Archive for the ‘VOIP’ Category

Web 2.0 Needs To Be About the Benefits

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

I’ve written several articles about the problems that web 2.0 is facing if it is looking to break into the mainstream. A small number of companies, most notably Facebook, are doing a good job of ushering in these technologies without scaring regular folk with complicated terminology.

So what’s the next step?

Let’s talk benefits, not technologies. Once the benefits are apparent, the ‘intimidation factor’ of web 2.0 terms will be eliminated. Subsequently, non-savvy users will be more likely to adopt the technologies and take advantage of their potential.

In other words, tell me how I can:

  • Make cheaper phone calls. Don’t tell me about VOIP.
  • Create my own personalized channel of content. Don’t tell me about RSS.
  • Collaborate on projects or documents with colleagues. Don’t tell me about wikis.
  • Add functionality to my blog or website without any technical knowledge. Don’t tell me about widgets.

Like I say, people will eventually acknowledge the terms, but for now, the benefits are what need to come to the forefront. Once this can be accomplished, useful web 2.0 sites can climb into the spotlight and showcase their value.

An interesting point to note is that a large number of Internet users are already taking advantages of these web 2.0 technologies and they don’t even know it.

Are We Too Dependent on Skype?

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Skype logoSkype goes down. The world stops. A gazillion blogs post about the outage. Boo hoo. Life goes on…

The majority of Skype users don’t even pay for the service, so it’s pretty hard to point the finger at a company who doesn’t receive compensation from the majority of its users.

In reality, we use Skype because it facilitates our lives and/or saves us loads of money. We should be thanking them. But a greedy few choose not to address this.

On the other side, however, I do feel some sympathy for those who pay to use premium Skype services. They are customers. Such a lengthy outage is inexcusable. If I were a paying customer, I’d be pissed off too.

Another point to note is that Skype is used extensively as a conferencing tool by many small companies and start-ups. These companies live and die by the service. It is very common to see an executive meeting scheduled around a Skype conference call. This free alternative is great, but a paid service offers more reliability and support should a mishap present itself. The companies that use Skype’s free conferencing service have no right to be upset if the service goes down, unless of course they are paying customers.

One thing is for certain: even if Skype does go down for a couple days or even a week, people won’t switch to an alternative service. Why? Because all their friends still use Skype. They would have to presuade their entire contact list to switch over to achieve maximum value. Is this going to happen? Not likely.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you aren’t willing to pay, you can’t expect a perfect service.

Are we too dependent on free services like Skype? Is an outage acceptable to a user who doesn’t pay? Is it OK to demand a lot from a free service?

What Do You Get When You Combine AJAX, RSS, Widgets, Wikis, Podcasting, VOIP, and Tagging?

Monday, August 6th, 2007

The typical marketing plan of a clueless, old-school Internet company looking to kick it up a notch with some new-school, trendy social marketing strategies. 

Sound familiar? Countless Internet companies have become brain-washed. They are convinced that these new technologies are critical to their future success. In some cases, they may be right. But for the most part, they lack fit. Successful marketing techniques have to be strategized on an individual basis. What works for one start-up may not work for another. In other words, RSS may work for company A, while widgets may be best suited for company B.

My consulting background has really driven this point home. I’ve heard things like: “Our website NEEDS tagging” or “Let’s throw in some AJAX”. My subsequent steps are as follows:

  1. I laugh (well, not aloud).
  2. I describe the technology in detail and outline the benefits.
  3. In most cases, I dismiss the use of the given technology.

My basis is simple: the ‘trendy’ technology MUST further the user experience and/or provide a greater marketing punch. The simple implementation of a technology for the sake of an implementation is pointless. Simply put, the questions that a company needs to ask itself are as follows:

  • Will this technology create a more enjoyable user experience?
  • Can we reach more potential users if we implement this technology?
  • Do we simply find comfort and security in new, buzzword-compliant marketing techniques?

All jokes aside, this is a serious problem. More and more, we are seeing the use of these technologies in places they shouldn’t be. They are a waste of resources and confuse the offering.

Simplicity is key.

If traditional Internet marketing strategies (such as e-mail marketing or SEO) will provide the greatest ROI, then forget about RSS, podcasting, and the rest of their buzzword siblings. With all due respect, I am a huge advocate of all the technologies mentioned. Their place on the Internet cannot be argued, but they must be used in the proper context. 

PS. Another correct answer to the initial question would have been: the typical business plan of a Silicon Valley start-up. Too many start-ups are looking to jump on the web 2.0 buzzword bandwagon – VCs just don’t buy it anymore, literally.

Call Me Now… with Jaxtr

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Jaxtr logoExpect to see Jaxtr coming to a social network or blog near you… 

Jaxtr is now officially in BETA testing mode. Upon receiving the e-mail last night, I set-up an account and customized my settings. Having said that, I would really like to test the system. So give me a shout. Seriously.

Readers can call me by visiting my Jaxtr page or the embedded Jaxtr widget page I set up.

So what’s so great about the service? Here is the company pitch:

“With the free jaxtr service, you link your phone with your online network to get calls and messages from callers worldwide. You keep your existing phone numbers private and enjoy enhanced control over when and on which phone you receive calls. Plus, you get to call other jaxtr users in 29 countries from your phone without paying international toll charges.”

Jaxtr also proclaims that there is no need for a:

  • Download.
  • Headset.
  • High-speed Internet connection.

I’ve already profiled the company twice: Jaxtr – Beware the Dark Side and Jaxtr May Be BETA Than You Think.

For more information on this embeddable VOIP wonder, visit the Jaxtr FAQ page.

Jaxtr May Be BETA Than You Think

Friday, January 12th, 2007

Jaxtr logoIt looks like Jaxtr will be launching into BETA mode soon.

I received an e-mail from the company stating that they will soon be adding people to their private BETA test. They go on to say: “People with active social networking profiles and blogs will make the best testers for us since we want to make sure the jaxtr widgets get posted in places where many people see them and use them.”

If you aren’t familiar with the company and/or don’t know what they do, you can read my initial post on Jaxtr. Essentially, the start-up has created a widget that users can embed in their social network profile or blog. This widget gives the viewer of the profile the ability to call the user via a phone using VOIP.

Though this little widget presents many security and privacy concerns (see previous Jaxtr post), its simplicity and functionality may overcome its pitfalls and people may be pleasantly surprised. In addition, the viral nature of th service bodes well for its potential success. As I’ve said before, widgets are an extremely effective, low cost way of driving qualified traffic and creating brand exposure.

I’m excited to try the service and I look forward to the BETA launch.