Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wednesday - Part 2 - Canadian Telecom Dinner

Following the Microsoft Canada analyst day downtown, I had to drive up to Caledon, a small town north of Toronto. It's really nice up there, but getting there during rush hour was brutal - almost 2 hours for what should be a 45 minute trip. Of course with Telepresence, this would not be a problem....

Anyhow, yesterday was the annual golf tourney and silent auction put on by Henry Dortmans of Angus Dortmans Associates. Henry is a real mainstay in the Canadian telecom community, and aside from his consulting, does things like this tourney/auction, as well as the Enterprise Networks conference.

I was only able to attend the dinner, which was a lot of fun. Lots of vendors and carriers there, and outside of conferences, these types of social settings are pretty rare for all these people to be in the same room together. Here a few photos, courtesy of my Nokia N93.




A nice plug for the Canadian Telecom Hall of Fame.


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Wednesday - Part 1 - Microsoft Canada Analyst Day

Had a pretty full day yesterday, and I've got 2 posts about it, plus a backlog of posts coming after that.

I was at an analyst day with Microsoft Canada yesterday, along with a handful of other analysts on their radar. It was a very informative session, and they took us through a series of presentations outlining their roadmaps, especially around "Telco 2.0".

Not much new there for me, but it was good to spend this amount of undivided time talking/listening/thinking/learning about all the pieces of the IP communications puzzle that Microsoft is addressing as well as trying to pull together. Lots of focus on Unified Communications, IPTV, mobility, and Microsoft's reach across all the screens we use everyday - computer, TV and mobile phones. Was also fun talking about the "other guys", and how Microsoft competes against them - Google, Cisco, IBM, Apple, etc.

Nothing radical to report, but on the lighter side, I thought I'd share the one hiccup to our day. Of course, this has happened to all of us, but we had a hangup getting the projector to work for one of the presentations. It took quite some time to get this glitch solved, and I thought it was pretty funny having a room full of industry analysts and Microsoft folks, and nobody really having a clue what to do.

How many analysts does it take to fix a technical problem? I'm sure if I called my son Max, he'd have been down there in a flash and fixed it in no time.....


Microsoft insisted this was a hardware problem.... :-)


Fixed! On with the show....


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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Canadian New Media Awards - Highlights

Last night I attended the 7th Annual CNMA event, which is basically Oscar Night for Canada's new media sector. It was my first time there, and on the whole it was quite well done. No VoIP here - that's for sure, but if you're into interactive media, social networking, gaming, distance learning, etc., this is where you want to be for the latest and greatest coming from Canada.

First things, first - I need to wave the flag for Canada to say how much is going on up here, especially in the gaming space. A quick review of the CNMA website and some of the media coverage tells that story pretty well.

I'll also steer you to a short backgrounder on the Canadian new media sector, put together by Deloitte, one of the major sponsors of the CNMA. I've done a number of posts about Deloitte, and their initiatives to support Canada's tech sector, and I hope to do another podcast with them soon to talk more about CNMA, and how finalists are selected.

In terms of last night's winners, the most notable was the Company of the Year, which went to Toronto-based MyThum Interactive, which has done a number of industry firsts in wireless apps such as SMS, mobile commerce and event ticketing using bar codes scanned from a mobile phone. You can review the full list of winners and finalists here.

It's a busy week for the Toronto tech community, and CNMA is part of a broader set of events under the Toronto Technology Week umbrella that kicked off yesterday. Also taking place this week is Mesh, which had a very successful debut last year, and looks to be just as good this time around.

To close out, I'll leave you with some photos from last night, courtesy of my Nokia N93....


Adam Fromon, CNMA Executive Producer and President of Delvinia Interactive - delivering the Special Recognition Award


Gary Gluckman, Deloitte's Canadian Media and Entertainment Leader - delivering the Company of the Year Award


CNMA was held at the Carlu, a vintage Art Deco venue


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Friday, May 25, 2007

Nokia N800 Blogger Program and BlogTV

There's a lot of "blog" in the title of today's post, and for good reason.

Earlier this week, I posted about my first videocast on This was the launch of a weekly video series called Teen Tech Reviews that I'm doing with my son Max. Our first review was for the Nokia N800, and while the production values are pretty low, I think Max did a great job explaining what this gadget means to a 14 year old.

Canada is a small country, and is still basically a social networking experiment, so it's hardly a household name. However, people are watching our review, and it's now become a "Featured Broadcast" on the site. Whoo hoo. Once we sort out our production challenges, things will only get better.

The second blog element to this post is the Nokia blogger relations program that has been developed by Andy Abramson. I've posted about this program several times, and simply wanted to cite here that our video review has been posted to the N800 blog site. Hopefully this will make for some good cross-pollenization between these two "blogging" entities.

Finally, I just wanted to come back to BlogTV for a moment, as I see that Jeff Pulver had a post yesterday about BlogTV, drawing attention to its Israeli roots, and the fact that was launched in Canada several months before its recent launch in the U.S. So, anyone out there wondering what all the fuss is about should read Jeff's post, and spend more time here for the Canadian experience.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Telepresence Podcast with Teliris and BT Quarterly

I recently was asked to be a contributor to Business Trends Quarterly, which is a great read on the current thinking from the industry analyst community. For their Q1 issue, I contributed an article, and for the upcoming Q2 issue, we did a feature on telepresence.

This was a two-part feature, consisting of a written Q&A between me and Marc Trachtenberg, CEO and Co-founder of Teliris. It will be published in the Q2 edition, but you can read it here now.

In addition, we did a pretty lengthy podcast about the telepresence market today, and I'll post it once it's ready for release. If you're following the telepresence space, I think you'll find this worth listening to. And until then, I hope you enjoy the written version, and if you like what you see, I'd urge you to subscribe to BTQ.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Stephane Marceau - Mobivox and Mobile Skype

This week, my guest was Stephane Marceau, who was returning for a second time on my podcast series. Stephane is the CEO of Montreal-based Mobivox - formally known as Voxlib. Mobivox is a pretty interesting company that enables Skype on any mobile phone - so, no downloads are needed. They also have a strong voice recognition component, so you can use Mobivox hands-free to see who's available on Skype, and then to initiate a call to any endpoint that's in your Skype directory.

That's enough about Mobivox. Aside from this, Stephane and I talked about the bigger picture market around mobile VoIP, and why Skype is such an attractive audience for applications such theirs. Stephane talked further about how mobile phones are the preferred mode now for how many people communicate, and all the ways that VoIP and presence can make for a better user experience. In particular, he cited the convenience of continuing a mobile conversation on a landline connection without having to drop the call and dial back in. Another example was initiating a group call with multiple parties while on a mobile call - something you can't do with regular wireless service.

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

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We're Doin' TV Now - Teen Tech Reviews Debut

Some things take longer than others, and this is one of them. For a while now, I've been wanting to get a video-based series of tech reviews going with Max, my 14 year old uber geek son. He's written product reviews for me, has his own blog now, has a PC-building business and website, and now we're doing the video thing. We've titled the series Teen Tech Reviews.

The idea is to share how teenagers use and experience technology and gadgets in their own words. I'm a big believer in giving them a voice, and this is one way to do it.

There are lots of ways to do video posts, and for this series, I'm using Why? Well, first, they're based here in Toronto, and I've been following them since attending their launch back in February. Their service has some unique elements that I think are neat, and are not offered this way yet in the U.S. To find out more about, please refer to an earlier post as well as a podcast.

Yesterday, Max and I put our first video review together, and the topic was the Nokia N800. It's a web-friendly tablet device that does a whole lot of really cool things. Bloggers like Ken Camp and Alec Saunders have provided terrific reviews on their blogs, but I wanted to do one with Max, and I'll bet he's the only teenager out there doing a review of this device. He's also in the process of doing a written review on his blog, and I'll pass that along when it's ready.

So, here's the review, which you can find on the Techno Gadgets channel on If you have time, you should have a look around their site. As you'll see, it's an interesting mix of "TV" and video blogging. It's TV in the sense that the posts are broadcast live, so you have to do your stuff in one take - which we did no problem. The broadcast is archived, so it's also there for people to watch at a later date, and I hope you'll do that! The review runs about 8 minutes, and if you can't open the clip below, here's the direct link. The volume is on the low side, but if you access it directly from the site, it plays louder. We've got a few kinks to work out here, and future segments should only get better.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

SightSpeed Getting More Recognition

If you're a SightSpeed follower - as I am - you'll be happy to know that a good thing continues to get better. They recently released version 6.0 and have branched out with distinct offerings for home and business use. You don't have to look far from the cadre of bloggers who have posted about 6.0 as well as Vlip, their social networking tool for video bloggers. And if you need help finding them, SightSpeed is very much in the camp of those who get it with bloggers, and they provide links to blog citings about them in the Press section of their site.

Today's news continues the trend, and should really help win them a broader following. PC World magazine just published its Top 100 Products of 2007, and SightSpeed ranked #21. That's a pretty strong endorsement, and adds to other recent awards and industry kudos, which further validates that they're on the right side of the curve for PC-based video applications. And if you don't believe me, you can read what their CEO, Peter Csathy, has to say on his blog. Peter has become a good blogger in his own right, and is the best example I know of for an executive who blogs regularly, and actually blogs well. I'm a fan.

Just a quick sidebar comment about the Top 100 list. So interesting to see who's leading the pack. Google is #1 with their business "Apps" offering - which itself should be a very scary proposition for all the telecom vendors, especially the PBX crowd.

Overall, Apple has the most mentions with 6 - not a huge surprise there - but Google is right behind with 5. Maybe not a surprise there either, but it sure speaks loudly to how far Google has come, and how fast they're moving. Microsoft had 3 mentions and Yahoo had 2, but nothing for IBM and nothing for Cisco. Nice to see Skype's version 3 on the list at #38. It's just a list, but I think it says a lot about how the balance of power is shifting out there.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Vonage - Is Peer-to-Peer the Answer?

A confluence of posts and emails today has prompted me to add something to the mix about Vonage's current state. I came across a couple of posts earlier today citing a New York Times article about Vonage. Basically, it's a rundown of alternatives people have for Vonage-type services, both for consumers and small businesses.

Most of these alternatives are first nature to industry watchers, so there's nothing really new there. However, to see Vonage get this type of attention from such a mainstream source says something about where VoIP is on the public agenda, which is great.

More troubling, however, is the underlying message that there's a "Vonage watch" going on out there, and it is the media's obligation to inform the public that alternatives do exist should Vonage somehow meet its demise. I really don't see such a terminal scenario unfolding any time soon - unless Verizon gets dealt a royal straight flush in the courts - and I just don't think it's going to come to that.

Much of the issue here rests on the patent infringement litigation with Verizon, and which way the courts will rule. Vonage has been a yo-yo in regards to whether they have a "workaround" or not, with the latest version being that they do. Regardless of how the trial turns out, it's pretty clear that Vonage will have to come up with a better of doing VoIP that doesn't step on anybody's toes - and the same more or less holds true for all the other pureplay VoIP providers.

It's not known how effective Vonage's workaround is/will be - nor do we know yet whether it's homegrown or based on a third party solution. Lots of mystery here - but intrigue too - which is why people like me keep writing about it.

So, here's the twist to the story, and I think I'm the only one out there making all these connections, and I hope there's something new here for you to consider.

There's a really interesting article - 2 actually - that ran on TMC's site today. It's written by Medhavi Bhatia, the CTO of 3CLogic, and the basic premise is that peer-to-peer solutions - such as theirs - can address Vonage's patent problems, and serve as an effective workaround. I've been following this company for a while, and this could be their moment. Both articles provide some technical insights about what P2P brings, and I suspect that if it could help Vonage, it can probably help a lot of other VoIP pureplays.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Stefan Dubowski on Open Source and Web 2.0

My guest this week was Stefan Dubowski, returning for his second podcast with me. Stefan is the Editor of Telemanagement Magazine, one of Canada's leading telecom pubs.

We both attended the IT360 conference here in Toronto recently, and shared our thoughts on the event, including Don Tapscott's keynote. From there, we talked about Open Source and Web 2.0, both of which were prominent at the conference. Stefan has been covering telecom for quite some time, and he shared his views on why large enterprises aren't quite ready yet for Open Source.

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

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

VoIP Supply - the Right Way to Market IP Telephony

I'm not a user of Open Source telephony, but I don't have to be to know a good thing when I see it. I've long been a fan of fellow blogger Garrett Smith, and VoIP Supply, who continue to set the bar high in bringing VoIP to the business market. And it doesn't hurt to be based in Buffalo, the closest American city to Toronto. As we speak, the Sabres just beat Ottawa, so the sun is still shining on Buffalo's hockey season. I digress.

Garrett just gave me a heads up on this tonight, and the press release will be out tomorrow. The basic idea is pretty simple, but I think it's just what the market needs. Basically, VoIP Supply will conduct a network assessment for VoIP readiness for those who can't do it themselves. Their price points are very attractive, with tiered pricing depending on how many lines.

I'm not going to give away the details now, but I think it's a very friendly way for companies to engage the expertise of VoIP Supply, and make their path to IP that much easier. Nothing revolutionary here - lots of people do VoIP network assessments, but not many have the breadth of expertise that VoIP Supply has, especially for Open Source solutions. Of course they provide the full gamut of IP telephony solutions/systems, so they're a pretty good one stop shop for all flavors of VoIP - and for me, that's all the more reason to use them. I'm sure their offering will be well received. I know if I was in the market for this, I'd find this a pretty useful service.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

ANPI AGM Highlights

Just got back from the 2007 AGM for ANPI - Associated Network Buying Partners. I posted about this earlier, and I was there speaking on a panel about trends in the VoIP market, and how they're impacting independent operators. ANPI represents about 400 of these carriers, so they have a lot of buying power in the rural market. Very interesting market, with all kinds of challenges, and I was one of the people there to tell them about all the opportunity they have before them. I really enjoyed being part of this, and ANPI put on a very nice event.

I'm not going to pass on details of the presentations, as it is a members-only group. Fair enough, but I'll just say that the carriers I spoke with have a pretty good understanding about how the market is changing, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see some of them adopt some of the newer technologies in a creative way.

What I will do, though is share some photos of the event and our surroundings, which were just great. Here's my N93 doing its thing...


Dave Lewis, ANPI's CEO


Jonathan Askin - Pulvermedia - very thought provoking keynote


San Diego - what's not to like....




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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Oz Communications and Mobile Messaging

My guest this week was Hilmar Gunnarsson, the EVP of Sales and Marketing for Oz Communications. Oz is a Montreal-based company doing a lot of good things in the mobile messaging space, and I've been wanting to do a podcast with them for some time. They got some healthy funding a few months back, and continue to announce deals with major wireless carriers. Late last month, they made an interesting acquisition of Thumbspeed, which helps push them beyond SMS and into the realm of mobile social networking.

Hilmar provided some background on the popularity of mobile messaging in Europe, and some thoughts as to why it's been slower to gain acceptance here in North America. From there, we discussed the value proposition around mobile messaging for both subscribers and carriers, and then broadened the discussion to how mobile messaging is evolving towards being a social networking platform. Oz is certainly a company to watch in this space, so if you're following mobile messaging, I think you'll enjoy our conversation.

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

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

San Diego - Next Stop

Been very busy finishing up client work the past few days, and tomorrow I'm off to San Diego - whoo hoo. I'm presenting at ANPI's AGM - am part of a panel talking about how current tech and market trends are impacting the independent operator market. I presented there in 2005, and am looking forward to coming back. Hope to post some photos once I'm there.

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Friday, May 4, 2007

Good Week for Sangoma and Open Source

I've been a fan of Sangoma for a while, and so is fellow blogger/industry watcher Ken Camp. Earlier this week I did a podcast with their CEO, David Mandelstam - our second one - and just today, Ken has posted up his podcast with David.

So, if you can't get enough of Sangoma from me, tune in to Ken's interview.

Stepping back, I should also say it's been a good week for Open Source, at least in my circles. I presented at the IT360 conference on Tuesday, and as you can see from my post, there was a lot of Open Source there, including a roadmap update from Sangoma's chief competitor, Digium.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

IT360 Conference Highlights

Yesterday, I attended the IT360 Conference here in Toronto, and gave a presentation on Unified Communications. The content at the conference is pretty heavy on Linux and Open Source, and it's a great place to be if you're into Asterisk. Saw quite a few familiar faces, and missed sessions by Open Source mainstays John "mad dog" Hall and Jim Van Meggelen, as their presentations were at the same time as mine.

The star attraction of the show was Don Tapscott, who gave a terrific keynote built around his new book Wikinomics. He's actually authored 11 books, and drew from many of them, giving the audience a lot of food for thought as to how technology is transforming the way we work, live, communicate, collaborate, etc. Very engaging stuff.

Below are some photos as per my Nokia 93, which could be the last you'll see from this device for a while. I just got the Nokia N95, which I'll start evaluating now.

Oh, if you're interested in my presentation, drop me a line, and I'll be happy to send it over.

Here's Don.....




Kevin Fleming with an update on what's new at Asterisk, including their show-within-a-show plans at the upcoming Fall VON.


The show floor - some familiar names - TAUG - Toronto Asterisk Users Group, and Talkswitch, who I recently did a podcast with.



And finally, the little PC that could. Ever seen anything so cute? This is from the OLPC initiative - One Laptop Per Child - and if you believe in better living through technology, this will certainly be part of the dream.

So, why are we talking about this here? This PC was a very effective prop for one of the exhibitors, Squeak. is an open source applications platform, and is being used by OLPC to drive Etoys, a math and science learning tool.


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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - David Mandelstam and Open Source Telephony

On this week's podcast, my guest was David Mandelstam. He's the President/CEO of Sangoma Technologies, one of the leading hardware vendors supporting Open Source telephony. Sangoma is based in Toronto, and I did a podcast with David a little over a year ago, and it was time to re-visit things.

Open Source telephony continues to gain momentum, and David provided a good update on what's moving things forward. Of particular interest was Sangoma's recent news to partner with Montreal-based Octasic for their echo cancellation software. Octasic was also a podcast guest here last year, and they have a good story of their own that I plan to re-visit soon. Echo cancellation is a key feature for anyone providing business class VoIP, and David talked about what this means in terms of how Open Source telephony is evolving.

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

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