Posts Tagged 'VoIP'

Update: Jaxtr – Free calls made better

Yesterday I talked for almost half an hour with Jeff for free. No news here. But the fact that he called me from his mobile to my mobile, without the aid of computer – that’s something else.

Jeff and I were using a new service called Jaxtr (can someone please explain to me why all these new companies have to find strange, unpronounceable, stupidly spelled names?). The service is very simple – you sign in, invite your friends (yes, I know, another annoying 2.0 feature), and get a local number to call your friend. From that point onward, you don’t need to use the computer anymore – just call the number and you get to the guy you want, in local call fee. It is easier to use than Skype, cause you don’t need a client, and simpler than Jah-Jah cause you don’t need to go to the website every time you want to make a call.

Cool isn’t it?

Well, nothing is perfect, as they have a strange credit system. When I signed up, I got 100 credits. After Jeff and I talked, I had zero credits. Jeff called me – and I lost my credits. Mmm… a bit stupid isn’t it? If these guys want me to use their service, I shouldn’t pay if someone calls me – it should be the other way around. For years, one of the major obstacles for mobile adoption in Israel was the fact that call receivers had to pay for each incoming call. That caused people to ask their friends not to call them on their mobile. Not really the best way to encourage usage isn’t it?

Another interesting question is how these guys are going to make money. It’s hard to find a reason to buy new credits, now that the free ones are used. Jaxtr have cool widgets for blogs and email signatures – but so do Skype. So, if I want someone to call me, I just put my Skype widget (as you can see already on the right) and get the same functionality. I hope that this is not another free-as-a-business-model companies.

Anyway, now I can get 20 credits for each new person I invite as my friend. If you are interested in this service, or calling me and wasting my credits, please leave a comment below and I’ll happily invite you.

And if anyone from Jaxtr is reading this post – I’d love to have a short chat with you guys, and better understand your business.

Notes – Jeff wrote about these guys, and also Mike. The company is stressing their social network affiliation as main value proposition and differentiation. I am still not convinced that they have a real edge on Skype and others.

Update – Konstantin Guericke, Jaxtr CEO left me a comment several hours after the original post was published:

“…Free calling is a feature of jaxtr, but so are things like being able to receive calls on your phone while keeping your number private and controlling who gets through to voicemail and who gets to ring your phone (and which phone). Also, you can do more with your widget than just receiving calls–for example, you can record an update in your own voice. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but some of our users like this as much as the “Skype without the hassles” feature. Like LinkedIn, we plan to offer our basic service for free, but charge for premium features (and integrate some advertising to support the free version)…”

Scoble interviewed him here .

Paris Hilton

Hey, Even I Can Use Jaxtr!

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Pulver take on the ustream live show

Yesterday, Jeff and Chris had a live broadcast at Ustream. The whole thing was as 2.0 as possible – people were notified by twitter, and later by blogs, then shared photos of it.

Jeff just published an excellent post on that. The thing I found most interesting was his comparison to the early VoIP era:

“….as people started to call-in from all over the world, it hit me that we were playing with technology that was as disruptive to the future of Media as my use of Internet Phone back in April, 1995 when all I need to talk to people around the world was software, connectivity and a computer. Back then the press considered all of us “hobbyists” and the telecom operators thought we were playing with “toys” yet what we were playing with was the underlying technology that would change the face of communications forever….”

I find it hard to explain to the Average Joe what is so special in the changes the media world is facing. I am certain I will use this example in the future.

I will publish soon a post called “Media Revolution for Dummies” – stay tuned.

UPDATE:Tim O’Reilly’s Code of Conduct – Nice Try, Wrong Direction

Tim O’Reilly presented a nice concept – blogging code of conduct . This voluntary code suppose to make blogs more civilized environment, help us all to keep our dignity while blogging, and end world hunger problems. It was also picked up by NY Times.

I feel strongly about making blogs a more accessible medium for people outside the social media walls. I promote it both online and offline. But what O’reilley wrote really doesn’t help. It misses the point in my opinion.

You see, Tim is trying to make us all very nice and coasy with each other, open to others, and generally nice people. I don’t have a problem with that. But I opened a blog to write whatever I want. That’s the whole point of having a blog – publish my thoughts and ideas, without any censorship. If I have something smart to say -readers will come. if not – they won’t. Simple. Easy.

Kathy Sierra’s story is sad, and makes me angry every time I read it. But it is not different from other cases, where media celebrities were threatened and even murdered due to racist, sexual or pure hate reasons. Hey, Howard Stern made his career from saying unconventional things on air!

The same goes for publishing what Tim define as inappropriate content:

“…We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that:

– is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others
– is libelous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person,
– infringes upon a copyright or trademark
– violates an obligation of confidentiality
– violates the privacy of others …”

All these points are important but are handled by the legal system of each country. If you are offended by a post, you can always react, either online or offline. Why is there a need for such a code?

Let’s try to solve the real problems bloggers have – gaining respectability from the regular newspapers readers, explaining the medium to people not involved in it, and gt more readers involved in this new type of media. We can be nicer to each other later….

Update (11th of April): Jeff Jarvis wrote a great post about the subject here. You can also find Andy’s opinion (from VoIP Watch) on the topic. Didn’t see too many positive reactions till now…

Marketing Highly Technical Non Profit Organizations

As some of you know, I am VP of Marketing and Business Development of IMTC, a non profit technology organization, focused on interoperability of video communication and content delivery technologies. Basically, our members test their video conferencing, streaming and other multimedia applications in real life scenarios, and cooperate with engineers around the globe in advancing this industry.

Marketing such an organization is a major challenge. First, its work is highly technical, making it hard to extract a marketing message and convey it to media channels. Second, budget is scarce, so regular “carpet bombing” tactics (let’s send 10,000 press releases to newswire across the globe, publish ads in newspapers, and buy booth spaces in 6 shows a year) simply cannot be implemented.

In the last six months, we’ve done several steps to tackle this challenge. As you know, we are having a panel at VON about the business perspective of standardization, where we present the business aspect of our work. But this is not enough – there are tons of business oriented panels. So, in order to make it more appealing, we invited Skype, which represent the opposite approach, to join the panel and argue that non-standard approach is better for business than ours. Nothing like a good fight to clarify a message!

Another important issue is how to create an ongoing relationship with the industry. Press releases are single sided. You send them out, shoot all over the place, and hope for the best. I think that PRs are important, especially for product companies, but one thing for sure – they do not create any relationship with readers. It’s like good old television.

I am proud to say, that after a long process, we have launched IMTC blog, with writers from the organization. The blog covers technology aspects of our work, and its affect on the market. We believe that in time, it will be a news source for unbiased information on multimedia communication and content delivery market today.

Blog solves two of the issues I’ve raised. It is cheap, and creates an ongoing relationship with our readers. There is also a good chance that it will simplify our media relations – especially with key bloggers.

However, an official IMTC blog has its own challenges. Unlike press release, there are more content contributors. This opens a whole new range of legal aspects that need to be addressed. Also, blog success is highly dependent on the rate of new posts ( I call it “the Feed-Me-Seymour” blog effect). IMTC is a voluntary organization, so finding contributors for a non technical activity is not just a walk in the park.

We’ve tackled these problems by forming an editorial team, which has two responsibilities: review all posts prior to publication for legal issues, and constantly contribute posts. editorial team volunteers are interested in creative writing, so it is fun for them, and good for the blog.

I am the Chief Editor of IMTC blog, so if any of the readers are interested in being guest bloggers, feel free to contact me.

I also want to thank Boaz Babai for supporting us in this process.


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