Are the New Times are Better: WebRTC vs. VoIP?

If you have been with me in at past events, you know that things have a tendency to go in cycles And go knows I have seen a lot of cycles. I can remember listening to the father of analog switching telling me that digital was overrated. I can remember my own ATM bigotry as I would talk about differentiated services which no one had truly developed, while the Internet stole the show. I remember QoS VoIP debates that treated the session like a call and fundamentally did not see the amazing results possible with Best Effort.
All of this brought us to the Internet’s next wave of transformation and once again the innovator’s are blowing past those of us that see dilemmas.
WebRTC is not a replacement protocol it’s an adoption strategy. Like Apple changed the game with music and smart phones, WebRTC changes video and the web.
Video with a royalty free codec, that is light enough to be used in a variety of real time scenarios, trumps the video streaming rivals. Changing the game by building a diverse ecosystem is the goal.
The WebRTC world is definitely a diverse ecosystem, that like VoIP provides a variety of solutions. In effect the popularity of the demo event shows the richness of opportunity.
A lot of friends have told me this feels like old times and for some of us who have participated in a number of next generations it will feel good to be together again in Atlanta. To see the enthusiasm is always a pleasure, but the point of participation is to find out how you can take advantage of the opportunity.
If you have been with me in the past use this code and join me with this next generation. Being at the Cobb Galleria again will be a great chance to connect the past with the future.
And as we have seen with the Internet the future keeps getting better and closer than we think.

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If Devices are Merging with the Software Companies Is the Network Next?

My cynical friends are arguing about who is the better acquisition for Microsoft?  RIM or Nokia.  The argument starts with a very good analysis from John Gruber about Microsoft’s Surface announcement and that from a marketing perspective MSFT cannot get out of its own way.

However, at the end of the day I am still not sure this makes sense.   We will include this in our discussion on Apple Tel to be held on August 16th.   Join us by clicking here to register

To Review here are the market caps that matter

COMPANY STOCK SYMBOL MARKET CAP
AMAZON AMZN 101 B
Apple AAPL 567 B
ATT T 208 B
Clearwire CLWR     2 B
Google GOOG 191 B
Intel INTC 132 B
Microsoft MSFT 254 B
Nokia NOK     8 B
Nuance NUAN     8 B
Oracle ORCL 142 B
Orange FTE   33 B
RIM RIMM     4 B
Sprint S   10 B
Telefonica TEF   19 B
Verizon VZ 126 B
Vodafone VOD 138 B

 

I dont find the tablet particularly as strong as everyone else does.  As a matter of fact.  I find it less and less intriguing for business work.  While most of meetings were innudated with iPads a year ago the PC has come back strong.

I believe companies are lemming like when it comes to decisions.  Google made GoogleTalk and Froogle at the sametime which made ebay knee jerk to buy Skype.  I can make a case that Microsoft made the Skype acquisition just to get it out of proximity to Avaya which could have really used it.  But like other Venture funds Silver Lakes goal was maximize revenue not find synergies.

Now comes the integrated hardware story and candidly i don’t like it. I can not afford to buy an Apple toaster everytime they decide to screw around.  I find myself in the apple store these days almost as much as I am in the grocery store putting up with the near genius of barring me from touching my machine in a useful manner.

Candidly Apple’s biggest genius is the fact they have “insourced” the truck roll to retail outlet.  I never walk into an empty store.  It’s clear I am in the Whole Foods computer market.  I make an appointment and wait.

If this is the future of computing we should stop talking about the cloud.

I am having a rough time buying that hardware integration is essential for today’s software.  I think the history of Nokia’s Symbian problems should make Microsoft shy away (since it can’t resolve its own legacy issues).

At least RIM has a JAVA story that can match well to the Windows  Server migration strategy.  One other thing we should notice.  RIM has hired ex Microsoft exec Alec Saunders, who is evangelizing development efforts and I think he is making headway.

However, the story is not about a phone, it’s about the network of resources

Given the fact that we use a smart phone only 15% of time to talk I think the term smart phone is rapidly becoming the 2012 version of Vint Cerf’s “Horseless Carriage”.  I think Microsoft should as Henry Sinnreich says, “Leave the Dead to Bury the Dead.”

If you are looking for the blue ocean strategy for Microsoft,  I think the launch pad is xbox.  They have included augmented reality and what they should do is embrace and expand beyond the iPad.

What should Microsoft do next?  I think the answer is to get Voice Recognition rock solid.  From that point of view, I would suggest that Nuance is the only company in the market worth buying.

If we are going to get to our Star Trek future the voice recognition is the path.   However, almost everything I know about voice recognition is based on software not hardware.  I cannot make a case that the hardware is the important part of this equation.

I don’t think the device of our future has fallen into our lap yet.

And if Apple wants to own a network, someone is going to have to show me how the margins improve for them.

 

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Are We Setting Precedent or Just Looking over a Precipice

Greeks are having elections; PACs are gathering Millions and Apple had their Developer Conference. It’s easy to see why; I am not catching a lot of attention. According to the news we are on the precipice. My articles focus on the precedents.

In conversations this week, I have been told that my Regulatory 2.0 efforts at best can solve minor nits. Market trends point to consolidation and regardless of who wins the election telecom initiatives are mired in problematic policies. It does not take much analysis to see the analytics of the device and apps company are a much better picture than the Service Providers data equivalent of three tone slope.

I see the issues of Net Neutrality as being more of a last device rather than a last mile issue and I would love for you agree or disagree here http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MHCFC6K.

However some policy changes give me hope.

Brough Turner and Tom Evslin both recognized that in the commissions super WiFi decision we were getting a new precedent on how spectrum would be allocated. I shared that point captured in Rich Steves’ article http://bit.ly/KALGtx opportunity.

Another precedent is WebRTC which is captured by our friend Alan Quayle in his article for No Jitter http://bit.ly/K9UOz2 . I tweeted the question, “Does WebRTC force the carriers to VoLTE? “

As over the top becomes the norm, I here that it’s all because of Apple’s influence.

I am always leery of giving Apple credit for insight into telecom
My friends continue to think that Apple will be a carrier, ignoring the fact that they just added Cricket to the list with ATT, Sprint and Verizon Wireless in the US alone.

Our friend’s logic is that they have all this cash that they need to find something to do with it, and from a market cap perspective companies like Clearwire are easy acquisitions. It’s easy to imagine a Brewster’s Millions remake where Tim Cook drains the coffers to make a worldwide network. As a result of this discussion, I am looking to develop a series of calls under the Regulatory 2.0 umbrella which I am borrowing form SNL and calling “Really DeviceTel?” The first one I am looking for my Wall Street Analyst friends to talk about the soundness of the financing this telco strategy. If you want to participate send a note to me cford@imhocorp.com .

Don’t misunderstand in terms of networks Apple has one. Like Amazon, Google and Microsoft the network supports the cloud not the call. In fact, I can make the case that these companies have created in their messenger services a better over the top service than the carriers can create. Even Blackberry Messenger could be part of this over the top RTC crowd.

So the story is about the Apps and the developers

Tim Cook, led the Apple WWDC faithful which inspired me to write my Mobility Tech article http://bit.ly/Mev2JP . Apple’s empire gets built one market at a time and now the sites are set on search. I tweeted “Can Apple Turn 400 Million People against Google”. I watched the faithful clapping appreciatively, I was thinking of the contrary side (It’s my job and my nature). Jeff Pulver started by providing bond analytics as an Add on to Lotus 123, his add on was embedded by Microsoft into Excel pushing him out of the market but standardizing his error codes. Watching Apple showing their embedding of Facebook, Maps and Yelp, I wonder what business plans were being destroyed in the smiling audience.

Everyone wants the developer and with HTML5 we can all be developers.

In trying to think about this, I was reminded of my old math book, which led to my M2M article http://bit.ly/NuAOhw and my Bob Newhart’s button down mind http://bit.ly/M1dnHg .

My path the next few weeks has me returning to Washington DC and then to Boca Raton. If you are in these areas let me know.

At one point I am going to be at two places at once. A new precedence for me based on the video world http://bit.ly/KPhi8o that is changing our future, (and a Firesign Theatre overtone). I am going to participate in IMTC’s 2025 http://2025.imtc.org/ and the SIP Forum’s SIP NOC http://bit.ly/LuldbV .

I will try to point out the precedents that will lead to the future and not cry that we are on a precipice.

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Envy + Google

Google+ Envy
Unlike Facebook where I am victim of my personal life bleeding into the pages and my two personas having no distinction between each other.
Google+ so far has been very professional. And what has been really great is the ability to add into my circles people of interest for my various activities.
For example, for circle following I am putting in a general basket of people who show up in the people I care about.
I have a circle for everyone one of my events and also for my personal interests and I move from circle to circle to see what the difference is in the walls. Buy in large no one is in more than one circle that gives me the most coverage of what people are saying.
However, certain friends are clearly the “A” team of Google+ Om Malik has almost 30,000 followers and even though I am in his circle, I feel a tinge of envy.
Rob Scoble has over 100,000 people following him, while Ashton Kutcher has a little fewer than 37,000.
On Twitter, Ashton has over 47,000 fans, Rob has almost 200K and OM has over 1.4 million.
Obviously the question needs to be asked what do the demographics look like and are these device dependent or post dependent stats.
For me as my favorite New Zealand Poet has written http://bit.ly/q5Xqfu Boldly Bring I up the Rear. If you are interest in being just a follower, I have to warn you I strive for perfect symmetry where I follow as many as follow me. However for now, I seem to be lagging in the followers.
Hence the envy; we could even call it “Envy+”

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A Little Leavity For These Times

Obama is praying to G-d and his prayer is answer by the ghost of Moses who says to Obama, “Have Congress ratify the Ten Commandments”
Obama brings the leaders of congress in and tells them he wants to ratify the Ten Commandments.
Well the democrats consider this a violation of church and state and say they don’t want like the G-d part, but maybe they can go along with the rules about personal property.
The republican like the G-d part but think the killing part is some sort of back door against the military so they want to modify that it only applies to the murder of unborn babies and police officers.
The tea party is upset and refuses to participate because they would like additional commandments about marriage, balanced budgets, and the right to bear arms.
Obama then goes on TV and tells the people he needs their help and cable networks blast him for his inability to compromise. After all he only talked about the commandments in generalities he never wrote them down nor referred to a specific bible.
Obama turns to Michele and asks her for support when he goes back to tell Moses what has happened.
Moses listens and is about to raise his staff when Michele steps in and says. Look, if you can do that Red Sea thing on Capital Hill, we won’t have a problem.
Moses thinks for a moment and says you’re right. I only had one Pharaoh to contend with you. You have two rooms full of them.
And so our prayers go unanswered.

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Until Women Had Faces

Zogby International surveyed nearly 2,000 people about what technologies were the most impactful in our lives. The headlines about the study http://bit.ly/gYfHyP are missing the main point of the story.

High Speed Internet won, but the reality is that almost every one of the innovations being discussed were enabled by the high speed Internet.

Here Is the real story.

Facebook is a generational and gender giant. Women and the young rated Facebook much higher than men.

Google was rated much more important by kids.

The expectation for next year is that home entertainment expands.

From my perspective this is just a continuation of the impact of broadband, When TV integrates over the top the opportunities will be talked about as gaming, video, etc.

But as my friends say, It’s all the Internet.

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Go Figure: Solving the Deficit.

The time has come the Walrus said to speak of many things,

The New York Times has put up an interactive deficit model that I find very helpful in discussing the Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson proposals on ending the deficit.

When I looked at what I could live with I found the mix was pretty good at 65% Spending Cut and 35% Revenue increases.

I could work to improve this more and the problem or runaway healthcare is still the biggest problem.

For me, this just proves that the Health Reform was the right move. As I sit and watch my family age, I am all to aware that the existing insurance models are broken.

Of course i have other suggestions on what can be done to solve the deficit not listed on the system, but my two favorite topics are there. The amount of troops we have stationed around the world and the amount of farm subsidies we have that are seriously off track.

When my friends talk to me about Welfare states, I wonder if they realize that these two expenditures are the same kind of problem.

If you want to have a positive conversation start with the simple question, what is the baseline we want to achieve. If we want people to stand on there own two feet who can and give them aid when they can’t. That’s a good place to look at the big picture.

By the way, I may sound liberal, but according to the Libertarians, I am only a left leaning centrist.

Go Figure. Literally, I mean go to the link and go figure.

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Net Neutrality – Careful what you ask for!

As a long-standing tree hugger I subscribe to CREDO, an organization that helps me stay current with issues related to my interests and that helps me take action to influence decision-makers.

CREDO sent me an e-mail asking me to take action to tell the FCC to stop delaying and enact strong net neutrality provisions ASAP.

I sent their corresponding e-mail to several of my friends and received some eloquent replies that I want to share with you. It seems too simple and easy to take sides when it is pointed out that doing nothing would be the best solution.

From Vaughn, the founder of a successful ISP, IT engineering and outsourcing company

The best way to maintain no regulation is to only accept “no regulation”, including any regulation designed to say “no regulation”.

Net Neutrality (from the ISP side of the world) is being seen as a nefarious victimless crime used as a winding key for the mechanical town crier’s call for new tough laws to make sure that none can step on this newly discovered slippery ice other than the federal government (and even that initially in a well intentioned effort to make sure that nobody else steps on).

Once we reach that destination though, there will be clarifications (lawyers) and revisions (slipping on the ice) and compromise (so we can let a few folks on the ice, but protect them so that nobody can knock them down (imagine 8a for ISP’s)). Once it starts the outcome is inevitable – the government gets duped into favoring one party or the other, and then sets about (again mostly well meaning) to fix it. Before you know it we will have a virtual tax code… where the well resourced have time to figure out how to pay nothing, while the middle dolts – too busy working to scheme – pick up the tab, and the bottom struggles in abject poverty.

The FCC is maneuvering and actually does (read comments from the current leadership and shudder – really!) desire to use Net Neutrality as a means to control the publishing of content the way they currently regulate radio broadcasters (sounds like Google in China?). The regulators intentions are not all white hat either. Though there is only 5% arsenic in all rat poison, there is also 95% wheat germ in most – it is what gets them to eat it. The giants in the industry, hungry to create a barrier to entry (and having the resources to find loopholes and use them) are more than willing to create the sense of urgency needed by floating just such trial balloons as you have seen today with Google/Verizon knowing full well that they would be rejected by the market because of competition… as long as it exists anyway.

The current FCC leadership is a radical “use government for social change” bunch, that will care very little if they irreparably damage our industry and as a by-product eliminate all of the small players in 18 to 36 months… it’s “collateral damage” to them. Don’t take my word for it. Research the current commission’s leadership and look for some of their quotes as relates to “making the communications on the Internet politically neutral”. This is bigger than just my industry. Hugo Chavez created a group called the “responsibility in media” commission (or something like that), that sounded very good. Its charter was to make sure that all political information was “fair”. Now, less than a decade later, there are no radio stations left in Venezuela that disagree with Chavez. The efforts that the FCC leaders have proffered as example of what they have in mind for Net Neutrality actually include reference to granting them the right to license content – with exception made of course for the lowly citizen. But what if a few citizens pool their resources and form an association (like CREDO)? Where will they fall? It depends as I see it on who has control of the white house and thereby the FCC and whether or not those organizations agree with them. Not good! It won’t start out that obviously, but it will end up there.

The big Telco and content players want protection on the ice, so they can execute impossibly profitable maneuvers – or sustain them – without the inconvenience of market rejection or commoditizing competition. The commission wants to use regulation to “manage free speech in a responsible way”. This combination of negative liberties is a marriage made in Hades, and if we don’t stop the wedding ensuring that NEITHER Google or Verizon (or anyone like them) gets any official standing when it comes to the Internet, we are all headed for something very bad.

I am not an alarmist (I think so anyway), but this one really worries me. We can’t give the FCC a sword and then get surprised when they use it. Let Verizon and Google marry. Without the Government officiating, it will be like the marriage of Time Warner and AOL. Remember how frightened everyone was then? “Could they end up controlling content on the Internet?”, and “Will they be able to put a stranglehold on rates?”, and “are they going to join with MCI-Worldcom’s Bernie Ebbers and create a new tiered Internet?”. SO where did that go? Let the market reject them both. They really don’t have any power to force the market to change (without the gov). There are still too many small players. Why? Because without regulation they can compete! With it, they will have to consolidate or fade because of the choking need for resources in order to figure out how to stay “compliant”. I am student of history, and this is how I see it going down.

Best,
~V

From Jack “The Dude” a very senior major telco executive.

Claude,

Your note compels me to comment on the so-called “Net Neutrality” debate.

This subject is grossly misunderstood by the general public and many, if not the majority, of the stake holders in the debate.

First, the Google/Verizon proposal is just that, a proposal designed to “bridge” the two sides of “the debate”. The proposal is flawed in my opinion because it treats differently wireline vs. wireless “broadband” services. While I understand why the difference, the proposal raises the hackles of the wireless user lobby by suggesting that wireless not be regulated in similar fashion to the wired infrastructure.

This debate is in reality not about “broadband” or the internet per se. It’s about the “last mile” of telecommunications service, including the services, applications and management/regulation thereof, to the end user..

Not about Broadband or the internet? That’s right. The internet today is already “broadband” and is provisioned by a consortium of carriers worldwide. In order to access/use the internet, you and I need to do business with a Tier 2 Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, etc. Those providers offer us a variety of wired and/or wireless services including access to the internet. Those providers in turn contract with the real internet carrier for access to the internet. When we do business with the ISP, we’re buying a service, internet access for example) at a specific speed as delivered by the ISP’s infrastructure, not the internet per se. When the service we purchase is above a certain speed (used to be 56kb, now its 1mb and above) above the capabilities of a dial access copper telephone line, the industry and public deem that “broadband” service. If we purchase wireless internet access, we still use and transition the ISP’s wireless (and wired) infrastructure to access the internet.

The reason that “broadband” and Internet access creep into the debate is simple and relates to the demand, both current and future, for bandwidth across the “last mile”. Bandwidth, or the delivery thereof, is not limitless. That reality applies to both Wired and Wireless last mile connections. The investment required by the ISP’s is tremendous and continuing and very much is determined by the types of services they offer over the “last mile”. Video, streaming video, P2P, Games, Facebook or the so-called social networking services all compete for the same bandwidth when delivered to the end-user. In the wired world, coax and fiber (e.g., Verizon”s FIOS, have mitigated the last mile bandwidth problem for ISP’s and subscribers. The so-called “broadband” wireless infrastructure is still fighting the bandwidth demand problem due to the relative immaturity of the available “wireless” technology. Compounding this problem is the advent of new generation wireless phones every 5 minutes that have the capability of saturating a wireless network with various wireless applications.

The FCC’s role to date has been limited to wired, inter-lata telecommunications, i.e., those telecommunications services that are enabled by Federal Tariff. Also, the FCC says grace over the radio frequencies assigned various types of communications, including TV and “cellular” communications. The FCC has never been involved with below the line ISP operations, including internet access.

So, in order for the FCC to regulate “net neutrality”, they must assume a universal (intra and inter lata) regulatory role for ISP operations and policy, including of course the “last mile” of ISP service. Stand by for the howling from each states PSC.

The morale of the story?

Be careful what you wish for

“The Dude”

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Defending Verizon Wireless against Gigaom

I was struck by the criticism from Colin Gibbs regarding Verizons efforts to build their app store strategy.

First of all, Colin is normally gives great insight into the happenings around the industry, and the criticism may feel valid to the web apps developers that Verizon is trying to entice. But the app store that Verizon is chasing is very different then any other in the market.

They are indeed on a quest for the Network API. An elusive creature that adds value to being a Verizon Application.

As our friend Scott Snyder has pointed out in The New World of Wireless, 3G applications were the reason the money was spent by the carriers, and so far web developers have been the only applications of value.

At the end of the day, it may be that this is the best a carrier can hope for us to provide a great Internet experience. But repeatedly people suggest to carriers that they can do more with their role as a trusted service.

At the Verizon developers conference the team from Verizon explained their network API. It was not a strategy for most web developers. Entreprenuers’ in the garage, dorm room, mom’s kitchen, do not want to sit and consider the value of Parlay – X as an API to work with in connecting to Verizon’s systems.

But to those of us who use to work in the legacy of the telco systems where the Work Authorizaion Request form was a declaration of W.A.R. with IT this is an amazing extraction.

I also want to point out, that it may in the end be a necessary path for carriers, as the Network Neutrality debate implicates an ability to show non discriminatory interfaces.

So while I appreciate the goal of apps folks who want to port from the iPhone to Verizon, this is not the goal that Verizon has in mind.

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Significant Skype Snipes

Originally Posted by: Carl Ford | September 21, 2009 8:16 AM on http://blog.tmcnet.com/4g-wirelessevolution/2009/09/significant-skype-snipes.html

I am always impressed with Skype. The user interface is good, the business strategy is clever and left to themselve’s they have carved out significant marketshare of communication users without technically being a carrier.

That is a difficult road to travel. Virgin Mobile, Vonage, Packet8 and most MVNOs have not been able to navigate that agile path as nimbly.

So if the Janus has been jilted by the former Joltid’s CEO the question is does that mean an end to IPR held by Janus and Niklas? A friend has pointed to the irony of the Kazaa IPR owners claiming foul over copyright rules.

Inside Avaya there is a lot of buzz about being able to join the Skype ecosystem. It could take on a lot of different strategies, from developing media server solutions, interfacing like Digium has to the Skype network, or my favorite, federating the pbx’s with supernode abilities.

Federating has been a giant problem, because the long tail of the federating has been elusive. I was very close to it once, and the company I helped to form got lost in the weeds. See the thing they forget to tell you about the long tail first mover is that it’s the new category creation that is the key.

But if Silver Lake’s Skype acquisition goes through, in theory Avaya’s federation has found a new home and its not aligned with a network operator.

On the other hand if Janus and Niklas win their war, its not about enabling the enterprise for them. The path that the current team has been on in deepening the ecosystem. I am not sure if the partner program would be totally restored, but I would bet that it would at least be reorganized. (As you know it was killed shortly after the announcement of the acquisition) This could have been just an issue of not hosting it with the Ebay types, which had hosted the community as a subset for a while.

If Niklas negates the deal, the question of “what is next?” becomes significant. Without a clear path, Skype could go the way of Alta Vista, AOL, and other industry movers. If the objection is one of allowing Skype to go IPO I think that works. If it is about the IP embedded in the system and the licensing deal is the real issue, that should be addressable. (I have stated my view previously).

I am sure Ebay would love for this to be over, but like a diamond that is going to be cut, the next move is the significant one. Let’s hope it makes the service more precious.

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