Thursday, January 29, 2009

BroadSoft Xtended Updates

Yesterday, BroadSoft issued a press release to update the market on how things are progressing with its Xtended platform. I was briefed on it earlier this week, but with all the preparations for the IT Expo and client work, I haven't had a chance to post until now.

While there was no groundbreaking news, it was a helpful update with some proof points about how the platform is gaining traction since launching in March 2008. They talked about 5 commercial deployments - Alteva, SimpleSignal, Telesphere, Unity and WorldxChange Communications - and how the Xtended developer community grown to almost 1,500. That's a lot of brainpower working on cool Web 2.0 apps, and I really like what BroadSoft is doing here. I attended their Connections event back in October, and you can get a good sense of this community from my post.

Just like the Apple Apps Store or the Android Marketplace, BroadSoft has their Xtended Marketplace, so that's where you should visit to see the specific apps and mashups they have on tap.

My favorite is the Chumby - what a great name! I saw this at Connections - very cool. It's like a bedside clock radio, but is digital and web-enabled. Sort of a cuddlier gadget to sleep with than your smartphone - which I'm sure lots of people do. I don't want to get started on how people can't bear to be "disconnected" - even when they sleep - but you have to admit, this is a great gadget. Not something you'd normally associate with BroadSoft, but get used to it. Like Cisco, they're trying very hard to create a real consumer presence, and on some levels, I like their chances.

While all this good news was welcome, one has to ask the question as to why no updates were given about their progress integrating Sylantro. Well? Isn't that the news most of us are waiting for? Let's just say they're not ready to go there yet, but there will be some news coming about their relationship with IBM.

I'd have to say that's a good sign of how BroadSoft is making inroads with enteprise communications platforms. They already have some good things going with Microsoft, and the IBM story can only mean Lotus Notes, and together, this would give them very strong coverage. Of course, Sylantro had some history with IBM as well, and I'm sure one of their challenges is consolidating these Tier 1 relationships where there was duplicate coverage.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Service Provider Views - Q&A with Jaduka

Just in time for next week's TMC IT Expo, my latest Service Provider Views column was posted this morning.

I've been big on the platform play theme in my column, and Jaduka is another company doing some great things here, especially for enterprise applications. For this column, I did a Q&A with Jaduka's President, Jack Rynes, so for a change you get to hear about platform plays first hand from a leading practitioner. You can read the column here, and if you like it, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Jack too!

And if you haven't made plans to attend the Expo - or the 4G wireless show running next door - there's still time. Aside from the extensive content and exhibitor presence, it sounds like hotel space is available and the weather is getting warmer. When it's snowing like it is today in Toronto, these things all add up to a pretty good idea. Hope to see you there.

eComm 2009 - Direct Updates from Lee Dryburgh

Am doing a fair bit of boosterism lately for conferences I'm spending time at - well, times are tough, and viral marketing is easy and cheap to do.

On Monday, Lee Dryburgh did his Squawk Box segment with Alec Saunders, so it's a good chance to hear first hand from "LeeComm" how things are coming along and what you can expect to see at eComm 2009.

The podcast was just posted late last night, but it's as timely now as it was Monday morning! It's a long listen - almost an hour - but there's lots to talk about. The eComm roster is strong, and the content will be first rate, so if disruption and innovation is your thing, this should be on your March calendar.

Lee continues to tirelessly transcribe interviews he's done with some of the presenters, and you can read these on the eComm blog. The most recent entries are interviews with Jan Linden of Global IP Solutions and Andreas Constantinou of Vision Mobile.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Flat Planet Brings VoIP to Mobility - and the IT Expo

On Friday, Israeli colleague Moshe Maier post some news on his blog that ties in nicely to TMC's IT Expo, which starts a week today. Can't wait!

Moshe's company - The Flat Planet Phone Company - has been doing its part to bring innovation and disruption to the masses with a VoIP platform that allows anyone - anyone - to become a service provider. You don't like your local telco? Now you have a choice - become your own telco. Why not?

The latest news is a LCR - Least Cost Routing - engine, that FPPC will offer now for mobile VoIP. There are lots of mobile VoIP solutions out there, but you don't see them talking about LCR. And it's great to see a mobile VoIP offering that works on all cellphones - not just smartphones. You can read the details on Moshe's blog post, as well as some follow up from Andy Abramson and Alec Saunders.

The service formally launches at the IT Expo next week, so you can expect to hear more buzz about it then. But as bloggers, we certainly don't mind getting pre-briefed now.

If you want to get more of a first-hand taste, please drop my IT Expo session next Monday at noon. With a bit of clever planning, I've managed to get Moshe added to this panel, so if mobile VoIP is on your radar, you'll want to join us.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Toronto Blues Society - Maple Blues Awards Event Highlights

I haven't posted about the Toronto Blues Society for ages, but this one needs to get done before the week is out.

On Monday of this week, I attended the Maple Blues Awards, which is Oscar night for the Canadian blues community. As always, it's a great event, and this is the first chance I've had to post about it. I've been involved with the TBS since inception (1985), and an active Board member for most of that time, so pardon my cheerleading here. That aside, Canada has long been a world-class producer of blues talent, and our work at the TBS plays a big part in keeping the blues alive.

The MBA event is a great showcase for just how good the blues can be in Canada, and is a testament to the commitment of blues lovers to support the artists as well as live music in general. The reticent musician in me has a hard time getting off that soapbox, so I'll stop now.

The MBAs are a great celebration of the Canadian blues scene (and if you're in the roots music biz, the event capped off the weekend-long Blues Summit IV, which is the biggest event on our calendar), and this will either be very familiar or very foreign to you. For that reason, I'm not going to run down all the winners here - better you read up on it at our website, and explore what else we're up to. If you follow Canadian blues artists, you probably know the results by now anyway - and if don't, then you should! So maybe - just maybe - this will be your entry point into the blues, and if you like what you see, then c'mon and join the TBS.

I'll leave you with a few photos, which are just ok. I recently got the BlackBerry Bold - love it - and am still figuring out how to get decent photos. Plus, it doesn't help to be shooting in a dark nightclub. Anyhow, there will be much better photos taken by others coming soon on the website, as well as in the newsletter, which we do post online. Enjoy - and if you ever want to talk about the blues, I'm your man.

View from the bandstand before showtime




The Maple Blues Band - as good as it gets



Treasa Levasseur and The Sojourners - perfect blend of gospel and blues - magic



For many, the biggest highlight of the night was a video tribute to local legend, Jeff Healey, who sadly passed away way before his time about a year ago. Any fan of modern electric blues guitar will know his name, his amazing talent and unparalleled lap-style technique. The video tribute was prepared by local music entrepreneur Mako Funasaka, who also posted a very sharp photo gallery of the event on his site. Great stuff. Of course his photos will be much better than mine, but I did manage to get this shot showing Jeff's style of playing off the monitor showing the video.



TBS President Derek Andrews and Jay Sieleman



Shakura S'Aida - fabulous singer - see her if you can - or get her CDs



Shooting the shot - my neighbor, Frank Nagy photographs live music for a living, and his work is first rate. Got this impromptu photo of Frank lining up a stage shot.




And...bonus coverage - I shot a few short video clips during the performances. The quality is so-so - both audio and video - and it's nothing like what I used to get on the Nokia N-Series phones. Well, it's better than nothing, and here's the best clip of the bunch - and runs about 3 minutes. This will give you a nice taste of the music, and the clip features Toronto's own - Amos Garrett (of Midnight at the Oasis fame) - jamming with the Maple Blues house band. He's 67 years old, but don't let that fool ya, and is a great example of how music keeps you young! Enjoy.

video

Thursday, January 22, 2009

TMC IT Expo Momentum Building

I'll be plenty busy at TMC's IT Expo in about 10 days time, and have been posting fairly regularly about what I'll be up to. This is a short post to update on some recent coverage on TMCnet, some of which will tell you more about what you can expect to see from me at the Expo.

- Yesterday, Rich Tehrani ran a spotlight feature about my views on the IP comms space as well as some predictions for 2009. Thanks Rich!

- Yesterday, Rich also published a list of thought leaders for his readers to come meet at the Expo, and it was nice see him include me there. I'm really glad he's doing this, as there will be lots of smart people at the conference from all ends of the market - analysts, vendors, service providers, PR, etc. - and we all know that the best part of these events is the time we spend talking to each other and learning from each other. I know I'll be seeking out a few of those people on his list.

- Also yesterday, TMC's Erik Linask wrote a piece about 4G. It was nice to see him cite my latest TMCnet column there, but more importantly, he's drawing attention - as I am doing here - to the 4G Wireless Evolution conference, which is co-located at the IT Expo. This event warrants its own attention, and not just because 4G is a big deal for the entire mobile sector. It also marks the debut of Carl Ford and Scott Kargman in the conference space following the demise of VON. I'm not alone in being very happy to see this happen, and am looking forward to dropping in on their sessions as time allows.

- To round this post out, last week, TMC's Greg Galitzine ran a Q&A piece with me about the SIP Trunking sessions that take place during the Expo. That will be one of my main involvements there, and if you're interested in SIP Trunking, this should be high up on your list at the show.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Deloitte's Predictions Event

Yesterday I attended Deloitte's annual Predictions 2009 event here in Toronto. This is their 8th year doing this, and it keeps getting bigger and better, so there's definitely an appetite for their views. The presentation is built around Deloitte's ongoing global research covering TMT - Technology, Media, Telecom. There's a whole lot there, and for each area of TMT, they have 10 major global predictions. Yesterday's focus was on the Canadian market, and as a teaser, they narrowed it down to 13 with the most local impact.

The presentation was primarily led by Duncan Stewart, who is Deloitte Canada's Director of Research. He did a great job and is a very engaging presenter - not too geeky, but with enough edge to explain why these trends matter for the audience.

Key takeaway trends that resonated for me...

- Newspapers are in trouble - which we all know, but maybe not fully enough. The demand for news is actually growing, but their business model is broken and they're not moving fast enough. Lots to talk about here.

- The power grid needs to - and will - get a lot smarter in 2009. There is no other aspect of public infrastructure more critical for everyone, yet in such serious need of modernizing. We take power for granted, but SmartGrid technologies can't come along fast enough, and he talked about some Canadian companies doing great things here.

- Netbooks are very hot, and for good reason. Pretty impressive trend data showing just how popular they're becoming and why. I want one!

- Social networking in business is on the rise - not just because it's familiar to many of us, but because as IT investments go, it's very affordable, and can deliver a great ROI, especially in terms of knowledge management.

- Mobile advertising is set to take off. No surprise there, and this touched on a few trends actually. Was nice to see Duncan cite some Canadian winners in this space, namely Impact Mobile, MyThum and OZ Communications - companies I've posted about in the past.

- Mobile broadband is huge, but networks aren't expanding fast enough to manage the traffic. He cited companies like Sandvine, Bridgewater, DragonWave and Redline as having success helping carriers do this, not just for Canadian carriers, but globally as well.

- The browser is becoming the new OS. I really liked that line - he's basically saying that SaaS and cloud computing will be a major trend in 2009, and based on some of my current client work, I couldn't agree more. He cited a great stat showing how Microsoft has lost 10% of the browser market in the last 12 months, and he noted that he can't think of any other example where they've lost that much share in so little time. It's coming of course at the expense of Linux, but Chrome is gaining adoption too. This will be a very interesting and important space and I'll be following it for sure.

Overall, nothing really groundbreaking here, and for many of you, this will be familiar ground. Fair enough, but it's not just telecom here, and I like the broader view that Deloitte brings to all this. Plus, they focus as much on the business implications and homegrown solutions as the actual nuts and bolts behind each trend.

Finally, what I really liked about Predictions is how Deloitte is using the tools themselves to make this event interesting. Have a look at their website, which will give you all kinds of Predictions 2009 content - both traditional and new media. Aside from the press release and pdf downloads of the highlights, you can also view video clips of Duncan's presentations, a Flickr photo album, and links to all the other social networking tools they're using to build community around Deloitte's thought leadership. Definitely not your father's accounting firm.


John Ruffolo - opening remarks




Duncan Stewart moderating the group panel - Simon Avery (Globe & Mail), Barry Reiter (Bennett Jones), Harry Gruner (JMI Equity)



Room was packed - over 500 people, plus others watching the live web feed

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is VoIP Dead? The Sequel - My Latest TMC Article

For some of you, this issue is dead and gone, and beaten to death. Maybe so, but I still believe the flavor of VoIP that I'm seeing a lot of is very much alive and kicking in 2009. Some of this may just be arguing semantics, but the dialog that flowed from my last TMCnet article back on December 29 sure was interesting, and I've since felt obliged to follow this up and clarify things.

My latest Service Provider Views article ran today on TMCnet, and all that's left for me to do here is steer you to the link.

Give it a read, and tell me whether this changes your thinking or not. My position hasn't changed, and in fact, I've updated it with some developments that have come since my last article. Let's see where this goes...

Monday, January 19, 2009

eComm 2009 - Early Bird Discount Ends Today!

Last week I posted a few updates about eComm 2009, and can only assume you've bought your ticket and booked your travel by now. Right?

If not...the Early Bird discount ends today, so if you put it off til later, the prices goes up $300 starting tomorrow. Once you've got your credit card ready, here's the registration page!

And if that's not enough incentive, you can get an additional 20% savings by using my promotional discount code. I posted about this a few weeks back, and this extra discount is in effect up til February 17. So, you can apply it today and get a double discount, or just use it on its own for the remaining time after today. Let me know if you're interested.

For those of you still not sure why you need to be there, Lee has been posting some very thought provoking content on the eComm blog the past few days about the future of telecom, and it's a pretty good indicator of the kinds of people who will be speaking at the conference. He's been putting up transcripts of interviews, and while they make for VERY long posts, it's a nice option for those who can't spare 45 minutes or so to listen through the podcasts of each one.

And don't forget, you can catch Lee live tomorrow at 11am EST on Alec Saunder's Squawk Box podcast.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ingate SIP Trunking Sessions at IT Expo

Wanted to draw some attention to one of the activities that will be keeping me busy at the IT Expo in about 2 weeks time. With each day, there's more and more stuff going on, and everyone involved is trying to lock down their sessions, meetings, presentations, etc.

On Monday and Wednesday of the Expo, I'll be doing things with Ingate and their SIP Trunking Sessions. I posted some details the other day, and you can see the full agenda here.

To support the event, Ingate has issued a press release, and TMC's Greg Galitzine did a Q&A with me the other day. You can read the interview here, and you can register for the sessions here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nortel - the Good News: Web.Alive

Ok, ok - it's pretty hard to ignore the bombshell news that's on front pages everywhere today in Canada. It looks like Nortel is going to seek bankruptcy protection, perhaps as early as today. This may be a minor story in the U.S. business press, but it's a big story in tech/telecom, and a HUGE story here in Canada.

You don't need me to tell you what Nortel means to Canada in terms of pride and joy, although that's more of a distant memory these days. Today's news isn't totally unexpected, and Nortel is hardly alone in facing hard times. Still, it hurts, and sadly takes Canada down a notch or two in the scheme of things. Of course we have tons of successful and promising tech companies here, but if you mashed them all together, they would still be far behind all the things Nortel has accomplished over the years.

Seems that every time I have an interesting post to write, I get trumped by something like this. I had a great demo call with Nortel yesterday, and I'm probably the only one out there writing something positive about the company today. As big as this morning's news is, I don't care. My story is better, and I'm gonna give you some good news about Nortel! :-)

So, what's Web.Alive? Last week I posted about Web.Alive and Nortel's announcement at CES with Lenovo. If this is new to you, then you should start with that post. Web.Alive is Nortel's virtual collaboration platform, and was developed with help from DiamondWare, a company I know quite well that Nortel acquired last year.

Lenovo is their first commercial customer, and yesterday I got a personalized demo in the Lenovo eLounge, led by the key Web.Alive leaders, namely Arn Hyndman and Nic Sauriol. This is a very cool experience, and if you're a gamer you'll find this a lot of fun. I'm not a gamer, and it took a little getting used to, but it's a pretty intuitive experience. Everyone has an avatar - which can be personalized, of course - and once you're in the eLounge, it's like being in Second Life. You can wander around, talk to people, ask questions, and most importantly, check out all the Lenovo laptop computers there for sale.

As you read this, you're getting a mental picture, which is fine, but once you experience this and interact with others in the lounge, you'll get a much better understanding about what makes this a great application. For example, when I start looking at the features of a particular laptop, the bottom of the screen dynamically links to a spec sheet in real time off the Lenovo website. So, while I'm getting a close up 360 look at the laptop, I can also review the speeds and feeds as well as the special price if I buy it during my eLounge visit.

At one level, this will really appeal to people who love the virtual reality experience, and those who are into shopping at 3 am - wherever they are on the planet. That's pretty neat - and a great way for a manufacturer to extend their retail presence without building standalone stores. It's also an option for people who aren't comfortable dealing with sales people in person, or people who want to project a different persona when out there shopping.

On a one-to-one level, Web.Alive makes a lot of sense. But it gets even more interesting when you think about the collaborative possibilities. During the demo, I was taken to siderooms where you can have private meetings, or presentation rooms, where in depth demos were done for a seated audience. People are free to drop in and out of conversations - just like you would in a real store. The more people there are in the eLounge, the greater the chances are you'll talk with others who may share your interests, or who can help answer your questions. I could go on, but you really need to see it for yourself. You can check out the Lenovo eLounge for yourself here, although I don't know how much you can really experience without a guided tour.

Beyond selling laptops, I should add that Web.Alive has all kinds of other applications. First and foremost, sure, it's a great 3.0 platform to help companies grow their sales online. It's also a natural forum for training, distance education and meetings. At Nortel's analyst day back in May, they showed us how Web.Alive can be an effective substitute for video conferencing, and even telepresence. Taking this a step further, they envision Web.Alive replacing the PBX altogher, and becoming the native platform for all forms of everyday communication.

That last point to me is the BIG IDEA, and the next curve for companies to jump to when thinking about communications. There's a lot of exciting innovation happening here, and while it's still ahead of what the market is ready for, I think it shows vision for where things are going and what Communications 3.0 is going to mean.

To me, that sure looks like the mojo Nortel had when they were BNR, and Cisco wasn't on the map. Perhaps this is too little too late, but Web.Alive may well be the most valuable asset Nortel has that can be a game changer for someone who gets it. Am sure the Nortel watchers have much higher priorities today, but if you want to look beyond the smoke to see what will have value tomorrow, this is where I'd be going.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

eComm Updates

Yesterday, the IT Expo; today, eComm.

These two events have been keeping me busy lately, and I've got two items to share about eComm 2009. As I've been posting recently, the program is coming together nicely and the sponsor support has been healthy. That's great news considering how difficult the economy is. The next step is getting the word out and ultimately getting attendees to register so we know who's coming!

Before getting to the eComm news, I wanted to share a great post from Andy Abramson, who's just back from MacWorld and CES last week. He goes to way more events than me, and his post is a great read for anyone worried about the health of the conference space. Of course they're all hurting financially and are scaling back accordingly. However, as Andy can attest first-hand, there is still tremendous value in attending.

Even if the shows are smaller, the key players are usually there, and there's no better opportunity to learn from and network among your peers over a few days. How's that for a nice segue into eComm? And of course, it applies equally well to the IT Expo, and any other show you have some history with. We all have to be more selective these days, but events like these matter, and are still the best way to stay involved.

On that note, the press release for eComm 2009 went out this morning, and you should give it a read for the latest list of topics and sponsors. Not to mention the early bird discount! I posted about getting this discount last month, and if you didn't take advantage of that, here's your second chance!

There's also a more interactive news item to pass along. Alec Saunders is going to resume his widely-followed Squawk Box interviews, and next Tuesday - January 20 - he'll be interviewing eComm founder Lee Dryburgh. It will be a great opportunity to hear from Lee directly about what eComm 2009 is focusing on, and of course to join the conversation yourself. The interview will be hosted on Alec's Calliflower platform, and you can read the details on his post.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

TMC IT Expo Updates

TMC's ITExpo East 2009 event is quickly approaching, and I wanted to provide some updates.

First, I wanted to mention a nice gesture TMC is doing to help out those who been recently impacted by our weak economy. Rich Tehrani posted about this last week, and it's worth repeating here. TMC is offering free conference passes to industry people who are recently out of work. If this speaks to you or someone you know, please have a look at Rich's post for the details. Nicely done, TMC!

On my front, I'll be quite busy at the Expo. First off, I'll be moderating two sessions:

- Service Provider IP Telephony: Considerations

- Driving Benefits Through Analytics


I'm also going to be wearing my TMC hat as part of TMC Editor Week. I've been invited to join their Editorial team to participate in briefings with IT Expo participants. It's a great idea - sort of a "meet the press" thing, where TMC avails its roster of Editors and contributors like me to participants looking for our views on the market, their company, etc. These briefings are being organized by TMC, so it's not an open invitation. However, if you come by the Press Room, and see me at a table in the area dedicated to TMC Editor Week, at least you'll know why.


Switching hats now, I'll also be presenting two segments during Ingate's "back by popular demand" SIP Trunking Sessions:

- Technology Survival Roadmap - SIP Trunking and Beyond

- Just for Carriers: SIP Trunk Intensive Workshop

The sesssions are free, and you can register to attend here. Ingate and TMC have worked hard to build this up into a very popular draw at the IT Expo, and I'm really looking forward to being part of it. You can also read more about it in the press release that just went out this morning.

Finally, on Tuesday morning, I'll be hosting a business breakfast sponsored by the Canada/Ontario delegation that is showcasing Ontario tech companies at the IT Expo. Attendees will get to meet representatives from the following companies: SVKSoftware, Pronexus, Industry Dynamics, Macadamian, Ingenius, OmniWare, ObjectWorld, Jazinga, Phybridge, Callture, Vision Max and Sigma Systems.

Attendance is limited and is on an RSVP basis. The breakfast is primarily targeted at South Florida companies looking to do business with Ontario tech companies, especially those in the delegation. For more information, drop me a line, and I can send you an invitation. You can reach me at: jon@jarnoldassociates.com

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Nortel's Web.Alive Debut with Lenovo at CES

I'm not a big CES follower, but you can't miss all the noise and news coming from the big players, especially Cisco's push into the home. It's all to be expected, and it sure will be interesting to see just how much uptake all this cool technology will have as the economy continues to decline. I had a long chat about this yesterday with a close friend in the U.S. financial sector, and it's pretty clear that we're shifting from an economy based on wants to one based on needs. It's painful, but I'm sort of glad it's happening. I'm not a fan of globalization, and in times like these we become more grounded out of necessity. I digress...

This is an awkward lead-in to my post, but that's how my mind is working right now. So, back to CES.

My post is about Nortel's announcement today for Web.Alive and how Lenovo is using it to help sell laptops. Web.Alive is a product of Nortel's Project Chainsaw initiative, which I was very privy to back in May. If using virtual worlds to facilitate commerce and collaboration is of interest, you may want to read my post about this, as well as their subsequent acquisition of DiamondWare in August - a move that I think really positions Nortel at the front of this exciting market opportunity.

These initiatives are ahead of what the market is ready for, but it's not hard to see the possibilities, especially as the quality of these virtual experiences gets to be so good and intuitive. Not being at CES, I'm not able to experience this first hand in the Lenovo "e-Lounge", but I will get my chance when the Nortel folks are back from CES. Look for a follow up post from me about this then.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Truphone - Helping Keep VoIP Alive and Well

In my most recent Service Provider Views column, I identified a number of companies that typify the innovation taking place now in VoIP that I think will make this an exciting space in 2009. One of them is Truphone, and readers of my blog will know that I’ve followed them for some time.

Yesterday I had a chance to speak with their new CEO, Geraldine Wilson, and it was great way to get a first hand update on what they’re announcing this week and next. Between Macworld and CES, they are playing on some big and important stages, and this alone should tell you that VoIP is far from dead.

Even casual followers of Truphone understand what they’ve done to advance mobile VoIP, and how they were the first VoIP application available to iPhone users from the App Store. That alone makes them worth watching. We all know that mobile VoIP will become mainstream sooner or later, so there’s nothing really groundbreaking there.

The more interesting news that will be announced during these two events has to do with broadening the scope of how we communicate with smartphones, and making them even more relevant to our everyday lives. While the focus is on the iPhone and iTouch, it's just a matter of time until these capabilities become true value-adds for smartphones as a category. I've always viewed smartphones as pocket-sized PCs rather than telephones, and Truphone is making some big strides now for extending the desktop experience to your mobile world.

First, is the introduction of IM on the Apple devices. This capability will be launched now for Skype and Google, and in time, they will add MSN and Yahoo. Using a touchscreen to tap out an IM is not my idea of time well spent, but my son Max would just love it. The IM feature is important for a couple of reasons. Aside from being a quick, convenient way to communicate, it's habit-forming, and cheaper than SMS. This is something that many Apple fans I'm sure will pick up on right away. This leads to my second point, which is presence. Wow. With IM, Truphone adds presence to the iPhone and iTouch. That's a cornerstone Web/Voice 2.0 feature, and with presence, communication becomes a much more powerful aspect of using these devices. This opens the door to all types of presence-enabled applications that I'm sure will turn up in the App Store very soon.

Second, is the ability now to move between an IM session and a voice call on these devices. This is where I think Truphone makes things very interesting, and more importantly, this is where they can make some money. It doesn't take much to see how appealing this combination can be - start out doing IM with your friend, and then deciding on the fly you want to talk instead. All in the same session - that's great.

With these two capabilities, Truphone has made some huge communities - Skype and Google - much more relevant to iPhone and iTouch users. Those buddy lists and address books will become much more valuable, not just for Apple users but the service providers carrying these sessions. It's a big deal for Truphone, but to me, it's an even bigger deal for Apple, as it validates the power of the smartphone, not just for communicating, but for community building. Neither Skype nor Google have yet to effectively extend their respective communities to the mobile world, but Truphone now makes that possible for them. I'm sure both are thrilled!

An interesting sidebar to watch will be how this impacts the behavior of iTouch users. With Truphone, they now have less of a reason to carry a cell phone. Since the iTouch really only works with WiFi for voice, it won't be a total switchout, but I'll bet it will be enough to catch the media's attention. That said, I don't see this cannibalizing iPhone sales, but you never know.

Looking ahead, the next frontier for me would be federating these capabilities across IM communities. Let's say I IM a Skype contact and escalate that to a voice call. Then my presence indicator tells me another contact on Google is available, and I've decided I want to patch that person into my Skype call. Ultimately that defeats the purpose of having distinct communities, but it sure would be a powerful feature to have.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

December 2008 Media Roundup

Am a few days late getting this out, but as usual, I'm doing a brief recap of where I turned up in the media last month.

First, some citings in various stories covered by the media...

- BroadSoft's acquisition of Sylantro - Telephony Online

- Nortel's prospects - The Readerboard, and TMCnet

- SMB IP telephony options - Financial Post

- Avaya Canada's 2009 roadmap - ITBusiness.ca

Switching gears to other media, I was also featured in a national TV interview, an in-depth podcast, and a press release:

- Wireless substitution trends in Canada - CBC TV News, Toronto

- Social media in the enterprise - podcast with Socialcast CEO Tim Young, Business Trends Quarterly

- Orasi Software's partnership with HP - press release

I was also busy on the writing front, with my regular Service Provider Views columns for TMCnet, and some Ask the Expert commentaries for TechTarget:

- VoIP in 2008 - 'I'm Not Dead' - TMCnet

- Microsoft and Service Providers Part 2: Progress Interrupted But Not Stopped - TMCnet

For TechTarget, registration is required to read the full text, but it just takes a minute.

- 2009 VoIP Outlook, Unified Communications Ask the Expert

- Green Advantages of VoIP over PBXs, Unified Communications Ask the Expert


Finally, TechTarget recently published its Top 20 Unified Communications/IP Telephony Ask the Expert Answers of 2008. Am happy to report that 5 of the top 20 responses for 2008 were mine:

- Can I keep my PBX while migrating to VoIP?

- Can I configure mobile VoIP on my company smartphone?

- Is the iPhone a good choice for my business?

- Configuring a cost-effective VoIP network for overseas calls

- How will employee desktop video use affect our network?

Monday, January 5, 2009

eComm 2009 Updates

Lee Dryburgh has been busy over the holidays, and I wanted to update you on two items in particular, both of which are posted on the eComm blog.

First is the charity appeal he's just launched for the Shelter Network. In its purest form, this is a noble effort to raise money for homeless people in the San Francisco area. That's the simple part. Lee is an engineer, and nothing is simple for him, so there's more to the story. This initiative is tied into two other concepts - raising awareness/selling tickets to eComm 2009, and testing the effectiveness of social media to support causes like this.

There's a lot to consider here, and that explains why Lee's blog post about this is so long. I'm doing my part by blogging about it now, and hopefully a few of you will keep the thread going, especially if you regularly use social media tools. I do not, so this is as far as it goes for me. Anyhow, it certainly is a worthy cause, and if you want to support our eComm community, this is a very nice way to go.

Second is yet another go-round of the VoIP-dead-or-alive debate that started with my TMC article last Monday. This conversation has taken a life of its own the past few days, and even Jeff Pulver has waded in a couple of times. Well, one of these posts caught Lee's eye and yesterday he countered with a post of his own, essentially inviting Jeff to support and even speak at eComm.

Interesting, huh? Why Lee would use a public forum to do this, and why he - or anyone for that matter - would post about a conference on a Sunday - at the end of the XMas break to boot - is totally beyond me, but it did not go unnoticed.

There has been some dialog around this, and it will be interesting to see if Jeff puts any effort behind Lee's request. As a member of the eComm Advisory Board, I'd love to see Jeff help bring more community around eComm, but we all know it's not so simple. Just like seeing Carl moderate at the ITExpo, this type of outreach really gets your attention, and if you could put a host of issues aside, there could be a lot of upside for everyone. That's a pretty big "if", but hey, it's Day 1 of 2009 in the working world, and hopefully we've all made resolutions to make the world a better place.

Friday, January 2, 2009

VoIP's Prognosis - Depends Who You Ask/What Sources Work For You?

When I published my latest Service Provider Views article on TMCnet on Monday - "I'm Not Dead" - I didn't give it much thought once it went live. My articles get comments here and there, but nothing like this.

Andy Abramson and Alec Saunders picked up on it first, and from there, it sure has hit a nerve. Over the past couple of days, the premise as to whether VoIP is dead or alive has taken a life of its own in the blogosphere, and there are clearly fans on both sides. Alec has done a great job keeping this dialog going, and I'll point you to his post from Wednesday night that has a very helpful roundup of links to the most noteable commentary, including Jeff Pulver (yes!), Om Malik, Ken Camp, Ted Wallingford, Andy Abramson, Garrett Smith, Lee Dryburgh, as well as our posts - his and mine - that ran on Circle ID.

Since then, I'd like to add a few other voices to the mix - Stuart Henshall, Lee's more extensive comments on the eComm blog, Jazinga's Shidan Gouran (on his brand new blog - welcome!), and Israeli colleague Moshe Maeir from Flat Planet Phone Company.

Lots to think about there, and with this post being a day or two removed from most of the recent commentary, I'm not so sure there's much connection any more with my article. I find it really interesting how these conversations evolve in the blogosphere, and that everyone has an opinion, and people take sides very quickly. From what I can tell, I'm the only person in this mix whose views were presented in the form of a published article. Everything else has been blog posts, and it sure is interesting to see how organically and virally conversations evolve in this medium.

Before moving on, I just want to pass a hat tip on to Andy Abramson. He was the first to cite my article, and that's when this whole thing started to pick up momentum. My blog is not as widely followed as others cited above, and more importantly, I don't think bloggers follow the industry media all that much any more. So, if not for Andy, I'm not so sure any of these conversations would be happening.

So, for me, this is an interesting sidebar to whether you think VoIP is dead or alive. Most bloggers I follow are much better informed about our space than the media, and all the threads I've read on this topic have valid points of view. But they're not getting published in the mainstream, and I see two problems stemming from that.

First, the mainstream is missing out on some valuable insights from people who are really in the know. Of course there are tons of journalistic issues around this, but that's another conversation.

Second, the blogosphere can be insular and self-selecting, so we're often just talking amongst ourselves. Am not sure if there's an indifference towards the trade press from bloggers, but I do wonder if there's an unhealthy disconnect out there between these two camps. Yes, there are journalists/editors who blog, but most bloggers are not from this world.

By the way, I'm not taking sides here - am reflecting more on how the process of getting and staying informed is changing in the Internet world, and how it's different for everyone. I don't have the answers at hand for these issues, but I think they're important, and probably warrant a forum for separate conversation. That's another thread I'd like to keep going in 2009.