Archive for November, 2006|Monthly archive page

Identity Management

Identity management is a lively topic for me right now, I’m no expert in the topic but have followed OpenID for a while and have had several internal conversations on the OpenID vs/or Liberty Alliance discussions going on. I’m not going to comment directly on that but I did get a newsletter from Opinity today and told me I could now use OpenID so i went and checked, seamless to do but not any sites that I currently use were on the list however Livejournal was so decided to try that one as been meaning to look at it for a while.

Once i got to the page there indeed was a link to login with OpenID which I choose, entered my new URL, taken to Opinity to login, authorise access and back to Livejournal – painless really and at least I don’t have yet another identity/set of login credentials.

Sadly there seems to be a major flaw in this which I hope gets rectified for the sake of OpenID adoption, when I tried to set up my journal I got an error page that informed me:

“Sorry – Non-LiveJournal.com users can’t post, as they don’t actually have journals here. You can leave comments in other journals, though.”

Shame really as being able to use one identity across all sites would be so useful for me, and I don’t really care a great deal who does it as long as it works across everything I want to use, which in my case means I want to use my SIM card to authenticate myself to any site on the web when browsing through my mobile rather than enter URLs and passwords, it’s just easier that way. If that was tied to an identity that also had a URL for PC based browsing then I’d be happier again, and if every website on the planet accepted those credentials I’d be in a utopian nirvana.

I remembered a post about this as I was writing and dug it out of NNW, it closes with the statement

Conclusion
Mobile requires even more than the Web a standard Digital ID approach due to both technical constraint of the mobile and the increase of data services available. The mobile already have the technical basis to do this (SimCard for instance) but no real solution has been yet put in place. So we can only wait more to see if existing Digital Signature solutions from the Web will move to mobile….

This seems to be the basis of the many discussions, along with how strong authentication and security is on both solutions, I’m happy to use my SIM because it will give me the best and simplest solution, not because I work for an operator btw

edit: forgot to update the title of the post, fixed now

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Telco 2.0 Blog or wiki

In the responses to the Ten Things posts was the suggestion to create a new blog or convert this one to a Telco self help blog to discuss the issues raised and keep the conversation going:

Your post (great, excellent, and clever by the way) must be just the begin of a coherent and colaborative efforts into making our industry different from today…I suggest to dedicate the full blog or to create another one to just this issue, point by point, on fixed service, mobile service and content&application services.

Antonio Del Corral

It occurred to me today that there is at least one blog I read that does this (and I’m sure there are more out there) written by the excellent folks at STL Partners and rather fittingly called Telco2.0 however to the best of my knowledge the folks there don’t currently work at a Telco but several have done so in the past

During an RSS reading fest on the journey over today I also realised that several of the blogs that I subscribe to cover various aspects of this arena too, albeit from different angles

SMS Text News
Telepocalypse
MobHappy
EuroTelcoblog
Dean Bubley’s Disruptive Wireless
Alec Saunders .LOG

It seems to me there is a lot of conversation on the topic already and what’s needed more than anything is, perhaps, one comprehensive source for it, as I pointed out before James Enck suggested “this could evolve into an industry self-help wiki, if Ian has the energy to run with it” and I think a wiki is probably the best way forward, assuming that there are others out there that would like to contribute as I don’t cover all the areas suggested by Antonio?

If anyone wants to get something like this going please leave a comment and I’ll get in touch, also if anyone writes a blog covering this area please also leave a comment, I’d like to add you to my reader!

Java Porting a Painful Thing

I’ve recently tried out a few Java apps like Talkonaut and Hotxt and my experience has been a truly terrible one in terms of customer experience, this may well have been due to using a Windows Mobile 5.0 handset but that’s not the only reason, it just added to the pain, when entering text in an app I get a box to fill but when I start to type I drop out to a windows box to enter text, one which always defaults to multi-tap input rather than T9, once I OK there it takes me back to the Java text box all filled in but I then have to OK that and so far it’s always the other soft key each time!

I think these apps represent fine examples of some of the points raised in Ten Things and the follow up, they are working their way around the carrier on the basis of saving money but also because they provide features that carriers don’t currently support.

The problems I see are first of all the fact that they rely on Java, as pointed out on Mobhappy doing it this way causes its own set of problems

“The downside of Java, as we’ve noted bitterly many times before, is all the work required porting it across all makes and models of handsets. This makes it an expensive and frustrating application to run, or forces you to be very selective about which models of handsets you support.

(Via MobHappy.)

The second is that the user experience is not simple enough, which is clearly down to being an ‘external’ java app, the integration isn’t there (caveat, I’ve only tried Hotxt on a Sony Ericsson K750i and it wasn’t much better, I assume Talkonaut will be the same) and both apps are trying to replicate existing patterns of usage, making calls and sending text messages, just using different technology to avoid the carrier and reduce costs

In the interests of the customer we need to see several things happen, Java needs to be better implemented on devices, perhaps the open sourcing will help but I’m not convinced right now, we need more open APIs to the core network to enable more seamless services rather than workarounds, perhaps IMS will help but not for some time yet and we need more simplicity, devices are already too complex for most and adding new apps to mimic functionality whilst increasing complexity isn’t going to help.

Ten Things Follow Up

Since I posted the first results there has been a lot of interest in the post which has been excellent to see since one of the objectives was to promote a conversation and I’m genuinely happy to see this happen!

Thanks to all that cross posted the article and drew attention to it, there have been a few posts I’ve come across where folks have created their own ‘Ten Things’ which seem to address similar points, for now there are a couple of points that have been raised which I wanted to try and address.

The first one is that this is an initiative to help Telcos help themselves

I think this could evolve into an industry self-help wiki, if Ian has the energy to run with it.

James Enck

I suggest to dedicate the full blog or to create another one to just this issue, point by point, on fixed service, mobile service and content&application services.

antonio del corral

I really like the idea but for one I’m not sure I have the bandwidth to do it myself, you only need to look at my sparodic posting rate, saying that I’m happy to be part of a collaborative effort to run a blog, probably a new one as I’d still like to keep this one for what it was intended.

The second one is to see more of the survey results, in Tim’s excellent but slightly differently titled post he generated a lot of comments that seem to be asking for pretty much the same things ‘make it simple, make it work’ and an interesting comment about really simple phones for the elderly, Vodafone have launched devices like this. Some of the comments pointed out that the list was more about what you want from a carrier than a handset manufacturer, I assumed that what Tim meant by Phone was that he got it from a carrier, hence the same thing, moot point though.

I digress, Tim put up the various O’Reilly replies in full so here are all the answers for completeness:

Brian McConnell

#1 An Open Network

We want a network that is based on open technology (SIP, RSS, XMPP).
We also want a network that is open economically.

#2 An Open Marketplace

EBay is a global success because they created an efficient market and make it easy for sellers to find buyers. We want a telephone network that is open to everyone, not just one carrier’s handpicked favorites.

#3 Simple, Fair Pricing

Stop gouging customers. We don’t expect you to turn into Skype, but we want customers to know they can pick up the phone and talk without getting ripped off. The world’s most successful companies learned to operate on tight margins. Restructure your business so you can make money at rates of less than 5 cents per minute.

#4 No More Geographical Tolls

The cost to transport a call internationally is almost never more than a few cents. Stop ripping customers off on international calls.
They’ll start using you instead of Skype.

#5 Turn Wireless Data On By Default, With Flat-Rate Pricing

Don’t ask customers if they want wireless data, just give it to them.
Give them cheap entry level service that is throttled (say 50kbps), then let power users upgrade to high-speed plans for a premium. Don’t charge by the kilobyte, nobody understands this model.

#6 Set Technical Standards For Handset Vendors

Set standards for a half dozen or fewer reference standards for handsets. Each reference standard will address a particular use case (i.e. mobile office worker, young user, etc). For each standard you
define:

* base operating system (Linux, Windows Mobile or Symbian)
* basic parameters for screen dimensions, I/O capability, etc
* radio (network type, data options, etc)

Manufacturers will be free to experiment with the form factor, but the key parameters that affect software developers (e.g. screen height-width ratio) will be fixed. This will enable developers to build apps for a small number of device profiles rather than 50-100 different permutations of devices.

#7 Make App Download and Install Simple

Installing third-party apps on a device should be as simple as possible. One option to seriously consider, download by shortcode.
The user goes to a phone’s browser, types a shortcode for an app.
Your proxy server converts this short code to a web URL, the phone downloads the app and is ready to go.

#8 Share Revenue

Develop a simple and consistent revenue sharing program for voice, data and SMS/MMS services. Make participation easy and almost automatic, to encourage developers to experiment, and to drive usage on your network. Don’t gouge your developers like you currently do for PSMS.. Charge fees similar to what credit card processors collect (STL partners (Telco2.0 initiative)

1. Predictable pricing
2. Ability to manage business and personal use separately
3. Flexible price plans (eg. T-Mobile Flext)
4. No device lock-down
5. Self-service for all common care requests
6. True reward for loyalty
7. More bandwidth capacity
8. Improved usability of basic telephony and messaging functions (eg. Voicemail)
9. Better integration with PC tools and internet services
10. Much cheaper international roaming (fair prices please)

Moshe Yudkowsky

But here’s what I want most of all from Telcos: Be a Telco, Not a Studio.

Here’s what I mean. The reason for the current lack of cool applications for mobile stems in part from the lockdown of the handset and pipeline thereto. Carriers think they’re in the studio business — making and distributing entertainment — instead of the Telcom business, which is moving data around in an efficient fashion.

OK, that’s fine, I can live with a Telco that thinks it can compete with Pixar. However, when the Telco locks down the handset and tries to create a vertically integrated but locked and DRM’d pipe, what you end up with is a mess.

You gain very little creativity on the handset itself because they are distributed by the telcos and they have limited vision as to how the handsets should look. The content becomes limited because of limited access. Everything is minute-metered. Applications must hurdle expensive barriers.

Contrast this to the Internet, where $7 buys you a domain name and $7/month buys you a web site, and no one can lock you out of the browser (although Microsoft will certainly try).

In other words, the Telcos are attempting to move away from dependence on a commodity of cell phone minutes — but they’re doing it by re-creating AOL.
Even AOL eventually realized that the AOL model wasn’t going to work when people can get content from anywhere. Citywide wifi is around the corner which will bring content in from all across the network — just *what* do the telcos think they’re doing?

I call on the Telcos to disaggregate the act of being a carrier from the act of being a content provider. For mobile content to grow we need disaggregation of authority (over what travels over the network) and ownership (of content, and of who controls the pipelines).

Kevin Perkins

1. Coordination between headquarters and specific country markets to implement a consistent offering
2. Shorter review/evaluation periods for new products & services
3. Adopt an “open model” for device choice
4. Embrace a “mesh network” approach for highest user experience
5. Become the dominant force in local anything (telco already has all the listings… why am I going to Google?)
6. Make “voice” superb first before adopting high-capacity services such as mobile video
7. Hire product people that will still be there in 3-6 months
8. Take chances
9. Don’t try to be all things to all people
10. Most important for last… simplify the offering across the board

11. Bonus: Don’t roll over and give your customers to the search engines!

Andreas Constantinou

As a user then I would like my operator to:
– Treat me as an important person – for example I expect my operator to know who my friends are and offer a discounted rate to calling my friends. And offer me some discounts/thankyous etc, because I pay a lot of money on mobile phone bills each month.
– Not ask me stupid questions when I call customer service (like what phone are you using ?)
– Offer me replacement phones more often
– Allow me to know how much money I ‘m spending and where.

Jim Van Meggelen

1. QoS to the last mile, unbundled from any telco product
2. An acceptance of the fact that delivering services to end users is going to be full of new players, and a treatment of those players as a new kind of customer, as opposed to competition

Tim O’Reilly

1. I want my phone to sync seamlessly with my address book to remember everyone I ever communicate with, not just those I explicitly add, and to use heuristics like Google does to find the top web pages to help find the most likely addresses to remember for me. Obviously, adding someone explicitly is the highest priority form of remembering, and deleting them is the highest form of forgetting, but in between, there are all kinds of interesting options: give higher priority to people I communicate with most often; give higher priority to people I respond to most quickly; give higher priority to people with whom I spend the most minutes communicating; give higher priority to people with whom I communicate using multiple methods (see point 2 below); demote people who call me and leave messages but to whom I never respond; demote people on known telemarketer lists.

2. Integrate with other non-phone communication methods (e.g. email and IM, for phones that don’t support it), and use all the same metrics as in #1 above to give me an address book that reflects my true social network.

3. Give me a PC-based app that lets me manage my social network (and visualize it), in much the same way that iTunes lets me manage my music, with more sophisticated controls than are easy to cram onto a handheld device.

4. Interoperate with Skype and other VoIP technologies, from both my PC communications console and from my phone.

5. Make it easy for me to script telephony applications (again, perhaps using my PC “iPhone” program), so that I can, for example, easily have different messages for different callers, even set up IVR type applications, set messages to be sent to myself or others at some future time.

6. Give me Text to Speech, so I can have things read to me by my phone, and so I can email messages to myself or others. For that matter, give me speech to text, or at least forwarding of voice enclosures to email. We do this from our asterisk server, and it’s great.

7. Stop charging me when other people call me. Move to the sender pays model. (But we like flat rate as well!)

8. Don’t compete with other carriers on cell towers. Work together to give me the best reception everywhere, regardless of who owns which spot on a tower. It’s silly to be in places where on carrier’s phone works, and another doesn’t.

9. Rate plan commitments as a tradeoff for a discount on a new phone are fine, but requiring a new plan commitment merely to change the plan for a better one (as many carriers do) is a sleazy practice that actually encourages switching.

10. Work with phone manufacturers to standardize power supplies! It’s ridiculous for family members with different phones to have to carry around multiple different power supplies (e.g. in the car or on a trip) when one would do. iGo and USB-based power adaptors help, but this whole thing is unnecessary, wasteful, and consumer-unfriendly.

Marc Hedlund

1. +1, or a thousand, to pt’s first point. The best way to drive early adopters crazy is to compile out functionality.

2. don’t nickel and dime me when I’m trying new things. It would have been ten million times smarter for US carriers to have made SMS unlimited-use (for a flat rate add-on if necessary) then to make people count characters or estimate monthly throughput.

3. don’t lock the platform. I never even thought about buying a sidekick because of this. If I can’t install what I want on it, it’s not a computing device, it’s just a fancy tin can, and I won’t buy it.

4. what I want most of all is one network with which I can use my laptop or cellphone at high speeds, anywhere. I’d prefer all of my data (by which I mean “voice” or other data — I really don’t care about the difference) going over wifi available anywhere. I don’t have any belief that the basic mobile phone services work at all, so what I really want is that. If my cell phone could actually receive phone calls when I’m sitting on my couch at home, I’d be less picky about this, but for all I can tell the cell tower / coverage map never got anywhere near filled in for me, and anything else is just expensive frosting on top of mud from my point of view.

5. don’t ever give my data over to anyone else without first making a loud and unsuccessful stink about it, and without suing everyone you have to to fight it. (I don’t use Verizon for this reason alone.)

I really tried to start writing this as “what I want” but it immediately turned into “what I don’t want.” I think it’s very hard, in the US at least, to start a conversation about mobile service without immediately tapping a deep abscess of hatred. As an aside, on the consumer rating site I run, cell phone companies are consistently the lowest-rated service providers for our users, across allregular expenses. So here’s what I really want: be the JetBlue of cell carriers. Come in and match a good attitude about customer service with reasonable prices and sane offerings. Take that combination and I’ll love you forever.

Phil Torrone

1. never ever ever cripple a phone. if a phone can do bluetooth, don’t cripple it so it can’t be used as a modem. if a phone can play mp3s, don’t cripple it so it can’t use mp3s as ringtones.

2. phone has a file system. if the phone has removable media (sd, tflash, etc) when plugged in via usb, it should act as usb host drive for easy drag drop file storage (and charging)…

3. green it. not really a top 10, but sorta important… make the phones more recycle-able, nokia’s “active disassembly” is an interesting start… http://www.nokia.com/nokia/0,6771,27610,00.html

1. when i pay $60 for “unlimited data”, in addition to the other cell phone bill, don’t fine-print-me-out with doubletalk and how it’s actually not “unlimited data”. [See] the limits of “unlimited” EVDO

2. give me a bill of rights. it’s weird to know that there isn’t a data retention policy i can see, my carrier has my text messages forever? 2 months? 6 months? no one knows. one time i called up to ask to see if i could get a copy of them or know how long they keep them. of course this went nowhere. i mentioned this in 2004 – http://www.engadget.com/2004/06/18/at-t-wireless-keeps-all-your-text-messages/ if you use google over sms or any service over sms, those are kept too. my guess is they’re mined for data, saved and stored forever, or until they’re lost / stolen / handed over. i’m sure we’ll see a terabyte of text messages hit the web, just like the aol search results…

like marc said, be my jetblue.

Ten Things I Want From You

Back on the 19th October I mailed James Enck about an idea I had that was inspired by his ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’ post that he gave at the Telco2.0 event in London. It was interesting to see what the outside view of things that are wrong with Telco’s are given that I am employed as a Strategic Advisor to one (Orange) so I thought it would be useful to get in touch with various people I have met over the last year or so and ask them what they actually want from a Telco. The idea being to promote a conversation with the community that could then be presented to my management and of course posted here and on James blog.

The basic premise is to turn the Ten Things into the things that people want from a Telco as opposed to what they see wrong, in fact after spending a lot of time looking over the answers that came in it occurred to me that they are almost the same thing to some people, as in what they want from a Telco are the fixing of things they currently see as wrong! May seem obvious now however I for one have found the feedback very useful in that a lot of it mirrors what I initially thought and have discussed within my peer group within the company.

The list I suggested initially to James was: (I couldn’t think of Ten and several others couldn’t either)

  1. Flat rate voice bundle
  2. Flat rate data bundle
  3. Pan European Bundles
  4. Unlocked/Open Handsets
  5. Open SIP stacks
  6. SMS/MMS API
  7. Open Location API
  8. Broad adoption of Internet IM on mobiles
  9. API access to own data (call history, contacts etc)
  10. ?

The Ten Things I’ve collated together from the answers looks like this

  1. Improve the Basics (16)
  2. Transparent pricing (11)
  3. Embrace internet and don’t compete or lock out (8)
  4. Business and Personal(7)
  5. Open Handset (6)
  6. Flat rate Data (4)
  7. Open development environment (4)
  8. Open Source Technology (2)
  9. Open Data (2)
  10. PC integration (1)

One reason it has taken this long to produce the results is that I should have gone with multiple choice, possibly based on the list of things I expected to see, however I left it free form and the replies were all very different meaning I’ve had to apply a lot of my own reasoning to pull out ten themes from the answers. I tried to pull out the theme from each set of answers, some were short 1 liners and others quite full explanations, and then create some headline titles for each one and I hope i’ve done them justice as some could sit across more than one headline, for better or worse I made a call on each to only be in one though.

The response rate was 30% overall which is pretty positive I think but since I’m not a marketeer I’m not sure, once I grouped the answers I’ve ordered the list by number of responses per headline (the figure in parenthesis).

It’s very interesting to see that Improve the basics is overwhelmingly at the top, what strikes me is that there is a lot of talk on Voice2.0, Fixed Mobile convergence, the rise of VoIP, minutes arbitrage and how telephony in general needs to evolve and yet the two most desired things are effectively:

improve the basics (and make it work better)

Make “voice” superb first before adopting high-capacity services such as mobile video

Improved usability of basic telephony and messaging functions (eg. Voicemail)

Don’t compete with other carriers on cell towers. Work together to give me the best reception everywhere, regardless of who owns which spot on a tower. It’s silly to be in places where on carrier’s phone works, and another doesn’t.

Transparent (clear consistent) pricing

Much cheaper international roaming (fair prices please)

The cost to transport a call internationally is almost never more than a few cents. Stop ripping customers off on international calls. They’ll start using you instead of Skype.

Treat me as an important person – for example I expect my operator to know who my friends are and offer a discounted rate to calling my friends. And offer me some discounts/thank yous etc, because I pay a lot of money on mobile phone bills each month

The general ‘tone’ of the replies leads me to believe that the majority are quite happy to pay a reasonable cost for the basics as long as they are done well and that the rise in alternatives we see now are simply because people are finding ways around the problems they have with Telcos.

When it comes to service development the more open a Telco is the more people will develop against and drive innovation, the lack of openness we have now is closing the door to many opportunities and ultimately causing a more complex telephony landscape than there really needs to be, a service developed against the core rather than routed around it is usually a better experience after all.

I don’t want to make this post much longer so will leave this as a here are the results type post but one last point is that the majority of people that replied are from the USA and several of the things they wanted already exist in the European market, or at least from my knowledge of Orange, hopefully many of the things that don’t currently exist will come about next year across all Telcos, evidence is there already with the launch of Xseries by 3 and I’m sure more will follow soon.

In closing many thanks to all those that responded and I hope you find this post useful

Performance problems on your Mobile Internet connection? Try this!

Found this while trawling around on a Saturday night, with limited testing so far it does seem to make a difference, perhaps the Orange DNS servers need a tweak?

Performance problems on your Mobile Internet connection? Try this! – MoDaCo: “-

From the Start Menu,

Select ‘Settings’

– Select ‘Connections’

– Select ‘GPRS’

– Ensure your main GPRS Internet connection is selected, and press ‘Menu’ then ‘Edit’

– Modify the Primary DNS entry to read ‘217.115.138.24’

– Modify the Secondary DNS entry to read ‘83.217.93.246’

– Press ‘Done’ 4 times”

(Via Modaco.)

Zimbra Adds Offline Use of Their Productivity Apps

I’ve written before about how I work offline a lot and what a pain it is so when I read this post (offline) I was very happy to see that there is an increasing amount of effort going into offline mode of working. I’ve seen mention of it in the discussions around OpenAjax Alliance and it’s good to see companies pushing this sort of thing already as laid out by Brady, I’m looking forward to a time when I can do anything on my Mac offline and that action will be stored for when I get back to connectivity again, in fact I’ve talked to people before about how I’d like something in the network stack that just makes applications ‘think’ they are online and then handles getting everything back in sync later whilst respecting time, for example I saved this as a draft whilst offline, I’ve just got back to editing it and finishing it off, I’d prefer it if I could just post when offline and then it will turn up when I get connected, too much to ask ??

Zimbra Adds Offline Use of Their Productivity Apps: “

By Brady Forrest

zimbraoffline.png

Zimbra announced at Web 2.0 yesterday that they were going to add an offline mode to their AJAX office suite. Any actions done offline will be stored in the local cache until you are back online. This will work for their email, calendaring, contacts, and documents offerings. You can learn more on their blog and on their product page.

Web apps have longed needed the ability to sync offline. Productivity apps in particular are in dire need for this. One of the reasons that I do not use Google Calendar is that I have no (easy) way to sync it from iCal, my offline calendar app. If there was an offline app that would sync to Google calendar then I would even consider switching just for that feature. Scrybe (reviewed by TechCrunch and eHub recently made waves for making offline syncing apart of their initial product offering.

This trend will continue as companies realize that this is a necessary feature to be competitive in the productivity market. Firefox already supplies mozStorage for this use and it will be updated with ease of development in mind for Firefox 3.0 and renamed to Unified Storage.

(Via O’Reilly Radar.)

Two Numbers on one Mobile, there’s an idea !

I find this fun, Orange has had the ability to have two numbers on one SIM for as long as I can remember and using it to have a work number and a personal one is the main usage, in fact most employees have this, saves having to carry around two handsets for a start.

I think this shows how there can be a tendency to get carried away with this whole Voice2.0 meme, or on the other hand it may just be a USA vs Europe thing, I don’t know if any US carriers do a Line 2 option so it’s fair to assume that Americans wont know that a European operator has been doing it forever… still it made me smile even though it shows that many of the things that people want may be available already, they just don’t know it…

TalkPlus, VoIP 2.0 Startup raises $5.5 million: “What we do love about the service – ability to add a second phone number to your mobile phone. A few European carriers tried to do that with dual SIMs, but to have a work and personal number on the same handset – that alone is a reason to check out TalkPlus.”

(Via GigaOM.)

Mobile Phones still rule in Telephony

I’ve been reading a lot of VoIP related blogs lately as I try to figure out the landscape and what it means for operators, what caught my eye about this one is simply that it mimics the way I do thing, the difference here being that I don’t pay my own bill I guess, however I look at and use all these VoIP products but the fact is that it is still easier for me to use my mobile for all the reasons Ken points out below, plus for me I have my main address book on my phone so anyone I want to talk to I can reach easily, all these softphones require a new set of buddies, I have to get them to sign up etc, it’s usuall just too much hassle for my non geek/techie friends.

Even when I tell them it will be free they don’t care because it just seems too much like hard work and that’s the problem in a nutshell for me, and now over to Ken…

“I write a lot about VoIP and unified communications. I do a lot in the broader space of mobility and video too. But people are often surprised when they ask me what my primary VoIP phone is, because for the most part, I don’t use one. For the most part, I don’t use a lanline wired phone either. My primary telephone is my cell phone. And a big part of the reason is the rich user experience.

I can sit on the sofa watching TV in the evening, and frankly, I don’t want my laptop in my lap. So I don’t use Skype, Gizmo, or any softphone client then. My landline phone is a feature-poor dial tone appliance. It’s next to worthless and service only one purpose. My cell phone lets me keep check on email, peek at the web if I need to, keep current with SMS messages, and take phone calls to. It’s a full, rich user experience.”

(Via Realime Unified Communications Blog.)

A Plague of Floats on Your Browser

In relation to Nats post I have been wondering lately whether we will start to see a similar problem on mobile devices as the browsers on them get closer to the current crop of PC based browsers.

One reason why I’m getting involved with initiatives like Mobile Ajax

A Plague of Floats on Your Browser: “

By Nat Torkington

Now that Firefox 2.0 is out, I’ve heard a few people asking ‘is that it?’ I remember how awesome it felt to have Firefox 1.0’s popup blocking working for me—it felt like the browser was on my side. Now it’s time to look ahead and see what else can help us take back the web.

One of the really big issues facing us, IMHO, is the new Javascript-driven ad technology called ‘floats’. They’re not separate windows popped up, they’re in-window divs that move up to obscure the web page and force the user to click to dismiss them. They can’t trivially be blocked because they’re generated by Javascript code within the page, and identifying such code is a similar problem to identifying viruses. They ruin the user’s experience by being unavoidable and maximally intrusive.

At the moment they’re rare (e.g., TVNZ and MSN only show them once per user per day) but if we learned anything from 2001 it’s that greed will ruin user experience if it can get an extra buck in ad revenue. We got popup blockers as a result of the 2001 popup orgy. What’s going to save us from the 2007 float invasion?

(Via O’Reilly Radar.)