Category Archives : Google

Cisco seek restrictions on Microsoft Skype Integration 1

Today Cisco asked the European Commission to reconsider their recommendation that the purchase of Skype be approved without restriction.  Cisco has specifically asked that Skype video conferencing be ‘open’ and prevent a Lync/Skype lock-in.  This is fascinating stuff on several levels:

Cisco and Microsoft have many ties and joint working agreements (as the Cisco blog mentions) and for Cisco to officially complain will almost certainly sour those relationships.  I thought the working relationship had improved over the past 12 months but I’d assume this will be a set back.

Cisco might like to think they are a competitor to Microsoft and mention them in a great deal of their market information, where I don’t really see the same focus on Cisco as a competitor within the wider Microsoft machine.  Sure the MS UC teams talk about Cisco but outside of Lync I just don’t see the same recognition of Cisco.  You always hear Microsoft guys whisper about teams being hauled in front of Balmer for losing a deal to Google, I’ve never heard of a similar fate for losing to Cisco.  Maybe by poking the big Balmer bear on a key acquisition Cisco might get more competitive focus within Microsoft.

And my thoughts on the substance of the request.  I’m in no doubt that Lync/Skype integration would prove a popular selling point for Lync (if MS ever officially announce such a thing) just as the Cisco acquisition of Tandberg proved popular, but neither purchase creates a market distortion:

Microsoft’s plans to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock-in businesses who want to reach Skype’s 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform.

This is patently absurd.  If a business wishes to reach the 700 million account holders it downloads Skype for free on any platform they choose and contacts a user directly from Skype without any need for Lync.  Far more likely in fact is that a company can contact a Skype user via their corporate Facebook account – how is this possibly locking anyone into a Microsoft platform?

In addition the various regulators rightly highlighted that internet platforms can quickly dissipate, consumers are not locked into Skype.  Apple and Google already have similar products, Twitter or Linkedin if they so wished could easily deploy a video platform – Vidyo I’m sure would be more than willing to spin something up for either platform.

Then I think there is the technical legal point that Cisco’s own blog post highlights.  Cisco state that the current industry today lacks interoperability.  They are dead right but if that is the case how can the EC justify that a merger of two systems, one of which is already closed, create any further industry degradation?  If the EC forces MS to open Skype then Microsoft lawyers will rightly demand that all other video systems are forced to be open and interoperate due to legal precedence.  Sony, Wii and Xbox, Apple’s Facetime, Google hangouts would all be forced to interoperate.  Can I use Google hangouts to join a Cisco Telehealth VC session today ?  The courts simply could not enforce such a ruling.

I just don’t understand why Cisco have done this, it makes them look desperate, it probably damages working relationships, I’d be amazed if their appeal stands any weight and they might just have woken up the Microsoft machine.  Cisco stepped away from the network space with PostPath and Flip and lost billions.  Focus on your own strategy and products rather than making ill conceived requests.

Skype Rumours: Facebook, Google and Microsoft… 1

My first question reading this list was – why no telco?  Skype generate almost all of their income from PSTN with circa 8 million subscribers paying an average of $97 per year for PSTN access.  Wouldn’t it be a natural fit for a telco with global ambitions (easy answer to this – there are no global telcos) or at least a defensive play against a loss of revenue as users shift from PSTN to calling over the internet?  Then I took a look at the figures and realised the telco element of Skype is a complete red herring.  It is user numbers and specifically user attention that Facebook and Google want so they can do what they do best – serve ads to a captive audience.

Take a look at a couple of rough comparisons:

Facebook – 500 million users with 700 billion minutes per month of time spent on the site (official facebook site) – market value currently talked of $50billion

Youtube – 2 billion views a day (viral blog) which on my assumption of an average of 2 minutes per view could be getting on for 120 billion minutes per month - its hard to know what value Google put on youtube now

Twitter – reports of 200 million users with which could mean up to 5 billion (scaling up on the digital buzz blog) requests to Twitter each day and a possible market valuation of $7billion

Now compare the above numbers to Skype who reportedly have over 500 million with an average of 145 million users logged in on a monthly basis (techcrunch).  While the reported numbers of voice and video of 207 billion per year is much smaller that Facebook, Twitter or Youtube the user must be logged into the Skype application for much longer.

Such a weight of user number and the length of time a user logs in gives a specialist ad serving organisation like Facebook or Google the ideal opportunity to monetize Skype.  Skype for Business and Skype Out are minority business interests and the suitors of Skype know it, I just wonder if Silver Lake truly appreciate that it currently holds one of the few internet businesses with the scale and relevance to match the marque names of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube that if sold correctly could serve billions of dollars of ads to users on a global basis.

Google Voice Turns Two

The Google Voice product team have just released a brief summary of the features they have added to Google Voice over the past two years. While it’s great to see what has been completed it would be great to know more about the plans for 2011 and 2012.

Voice is a critical element of consumer and enterprise communication and the companies that can make voice easier to use and cheaper to run will have a distinct advantage in the market place.

Interestingly Google and Microsoft diverge on the issue of providing voice services to consumers and enterprise. Google seem keen to provide voice services directly from their own cloud and take on the regulatory responsibility which that entails. Microsoft however are purposefully staying away from providing voice services from their Office 365 cloud – potentially relying on partners.

Read the Google Voice article here

Google Release Number Porting and Buy Voice Company

Busy day for the guys at Google Voice.  Not only did they release the ability to port your mobile/cell number to Google Voice (US only) they also announced that they had acquired SayNow.  SayNow was not a competitor to Google Voice but it did have 15 million users and I suspect this will be a technology and people play for Google.

For those fortunate enough to be able to consume Google Voice take a look at a quick video on number porting below and the features of Google Voice.

Google Voice Number Portability

Google took another step into the UC marketplace today with the introduction of number portability to Google Voice.

Number portability is critical to Google in that it allows a user to move their existing mobile/cell number to the Google Voice service. Without the ability to port numbers the service would take a much harder path to growth as users would be unable to take their long held and critical contact number over to Google. While portbaility remains only in testing and Google Voice is still not available outside of North America I’ve little doubt that Google are looking to spread the service globally.

Why is it taking Gogole so long to move outside of North America…they have to deal with existing Telecom carriers who typically like to mix gross inefficiency with anti competitive practises to maintain their high margins.

Take a jump over to the Techcrunch website for the details of the story here

Cisco and Lync HD Video Integration

I can’t help thinking that eventually Cisco and Microsoft will lock themselves in a room and come to an agreement that recognises their mutual benefit in developing joint UC solutions.  The Cisco/Lync integration seen below is a great example of how two companies can create great services for end users.  I appreciate this is using Tandberg equipment that was more than likely signed off for development before the Cisco acquisition.

Global organisations are crying out for the type of UC services demonstrated on the video but the negative marketing push that both Cisco and Microsoft are engaged in creates confusion within the IT departments of large organisations which typically prevents investment in new equipment and software and ultimately frustrates end users.

If MS and Cisco could come together and I do not mean in an anti competitive way but just merely stop the FUD flying back and forth and engage in some joint account planning within their client base I guarantee they collectively will sell plenty more hardware, software and services.

Soon they may have a common enemy which may bring them together…..Google are just around the corner when it comes to having a value proposition which they will be more than willing to push into large organisations.

Android Honeycomb Challenges Flare, Lync and Cuis

At CES this week Google demonstrated Honeycomb – the tablet specific version of Android.  Google are pitching the device as a potential communication platform in a similar fashion to Avaya and Cisco recent tablet announcements.  Take a look at the Verizon CES keynote. At around 8.23 Mike Cleron (Principal Android Engineer at Google) states that Honeycomb will add to Android’s communication platform capability.  He then goes on to demonstrate real time video chat from Google Talk.

This highlights to me yet again that Google are looking to enter the enterprise communication market and when they consolidate their software and devices into an enterprise grade offer they will be a very serious player in the market.

The device demonstrated was a Motorola Xoom and will be sold on the Verizon network.  No pricing has been released yet.