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October 2010

Posts from September 2010

Paul Thurrott believes Android will conquer iPhones...

I own an iPhone. We have two, in fact... one that is my corporate phone provided by Voxeo and one that we bought for my wife as her personal phone. In the couple years I have been using it I have come to truly enjoy the user interface, the AppStore, the ecosystem, etc. It truly has changed how we as a society think of mobile devices.

But though I may be a Apple "fanboy" in many ways, I do have some grave concerns... such as the lock-in to the closed system controlled by Apple, which I wrote about at length related to the iPad. As a believer in open standards and an advocate for the open Internet, I'm glad to see Android out there... even as I read about it on my iPhone.

paulthurrot.jpgSo naturally I was intrigued to read Paul Thurrott's piece titled "Droid Attack Spells Doom for iPhone". I've been reading Paul's writing for years related to various Microsoft and Windows topics... so when one of the chief Windows evangelists I know writes about Android... well, I pay attention to it a bit. Paul relays the story of his wife's move to a Droid phone and his own experience upon receiving a Droid X. (With, of course, the obligatory reference to Windows Phone 7 which he naturally views as superior. :-) )

You can read the piece for his full review, but he believes the devices truly have parity with the iPhone... and the "horrible" Android Market is where the Droid offerings fall down. He ends with this:

Aside from the abysmal online store experiences, however, Android and the Droid X are first rate. And looking ahead, I'll be comparing this system to the upcoming first generation Windows Phone 7 devices and to Apple's latest iPhone to see where these systems fall. For now, however, Android and the Droid X are, warts and all, already neck and neck with the iPhone 4. It's scary to think how one-sided this would be if Google just put a handful of UI experts on the marketplace. Game over, Apple. Game over.

That's the point, though. Apple has focused on the user experience. If you buy into the whole Apple stack (meaning their devices, iTunes, even Mac OS X), it's a wonderfully simple, easy-to-use, painless - and often delightful - experience.

But again, Apple's ecosystem is a closed, walled garden controlled by Apple. The user experience is so simple because Apple has constrained the choices. Open systems are messy. Open standards take a (usually long) while to evolve and converge.

The challenge before Google, and before Microsoft as they attempt again to re-enter the space, is to promote an open system[1] yet still deliver the simple and easy user experience that Apple delivers. I hope on one level that they succeed... we need the competition out there to keep the innovation accelerating. But it's a big challenge.

I don't think, Paul, that it's "Game over" for Apple at all... I think the game is just going to get more interesting...

[1] And I actually don't know how "open" Microsoft's system will be...

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Grandstream embeds Skype into their IP phone to bring Skype video to desktop

grandstreamskypephone.jpgI've admittedly not followed the IP phone market all that much since leaving my Mitel days behind 3 years ago, but Phil Wolff over at Skype Journal published a good article today outlining what Grandstream has done with integrating Skype into their GXV3140 IP phone.

Grandstream is using Skype's "SkypeKit" SDK and according to Phil developed their own Skype client in about six weeks.

In his post, Phil walks through a range of screenshots showing how the client works inside the IP phone. It's worth a read to see how Grandstream chose to integrate Skype with their set.

It's interesting to see this integration on a couple of levels:

  • DUAL CLIENTS (SIP AND SKYPE) - The IP phone is now both a regular extension on a (presumably SIP-based) IP-PBX and a client of the Skype network. Two different networks in the one device.

  • GOOD USE OF VIDEO - As people start doing more video calls (I know I have been doing more), it makes a lot of sense to take a desk phone with a camera and let it talk to other people out there on other systems (rather than just the one it is connected to).

  • TEXT CHAT? - Phil shows screenshots of Skype chat sessions and how you could chat... I'm personally not sure I would see people doing that much of it on the phone given that you have to use the numeric keypad. I would assume that an IP phone like this is on a desk where there would typically also be a computer with a real keyboard... so why not just use that keyboard for chats?

  • PERFORMANCE? - Given that it supports chats, I would be curious to see how it would actually work with someone like me who HEAVILY uses Skype chats. I've found that the degree to which I use chats pretty much kills the performance of Skype clients on, for instance, mobile devices like the iPhone.

All in all an intriguing move by Grandstream. I don't know how many folks will want to buy this phone, but the ~$250 price point is definitely competitive. Will be interesting to see... and thanks, Phil, for giving us this tour.

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iOS 4.1 *does* help make the iPhone 3G faster

nomoresnail.jpgAs readers know, my upgrading of my iPhone 3G to iOS 4.0 was one of the dumbest IT moves I've made in ages and turned it into a virtually useless piece of junk.  (This video someone made sadly shows how bad it was.)  Rather than undertaking one of the various processes to downgrade my iPhone to iOS 3.1.3, I decided to wait a couple of weeks to see if either: 1) Apple released a fix; or 2) my number would come up in Voxeo's internal queue of upgrades to the iPhone 4.

As it happened, both events happened near the same time. :-)

Just in time for my next trip when I would need to be using the iPhone 3G, I did upgrade it to iOS 4.1 and was delighted to find that:


The phone got back its snappiness and it no longer took forever to open up applications or even let me answer a call. It still didn't seem as quick as it might have been before... but it was now in the realm of USABLE.

So if you made the mistake of upgrading your iPhone 3G to iOS 4.0 and have not already moved to 4.1, I can tell you that it worked great for me and hopefully will for you as well.

P.S. So why am I writing some of this article in the past tense? Well, a couple of days after returning from my trip, a small box arrived at my home from Voxeo HQ... yes, indeed, my place in Voxeo's upgrade queue had been reached and I now have a shiny new iPhone 4! So at this point my concern about my 3G has gone away ... :-)

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Voxeo's looking for a Java guru...

voxeologohoriz.pngJust a quick note that Voxeo (my employer) is looking to add a Java guru to our engineering team ...

Coming up on 3 years that I will have been here, I can't say enough good about the company - if you know Java and are looking for an awesome company to join that's on the bleeding edge of communications, do check out the job description and apply online.

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Will iOS 4.1 really fix the glacially slow iPhone 3G problem?

As readers know, upgrading my iPhone 3G to iOS 4.0 was one of the dumbest things I've ever done. The iPhone 3G continues to be virtually unusable... this video parody is unfortunately rather accurate.

So when Steve Jobs announced last week that iOS 4.1 would be out soon with a fix for the iPhone 3G, I was thrilled to hear that.  Now Mark Gurman over at 9To5Mac has come out with a "Complete iOS 4.1 Walkthrough" that lists off what is in the forthcoming iOS4.1:


All that other stuff in iOS 4.1 looks great, if you have an iPhone 4... but all I want is my phone to start functioning again and not be so insanely slow.

P.S. Yes, I do know, and have written about, that you can downgrade an iPhone 3G. I haven't done that yet... waiting, mostly for this bug fix from Apple. If it works, I'm all set... if not, then yes, I'll be downgrading this useless piece of ____ :-)

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Daddy, what's a "dialtone"?

I had to laugh when I saw this tweet from Dave Troy last week:


With the ubiquity of mobile phones and the change they bring to the dialing paradigm, will the generation growing up now only really know about "dial tone" as a historical artifact mentioned in places like Wikipedia?

For those of us who are older, we grew up with idea that you picked up the phone, listened for the dial tone, and THEN dialed your number.  But only AFTER you heard the dial tone indicating that everything was working.

Today of course we pull out our mobile phone, enter a number or choose it from our address book - and then hit the "send" or "call" button (or whatever icon is on your phone, usually a green one).  We don't "listen for a dial tone"... because there isn't one!  Similarly, on the SIP phone on my desk that is connected into our corporate IP-PBX, I enter the phone number I'm calling and press the "Dial" button.

Again, no "dial tone".

Amazing times we live in...

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Mashable Faceoff Poll: Skype vs Google Voice - care to vote?

The folks over at are running one of their "faceoff" polls between Skype and Google Voice - right now it's neck-and-neck between Skype and Google Voice. Care to share your opinion?  Click on the image to go to Mashable's page:


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