Doug on IP Comm – An independent voice on VoIP, telecom, and IP Communication

Posts Tagged ‘Google

Glendale, AZ & Washington DC – Pictures from AstriCon 2009 on Wednesday October 14, 2009.

Keynote audience at AstriCon 2009

Keynote audience at AstriCon 2009

It was a full ballroom for both days of keynotes.

Allworx founder Jeff Szczepanski at AstriCon 2009

Allworx founder Jeff Szczepanski at AstriCon 2009

You run into a lot of interesting people in the hallways of AstriCon — like the founder of Allworx.

Google Chris DeBona keynote at AstriCon 2009

Google Chris DiBona keynote at AstriCon 2009

Chris DiBona delivers the Wednesday morning keynote, talking up all kinds of goodness about open source software.  You need stats on open source downloads and popularity? He’s got ’em.

Digium's John Todd showing off his shirt at AstriCon 2009

Digium's John Todd showing off his shirt at AstriCon 2009

John Todd shows off his newest tie-dye shirt. He gets them custom made, only going to show there’s no accounting for taste.


Every year for the past couple of years, the folks at Digium have rolled out a nice little surprise at the annual AstriCon event connected to the keynote speakers.  Two years ago, Digium announced it had purchased Switchvox (Hello Tristian!).  Last year, Skype and Digium announced a working relationship and a beta of a channel manager (i.e. connection) between Asterisk and Skype.   And this year? IBM and Google are sending speakers.

On Wednesday, October 14,Google open source programs manager Chris DiBona will open up the conference.   Chris oversees license compliance and supports the open source developer community. Maybe we’ll learn that Google Voice has some Asterisk involved or that The Goog plans to use Asterisk as its internal IP telephony platofrm. Or not. I’d give this prediction a 50/50 shot.

Mike Smith, IBM’s CTO of its Server and Technology Group, will be delivering the Thursday keynote and I’ll be really interested in what he has to say. Mike is responsible for leveraging the capabilities of different assets at IBM and leading software development teams for “smart business.” He’s also leading partnerships in new software business opportunities.  Hmmm….

At the last AstriCon, I gave Danny Windham an earful about the Skype/Digium announcement (I wasn’t gung-ho on it) and also said that it would be very interesting to see someone *ahem*ahem* like IBM come in and give the blessing to Asterisk.  IBM, after all, loves open source and is Big Business, so if they were to place a blessing upon Asterisk, it would be A Big Deal for both sides.   Hopefully, Danny remembers that conversation…

Apple decides to pull the plug off of Google Voice-related apps, supposedly at the request (or a wink and a nod) from AT&T, because the App allows free text messaging and two cent per minute international calls.  The Federal Communications Commission decides this Isn’t Right and has launched an investigation of sorts.

So the latest showdown on Net Neutrality begins, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for AT&T.  Some members of Congress are already up in arms over the absurd profitability on text messaging along with the grumbling about extensive exclusivity on the iPhone.  Verizon, being no dummy, decides to sit up straight and open up its “exclusive” arrangements to smaller carriers within six months and announces it will have a crack at the Palm Pre shortly, thereby further highlighting the oh-so-monopolistic-esque practices of AT&T.

Apple? It could care less. Apple does what Apple does and the rest of the world takes it or leaves it.

Google Voice is rolling out a web site for access to GV services, so now the whole app thing is about ready reach a new level of absurdity.  Would AT&T go so far as to block access to the Google Voice website? Well, if it did, the torches and pitchforks would be out in full force from all sides, so I don’t think it’s going to happen. If it did, AT&T would have another public relations fiasco on its hands and Verizon would probably do another posturing stunt to show A) How nice it really is and B) Why the government really doesn’t need to regulate the free market…

So where’s Skype?  One would have thought that Skype would have been at the top of the highest soapbox bellowing out the virtues of Net Neutrality, but the company has been strangely quiet as the Apple/AT&T-Google Voice cat fight has evolved.  Perhaps this is because for all of Skype’s public rhetoric about Net Neutrality, the company has preferred appeasement to confrontation with a neutered version of Skype for the AT&T iPhone.

Or perhaps with Google Voice getting most of the spotlight and potentially stealing away long-distance minutes from Skype, Net Neutrality is a good idea for Skype so long as it doesn’t promote competitive alternatives…

Forget all this crap about Google Voice being “your next phone company.” It’s Skype that is going to have some issues.

The Goog was brainwashing, showing off its latest Google Voice apps to Om Malik yesterday, with Google Voice service for BlackBerry and Android clients available.  Integration with GV and address book, cheap long distance calls, yadda-yadda.

I should have seen the Android client coming; that was a no brain, brothers… but the BlackBerry client should be a wakeup call to a lot of people.  Skype’s been working on a BlackBerry phone client for a while, but it ain’t available for download today as a beta.   Since Skype wants to collect business dollars and CrackBlackBerry is the de facto favorite of the biz community, there is a serious hole in the portfolio, hmm? Be interesting to hear why all the delays in a Skype for BlackBerry client. Heck, even Agito Networks has a FMC client for BlackBerry!

Now, let’s talk about pre-loading apps on cell phones, shall we? Skype has been fighting with carriers to get its app pre-loaded on phones with mixed success, but the company has been relatively quiet of late in stomping its feet about open networks and net neutrality.   If you buy an Android phone, having the mobile GV client included as a part of the load would seem to be a natural fit if the carrier allows — and if it doesn’t, it looks like the first or second app an Android fan boy would download to complement his shiny-new ‘droid phone. True, Skype is preloaded on more cellular platforms around the world these days, but not a Lot More.

Given that Google is more “open” than Skype on software matters and has a MUCH BIGGER market cap than Skype, when Google goes up to lobby about open networks and net neutrality, legislators are likely to pay more attention.

Finally, there’s the whole momentum/integration thing going on, whereas Skype is a one-trick (communications) pony. You have Google, the Search Engine, plus Gmail, plus Google Voice, plus Android, plus all the other beta stuff floating around. Put together gmail, the search engine, and Google Voice, plus the small-but-growing Android installed base and there’s a good chunk of critical mass right there.

Will this displace Skype? Well, not today certainly, but if GV rolls in some quick and dirty Twitter support — and it will, because Google has no problem playing with others when it suits its master plan — one might start to see some cracks in Skype’s walled-garden approach to the world.  Software can come off phones and computers (well, just get forgotten) as easily as it can be loaded.

After two weeks of hype and rumors, Google Voice is starting to hand out phone numbers to its waiting list.  Although, after yesterday’s “Today” show segment, the company might not have had a choice.

I guess I am suffering from Google-burnout, between the hype for Google Voice, how Google is supposed to respond to Bing, Chrome, Android,  Google’s troubles with China on censorship, Google Wave, and Google Book Search…

In the “Today Show” segment, there was happy gushing from NBC News user Janet Shamlian, how it made her life easier and for her family to get in touch with her yadda-yadda.  Little downside was given in the piece other than potential privacy concerns since The Google gets access to your recorded voice conversations, voicemail (probably a more valid point if they start datamining the contents, even in a generic fashion) and everything else that flows through GV, like call data.   Heaven forbid that The Goog use that data to target ads!

We’ll see how long it takes for me to get a Google Voice number.  I’m not really convinced it is going to do anything greater for me than my current phone service(s) of Cox (landline) and Sprint (mobile).   Cox has added online Phone Tools, so I’ll get the visual voice mail component and call forwarding set on line. I don’t have a gazillion phone numbers to manage, so being able to simultaneous ring a bunch of devices Does Not Make Sense for me.

Finally, there’s the whole “hand Google my primary phone number when they finally get around to supporting it.”  So, I give Google my house number, and I need a new number (no doubt provided out of the million number stash Google has allegedly built) for my landline and this makes sense because…?

If Google Voice such a big-deal/game changing service, it won’t take too terribly long for everyone else (translation: Any voice service provider with a softswitch and purchasing a service pack upgrade) to do the same thing  After all, GrandCentral/Google Voice has had about two years of “betas,” so it has given those mean old phone companies and the vendors who support them plenty of time to figure out how to replicate the services on their own networks.

Andy Abramson is reporting that Google Voice now has a signup page to stand in line for the service. More specifically, the page says:

Google Voice invitation request

Please leave your name and email, and we’ll invite you as soon as Google Voice becomes available. If you left us your email address previously on the GrandCentral site, you don’t need to resubmit it here.”

Instead of being “available,” as most of the leaks were implying, The Goog seems to be playing the same crappy head games as it did with the availability of Gmail — tease people that the product is coming, making it available to a limited number of people, and then, posits Andy, get those people to invite in other people.

Your phone is not your email. And I’m waiting for someone to throw a fit over all these “free” phone numbers getting tossed around into the system. If The Google does have over a million phone numbers reserved and ready to hand out,  it’s going to cause a crunch somewhere in the national system of allocating phone numbers.  No such thing as a free lunch, my friends.

Google Voice was suppose to open to the public last week. And it has purportedly reserved one milllllion phone numbers to hand out as freebies, claims Network World’s inside source.

So today, the world sits with baited breath – NOT. I really wish the Google fanboys would get a life and remember some history.

Wishful speculation that Google would do to the phone companies what it has done for voice have been taking place since The Goog started buying up long haul circuits to connect its data centers — I mean, this was back when the VON shows were in full swing a couple of years ago.

Instead, what came out was GoogleTalk, an IM client with a peer-to-peer voice feature and no PSTN connectivity or phone numbers — and P.S., the website still has it in beta.

But lo, The Goog bought GrandCentral in 2007 and the fan boys rejoiced again.  Surely, this would be the application to slay the phone companies! And then … nothing, as GrandCentral stayed in beta and stayed, and stayed…

Fast forward to this spring, and Google Voice is relaunched in a restricted beta with some new bells and whistles.   More rumors last week that Google Voice would go public on Thursday … but not.  A TechCrunch leak/rumor that Google Voice will, somewhere down the road, support number porting, so you can take that phone number you have and hand it over to The Google.

Maybe there’s some synergistic future where Android and Google Voice work together, but Android currently has more traction than whatever they’ve got going at GV…