Friday, February 29, 2008

Ike Elliott's Update on the VoIP Market

Been trying to get to this one all afternoon.

Ike Elliott had a really great post earlier today about the state of the US residential VoIP market. He's provided keen insights around a few sets of data points showing how the market shares break down. He and I follow this space quite a bit, so it's great to share his thoughts with my readers.

Basically, Ike is showing how the cablecos have strengthened their grip on this market since last year, and at this point, Vonage is a distant #3 with 15%. That's still a very respectable position, but aside from the cablecos, there's nobody else other that Skype. I'm glad Ike has listed them, even though Skype is not competing with the others in terms of providing a landline replacement service. Still, it's interesting to see where they stand, especially for revenues, which track at 8% of the market.

My only question is this - is this US or global revenues for Skype? I'm pretty sure that most of Skype's revenues are outside North America, and it's not clear to me what's being reported here. Regardless, as popular as Skype is, the revenues don't add up to much when compared on an absolute basis to the network-based competitors. On the other hand, of course, Skype's infrastructure, operating and marketing costs are next to nothing, so their margins are much healthier.

So, which do you prefer - high revenues/decent margins, or low revenues/high margins - or in Vonage's case, high revenues/decent margins, but huge OTHER costs? One thing is clear to me - it's tough to make a go selling just landline VoIP. Ike shows the ARPUs, which come in higher for the cablecos than Vonage, but that can be trickier territory. When you're selling the bundle, you can be more arbitrary allocating where that $99/month goes from each subscriber. It's very easy to bury voice in the mix as a loss leader, but with Vonage, you can't hide anything.

Lots of angles to explore here, and it's great that Ike has taken the time to put these numbers together. I also find his post to be a nice reprise to my recent Service Provider Views article about Vonage and their recent Q4 numbers. Ike was nice enough to start some dialog with me about this, and now that he's posted his views, you're welcome to jump in and join the conversation.

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Service Provider Views Article - Q&A with Catharine Trebnick

My latest Service Provider Views article was posted the other day, and I wanted to share it with you here. This time around, I did a Q&A interview with Catharine Trebnick, Senior Research Analyst at America's Growth Capital. I wanted this column to focus how investment markets are looking at service providers, and Catharine had lots of good insights to offer.

We sure could have gone on at length, and hopefully we will some time in another forum, but a web column isn't the place for that. Along those lines, just to tie things up here, Catharine and I recently did a webinar together that was very well received. We're hoping to do more of these, so that just may be the place to explore this in more depth. Will let you know how things progress.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

eComm2008 - Q&A with Lee Dryburgh/Discount Offer

Got two updates to share with you about the eComm2008 conference, which I did a background post about on Monday.

First is an interview I did with Lee Dryburgh that just ran on IP Convergence TV the other day. Lee mostly talks about his views on convergence technologies, but also a bit about what you can expect to experience at eComm2008. Hope you enjoy it, and comments are welcome.

Second is a special discount offer I can share with you to save 15% on registration for the conference. Hopefully, you've heard by now from many sources how promising this event will be, and if you're thinking about going, please drop me a line, and I can pass on the information you'll need to save 15% on your registration.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How Bloggers and Journalists are Different

Call me old school, but I have my share of issues when the lines between blogging and journalism get blurry. That's a very subjective topic, but I wanted to share an experience with you that speaks to a lot of my concerns and values. I'm not going to identify the parties by name - there's no reason to - and I think to story will speak for itself.

I recently attended an analyst event put on by a vendor, and we got a pretty good overview of their plans and how they intend to do things. There's a tacit understanding that the details remain in the room and are not for public consumption - fair enough. I'm in the minority of analysts who blog - most do not or are prohibited as such - so I'm often an anomaly, and need to be extra careful when blogging about these things.

Well, the day after this event I spoke with a couple of people from the media doing stories on this vendor. I always follow up on these a few days after, and one of them told me that his/her story ran but chose not to cite me in their article. Fair enough - this happens all the time - there's never a guarantee that you'll be quoted when talking to the media.

The reason given, however is what got me, and is what prompted this post. He/she explained that while I was carefully sharing high level insights about the event, he/she was not at the event, and therefore not privy to what I was seeing and hearing. Even though I was providing further insight that would have made for a more interesting story - presuming it was handled professionally - the journalist couldn't use it, since he/she wasn't getting it first hand. This may well be their standard Editorial policy, but regardless, it was a highly principaled response.

That really struck me, not just because I hadn't heard that from anyone before, but because it really speaks to the heart of what makes journalism different from blogging. Journalism has a pretty clear code of conduct and while journalistic integrity can be a slippery slope, anyone who does this for a living knows first principles and tries to abide by them. I certainly do, even though I'm not a trained journalist.

Reflecting on this, I asked myself "would a blogger ever say this?", and I think the answer would be no. A good journalist can easily defend this position - know your source, and only report what you can back up yourself. I totally respect that, and that's why they get paid to do this - and why we pay money for newspapers and magazines - well not so much these days.

As we all know, anything goes with bloggers, and believe me, it's not a stretch to imagine analysts attending events and blogging the hell out of them just to break some interesting news or share some juicy tidbits. We all know about media embargoes not being respected, and I suspect the ones breaking them are bloggers, not journalists.

There a lot of tangents to this topic, and I just wanted to touch on one of them here. I don't know about you, but that experience for me reinforced the respect I have for real journalists, who do their work based on professional principals. Sure it's old school, but I'll take it any day.

No doubt, bloggers are often the best informed people - I support that notion in spades - but they are not usually journalists, and are not subject to the same criteria and editorial standards. For every bang-on blog post, there are lots that don't hold up, and journalists just have to be very careful who they lean on and what they can use.

Care to discuss?

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Skype's New CEO - Big Shoes to Fill

Been a real full day, and had a few posts I wanted to get out, but I'm only going to get this one done today. It's verging on old news by now, but I still think it's worth noting, and hey, not everybody is an uber-blogger, so it just might still be news to you.

So, the search for a new CEO at Skype is over, and I got the news yesterday morning from Jim Courtney, a Toronto-based colleague who is a prime contributor to Skype Journal. His post tells the story pretty well, and it's good news all around. Skype has been rudderless since Niklas Zennstrom abruptly resigned late last year, and parent company eBay now a stable leader in place to hopefully guide the company back into the winner's circle, at least as far as eBay's books are concerned.

Niklas is one of those one in a million guys, and it's hard to imagine following up his act, but the new CEO, Josh Silverman seems well suited for the task, especially given his eBay pedigree. I don't know him - but I do have some history with Niklas - but Jim offers his thoughts, and raises a good question. With Skype's HQ being in London, but the R&D being in Estonia, why would he move to work out of Estonia? Perhaps this is a signal that Skype plans to revert inward to become more R&D focused, much like in their days before becoming a household name. After all, Estonia is really the heart and soul of the company - always has been.

That said, Andy Abramson has a later posting about the news, and explains that the move to Estonia is short term, and looks like a good move to build bridges with the core development team, and then shift focus to corporate HQ. Andy also offers some further insights about why this is a good move all around.

Wherever he ends up, Josh has a big job ahead. After taking its writedown from eBay, and looking a bit like a corporate orphan, Skype remains in the eBay fold, and perhaps this is their last chance to make the marriage work. If it does, everyone wins and eBay becomes a market driver and bona fide innovator again. Otherwise, Skype will become a liability for eBay, making it certain to be acquired, perhaps at a bargain price. I sure hope the latter doesn't happen, as the market needs disruptors like Skype, and having just passed the 100 billion minute mark last week, you really want to believe their star is still rising.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Next Stop - eComm2008

Next conference for me is eComm2008, coming up March 12-14 in Mountain View, California.

Got a few things to convey about this event in my post...

For background, eComm has picked up where eTel left off last year, and is largely the vision of Lee Dryburgh, who I have recently gotten to know a bit, and am looking forward to meeting next month.

I'm late posting about eComm as it's taken a while to formalize my participation, which I'll get to in a moment. So, if you haven't been reading up eComm, you should start with the press release, and then move on to some of the recent blog posts, including today's from Thomas Howe and Andy Abramson, and earlier ones from Martin Geddes and Alec Saunders' Squawk Box interview, which includes Lee Dryburgh as a guest.

Myself - I've got small part, but at least I'm there, and am really looking forward to hearing from such a first-rate roster of speakers. I'll be moderating the Mobile Mashups panel, which currently includes Tom Howe (oh, what a surprise!), Dean Bubley, Irv Shaprio, Boaz Zilberman, and James Body. If you're coming, the session is on Thursday, from 2:00 to 3:00.

Finally, being on the West coast, I was really hoping to participate in Spring VON - now known as VON.X - which is the following week in San Jose. Very hard decisions to make here, but my circumstances just don't make it possible to do both. Turns out eComm takes place during our March break, and the plans have unfolded such that my 15 year old son, Max, is coming with me and will be with me at eComm, at least for as long as he finds it interesting. So, if you've ever wanted to meet Max, here's your chance. He'll be with me at eComm, but we're flying back after that so he can get back to school. Will have to miss VON this time around, but I certainly plan to be there in the fall.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

AT&T Canada adding video to their marketing mix

Just a short post about how corporate giants like AT&T are starting to use more multimedia tools in their messaging. AT&T Canada recently opened a data center in Canada and have made a series of announcements about their capabilities to support multinational enterprises. This includes a very good series of white papers and research briefs about their various capabilities and their current state of thinking about the value proposition of hosted network services. They also have produced a couple of videos with their key executives expounding on these themes, and I was invited to contribute my thoughts on one of them (Globalization and Emerging Trends). All of this has just been posted to AT&T Canada�s website, where you can view the clips and download some of these materials.

It�s a pretty good effort and is more engaging than most other corporate web sites � not Marketing 2.0, but not 1.0 either � 1.5 is where I�d put it. Maybe add some blogging, interactive video, a wiki, a click-to-call � that would get us closer to 2.0. In time, in time. This takes me back to my post from Monday previewing Cisco�s Uber Networker announcement. Very slick, and much closer to 2.0. AT&T Canada isn�t there yet, but they�re definitely going in the right direction.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Skype is on a roll - 100 billion minutes and counting...

Skype has recently hit a couple of big milestones, and for all the problems around their marriage with eBay, you have to step back and give them some credit for doing things that have never been done before.

First off is the recent news that Skype has passed the 100 billion minute mark. I don't know about you, but I sure can't count that high, and it's a huge number, especially for a service that's only been around a few years. Anyone know how long it took the PSTN to get this? Of course, that's where the discussion ends, as the telcos have made billions over the years, and for the most part, have had the regulators on their side.

Skype, on the other hand, is making decent money on fantastic volume, but they have a long way to go to become the money maker that telcos have long been. There's more to discuss here, of course, but basically, Skype has had a hard time finding market acceptance of their business model and vision within the eBay fold, and it's anyone's guess as to whether they will stay with eBay, or pass into the hands of someone like Google. Oh, so much to talk about here, but let's move on...

That aside, the legacy of Skype so far has been one of disruption, and making the communications pie bigger. Maybe not more profitable, but bigger. Whether Skype becomes a money-maker or not, there's no turning back the clock. VoIP is here to stay, and the PC-based flavor that Skype has done so well with has changed the way we communicate. And if they do nothing else, that's enough for me. Rich Tehrani adds his thoughts from earlier today here as well.

The second item is equally encouraging, and was posted today on Skype Journal. On Monday, Skype hit the 12 million online user mark for the first time. It may not sound like much, but it's an awful lot of concurrent VoIP calls going over a single platform - way more than anybody else is doing. If there's a better validator out there about VoIP's ability to scale, let's hear about it.

Skype may have its share of challenges, but they have definitely taken telephony where it's never been before, and of course are trying to do the same now with video. You only hit 100 billion once, and it's a great testament to what Niklas and Janus started only a few years ago, and I'd say it's definitely worthy of recognition. And for what it's worth, I've used Skype more today than I have in ages, so in my very small way, I'm helping the cause.

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Service Provider Views Article - Vonage

My latest column for Service Provider Views was posted yesterday.

This one's about Vonage, and my view on their prospects following last week's Q4 results. Very mixed bag, and with cable VoIP getting stronger by the day, their margin for error gets smaller and smaller. As usual, your comments are welcome.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bell and Cisco Partnering on Managed Services

Today started off with an early briefing at 8:30 with Cisco and Bell Canada. That's what this post is about, and I had every intention of getting this written and posted by 9am, but boy has the day zoomed by. I'm off to New York for the next two days on consulting work, and there has been a non-stop stream of things to tie up, so here we are.

So, when Bell and Cisco asks you to be on a briefing at 8:30 the morning back after a long weekend, you gotta figure this is big news. In some ways it is, but I wouldn't say it's earth shattering, so I don't feel you've missed too much hearing about from me at this point in the day. Haven't seen anything about this from the bloggers, although to be fair, many of them are blogged out after last week's mega conference in Spain, MWC - Mobile World Congress.

Closer to home, today's news is somewhat interesting at face value, but I think it's more interesting for it may represent. At face value, Bell and Cisco have partnered to provide managed services to Bell's customers - high level details are in the press release. This is a win-win - more or less - in that Bell comes to market with a complete solution to leverage their nationwide network and deepen their customer relationships. Cisco wins by getting the upper hand into Bell's enterprise customer portfolio with managed services, deepening their existing relationships on the networking side. Two Tier 1 players working together makes for a very strong proposition. Fair enough - that's just the way the markets go these days - the big get bigger, and hopefully that's good for the customers. Time will tell.

The other interesting part of the story is the 'knowledge gap' they referred to a few times. IP is advancing quickly, and it's no surprise there is a shortage of well trained, qualified technical people to deploy, manage and maintain these wonderful technologies. To address this, Cisco and Bell are opening two 'Knowledge
Centres' - Montreal and Toronto. Makes sense. Not only will enterprises gain more Cisco-certified staffers, but these centres will become test labs where new features, applications, etc. can be trialed before being launched in their networks. Good idea, and a great way for Cisco to further embed itself in these networks.

All good, right? It is for these companies, but am not sure what this means for others. I can't imagine this is good news for Nortel, and maybe even Microsoft - two companies that have an alliance of their own. These companies are all vying for the Unified Communications vision, whereby they have a chance to control most if not all of the customer relationship. The stakes are high here, and I think Cisco has made a savvy move here to get the inside track with Bell, who has the lion's share of Canada's enterprise business. Let's not forget that the privatization track for Bell is a bit shaky these days, and they need all the good news stories they can get. I'm sure Cisco recognized they could help Bell's cause with such a move, as they need to do whatever it takes to hold on to their customers. It will be interesting to see what MTS Allstream and Telus do in response.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Uber-Users - Cisco has something for you on March 4

I got this very interesting and intriguing link about some big news coming from Cisco on March 4. It's a very slickly produced commercial that shows how web-savvy Cisco is becoming, and it's quite fun to watch.

Since followers of this blog are uber-users - aren't you? - I thought I'd pass this on and do some free advertising for Cisco. They've done a great job putting this together, and it's hard not to spend a few minutes exploring all the messages and visuals, as they build up your interest in what's coming on March 4.

I don't actually know what's coming, and I haven't seen anything about this in the blogs - so either everyone is ignoring it, or you just might be reading about it for the first time here.

Either way, if you're a Cisco watcher and want to see where Network 2.0 is going, you'll want to register for this "event". From the looks of things, Cisco has spent lavishly to build up anticipation, so I'm sure it will be worth tuning in for.

No doubt, Cisco is doing things like this to show how consumer friendly their brand is becoming, and how much of a digital media company they are striving to become. I had a few glimpses of this at their recent analyst conference and there's a lot of Web 2.0 and video driving their business now. They know how to make Telepresence look exciting, and I'm sure this will be along the same lines, but likely on a broader scale.

Anyhow, that's enough speculating for now. Just go the link and see for yourself - and I'll look for you on the call.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

My Venture with Marc Robins - Launching Next Week

For those who are close to my comings and goings, you'll know this has been a long time coming. Time sure flies when you're busy, but Marc Robins and I are finally ready to launch our venture next week.

Marc, like me, is an indie marketing consultant/analyst, and we've long felt there's a growing need for a strong independent voice in the IP communications sector. Not everyone has the means - or inclination - to work with the big name analyst firms - we all know who they are - and we're trying to provide an alternative.

Marc runs his own consultancy based in NYC, Robins Consulting Group, and I'm based in Toronto, operating under my banner of J Arnold & Associates. We will continue to keep our practices going, but are also collaborating with our new venture which pools our resources to offer a stronger set of services for clients.

Lots more to talk about, but you'll have to wait until early next week for that. We've got a press release going out, and you'll hear then more about our name, our website, the reports we're working on, and what we're all about. It's been a long time coming, but hopefully worth the wait.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mitel Analyst Update

This is Part 2 of what I was up to yesterday here in town. Mitel is in the midst of an analyst roadshow to update the community on the Inter-Tel integration.

I was part of the Toronto contingent, and for a full morning, Don Smith and Simon Gwatkin had our undivided attention. This was complemented by a full presentation led by Tim Kostyniuk, who was dialing in from Ottawa via a conference phone.

The session was a good mix of candid conversation from Don and Simon, and a detailed update on the new product portfolio from Tim. At a high level, all I can really say is that Mitel seems to have a good handle on bringing Inter-Tel into the fold, and a clear vision as to what markets they want to grow into, as well as how they're going to do that.

They definitely have been moving forward on many fronts, and one of the main benefits I think we'll see from the deal is a strong go-to-market capability for both SMBs and enterprises. Inter-Tel had a direct sales presence for the latter, and when combined with Mitel's product line, they now have a strong story for enterprises. On the SMB front, they found limited channel conflict with Inter-Tel, and indicated they are now becoming more attractive partners for resellers, often at the expense of their competitors.

They provided quite a bit of insight as to the rationale for Inter-Tel, along with broader capabilities it brings them today. I definitely have a clearer picture of this now, and can see why it made sense.

There was a fair bit of discussion around integrating the product lines, and while this is still a work in progress, it's clear to see how much focus there is on IP and SIP. They updated us on several other fronts, including their partnerhsip with Sun, collaboration and presence-based applications, vertical market solutions, IP phones, and mobility/FMC.

Maybe it's Mitel's culture, or their UK/Canada makeup, but they do a great job of being accessible and open with their updates. Of course, this also means I'm going to be careful and not broadcast the fine points. It's a two-way street. Not all vendors are as easy to engage with, and I hope they keep it this way. Makes our job a lot easier!



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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

PR 2.0 - it's all about Advocacy

I've been out and on the go all day, and had two industry events to attend this morning downtown. One I'll share with you here, and the second will be in my next post, probably in the morning. First up was a presentation by Weber Shandwick about how they're helping clients utilize social media, and after that I attended Mitel's analyst update event.

Pretty interesting event put on by Weber Shandwick, and this was their "inaugural power breakfast". With a promising headline like that, how could you not want to be there, right? I wanna know though, with PR folks being so media savvy, if this was a subtle reference to the venue being located in an art gallery called The Power Plant, or if I just make these crazy connections that most people don't get? Somehow I think it was the latter. Not so sure there was any grand messaging scheme behind this. I think it was more an issue of convenience. The Power Plant just happens to be one building over from WS's offices, so it's a no brainer for them to host the breakfast there. I digress...

Back to business. The event was really a showcase for Screengrab, which is WS's "Interactive, Social and Emerging Media" practice. That's a mouthful, and if you ask me, for something so hot these days, they should probably come up with something shorter and snappier. Anyhow, all the PR agencies are fast falling into line here as everyone is scrambling to make sense of this tidal wave of digital democracy the Web has opened up. With the Internet now truly mainstream, there's just an overwhelming amount of information out there, growing exponentially every day, and everyone is trying to harness it and ultimately make money along the way. I could go on and on and on, but you get the picture. Today's preso was basically WS's vision of PR 2.0 for a room full of clients, prospects, a few media types, a ton of WS people, and me - the lonely analyst. :-)

They had 2 speakers, and both were really interesting. First up was Bonin Bough, their EVP, and then David Alston, Marketing VP for Radian6. Bonin gave a really good - and thought-provoking - overview of what's going on out there and how WS is helping clients make social media work for them. David gave a run-through of Radian6, which is a social media monitoring tool developed specifically for the PR space. It's a higher-order solution for tracking how people interact with brands via social media.

There's a lot more to it than that, but suffice to say these are the types of tools necessary these days to get meaningful data out of the bottomless pit that Google has opened up. It's turning the advertising world upside down, and once reliable metrics can be established, things will get really interesting. You need to somehow measure audience reach and effect to determine advertising rates, and the Internet economy really doesn't get off the ground until that happens, and Radian6 is clearly one of these enablers. It's very early days still, but we all know big changes are coming, and this is a pretty good glimpse into what shape these changes are going to take.

A few photos courtesy of my Nokia N95 (apologies, the lighting was absolutely brutal for taking pictures)....

Bonin Bough

David Alston

Weber Shandwick's new mantra - Advocacy starts here. I like it...

Ugh - Toronto in mid-February. Without a doubt, THE dreariest time of the year. Can you really tell the difference between the land, the water and the sky? Just a pastiche of dull, drab gray. Believe it or not, though, we had blue skies by afternoon - winter will eventually run its course...


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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

IT360 Conference Agenda Posted

Been meaning to post about this for a while. The IT360 Conference is coming here in Toronto from April 7-9, and the agenda was recently posted to their website.

It's still a work in progress, but will give you a good idea of the range to topics being covered. I'm Co-Chairing the Unified Communications track with colleague Henry Dortmans. Most of our program is set, but we still have some adds and changes coming. We've been at this for a while, and have a strong roster in place, and you can get a sense here for what we'll be talking about. I'll have more updates as we get closer to the date, but can tell you now it's a strong program, and should be a great opportunity to get apprised on where Unified Communications is going in Canada.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Helping Canadian Companies Sell Globally - Upcoming Teleforum

One of the biggest challenges facing Canadian companies is our small domestic market, especially for telecom. To succeed, you need to sell into other markets, which is something Canadians aren't by nature very good at.

That's a topic unto itself, and if you want to understand this challenge better and hear first hand how some local companies are doing it, you'll want to participate in an upcoming teleforum.

This teleforum is the first in a series being launched by colleague Mike Fox. He's a Toronto-based tech recruiter, and I've featured him on previous posts. His firm is called Brightlights, and you can register here as well as explore what his company does.

The first teleforum will be on Wednesday, February 20, and runs from 1 to 2 pm. Mike's guests will be the CEOs of MyThum Interactive and Opalis Software, and they'll be talking about topics such as what it takes to sell into markets outside of Canada and what types of talent they need to support that. I've posted about MyThum before and they're a great example of what Mike will be covering during the call. You can learn more about the session from a backgrounder Mike has prepared.

Unfortunately, I'll be out of town that day, so I'll miss the call. This shouldn't stop you, though, and if this topic is of interest, it will be time well spent.

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

IP Essentials Webinar Summary Document

Just a short note to pass on a summary document from my webinar with America's Growth Capital last Friday.

A copy of the presentation as well as Catharine's full report are still available from either of us upon request. In addition, Catharine has put together a nice 8 page summary of the high points from our webinar, and you're welcome to download that here.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Service Provider Views - Latest Article

My latest column for Service Provider Views was posted today. It's titled "The Service Provider Dilemma", and I welcome your comments.

Rich Tehrani shared his thoughts and concurs with my views about how the large incumbents still hold the strongest cards, and it's really their market to lose.

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Losing is as easy as 1-2-3 --- but hope awaits...

No, this isn't about YahGooSoft - how's that for a new name? How about Yahoogle? SoftGooHoo?

This is more to do with a strange alignment of numbers that only someone like me would ever pick up on.

My Boston teams are on a losing streak right now, just days after it was looking like this would be a once-in-a-lifetime Triple Crown year for winning three world championships. Not gonna happen now - and maybe never.

Since Sunday night....

Celtics lose by 1 - AGAIN - to Cleveland, 114-113
Bruins lose by 2 to Ottawa, 4-2
Patriots lose by 3 thanks to the Manning Miracle, 17-14

Yup, easy as 1-2-3 - lose, lose, lose. Is it just me, or isn't that a neat confluence of events?

There was similar alignment a few months back where on the same day, all 3 teams had the same number of wins - 11. Again, is it just me?

So, where's the hope?

Celtics - the Big Ticket will be back soon, and with a full lineup, they don't lose games like this.

Bruins - actually not much hope there at all. Classic middle-of-pack team, going nowhere. Will make the playoffs - who doesn't?, but won't get past the first round.

Patriots - should have won, but the football Gods deemed it was time to even the score and have the bounces go the other way for a change. Pats have won their share of Super Bowls by 3 points, so now it goes the other way. Don Shula is very happy. So is Terry Bradshaw. Both stand alone in the record books, and would have had to make room for the Pats had they won. Am still in shock over this one, but it's clear the Pats need more youth on the front line. To me, they've been running on fumes since the Ravens game, and haven't beaten anyone convincingly since. I think they simply ran out of gas, and got cocky near the end. Randy Moss's true colors came out when he celebrated his TD catch, and the Pats started to look a bit like the Rams team they knocked off the first time around. And of course, why did Belichick change his hoodie? Bad move - that was their mojo, man!!!

But the biggest hope of all - thought you'd never ask - of course, comes from the Red Sox, where Spring Training is a mere 7 days away. Time sure flies, and it will be a very welcome sign. I'll still be in disbelief over the Super Bowl, and a healthy dose of hardball optimism in February should go a long way to getting over Sunday's game.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Phonetime Graduates to Toronto Stock Exchange

Well, here's a good news item I'm pleased to share, especially as North America teeters on the brink of recession.

One of our local companies - Phonetime - has graduated from our venture exchange to our big board, the TSX. The news was announced today, and I say that they've graduated for a good reason - their trading symbol is PHD. Hah - can't get any smarter than that!

This is a really positive sign for a company that doesn't get much attention and operates a pretty simple, Voice 1.0 business. They've been on the venture exchange since 2000, and I've been friendly with them for a few years, so I can say first hand this is a good story.

Phonetime is basically a one-stop-shop for long distance telecom services across Canada. They operate their own national network, and have a healthy mix of both wholesale termination/origination business as well as retail offerings, primarily through calling cards. Sure, it's a low margin/high volume business, but if you establish your network and maintain a reasonably loyal mix of customers and distributors, it can be a decent business.

Not very sexy, but with Toronto's unparalleled mix of cultures and immigrants, this is a great market for these types of products, especially the calling cards. VoIP may not mean much to this audience yet, but calling cards make a lot of sense, especially for people who do not even have the luxury of their own landline.

For sake of transparency, I'm not a shareholder, but it's been on my to-do list for a while. I think I'll follow their progress on the TSX for little bit first and then see about becoming one.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Busy Week/IP Essentials Webinar Recap

It's been a very full week, and I'm pretty tired.

Following the wake of many good things from last week's ITExpo, I've been quite busy managing the latest round of content updates to the IP Convergence TV portal, including 10 video interviews I conducted last week. 2 have been posted so far, and the rest will be coming in the next week or so.

Independently, I wrote my next column for TMCnet, which will probably run on Monday, and finalized a feature-length Q&A print interview, which will run in the next edition of Business Trends Quarterly - a magazine I highly recommend if you want the latest in industry analyst thinking. I've recently been asked to join their Editorial Advisory Board, and am quite looking forward to that. I've also been laying the groundwork for some upcoming industry events, including a few that I've had to turn away - can only be in one place at a time.

As most of you know, conferences usually have a long lead time, and this week has also kept me busy on an April event here in Toronto. It's the IT360 conference, and I'm the co-chair of the Unified Communications track, along with confrere Henry Dortmans. We've been putting a lot of time into this, and this week, the brochure finally came out. It's posted now on their website, and there's a lot going on there. We still have to flesh out a few spots, and we'll be back on track with this next week.

I also have some side things simmering along - some of which I've posted about before - that will become blog-worthy over the next couple of weeks. Plus, several business development seeds are set to come forth this month that will keep my business going in the right direction - gotta have that.

Finally, we had our IP Essentials webinar today. Catharine Trebnick of America's Growth Capital co-hosted this with me, and given this was our first webinar together, I think it went really well. A few hiccups with WebEx, but nothing we won't get right next time around. The turnout was quite good, and pretty much as expected.

If you missed it, there will be a full audio replay available in the next few days, and will be accessible at both AGC and my websites. The webinar was inspired by - and largely based on - Catharine's latest research report on the IP infrastructure space. I've cited this in an earlier post, as well as how to get a copy.

You can also get a copy of the presentation we used today, which includes excerpts from her report as well as my bullet talking points. We're happy to oblige, and you can request it from Catharine or me - just drop me a line. Looking ahead, we'd like to do this on a regular basis, and if this is of interest, let us know - we'd love to know there's support for it.

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