Monthly Archives: April 2008

eComm 2008: Videos starting to appear – Fonolo

The Fonolo pitch from eComm is now up on the site. More promised as they process the backlog!

IMS and RCS (part 2): The Dean Bubley Take

Dean Bubley has an excellent article on RCS over at his Disruptive Analysis Blog. Well worth a read, in particular his set of questions at the end, which I think gets to the heart of whether RCS may succeed or not. I think to paraphrase him, you could say that while he views the initiative as somewhat admirable, he sees it really as “old school” thinking, designed to preserve SMS revenues by smudging together operator-specific IMS-only presence and messaging with SMS in the new RCS clients. Some very good points in there, and I’d love to see someone from the operator or vendor side take on his questions at the end – now if they could be answered cogently we’d be getting somewhere.

Maybe someone will!

Jajah: On a roll

Congrats to Jajah on the deal with Yahoo (and indeed I think, to Yahoo for picking a player like this to handle their Messenger real-world calls).


Mashable seems to have some of the scoop here regarding what’s to be called the Jajah Managed Services Platform. This is very much in the “Headless Telco” model that follows on from what Jajah did with Jangl, and that we mentioned in the last post here. We’re going to pull together a little analysis of these players in this new web-services-enabled-telephony provider world. If you have suggestions we’d love to hear them. Thanks to Mashable for putting back on our radar – had missed that! Right now our list might be something like this

  • Jajah
  • Jaduka
  • Ribbit
  • IfByPhone
  • Voxeo
  • and of course, Google

All suggestions welcome. More on this later.

Telco 2.0 Platforms

I had some interesting discussions at the IMS Conference earlier this week. Many of them grew from a topic that was common across the show: Web 2.x and IMS – what could they do for each other and is there a relevant link between them?

The panel we were on covered some of this. I got quite a few laughs when I suggested to one questioner (who asked about security of new mobile apps and how they could be certified) that the players needed to “relax”. Seriously! My point was: the new consumer for apps/services of all kinds is more sophisticated than you might think. On Facebook, they install three new apps per day and promptly remove two of them the same day. It’s a rapid Darwinian environment where good things get shared, recommended and promulgate. And Bad things, or things that really annoy users get bitched about, flamed and unceremeniously dumped. Look at the Palm Folio. It’s the platform construction that let’s them do this, and rewards the overall community with a rich and varied set of things to doodle with.

Anyway, one of the areas we talked about was what I call the “headless Telco” ™, or the Telco player with no subscribers. Ribbit could be described as being in this category. To some extent, so are Jaduka. And of course, coming this way are many of the Internet players including Google.

By “headless” I mean: if you own some nice Telecom gear (carrier class switch or switches), add some web services layers and APIs on top, get yourself some interconnect deals, and release it to the world, you’re kind of a Telecom Company, but without your own customers. Instead, you’re in the business of enabling rich applications that may incorporate Voice, or SMS Messaging, or some other telecom features, as an element of them. Your message to the developer is “relax, we’ll do the telecom plumbing stuff, you just focus on apps”. Look at Zong for another play that’s focused on messaging right now.

Jajah for example, while being known for low-cost calls, is really building-out a truly global “headless” Telecom Operator, imho. Google, looking st spectrum alliances, buying GrandCentral and Jaiku, and adding various telecom APIs to its offerings is doing something similar. Skype, having lost time and group post-eBay acquisition, is getting back in to gear on this.

As usual, the boffins at Telco2.0 put it better:

When we think about the future of telcos, we think about not trying to divine what services the public wants but instead providing the enabling APIs for people who think they know to experiment with. We think about providing services that all kinds of businesses can use as part of their internal processes. Thomas Howe made the point at the Telco 2.0 event last week that these communications-enabled business processes aren’t even specifically “voice”; voice is a condiment, not the meat. The meat is the very specific information the people involved want to exchange; Howe makes his money creating small tailored applications to match very specific needs, and you can’t write an average of less than 100 lines of code per application without the support of an advanced developer environment.

The real danger to the incumbent operators here is, that these new arrivals come along with no existing set of subscribers to worry about, and no associated addiction to their current ARPUs. It’s all gravy to them. They attach the incumbents from “underneath” – nibbling at their message business, their voice business, and in some cases, stealing whole communication segments away from them. Remember, Google’s ARPU is $1 – that’s a lot of headroom for growth as they stretch it to the Telecom-industry recent averages of $40-50!

Platforms my dear boy, platforms!

eComm 2008: Transcripts starting to appear

Lee has had a mountain of material to get through after eComm. The presentations are mostly up on SlideShare (all tagged and easily findable). And fair play to Lee, he’s been putting transcripts from some of the better talks up on the eComm site.

So if you’re interested in diving a little further in – the transcripts are well worth a read. For example, here’s Mark Rolston’s transcript, along with his rather beautiful slides.

IMS and RCS: Now I think I get it

David Withington, Director Business Development & Partnerships, IMS Business Division, Alcatel Lucent, France

Just got back from the IMS World Forum in Paris. Very well-attended (300+) conference focused on IMS and anything to do with it. Mix of operators/carriers, vendors, academics and various IMS movers and shakers. I was quite impressed overall (third day is on today, but I had to get back to the office). There was a lot of stuff about Web 2.0 and IMS, and I took part in a panel discussion on behalf of Dial2Do that was partly about that.

One of the more intriguing things that caught my attention however, was RCS, or Rich Communication Suite. I had noticed an announcement about this at 3GSM back in February, but hadn’t really twigged what it was about. At the conference, two of the guys behind it, Phillipe Lucas (Orange) and the fantastically-name Luis Angel Galindo (Telefonica) gave a great panel discussion on the second day. Their passion around IMS was evident, as was their concern about how the industry could really screw up IMS if it wasn’t careful. In Phillipe’s own words (slightly paraphrasing):

When the industry did GSM (standard) – they focused on two things to get right: Voice, and roaming. That was it. Everyone collaborated to get that right. There is so much in IMS, that it means everything to everyone, and so no one is clear what the focus is. RCS is an attempt to focus on a basic set of services that everyone can buy into, and which everyone could collaborate on to ensure are a) present and b) interoperate.

I kinda bought this. IMS is rife with non-standard implementations and “value-add” goodies from the vendors that are proprietary (not picking on IMS here, this happens with all standards, at least initially). An attempt to pick a focus among the blizzard of things that IMS “could do” strikes me as a good idea. As does their overall approach. Again, paraphrasing slightly:

There is no website for RCS. No formal organisation to join. because if we did that, we’d be all year drawing up documents and IPR legal agreements and so on. This is a pragmatic attempt to get some alignment without all that.

And I have to say, the line-up they have endorsing RCS so far is pretty impressive: the top five handset vendors, most of the world’s largest operators and equipment vendors. If they can pull this off, they’ll be doing consumers, and IMS, and big favour.

As for RCS itself, it really just defines a lowest common denominator set of services that should ship on phones that are IMS-ready in 2009. As they ay themselves – no rocket science here – just ensuring the experience is thought through and the interop works would be fantastic. Let’s avoid another MMS-lauch style experience shall we?? The core services are around:

  • enriched call – multimedia sharing
  • enhanced phonebook – capabilities and rich presence
  • enhanced messaging – conversational messaging

As I say – nothing new in terms of “wow – I never know IMS could suppprt that”. Quite the opposite. But I do love the idea that I could grab one of these handsets in 09 and expet it to work seamlessly with other capable handsets anywhere in the world. Early days I’d say, but a good initiative.

As ever, the whole IMS roadshow would want to watch out that the IT Players (Google, Apple and the million and one upstart startups who are delivering IMS-style services today) don’t just eat their lunch and make them irrelevant by 2009. That’s the big threat.

Simulscribe is now PhoneTag: Ballsy T-Shirt!

Voicemail-to-text player Simulscribe has changed their name to PhoneTag. Good Move! And to celebrate, they’re giving away a ballsy T-Shirt (only available via TechCrunch).

Well Yes, Indeed!

Nice one! Best of luck with the new name – it’s a winner.