Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Gizmo 3.0 (Voice for all IMs) is a right step - but could do even better

GigaOM reports that the Gizmo Project is getting even better. Since two days you can download the version 3.0 for Windows. Apple and Linux have to wait as always.
JUST RELEASED: How do you make Gizmo Project better? Add free calling to other IM clients to the service. And that’s exactly what SIPphone, the company behind Gizmo Project, has done with the just-out-of-oven Gizmo Project 3.0 soft client. You can now make free calls to people that use Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live IM networks, in addition to those who are using Jabber, Google Talk and Gizmo Project. (Where is AIM, damn it?)

The company claims that it is the first VoIP software client to tie multiple popular VoIP networks. Gizmo Project 3.0 include real-time file sharing which users to exchange files with other Gizmo Project 3.0 users, or send files directly to any major Jabber client.

To make a call, users simply type the username or ID of the person they want to call plus the network domain, for example, or Gizmo Project 3.0 users can also call international Yahoo Messenger users for free in France, Spain, and many other countries, for example or
This sounded so interesting to me that I directly had to check it out myself. I have been waiting very long for such an integration. And I want to tell you why: I am living in Germany but I have a lots of friends in Peru. International phones calls are quite expensive for them. While I can call them nearly for free, using Voipstunt, they have to pay a lot to call my German number. That's why I am using the Gizmo Project.

Gizmo is installed on my analog telephony adapter (ATA) to let my Peruvian friends call me for free on my normal German telephone, which is connected to this ATA, while my computer is switched of.

Until some days ago they had to install the Gizmo soft phone on their computer to call me this way. That's quite a problem since most of them don't know the program, but they are intense users of Skype and MSN messenger. So it was a real relief when they started the website Now my friends can call me for free from their browser by clicking this link:
That's a lot better, but not yet perfect. Gizmo Call requires Adobe Flash 9 for Microsoft Windows or Apple Macintosh and you have to install a small *.exe as plugin to your browser. There is no Linux version yet. The call length is normally limited to 3 minutes per call and 10 minutes a day. But this does not apply to me, because the link establishes a call to my Gizmo Project address, which makes my normal phone ring. So the call does not leave their network and so it's free and unlimited.

With the new softphone Gizmo Project 3.0 I can call my friends on their MSN messenger address, which is normally But much better would be, if they could call my Gizmo adress from their MSN messenger, which they are anyway using all day to text message each other. This would really be my personal killer application! Nearly all Peruvians I know use the MSN messenger. But they don't know about Gizmo or VoIP.

But sadly that's not possible. From the Gizmo Project you can call users of the MSN messenger, but not the other way around. That's because Gizmo uses only a one way bridge.

It might be interesting to you that Gizmo uses the address "" to bridge calls between the Gizmo Project client and the MSN messenger. This means that Gtalk2VoIP was not only the first company in the business of bridging instant messaging and VoIP. Gizmo is also using their infrastructure.

The address "" is a bridge. This means: You can call from the Gizmo Project soft phone to the MSN messenger, but not the other way around. The address "" is now a member of my MSN messenger contact list. When I call it or chat to it it does not answer. It would be so great if instead it would ask me the Gizmo-ID of the person I want to call. In this case people could really ring my phone from the MSN messenger.
I hope that the Gizmo people will put this function on their ToDo list.
I also tried a small hack to solve the problem: I wanted to enlist my Gizmo SIP address in Microsoft's Passport network, so that MSN messenger users can chat to it and call it. But that is not possible because Gizmo's SIP address does not work as an e-mail address, although it looks like one. With other email adresses it's easy to chat on MSN. You just have to enlist it at and then you can chat with it on the MSN messenger, without having a Hotmail address.
This should be another point on Gizmo's ToDo list and maybe solve the problem.
Altogether Gizmo Call 3.0 is a good step in the right direction. I appreciate every effort to build bridges between the dozens of different instant messaging and VoIP phone services. But to be really great and let my friends save their spare money, the integration must go also in the other direction.
Let the IM users make phone calls to Gizmo users!
I know that is technically possible. The bridge users like "" would just have to ask for the Gizmo-ID you want to call. They would work in a similar way like an access number for a calltrough services, like Tpad. Maybe an even more classy solution is possible?

And by the way:

Gizmo's new service service has some kind of answering machine: If the MSN contacts do not answer they get an e-mail with the message as a *.WAV attachement. It looks like this:
----Original Message Follows----
From: GTalk2VoIP Gateway
To: ***
Subject: Voice mail from: ***
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 10:54:13 GMT

This message contains a voice mail sent to you from Yahoo, Google Talk or MSN Messenger or a SIP phone user *** by GTalk2VoIP voice gateway.
Additional information about voice services available at
Thank you.


OK, It seems that one of my whishes has already come true, as I see in this blog comment:

It is possible to call Gizmo users from MSN, Yahoo and GTalk. Just type a command to the service bot (, like:
Then, accept a call back and wait for connection to set up.

PS: Google Talk users can even add Gizmo’s contacts to their roster and call by pressing “call” button. Details are here:


Ruslan on February 28th, 2007 at 11:44 AM - #

Good job, Ruslan! Thank you. I checked it out directly. Works great!

I said "CALL" to the MSN messenger user "" and then my phone ringed. Tried it out further by having a little talk to another person who went with the wireless phone to the kitchen. Great sound quality.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Free incoming VoIP number from Tpad seems false labeling to me

I don't want to be nagging always in this blog. But in the last time I read some news that at first sight sight sounded great and then are just bubbles or false labelings. I just found a new example in a press release from the British VoIP provider Tpad:
The popular internet telephone provider Tpad ( is shunning the approach shown by its competitors by providing a unique incoming SIP number to every customer free of charge.

While most other VoIP companies charge yearly for this number, Tpad are offering this service for free and will provide as many as the customer wants at no extra charge.
Many blogs and news media - like TMCnet, VoIP Monitor the Telecommunications Magazine, the VoiP Weblog or SnapVoIP - presented this news and didn't realize that the so called "free incoming SIP number" from Tpad is in fact not a phone number but something else, by far not as good as the the press release wants us to believe.

In fact Tpad's new numbers are just another calltrough service as we already know it from Rebtel or Sparruf. Tpad has access numbers in several countries. You call them and a computer voice asks you to type in the 7 digit Tpad number of the person you want to talk to. Every Tpad account gets such a 7 digit number.

Often this service doesn't even work, as I experienced with my friends from Peru. They call the Tpad call in number in Lima and then want to type in my Tpad number. But already after the fourth number the computer voice says "this option is invalid" and asks them to put in the number again. When they try it for another time, they hear the same answer and then the computer hangs up. Sometimes it also says "we have problems". The Tpad support told me that "it may seem that there is a problem with the peru number, our network team are looking into the problem". I really hope so.

But that does not take a away that they don't give real incoming numbers. They even acknowledge it on their website:
Give your unique Tpad number to all your relatives and contacts abroad. Example: your Tpad number is 1124139, you are in the UK and your relatives are in Pakistan (where the local Tpad Break In Number is 0217019753 - shown on Receice Calls page).

Your unique Tpad Number for ALL your relatives / contacts in Pakistan is :- 0217019753p1124139. This means that when they dial from a normal phone or mobile they first have to dial 0217019753 and when prompted enter your Tpad Number 1124139.
Sorry, but "p" is no number! What Tpad gives to their clients are no free SIP phone numbers, like for instance FWD, Gizmo Project or Sipgate really do. They just have some dozens of access numbers and a network that needs improvement.

(But it seems that they are really working on the Peru issue. When they get it up and runnig, it will be at least it's some kind of "number" that my Peruvian friends can call from a coin-operated telephone at local rates. But still no real Peruvian VoiP phone number, as I need yet for some years.)

Why GrandCentral's Gizmo support is not such a big breaktrough to me

GigaOM tells some news that seem interesting at first sight:
GrandCentral, the single-phone-number Web-based service launched last fall, is adding support for the free Gizmo Project Internet VoIP service, which may open up a whole new way to decrease spending on international or long-distance calling.

Still in beta, the GrandCentral service is the latest entrant in the often-attempted “single phone number” scheme. The Fremont, Calif.-based startup uses a combination of VoIP technology and softswitch-based applications to give users ways to tie multiple phone numbers, services (voice mail, etc.) and devices to a single inbound number.
This news seems more like a good piece of Public Relation work than a technical breaktrought to me and I want to tell you why:

If we all would be using ENUM the deal between GrandCentral and Gizmo wouldn’t be big news. With ENUM I can already route my PSTN number to my Gizmo account. VoIP users that call this number and do an ENUM lookup can call me for free.
Why bother for another number from GrandCentral?
I can implement the same call routing features of GrandCentral in my analog telephony adapter (ATA). I actually do. So whenever somebody calls my years old PSTN number I can let it ring wherever I want (for instance on my Gizmo Project soft phone or my mobile phone) and I can also filter the callers like GrandCentral offers.
Why pay extra for a service which I can already use at no extra cost at home?
Well, some might say that ENUM is difficult or that they just don't know it. But the point is that it’s totally easy to do an ENUM lookup before every call. SNOM VoIP phones do it automatically before they start the call. The VoIP providers could do it automatically before the VoIP call starts. Also they could enlist all their numbers in ENUM. The client wouldn’t even notice that ENUM is working in the background. It would just be all over IP and for free. But the VoIP providers don’t do it because the earn very well not doing ENUM and charge for calls that technically could be for free.
Others say that we should at least give GrandCentral credit for is their rules processing.
Well, the newest versions of the Fritz!Box do this out of the box. No complicated acronyms needed for installation. Just some clicks in the browser.

Incoming calls can be treated individually. You can for instance block unwanted calls or pass them to an answering machine. Friends and business partners can be redirected to a mobile phone, even if the call signal of the phone that’s connected to the Fritz!Box is switched off.

I am using such a Fritz!Box at home. It’s connected between my old telephone and the DSL connection. So all my calls go for free or for very modest prices over the internet. I do the configuration in my browser and it’s very easy. You can see an example here.

In fact the Fritz!Box is an entire PBX and cost me only 30 Euros, because I bought it used. It can do everything that GrandCentral does. Even an ENUM lookup before every call. But this is a hidden function for which you have to tweak the Linux that runs on the box. The Fritz!Box is getting better and better with every firmware update.

So to me GrandCentral is no big news and no necessary service. But I am always courious about new stuff.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Why does nobody admit that his company is a „minute stealer“?

I really like the term „minute stealer“ that Andy Abramson and Om Malik brought up. It explains in a very short way that VoIP companies like Jajah, Rebtel, Cellity, Truphone and others take shares of the telephony market from the well established, often monopoly like, old phone companies and make calls cheaper by tunneling them trough the internet. In the last months we should also speak of „mobile minute stealers“ since they do it also with cell phone calls that are even more expensive.

This is a great opportunity and so I wonder why nearly none of the new companies wants to call themselves a „minute stealer“. Are they afraid of waking the sleeping enemy?

Last week I researched for an article in a German economy magazine and talked to many important people in this market: Ari Virtanen (Vice President Convergence Products, Multimedia of Nokia), Eric Lagier (Head of Mobile Business Development at Skype), Roman Scharf (CEO of Jajah), Alexander Straub (co-founder of Truphone), Hjalmar Windbladh (CEO of Rebtel), Tim von Törne (co-founder of Cellity) and also to analysts, users and cell phone companies. Most of them say that they are no „minute stealers“ and no danger to established cell phone companies.

„A survey showed that 55 per cent of all Skype users never made a international mobile phone call“, told Eric Lagier from Skype. „So Skype is no competition to the mobile operators. If theses people now use Skype mobile to contact their friends abroad this does not take away mobile minutes from the operator.“ He refered to Skype on Wifi PDAs and Skype on mobile phones which „3“ offers together with an unlimited data deal in the UK and soon in Sweden and Denmark.

A similar contained comment came from Tim von Törne, co-founder of Cellity, which tunnels cell phone calls for small prices trough fixed phone lines: „We don't steal minutes, we only lower the prices.“ The rest of his argumentation was nearly the same like Roman Scharf's from Jajah: „With Jajah the mobile operator does not loose his client. He only does some international mobile calls with us but the operator can still bill him the local calls and the base fee.“ Then he passes the bill to others: „The real threat are Wifi phones because they bypass the mobile operators at all.“

Nicely put. So Nokia, which is the actual market leader for Wifi/GSM mobile phones, must be in trouble with Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2 and other mobile operators. Until now they are Nokia's biggest clients, but the new cell phones like E61, E70 or N81ie make Wifi calls possible and allow the easy installation of services like Jajah and Cellity which must hurt them. Does Nokia leave a sinking ship, with everytime smaller margins in the mobile phone industry, to concentrate with it's Wifi/GSM phones on the office market with its gross margins?

„Nokia has not changed it's strategy“, said Ari Virtanen, Vice President Convergence Products, Multimedia of Nokia. „I cannot see any conflict between Nokia and the mobile operators because of the Wifi capabilities.“ Really? I can't believe it. In Germany you can buy the E61 for 1 Euro together with a cell phone contract. „Most heavy mobile phone users spend 80 per cent of their time in Wifi areas: at home and in the office“, says Harry Behrens, CEO of 4S newcom. „Why should they use then expensive mobile phone connections when they can call with the same device nearly for free on Wifi?“

Sounds logically to me, a perfect „minute stealer“ scenario.

You have to keep in mind that people who download music for free instead of buying it on CD are persecuted and called thiefs. Even if they wouldn't have bought the CD anyway. So in music a person who uses an alternative way to access to songs is a „music stealer“ and a danger to the industry. But in telecommunications a person who uses an alternative way to access to mobile communication for free is no „minute stealer“ and no danger to the industry? Not quite convincing.

I agree more with Rebtel's Hjalmar Windbladh who said that „today's prices for mobile internet, mobile international phone calls and SMS are a daylight robbery“. Companies like Vodafone pay only 0,8 Euro Cent a minute for a mobile phone call from Germany to China, he explained to me. „So why do they cash 1 Euro or more from their costumers?“. This „toxic pricing“, as Windbladh calls it, brought in the „minute stealers“ like Rebtel which can connect the same phone call for some Cents. At least Alexander Straub of Truphone was not afraid to tell that „we are building our own network which allows free mobile phone calls worldwide.“

You companies ARE stealing minutes and you do quite a good job in it! When I compare your prices with my normal cell phone costs they can save me between 50 and 90 per cent. Be proud of it and don't hesitat to use the name „minute stealer“!

The network operators have understood your business anyway and they already have you on their radar. Rolf Hansen, CEO of the German MVNO Simyo even recommends to use Jajah for international calls since he cannot lower their prices in the near future. Vodafone, E-Plus and T-Mobile told me that they don't see you as a danger since you are still so small. But you will not be forever.

But maybe these companies just want to stay under the radar and don't want to attract too much attention. Their businesses live from very small margins on the phone minute. Often it's far less than a Cent. The big companies can push them out of business by just lowering their prices a little bit. Or they do it like AT&T which with one stroke of a feather created the largest unlimited calling community in the US: 100 million AT&T wireless and wireline phone numbers can call each other now for free.

Who will install then the software of the „minute stealers“ on his mobile phone?

Too many websites for social bookmarking

Did you see these new small symbols at the end of every blog entry?

See this page in Technorati  book mark <$BlogItemTitle$> in  <$BlogItemTitle$> to  Submit <$BlogItemTitle$> to  Submit <$BlogItemTitle$> to  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in Furl  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in Spurl  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in Blinklist  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Newsvine  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Reddit  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Fark  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Yahoo MyWeb  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Lycos iQ  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Google Bookmarks  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Windows Live  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Netscape  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at StumbleUpon  Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Tailrank

They are for social bookmarking and I think this market needs an immediate shakeup.

Social bookmarking is a great Web 2.0 phenomenon. People can put bookmarks on your blog articles and share them with others. This sometimes skyrockets your website traffic when an article is featured on the starting page of such a service.

But there are much too many of these websites. The 20 social bookmarking services I found for my blog are just the most important in English. There are much more in Spanish, German, French and other languages, which also would accept my English articles. So to address all possible readers I should have about 50 of those tiny symbols, that only experts recognize as useful buttons for social bookmarking.

This is ridiculous.

Until now I could not decide which of the 20 social bookmarking services are the really most important. I just gathered them from other smart blogs that actually should know.

To be helpful to my readers I want to tell them at least how to implement them on Blogger:

<p style="float:right;"><small><a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>" target="_blank" title="See this page in Technorati"><img src="" alt="See this page in Technorati" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&title=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in"><img src="" alt="book mark <$BlogItemTitle$> in" /></a> <a href="" target="_blank" title="Submit <$BlogItemTitle$> to"><img src="" alt="<$BlogItemTitle$> to" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&title=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Submit <$BlogItemTitle$> to"><img src="" alt="Submit <$BlogItemTitle$> to" /></a> <a href="" title="Submit <$BlogItemTitle$> to" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Submit <$BlogItemTitle$> to" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemTitle$>&url=<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in Furl"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in Furl" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemTitle$>&url=<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in Spurl"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in Spurl" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemTitle$>=&Url=<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in Blinklist"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in Blinklist" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&title=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> in" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&h=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Newsvine"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Newsvine" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&title=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Reddit"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Reddit" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&new_comment=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Fark"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Fark" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Yahoo MyWeb"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Yahoo MyWeb" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Lycos iQ"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Lycos iQ" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&title=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Google Bookmarks"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Google Bookmarks" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&title=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&title=<$BlogItemTitle$>&top=1" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Windows Live"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Windows Live" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&T=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Netscape"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Netscape" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&title=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at StumbleUpon"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at StumbleUpon" /></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>&title=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank" title="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Tailrank"><img src="" alt="Bookmark <$BlogItemTitle$> at Tailrank" /></a></small></p>

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Seems that Joost took my advice: More content from Viacom

OK, it seems that just one week after my blog post "Until now Joost is boring. Isn't it?" the people from Joost are taking my advice into account.

Viacom Inc. said today it has agreed to offer its videos to Joost, the Internet video service created by the founders of Skype. Hundreds of hours of programming from Viacom's MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures movies studio and BET Networks will be available to Joost users for free, says Reuters.

More details gives the official press release:
MTV Networks will provide premier content from several of its brands for launch. MTV will offer popular shows, both past and present, including Laguna Beach, Beavis & Butthead, Real World, Punk'd and My Super Sweet Sixteen, while COMEDY CENTRAL will feature episodes from Stella, CCP's and Freak Show. Nickelodeon, CMT: Country Music Television, MTV2, Logo, Spike TV, mtvU, and will also provide content. VH1's offerings will include episodes of Flavor of Love, Surreal Life, and I Love New York. BET's Networks' offerings will include some of its biggest shows, including Beef, DMX: Soul of a Man, Comic View and recent smash hit American Gangster. Also, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage and Paramount Classics will be providing full- length feature films from their catalog of classics and recent releases.
Well, that's still quite a lot of MTV and the like crap. But I am looking forward to Paramount's movies. What I would really appreciate is a deal with Fox Television and ABC so that I could see my favourite shows on Joost: The Simpsons and Lost.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Too many phone calls? Voipbuster's server on fire

NOTE: After 4 hours of outage everything works fine now.

I just wanted to make a free phone call in Germany, using my prefered voip provider Voipstunt which I like very much for it's free or 1 cent calls to all countries that are important to me. But Voipstunt doesn't work. Their website shows only the test page for the Apache server.

Voipstunt is a company of Betamax. So I went to the websites of their other company Voipbuster. It says:

Due to a fire at our server site we are currently experiencing severe technical problems.

Our sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused; we are working hard to try and solve the problem as soon as possible.

Due to the severity of the disruption it may however take at least one day before we can offer full service again.

Please try again later.

The same text appears on the websites of the other Betamax voip companies: Sparvoip, Voipcheap, NetAppel, Sipdiscount,, Voipdiscount, Voipcheap, Webcalldirect, Freecall, Lowratevoip and Voipbuster Pro.

It seems to be that all their servers are on fire. Or better said: The server which is hosting all those companies.
How does it come? Too many phone calls?
Well maybe it's not the time for jokes. Since "due to the severity of the disruption it may however take at least one day before we can offer full service again".

I whish them good luck!

Until now they provided me a very good service with their free calls. Some background on the company you can find here:
VoIP costs internationally are dropping at an alarming rate. A few VoIP providers in Europe have taken their marketing activities to the extreme by offering free calls to a wide range of up to 50 international destinations. VoipBuster was the pioneer early 2005 and has since then launched a barrage of sister companies offering exactly the same type of service. Time will tell if this "Free VoIP" campaign has any long term merit.

Maybe in fact it's no fire but they ran out of money?

Now, some minutes later, the first comments arrive on other websites: says:
No doubt this will have very serious effect on the thousands of users relying on their services and at the same time points to an inherent weakness within the group. All of the 13 apparently different websites rely on the same hardware in the backround - if one goes all go

And less nice at Voxilla's forum:

I guess pretty soon we'll see if this company (which has ZERO customer service when they are operating) had a backup / recovery plan.....

And just like Skype's liberal [mis-]use of the English language, if you parse Betamax's English, what at first glance looks like it will be fixed in a day or less is really saying it may take MANY DAYS.....

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Will Sprint's Wimax finally bring the Open Mobile Economy?

Jan Michael Hess from Berlin, Germany, is preaching the "Open Mobile Economy", yet for quite a long time: Open mobile networks, open services and open devices. This means basically that mobile network providers, like Vodafone, provide their mobile internet bandwith for reasonable flatrate prices and their costumers can do with it whatever they want. No closed portal sites on mobile phones, no VoIP blocking and no exorbitant data prices for SMS, because people write mobile e-mails. Just plain internet access everywhere and using Flickr, Google, Skype and Youtube like you do at home.

A nice dream so far. Others are even dream of a "wireless net neutrality".

But Hess knows that it could be possible. It seems to be an open secret that mobile 3G networks have about 90 per cent unused data capacity. People shy away from using them because of the high data prices. So it is a good move that the German MVNO Simyo recently cut his data prices by 97 per Cent. The mobile Megabyte now costs only 24 Euro Cent. But this is still no "Open Mobile Economy" since it is no flatrate and the service works only on a GPRS network and not in 3G. Most mobile network operators still prefer unused business opportunities instead of giving mobile internet access for a low price. That's because they paid billions for their 3G frecuencies, rollout and hardware subsidies.

But maybe a new technology, Wimax, will bring the story to a good end and the "Open Mobile Economy" will finally arrive? An article by Michael Mace tells a things about the US mobile network operator Sprint that are nearly unbelievable:
Yes, I know Sprint's serious about WiMax -- it's spending more than $2.5 billion to build out a mobile WiMax network across the US. That's old news. The surprise to me is the business model Sprint says it'll deploy on that network. That hasn't gotten much coverage at all, but I think it's critically important. If you believe what Sprint says, its WiMax network will be totally open: any device, any application, without any contract required.
As you probably know Wimax is something like Wifi but faster and with much broader coverage. While Wifi cells cover only some meters of area Wimax cells can be some kilometers wide. The bandwith can compete with fixed broadband access and is much faster than nowadays 3G. The first Wimax equipped laptops, PDAs and mobile phones are being presented in these days at the 3GSM World Congress 2007 in Barcelona. Wimax is like DSL but without wires. That's why it's often used to bring Broadband to rural areas. Sprint has already announced to build out a nationwide WiMax network across the US.

Michael Mace is an industry insider and principal at Rubicon Consulting. He summed up some information he got from companies, news and an interesting panel discussion:
Okay, so let's add this up: an open, broadly-deployed, high-speed wireless network that welcomes any device, open APIs that allow any application, and no contract required. This is everything that the computer and Internet industries have been asking of the operators, and Sprint is apparently saying yes to all of it. The audience at the Churchill Club should have given this plan a standing ovation, but the information came out in dribs and drabs during a 90-minute panel, and it was very hard to assemble all the pieces.

The killer app is open access to the Internet.
That seems to be the "Open Mobile Economy" that Jan Michael Hess and others have prayed for so long. Will it finally arrive, bypassing the mobile phone companies? Wimax works in other frecuencies that were much cheaper than those for 3G. Other, smaller companies have got them.

Maybe we finally get our open mobile broadband for reasonable prices?

It would be very funny to also use it for phone calls.

Until now Joost is boring. Isn't it?

People are still very enthusiastic about Joost, the new P2P television platform of the Skype founders. There is very much of a hype and every new feature is being commented in the news. But maybe that's only because there are so few beta testers. To me it seems that most of the people are hailing Joost but few have really tried it.

So let me tell you a secret: Joost is boring to me.

I am one of the few beta testers. Yesterday I tried Joost again, switched through the channels and nearly nothing has changed since I tried it weeks ago. The channels are presenting only clips that already would have bored me on MTV: fun sports, Paris Hilton, mainstream music and the like.

That's not what I expected from a new form of television, which has the capability to present unlimited tv content so that there also should be something for me. I am quite amazed how smoothly Joost works on a lame DSL internet connection. So the technology behind it must be great. But the content must still be a placeholder. At least I hope so and I imagine why it is like this: They had former MTV people in their team when Joost was still in stealth mode and it's name was the Venice Project.

Nevertheless my friends are very keen on Joost and would like to try it themselves. So they ask me for invites. But sorry, I can't. They just don't let me invite you:


We're gradually expanding our network, and we'd like you to invite new people to come and join in.

Every once in a while you will receive tokens, enabling you to send invitations to friends, family or anyone else who you think will enjoy watching internet TV. Each invitation will cost you one token, regardless of whether your invitation has been accepted or refused.

Number of invitations you can send: 0

It seems that I am not the only one who can't invite, since others are also complaining in Joost's beta tester forum. No tokens, no invites.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The minute stealers' coffin nail?

It seems that the business model of Jajah and other "minute stealers" which try to bring down the cost for mobile and fixed line telephony can't last forever. Maybe their window of opportunity is closing very soon.

There is an interesting article from New Zealand which tells under the title "Skype rival Jajah another nail in the toll call coffin" how Jajah works. But the article, which I found trough Andy Abramson's blog, tells in fact much more: It shows how big phone companies are fighting back against Jajah, Skype, Gizmo and the others. New Zealand's Telecom, formed in 1987 out of the telecommunications division of the New Zealand Post Office, calls it "0161 international calls".

International calls are optionally being routed over lower cost circuits. (I suppose that this means that they are being routed over the internet and maybe the quality of service is not as good as over the normal phone lines.) All customers need to do to get the cheaper pricing is to dial the prefix 0161 when they make a call instead of the usual 00 international prefix.

The article sums it up to:
Telecom doesn't promote the service much publicly, to avoid cannibalising its conventional toll call revenues, but keying "Telecom 0161" into will bring up the relevant information.

As more customers take advantage of these services, regular phone companies, including Telecom, will continue to cut their standard pricing to compete. Toll calls will no longer be what they are today – a tax on the time-pressed, risk averse and computer illiterate. Just don't then be surprised if telcos appear increasingly pressed for cash to invest.
My own research for an article, which is still to be published, also shows that the minute stealers are aware that their window of opportunity is not open forever. But most of them are counting on five years in which they can snatch costumers from old fashioned phone companies that still rely on high prices.

But if you have to decide between installing a software and subscribing to a new service, which often is difficult to use, or just dial another prefix on your old phone without even switching on the computer - what would you prefer?

Maybe we didn't find a nail to the "toll call's coffin" but to the "minute stealers' coffin"?

The iPod needs a DELETE Button!

I like my 5th generation iPod very much. It let's me listen to music and news and it shows videos. I still don't have it too long and so I am still very enthusiastic. This makes me subscribe to many podcasts. I love it to be independent from time schemes they have in radio and television. I can listen to the music I like and see the tv program I want when I have time to do it. That's podcasting, but only when it works well.

But there is a problem:

Until you find the podcasts that you really like, you have to subscribe to many of them and to suffer from very bad ones. This experience doesn't count only for audio podcasts. Even video podcasts can be quite boring although they are obviously made by professionals.

So I am always carrying around 30 GB of podcasts on my iPod and try to get track of them. What is so stupid about Apple's iPod is that is has no delete button. If I don't like the podcast that I am hearing while driving in public transport I would like delete it directly from the iPod. Having come home I would have enough free space to download new podcasts on my mobile device. My problem is that I already have more than 30 GB of podcasts stored on my laptop. So I always have to decide which one I want to keep on my iPod.

This is so annyoing: I have to connect the iPod to iTunes and see it's list of content. Than I have to remember which podcast I didn't like and which one I wanted to keep. I have to remember which one I have already heared and which not. This is because iTunes and the iPod do not synchronize this. My iTunes doesn't care which podcast I already listened to on the iPod.

One workaround or a hack for this problem could be the "rate your songs" feature. Normally you can awarding from one to five stars to the songs that you are hearing on your iPod while listenig to them. I could use this feature the other way round: Songs or podcasts with five stars are so bad that they have to be deleted the next time I connect to iTunes.

But the "rate your songs" feature doesn't work on my iPod. It works fine on my friend Christian's iPod nano, but not on mine. We both don't understand why and already tried it several times.

Hello Apple! It's time for a firmware update.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Truphone does GoogleTalk. So what?

Alec Saunders tells that Truephone now supports Google Talk and Gigaom is very excited as well. It seems to be very important today to have the name “Google” in ones press releases. Interoperability with GTalk is not such a great thing to me.

Maybe the “GigaTeam is happy about the news as they spend a lot of time using the Google service”. But my contacts are all using Skype. Why is it still impossible to do a hosted-Skype-to-SIP?

Why cannot truphone install in their servers a bridge to Skype if the Truphone users give them their Skype logins?

Much more interesting to me would be to have my Skype contacts appear in my Truphone than see my Truphone contacts in my GTalk, which I nearly don’t use anyway.

At the VON Europe in Berlin we alread saw several companies that do the bridging from different voice services to GTalk. This seems trivial to me since Google uses standards that make this easily possible.

But what was really ridiculous at VON Europe where the bridges to Skype. I saw a company that requires you to have your PC switched on all time and then call it from your mobile phone to contact your Skype contacts. This requires far to much energy consumption and phone costs. There have to be hosted all IP solutions!

I think a bridge to Skype is much more needed than a bridge to GTalk. And I think that it can be done if your clients give you their Skype logins. People with few trust could open special Skype accounts for that.


I am actually writing an article about Truephone and other companies that try to bring down the prices for mobile communication. For that reason I also talked to the CEO of one of those “hot VoIP companies” that are being covered at Gigaom, and it was a desaster. He talked on a Wifi phone (Nokia N80 ie) and half of his words were lost. The interview was impossible and I had to call him again on his fixed number. He mumbled something about “bad Wifi in this building” and “Wifi calls are worse when a tram passes outside the building”.

Is this Quality of Service?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Targeted advertising for Gizmocall?

Andy Abramson is reasoning about Gizmocall and that it will probably be having advertising soon. Gizmo founder Michael Robertson said to him in a phone call:

What is interesting is advertising revenue that is used to pay for calling. Because the call is not only initiated, but transpires in the GizmoCall browser we have the ability to insert effective targeted advertising in and around the consumer calling experience like nobody else.

Yes, this is a very interesting idea. You have to compare it to services like this one we have in Germany:

This is a call connecting service: You can make free phone calls, using your normal phone, as long as your browser is open and you watch the advertising. To keep you interested they also show news. (I personally wouldn't like it if people would be reading news while they call me.) The company behind is Goyellow. Once they wanted to become the new Yellow Pages in Germany. I don't hear from that anymore, but very much about their free phone calls.

If you compare Gizmocall to the Gizmos have one great advantage: They have to pay the termination fees only one time. Only to the party that is being called. instead has to call both parties from their server and connect them. So they need the double of advertising revenues.

I have learned that services like this are supposedly making big turnovers because the advertising industry likes them. They make targeted advertising possible. At you always have to put in your phone number to establish the call to you. So they already know where you live and how often you use the service. Also they want you to fill a questionnaire to even better target the advertising. Maybe that is exactly what Gizmocall wants to do as well.

To me this kind of targeted advertising is a data protection nightmare. Imagine if people use such services for years and for every one of their calls! I don't really know who is behind Gizmocall or But they soon could know my communication habits. Not to imagine that theoretically they also could record all of my calls and investigate them. I don't like the idea that companies like Amazon know me better than I do, by collecting my data (maybe crossing them with data they get from other companies) and analyzing them with every time better software. That they know my weak spots for targeted advertising. That one day they only show me advertising I am interested in. And so I will be buying and buying and being broke soon, my house full of crap I that "like" but I am not able to pay the rent anymore.

Free Calls from a website: GizmoCall

I have been playing quite a lot with the Gizmo Project in the last days. Its a SIP-Softphone which is much easier to install than the standard, X-Lite. My friends from abroad use it to call me for free. Now they you can use it also from the website GizmoCall. On first sight you don't even have to install a software. But in fact you do. And that's not always easy. I tell you my impressions.


Now the GIZMOCALL website is finally open for everyone, but it does not work for me as a Linux user. I just got this comment on my screen:

Gizmo Call does not yet work on Linux computers. We like Linux and we use Linux and we’re going to make Gizmo Call work for Linux. Adobe just recently released Flash 9 for Linux which Gizmo Call requires which is why we have been delayed in releasing Linux support for Gizmo Call. You may want to try the Linux version of Gizmo Project available at which works on most Linux distributions. You can also try the Nokia n800 Linux tablet which runs Linux and Gizmo Project. Go Linux!!

1.) Now I am booting my wife’s Windows machine.

2.) The Gizmocall website requires me to download a plugin.

3.) Now I am trying to call my German mobile phone. For quite a long time it says "Waiting for the Flash plugin". So I better shut down Firefox and open it again.

4.) OK, after the restart it looks different, because of the loaded plugin I suppose.

5.) Dammit! Again it wants me to install the plugin. Maybe last time it did not work because I had no administrator rights. But it said “setup complete” to me during the installation process. Will change into Admin mode now.

6.) Yes, you have to be Admin if you do it for the first time. The Flash player asks me for permition to use my microphone.

7.) Now it is already the 3rd time I have to install the plugin. Will try it now with Microsoft Internet Explorer.

8.) It always says "Waiting for the Flash Plugin". Yet it is the 4th time that I have to (re-)install it.

9.) I will reboot the Windows PC now. I could not make any phone call still. Not even to a landline. The Flash website does not let me put in the phone number.

10.) Hopefully after the reboot it will be better.

11.) Oh my god! The reboot takes very long. Hopefully Gizmo did not screw my system? Malware?


12.) OK, my fault. I just switched off instead of reboot. Now the PC is booting again.

13.) NOW IT WORKS! (mostly)


14.a.) Call to my landline:
(But why does this eat up my free minutes? This landline is an ENUM number which directs to a SIP adress. Withe the Gizmo Project software I can call it for free. Why not from the Gizmocall website?

14.b.) Call to my SIP address:
(But why does this eat up my free minutes? Calls to SIP adresses must be free!)

14.c.) Call to my mobile:
(Eats up my free minutes but my mobile phone does never ring. Why this?)


Summing it all up: Great service! Can be a Jajah killer. Reminds me of Ageet ( and their smallest software PBX, which actually is a ActiveX plugin. But Gizmocall does not work only with Internet Explorer. And also it is free to everyone, unliky Ageet which is only being sold to companies.

Great work! (After all the first time user hassle I had to suffer.)


As I told you before I had to install the plugin 4 times. In this morning I wanted to use Gizmocall. And what does it say to me? "Reinstall Plugin!" What the … is this? Why does it want me to install the plugin again and again? Does my Windows XP forget it? Is the plugin crappy? At first I was very enthusiastic. Not so much anymore.


Now it works just fine. But I read many other comments from people who had the same problem and had to install the plugin several times.

First Blog post

Hello folks,

today I start my tech blog. I know I am not the first. But I realized in the last days that I have opinions to many devices that are not well reflected in the other media. I read other blogs, websites and newsletters, but sometimes I want to answer. So the last times I wrote comments in the blogs of Om Malik and Andy Abramson. That's enough. Now I am going to start my own blog and whenever I have an opinion I am going to write it down there. It will still probably be comments on other people's thoughts and still appear in their comments section. But now as a trackback to my own blog entries.

I first called the blog "Tech desiderata" because I see that there are still many things which have to get better in nowadays technology. Many stuff bores me, annoys me or just does not work. I will tell my readers about it and hopefully won't be boring myself. But the name is now "Markus Göbel's Tech News Comments".