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Posts from October 2009

FYI - you can sign up for my email newsletter...

I know that the concept of setting up an email newsletter sounds so... well... 1990's... but as I outline on my Disruptive Conversations blog, I'm doing some experimentation with email management tools... and so decided to create a list as an adjunct to my online writing. If you'd like to join my little experiment, the form to do so is here:
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Tim Panton's VERY cool demo: Google Wave + Skype + Asterisk + Ibook

Over on Skype Journal, Phil Wolf posted about Tim Panton's VERY cool demo which he gave at Astricon and then apparently just yesterday at eComm Europe. Tim from mashes up Google Wave, Skype, Asterisk (with Skype for Asterisk) and Ibook to make Skype calls from within a Wave, complete with recordings of utterances and, naturally, the ability to have an annotated collaboration session in Wave:

Phil quotes Jason Goecke (a colleague of mine at Voxeo) describing how it works:

"it is a Google Wave Gadget with his IAX2 Java softphone as the client. Then, the IAX2 Java phone connects to Asterisk with Skype for Asterisk installed. Then, there is a server-side element, Ibook, that is breaking apart utterances into individual files. So that as each person speaks, it captures it into its own file. Then, as that happens, a text frame is sent from Asterisk to the softphone with the file details. The gadget then uses some Javascript to embed a link. IAX2 supports text frames."

Read Phil's full post for more info and for Phil's views on what this all means.

VERY cool demo!

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Out at VoiceCon next week in SF - Presence, Web 2.0, Voice Mashups

voiceconsf2009.jpgIf any of you will be out at VoiceCon or Enterprise 2.0 next week in San Francisco, I'll be out there speaking at both conferences. I have the full schedule in a post on the Voxeo Talks blog, but for VoiceCon it looks like:
Monday, Nov 2 3:15 – 4:15 pm – Presence – Current Progress and Future Trends Wednesday, Nov 4 3:15 – 4:15 pm – Developing Voice Apps Using Mashups and SOA Thursday, Nov 5 8:00 – 9:45 am – Web 2.0 and Enterprise Communications – Fad or the Future?

The full descriptions can be found on a page on our Voxeo Events page. I'm very much looking forward to all three sessions out there. The first is a "reactor panel" where we have a discussion around the issue of getting richer presence info between systems - and moderator Don Van Doren specifically asked me to be there to react to what the larger vendors will be saying. The second panel is just two of us (myself and a gent from IBM) talking about creating mashups and then the last is a "Deep Dive" that Irwin Lazar and I will be doing into what is the state of "Web 2.0 in Enterprise Communications".

Should all be fun.... if you are out there at either conference, let me know. See some of you out there...

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Google enters the hosted voicemail game - Google Voice now lets you keep your existing phone number

googlevoice.jpgYesterday Google made another fascinating move in the telephony space... letting people use Google Voice with their existing phone number. This is key because previously if you wanted to try out Google Voice you had to get a new phone number that was different from any of your existing numbers.

Now a business or individual can move their existing number over to Google Voice... and Google can try to convert users over to their service from other services.

[UPDATE: Note that Google states that you can use Google Voice "with your existing mobile phone number", i.e. not a landline phone number. Others have pointed out that essentially all you are doing is forwarding your unanswered calls to Google's voicemail service instead of your mobile carrier's voicemail service. In this way, Google Voice is basically just like Jott or any of the many other similar services out there. Except, of course, it is from Google.]

When you use an existing number, Google Voice gives you these services:

  • Online, searchable voicemail
  • Free automated voicemail transcription
  • Custom voicemail greetings for different callers
  • Email and SMS notifications
  • Low-priced international calling

With a new phone number under Google's control, you get additional services like conferencing, call recording, call screening, etc. More significantly, you get what I consider the key feature of Google Voice:

One number that reaches you on all your phones

That's the value I get out of Google Voice. If you call me on +1-802-735-1624, it rings me on my mobile, on my desk phone, on Skype (via SkypeIn), on a SIP phone... and could on other phones as well. That "one number" service is not available for existing phone numbers... but only for new numbers Google controls.

Without that feature, Google Voice is essentially a hosted voicemail provider for your existing phone number.

Except, of course, it is free.

Free and part of the ever-growing suite of Google services.... and still in beta and still invitation-only... but yet, it is Google. It will be interesting to watch over time what disruption this new offering causes in the traditional hosted voicemail market.

Meanwhile, it's now out there and if you want to try Google Voice with an existing number, you can request an invitation or find someone with an existing GV account and ask them for one of their 3 invites. (Sorry, mine are all gone.)

UPDATE (10/30/09) - Also check out Dave Michel's post about the broader ramifications of this story.

P.S. You can also watch this video from Google:

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Is anyone surprised Fairpoint filed for bankruptcy? (How's that landline biz in 2009?)

fairpoint.jpgFrom the "Duh! What were they thinking?" desk, the big news up there in the northeastern part of the US is that our major local landline provider, Fairpoint Communications, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today. Last year, Fairpoint paid $2.4 billion for Verizon's landline business in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and formally took over the network earlier this year, with all sorts of ensuing service challenges which have been well-documented.

As FierceTelecom points out, this bankruptcy has been expected for quite some time now. Last week there was much publicity up in these parts about Fairpoint working with its unions and banks to try to avoid the formal filing... but obviously today's filing indicates that they couldn't pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. This morning, Fairpoint issued a news release and set up a web site about their restructuring:

Now, I should mention that I am a Fairpoint customer and do have a landline from them - I've also not personally had any customer service issues with their service. I am also not at all surprised.

I thought Fairpoint's acquisition of Verizon's landline business last year was an exceedingly dumb idea then - and I still think that today.

I mean... you don't need to be a rocket scientist or industry analyst to figure out that landlines are a dying business. Here's part of the overview from the most recent "Wireless Substitution" report from the US National Center for Health Statistics (my emphasis added):

More than one of every five American homes (20.2%) had only wireless telephones (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) during the second half of 2008, an increase of 2.7 percentage points since the first half of 2008. This is the largest 6-month increase observed since NHIS began collecting data on wireless-only households in 2003. In addition, one of every seven American homes (14.5%) received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones, despite having a landline telephone in the home.

I personally expect that trend to continue and if anything to accelerate as we collectively continue to choose mobile devices - and also as the cable companies and other players out there continue to offer compelling alternatives to the traditional landline. (Hmmm... and gee, do you think the cable companies up here aren't going to seize this opportunity to court Fairpoint customers?) And while I kept our landline for several reasons, I don't necessarily expect that I'll need it for a long time.

Sure... perhaps Fairpoint thought it could make money off the Internet access side of the house... I mean, buying your way into being the incumbent utility ought to be a good thing, right? But then again, the cable companies are right in there... as are the satellite folks and many others offering Internet access...

All I can say is kudos to whomever it was within Verizon that thought up this strategy of selling off their dying businesses to other companies... and let's see if they succeed in doing it again with Frontier Communications.

In the meantime, we will see what kind of chaos this filing stirs up today up here in both terms of business and political maneuverings...

It's also interesting to contemplate: what would happen if such a major utility like the "local phone company" were to completely fail?

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eComm Europe in Amsterdam this week (Oct 28-30) - THE show for communications disruption

Emerging Communications 2009For those out there interested in how telephony - and all communications - is being disrupted, the place to be this week is very definitely eComm Europe in Amsterdam. It's definitely a gathering of the "tribe" of people who are on out there defining the bleeding edge of the communications space. Great speakers, great schedule... it should be a great event!

Sadly, a schedule conflict prevented my attendance, but as I wrote about on the Voxeo Talks blog, Voxeo will have a presence there in the form of multiple speakers as well as a booth. More info can be found on the Voxeo event page at:

If you are at eComm Europe, please do say hello to RJ Auburn or Jay Phillips... or stop by our booth. Also, look for the fun giveaway in the eComm bag. ;-)

And if, like me, you can't get there... you can follow along in the eComm tweet stream and see info posted up on the eComm blog. It should be a great show, so I'm definitely looking forward to hearing and reading more about what goes on there.

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Of Skype, SIP, P2P and P2PSIP...

skype_logo.pngOver on Voxeo's Speaking of Standards blog, I put up a post today on:
Could Skype realistically replace its P2P algorithm with P2PSIP?

I decided to write it after reading the comments on Phil Wolff's post last week over on Skype Journal... mostly to talk a bit more about what P2PSIP is and how it compares to what Skype is using now.

While it's interesting to talk about on a technical level - and I admit to a complete fascination with the technology behind P2P networks - the reality is that none of us really know anything about what Skype is up to. :-)

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