Posts from October 7, 2004

Web 2.0: Telephone as a platform

Web 2.0: Telephone as a platform

: Om Malik — who knows his stuff in this arena — runs the panel and asks Vonage and AT&T whether there is a price war and the real mark of the commoditization of voice.

Jeffrey Citron, founder of Vonage, said the concepts of distance or locality are, of course, meaningless in VOIP. “Pure talking is probably going to become commoditized,” he says but argues that there are advanced features on VOIP. “We’ve freed voice from the confines of the transmission system.”

Hossein Eslambolchi of AT&T says its nothing new to have competitors who push prices down. But he makes a subtle jab at Citron about companies that really make money. Citron infamously said recently that Vonage is profitable if you don’t count marketing. Well, uh, marketing is the cost structure of the company. EBITDAM will not take off as a new accounting standard.

Eslambolchi also talks about features — they call it SOIP for services over IP.

Man, they sound like airlines trying to argue over who has the better bagel.

Mike McCue of Tellme says there has to be an opening of the telephone as a platform so anyone can write any application for any telephone. Yup. “What’s missing right now is the equivalent of HTML for the telephone… I think that HTML for the telephone is VoiceXML…. The killer aps are very clear: voicemail… 411…” He’s doing at elections application, calling a number and hearing what the candidates say and then chatting with other people on the network.

Om says that the pipe has been decoupled from the content, in that vision. That’s what Vonage has done, for example. That, too, is what made the web grow, of course: content was separated from presentation and wire.

There’s considerable back-and-forth between Vonage and AT&T as a war of teh centuries.

Marc Canter tells them what the consumer wants: “We want to interoperate between VOIP systems.” Mr. Tellme says the VOIP companies are operating like old telecom.

This is just like yesterday’s discussion about lock-in: efforts to lock-in customers will piss off customers.

To repeat:

Jarvis’ First Law: Give the people control of media, they will use it.

The corollary: Don’t give the people control of media, and you will lose.

McCue tells the phone companies, AT&T and Vonage, to open up their billing system so somebody who invents a great voicemail system can sell it to consumers, who can use it anywhere. “That’s the kind of business-model innovation that has to happen to unlock the telephone as a platform.”

Web 2.0: O’Reilly announcements

Web 2.0: O’Reilly announcements

: Dale Dougherty of O’Reilly, who edited the hack books, shows Safari U’s service to allow professors to “hack textbooks.”

And he shows O’Reilly’s first magazine, Make, for “do it yourself technology projects” — “Martha Stewart for geeks.” He looked at Popular Mechanics back in the ’50s and “it felt a lot like hacking.” Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing is the editor in chief. One example story: kite aerial photography.

They’re including a web element, of course, to have people record their own projects and comment on the magazine’s in a blog/wiki format.

Make looks most cool.

Web 2.0: Mitch Kapor

Web 2.0: Mitch Kapor

: Kapor says he’s going to tell us “how technology can fix a broken political system. ”

He says the Jefferson, Hamilton, et al would be horrified with a corrupt system today: too many lobbyists, too much secrecy.

“Investing inside the Beltway has great returns, VC-level returns.” Agricultural subsidies return on agricultural lobbying at 200-to-1.

“We were never meant to have a highly centralized government,” he says. I don’t know Kapor’s politics. Libertarian? Aha. He just said, “The Dean campaign, which ended all too soon.”

I’ve talked about technology today as an analog for media: transparency and open-source ethics. Kapor is talking about similar needs for government: participation and transparency.

“I’m heartened that the community of bloggers of both views, left and right, have begun to hold politicians and media more accountable.”

Web 2.0: Cory Doctorow

Web 2.0: Cory Doctorow

: Cory says he’s proud that the Electronic Frontier Foundation “made Web 1.0 lawful.” It ‘s Cory’s call to action on copyright and freedom on the internet. It’s going by fast and I don’t think I’ll do it justice.

He said that one attendee at the conference just donated $100k to EFF.

Indtv

Indtv

: I’m very excited that I’m headed out at lunch to meet the folks at Indtv, Al Gore’s and Joel Hyatt’s new TV network. More later.

Note that they’re hiring and blogging the process.

The Daily Stern: morning after

The Daily Stern: morning after

: CNET writes about Stern’s shift to satellite and quotes me.

: Stern said this morning that he insisted on not charging an extra fee for his show. At XM, folks are going to pay more for the privilege of hearing Opie & Anthony.