Lots more to explore here...


Technorati tags: ,

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Cisco Partner Summit - Day 3

Just a short post, as the Cisco summit just finished up. The day has been a blur, and I have photos still to post, but that may not come for a day or so.

This afternoon was a series of keynotes from senior Cisco execs, along with author Marcus Buckingham. The messaging was largely about reinforcing the primacy of channel partners to Cisco's success, and there must have been at least 2,000 of them there. Lots of messaging about the human network and how we're at an inflection point of IT becoming much more relevant to our daily lives.

Being Las Vegas, there was a Trekkie moment during Sue Bostrom's preso (their CMO) as she talked about how things like Telepresence have Star Trek qualities. Then, out of ether, Leonard Nimoy himself - Dr. Spock appeared! They had some corny dialog, and it was a lot of fun. He sure was a good sport! Too bad they had a ban on taking photos - I wasn't happy about having to leave my cameraphone off for these sessions. That was fun...

John Chambers gave his usual evangelical mantra and really got across the vision Cisco is trying to bring to the market, and how the channels have an unprecedented opportunity ahead of them. Interestingly, there was some messaging - not just in his talk - about how Cisco actually needs to be better known, which I found pretty interesting. He really got the point across about how Cisco has become the #1 vendor across 12 IT categories, and how no company has achieved this breadth of dominance in tech. Very strong focus on Web 2.0 and collaboration as being the drivers of growth, which was great to hear.

Also, John walked us through some very illustrative demos about how various Cisco solutions - like Telepresence and digital signage - will personalize our daily experiences. They recreated the experience of going to a ball game with all the Cisco touchpoints. I thought it was really well done, and especially liked how they got the baseball tickets to be sent to your cell phone and that actually served as your admission to the game. No printouts required. Very neat.

They're closing things down here, so that's all for now. Photos coming soon. Great conference - and next year it's Hawaii. Sure hope I'm in their good books for that one....

Technorati tags: ,

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Cisco Partner Summit - Day 2

It's been a full day at the Cisco Partner Summit, and I've already said everything I've wanted to say. Just wanted to share some photos of the various presentations for a flavor of what the event has been like. Photos courtesy of my Nokia N93.

This is a large scale, slickly-produced operation. Feels as much like a concert as it does a conference. With a few thousand channel partners here in the room, you have to hope someone is minding the store for all these people back home!




Charlie Giancarlo is always great to watch. He opened things up with one of his video productions, which are really funny and well done. He plays himself 20 years in the future, and is talking to his grandson about the history of Cisco and how technology has evolved. Nobody drives or flies any more - everything is done via Telepresence - of course! At this point in time, Cisco owns everything, and the grandson asks whatever happened to Microsoft? Grandpa Charlie wistfully looks into the distance and says "we didn't acquire them - they were too small". Too funny. Sorry Mr. Gates - all in good fun.


Very nice demo here about a health care application for UC500 - Cisco's new solution in a box for SMBs.


Talking about Cisco's unified communications platform along with a Telepresence demo.


Best of both worlds. A real time video call done using Cisco between a Mac and a PC. Very effective.


John Chambers during the press/analyst Q&A session.




Technorati tags: ,

Cisco Partner Summit - Canadian Highlights

I wanted to do a separate post about the Canadian angle of Cisco's Partner Summit. Yesterday, one of the sessions was just for and with the Canadian participants - Cisco Canada, some key channel partners and the analysts/press corps.

One of the key items from this session was the fact that 100% of the Canadian business goes through channels. It's about 80% in the U.S., so channel partners are even more important in Canada.

Another important point is that SMB is more prominent in Canada than the U.S., making Cisco's focus on this segment particularly relevant. Canada has a higher concentration of large enterprises, and a lower incidence of large companies with nation-wide office locations. Conversely, Canada has a higher proportion of businesses that are either small or medium - especially small. Some 90% of all businesses in Canada have under 5 employees, so up here, small is really small.

Later on, there was an awards event to recognize the leading channel partners in Canada. Titled the 2006 Channel Partner Awards, 11 companies were recogized, and really showcased the variety of business environments that Cisco Canada is serving. It's especially interesting to note the presence of major service providers in this mix, including cable - Bell, Telus, Rogers and Sasktel.

The press release isn't posted yet, but here's an excerpt listing out the winners:

o Top Advanced Technology Partner: Longview Systems
o Top Security Partner: Rogers Communications Inc.
o Top Wireless Partner: HP Canada
o Top Innovation Partner: SaskTel
o Top Foundation Partner: Compugen Inc.
o Top Enterprise Partner: IBM Canada Ltd.
o Top Public Sector Partner: Bell Canada
o Top Commercial Partner: TELUS
o Top Services Partner: UNIS LUMIN Inc.
o Top Customer Satisfaction: CCSI Technology Solutions Corp. (CCSI)
o Top Unified Communications Partner: IBM Canada Ltd.

Technorati tags: , ,

Can Cisco Conquer the SMB Market?

I'm at the 2007 Cisco Partner Summit in Las Vegas this week. Cisco sure knows how to put on a show, and this is a pretty big scale operation. Yesterday's sessions were pretty intimate though, and it was a great chance to hear about Cisco's vision for supporting their channel partners (and they're here in the thousands), as well as what they have in mind for the SMB market.

I've got a few posts coming, and this one just focuses on the SMB sessions from yesterday. We saw a number of presentations about the SMB market opportunity and how Cisco plans to attack it in concert with their channel partners. They pointed out that it only generates $1.5 billion for them today, but longer term, they think it will surpass their enterprise sales, which is a pretty bold statement. Their view is that SMBs are now ready to be "transformed" by IT the way enterprises have already been transformed.

To make this happen, they've announced a number of SMB initiatives. First and foremost is the "Cisco Smart Business Communications System". That's a mouthful, but it's basically a complete SMB solution in a box (UC 500) that brings the whole unified commmunications experience to this market - voice, video, data, mobility, security, VPN, etc.

As Rick Moran explained, this solution "leverages the best of Cisco's enterprise business" down to the SMB level, and most importantly, it's easy to use. It was often pointed out how this can be up and running, out of the box, in 15 minutes. That's pretty impressive, and as Rick said - the best line I've heard here so far - "it's plug and play - not plug and pray". Great point - that really resonated with the audience.

Perhaps the most promising aspect of this Cisco-in-a-box solution is its support of third party apps. They cited big name examples like Microsoft CRM 3.0 Connector, and Outlook integration, but I think the fun stuff will be in their support of lesser-known specialized apps, especially those targeted at vertical markets. Richard MacLeod and Vikas Butaney gave a great example of this with IPcelerate, and their demo for a health care solution.

To support the channels for selling to SMBs, they've announced a new program for them, called Select Certification. This shows their understanding that selling to SMBs requires a distinct set of competencies and resources. A big part of this, actually, is finding skilled people who can support SMBs. It was often mentioned that this type of talent is in short supply, and Cisco will be focused on helping channel partners find and support this pool of people. I think is a great example of why Cisco is so effective in supporting it channel partners.

I'm just hitting the high points here, and yesterday's press release provides more detail about these iniatives, availability and pricing.

So, the big question is this - can Cisco pull this off? Can they conquer the SMB market? We all know how different this is from the enterprise market, where Cisco has elevated things to a high art. They certainly seem to have all the pieces in place, and I think their approach to productize their offering with the UC 500 is the right way to go. To me, the plan is sound if SMBs grow over time, and they graduate to larger scale solutions. My sense is that many SMBs remain SMBs, and if they don't scale up, I'm not sure how attractive this space will be for both Cisco and the channel partners.

Cisco is keen to invest in their channels to properly support this market, and we'll just have to see how ready SMBs are for Cisco and this type of solution. There's a lot of educating that needs to happen here, and for SMBs that get it, and can see that this is a better way to do things, Cisco will do well. They won't get 'em all, but certainly for SMBs who see what's possible today - and want it - this event is time well spent for the channel partners.

With all that said, I keep asking myself - what does the Blue Man Group have to do with this? It's hard not to miss them here at the Ventian Hotel, and now I know why. If you've seen them, you'll know what I mean. If you haven't - you really should - it's a great experience.

In a lot of ways, Cisco selling to SMBs is like selling to the Blue Man Group. You can see them, but you don't know what they're thinking. You think you've got something they're really going to like, but they just look back at you with a blank stare! Maybe they get it, and maybe they don't. Time will tell...


I'll leave it at that for now, and will pass on some photos of the event - as usual, courtesy of my Nokia N93 uber-phone. More posts coming later.


Peter Alexander, Keith Goodwin

Richard MacLeod and Vikas Butaney, Rick Moran

Group Q&A

View from hotel room - like Cisco's vision, the view is expansive...


Technorati tags: , ,

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Red Sox Opening Day - Worried Already

I haven't blogged about the Red Sox for ages, and probably should have written up my outlook for this year. Too late now, and I'm worried already. No need to re-hash yesterday's ugly loss to the Royals, but for a Red Sox fan it's never too early to think the sky is falling.

Lots of ominous signs for sure, and I really hope this isn't a sign of things to come....

- no offence to speak of - but they do get off to a promising start, scoring in the first inning
- Ortiz drives in the only run
- Manny comes up empty
- JD Drew gets a hit, but no damage
- Coco Crisp is invisible down at the bottom of the order
- Varitek doesn't produce much either
- Schilling has his shortest outing in 10 years

We saw a lot of this last year, and the patterns are repeating already. Ughhh. They produced no offense during Spring Training, and you have to wonder why. No way they'll be able to keep pace with the Yankees and the Jays hitting like that. The pitching will be fine, but you need offense to win games. And Lugo/Pedroia is not an upgrade defensively over Gonzalez and Loretta, and that will catch up to them sooner or later.

Anyhow, it's a day off to regroup, and see how Beckett does tomorrow.

I'm away at a Cisco channel summit this week, so blogging will be light the next few days. I'll leave you with one more source to mine if you're still dwelling on the Opening Day letdown. Curt Schilling has a blog, and it's widely/wildly followed by the Nation, so be my guest if you want to read his blow-by-blow account. And if that doesn't sate your anxiety, you can just keep going and read the 200+ fan comments about his post. How's that for tying in the Red Sox and the world of IP?

Technorati tags: , , ,

Monday, April 2, 2007

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Steve Mast and New Media Marketing

For my latest podcast, I spoke with Steve Mast of Delvinia Interactive. He's their VP and Managing Director, and Delvinia is one of Canada's leading digital marketing shops. They have a lot of experience with new media, and we spoke about how they're using it across a variety of client situations.

We focused in particular on a contest run by the Royal Bank, which is Canada's #1 bank, and if they're ready to embrace new media, you know it's arrived. Delvinia created a program for them called The Next Great Innovator Challenge, where college/university students submit ideas for getting the youth market more in touch with financial services. It's largely a web-based contest, which included a blog that served as a useful resource for the contestants. Steve spoke about how the program was put together and how it's delivering value for their client.

You can download the podcast here, as well as read more about Steve.

Technorati tags: , , ,