Yesterday I was told by my bank that they won't use VoIP numbers for text verification purposes when it comes to essential customer identification services such as resetting your ID, password or sending a replacement ATM/Credit Card.
In light of the Terpin vs. AT&T case and similar actions against T-Mobile that surround SIM swapping the use of non mobile numbers, VoIP providers offer end users far greater control over the use and management of their numbers, so it would seem to indicate that the banks are still working in the dark ages by relying solely on mobile operators, much like their elongated usage of IE 6 and ignorance of Macs, Firefox and Safari more than a dozen years ago.
The cases involving SIM swapping highlight the vulnerability of mobile operator numbers being the most trusted by the financial world, while being easily hacked. But hearing that VoIP numbers were viewed as more likely to be fraudulent means all VoIP users are painted with the broad brush of being criminals vs. the banks developing secondary methods of verification.
In fairness to my bank, their case management team did turn on "some" services, but the crucial ones still rely on a mobile number from a mobile operator vs. the more secure IP based providers who also employ KYC (know your customer) approaches.
Note: I've reached out to represntatives of Voxbone and Bandwidth.com, the two leading provider of DIDs to VoIP providers in the USA to discuss this subject but have not yet received a response.
TokBox has released their annual study, "Video Chatterbox Nation" I have to admit, I like the design style and the way the report is presented. Reading it reveals key data points surrounding live video communications use, especially with the millennial crowd.
As someone who has been in the live video world, since the days of SightSpeed (now Logitech Video), and who recalls the early days of Skype video, not much is a surprise to me. Adoption is clearly being driven by the universal availability of FaceTime and Google Hangouts on devices like iPhaones and Androids, as well as easy to use integration on desktop and laptop PCs. But the real driver is the almost always on access to high speed broadband combined with better compression technologies. Add in WebRTC which is programmable by almost any app developer into an app and you have even more availability.
Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and others apps like them also have helped push the envelope of uptake, as their younger audiences are more prone to face to face communications. In turn they are driving the use by the older online segments around the world.
The report focuses on video chat, and not video conferencing. That market we know is growing, as video conferencing services like Zoom, Cisco's WebEx, GoTo Meeting and UberConference are all showing similar growth and usage patterns month after month.
Give the report a read and see just how relevant it is to you.
When it comes to the PR world I'm a veteran player. As much as I hate to admit being a PR guy, I have been one for a very, very long time. I can remember when the only way I could be reached when I was the public relations assistant for the Philadelphia Wings in 1974 was by phone.
A call would come into the switchboard and it would be transferred to my eidxtension. By the time I was with the Philadelphia Flyers two years later I had my own direct dial number and an answering machine the size of a toaster oven on my desk at home which Bell of Pennsyalvania rented us that had remote retrieval. By the mid 80s cellular phones had arrived and I had one in my car and another, a Technophone, that I carried with me-and the $1000 a month phone bill that went with them.
Yes, back then, I was as connected as any person who was dealing with more than 35 media folks EVERY DAY and NIGHT. You see, my mentor, the late, great Sy Roseman, or as we called him during our era with the Wings, "the wily old veteran" had a rule. He instilled into me that "the media needs you when they need you, not only when you need them." That's why on any given day (or night) there were a string of calls to reporters, tv sports anchors, editors and producers where I was reporting game highlights, staying in touch, inviting a reporter to lunch, talking about the daily happenings, informing them about an upcoming media conference, event or just to "shoot the breeze." Some calls were even to ask "what sandwich do they want when they bring the TV crew to the local ice rink to cover a youth hockey clinic with the Flyers' players." -- (We always timed them to happen when the news crews would be working, usually between 5-630 PM as that guaranteed a live on camera remote)
Today, most media don't have the time to talk like they did back then, but they still do need to get answers to questions, bounce ideas or rumours off the PR person. Given all the challenges with email-spam, junk mail folders, time away from it while in meetings, or other distractions, tools like Twitter should be used. Listing a Twitter ID in your contact details in a news release would be step one. Some PR folks don't even list a phone number on releases, something I think is more about not being called by consumers than avoiding the media, but even on releases that just appear on media only sites, a number, and a warm body answering is what media relations still is about.
I'm sure there are other ideas on this, but being reachable. vs. being unreachable is the key. Let me know your thoughts.....
CES was last week. This week is the Detroit Auto Show. We go from geeks to gearheads. There's also the National Retail Federation Show in New York City.
Trade show season is in full swing. Meetings happen around the events. New products and services get rolled out. All this is happening around a federal national shutdown, that likely is causing some frustration at airports and ports. Nonetheless, as they say on Broadway, "the show must go on."
A few weeks ago I launched the "What’s going to be big in telecom in 2019" poll. Well it caught the attention of the leadership team at TMCNet and we decided to join up.
So now it's both TMCnet and my company, Comunicano that are asking that question in the first annual VoIPWatch Poll.
Just as Comunicano has always been at the forefront of driving companies in the telecom industry to success, the TMCnet editorial staff has been on top of the stories, while the ITExpo staff have been organizing the event where the telecom, collaboration and communications infrastructure companies all meet. Truth be told, this really accelerated in the post VON era, just as my own efforts coincided with Jeff Pulver's focus into other areas.
VoIPWatch, was one of the first, along with Om Malik's GigaOm (the original), Pulver.com, Rich Tehrani's blog and a few others who have gone onto other things (i.e. PhoneBoy, Ted Wallingford, James Enck, Martin Geddes, Alec Saunders' SaundersLog, the late Russell Shaw, etc.) where much of what was going on in telecom was unearthed.
As a group, we all presented, and those remaining, still to this day, share our views following a "non pay for play" mindset. That's why VoIPWatch remains now one of the longest running blogs covering our industry. Like TMCnet, VoIPWatch remains where the community finds unfettered, and unfiltered insight, perspective and opinion. Likewise, IT Expo is where the telecom community discovers what’s new, what’s happening, and goes to gather.
For all those reasons and more, we’ve teamed up, and are asking the community, what’s going to be the hot category in telecom in 2019.
Voting closes at midnight Eastern time on January 25th 2019!
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and this week's CES is clearly showing how what was once the way companies did business, has changed, and at the same time, what's old is new again and companies who once fought with each other are finding new ways to be allies. For example, Apple stopped licensing in 1997. Now they're redefining licensing by making it easier for anyone to access their iTunes platform. That's called distribution. What's next? Letting anyone make an iPhone-I think NOT.
Taken on face so far, it's clear Apple, Google and Amazon are dominating CES. News about assistants being deployed by multiple brands, new features and uses of the AI backed functionality and most of all iTunes ending up on Samsung, Vizio, and other smart TV brands. That and pure word play on the famed "what goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas" line tied to your privacy.
Looking more closely, neither Amazon, Apple nor Google has really introduced any new products themselves. No new iPhones or MacBooks. No new Homes, Hubs, Mini's or Pixelbooks and no new Echos were introduced. But all three are dominating the news and over time, your wallets directly and indirectly. In everyway possible, they have mastered the hardware channel at this year's CES and at the same time proved that "software really is eating the world."
But what about all the news about them you say?
Well, its all indeed smoke and mirrors, with the media jumping on the names of Apple, Amazon, and Google when in reality what we have is a roll-out of services. Yes, those same services Tim Cook talked about is what caused the ill-informed stock market types to think Apple was a bad stock to hold onto, who misunderstand Google's real motivations, and who have yet to really see Amazon for what they are.
Apple wants to be the brand you will always trust. Their single billboard in Las Vegas is all about keeping what's your's, your's. It's also the premium brand. It's Bentley and Ferrari. Everyone else is Mercedes Benz and Chevy. They want iTunes to be the lure to keep you an Apple user. By aligning with the TV brands, they are skipping ahead of Spotify, Amazon Music, and Pandora. Musicians love Apple. The labels work with Apple. The motion picture and television industry co-exist with Apple. Pretty much everyone trusts Apple, and this week, Apple reminded everyone why.
Google wants to make it as easy as talking to collect as much information about you so you can have a better, and less expensive, but still, have an elegant ride. Android is their Mercury, their messenger and the Google Cloud is their playground. For Google, it's all about developing and deploying services. Hardware is their razor. The services are the blades. Google now has more razor manufacturers than anyone all lining up to be their blades' retailers.
Amazon is for every day. It's the shopping center, file cabinet, and switchboard. Amazon is Walmart's biggest fear. They sell Apple. Google. Samsung. Jeff Bezos is the most prominent arms merchant in the world and never has to fire a single shot. Amazon hardware is the Colt .45's of every man. But if you want a Sig (Google) or a Glock (Apple) he'll find a way to deliver one to you.
All the interest around voice interfaces is really about the death of the keyboard and the calculator. Just as we traded our landlines for smartphones and our calculators for digital spreadsheets, we're being migratory. Like the birds which fly south for the winter, we're leaving one nest for another. Instead of typing we merely talk.
But what's also interesting is how all three are avoiding being social media platforms. Instead, they have all chosen to leave that for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. That's smart thinking as the big three are really all about the customer. Consumer or enterprise. Social media is all about the interaction between people who in theory are friends (or not), and a means to amplify, extol and pontificate.
Who do I see as winners from CES?
Oh, how 2019 is going to be an exciting year as friends, foes, allies alike dance with one another, while still looking to stick the knife in their rivals backs.
But with all the hoopla, one question has to be looming in everyone's mind.
Where have you gone, John Legere?
I'll admit that I'm polyamourous when it comes to technology. I always have been as far back as the days of owning an Osbourne CPM based computer and then a MS-DOS based Compaq at the same time. That quickly morphed into a Mac (1984) and PCs and a Radio Shack TRS-100, the world's first real smart device that sold massive numbers.
So when a neighbor asked what was the best way for her to communicate with her grandchildren I was betwixt and between as Google's Gmail and Calendar platform is what more and more people are using for email and scheduling, either paid G Suite or FREE, but the Home Hub doesn't have a camera, and the idea my neigbor had was to be able to see her grandchildren.
After some back and forth on possibilities, I suggested the Amazon Show. Yes we thought about the Facebook Portal, but since the neighbor already has one Amazon Echo in the living room, I suggested moving that to the office and adding a show in the kitchen and one at their granchild's home.
What made the decision was the video, but also the familiarity with Alexa already, and the prospect of being able to watch videos for recipes to cook with, Skype calling already being enabled and the idea that what's already been invested in won't be wasted.
As I think back to Sunday's conversation, it's more and more obvious how Amazon is taking a big page out of Apple's playbook from the iPod era. That was the device that won over so many users of Windows PC's to start to use something that came from Apple. Then came the bump with the iPhone, followed by a dramatic upswing in MacBook sales.
I see Amazon doing the same thing with the Echo just as Google is doing with the Home Mini and the voice assistant. We're seeing two companies use the razor blade strategy to perfection, and Apple too isn't sitting idle. So while they're playing catch up, the two biggest competitors are already duking it out.
I don't usually buy cheap. As a matter of fact, that's about as far from my behavior in tech gear as people who have known me will tell you. I've always bought (or overbought) the latest and greatest Apple gear. I would dive in and buy whatever was newest in Android, usually from Samsung, then OnePlus (I still do buy their gear for Android). I would almost always buy a Pixel from Google.
The rationale was simple, those brands build the best of the best, so paying more for it, meant I had the best. But when it comes to tablets, I haven't rushed out to buy a new iPad, as my iPad Pro 9.6 does all that I need. It's still is as fast as any iPad on the market, runs the apps I use, and can be my companion at dinner or when on the plane. But it's got one problem. Even at 10" with the case, it's just too big for me sometimes to tote around.
The iPad Mini is a better device for that, but price and performance wise, it's not justifiable anymore. It doesn't have the fastest processor, and it's not really a phone, even if I can add all the VoIP and Conferencing apps I use. Even at $399 for a Wi-Fi only iPad Mini 4, it's over 4 times the cost of a tricked out; case carried, keyboard enhanced Amazon Fire HD 8.
But there's something else that has had me fall in love with the Amazon Fire HD 8. It's the audio and video quality when I cast to any Chromecast HD in the house. It's fuller, richer and more robust than my iPad. Hands down. That and the facts that it's also so small and light and if it's damaged or stolen, I've lost all of $100 (case, keyboard included).
It's become my go-to jukebox to send music to my 4-year-old Samsung 43" SmartTV, and my two less than a year old TCL Roku 65" or 55" Toshiba Amazon Fire TV's that dot the house in different rooms. Each has Google Chromecast's or Android TVs, and even some have built-in Chromecast themselves. Video streams flawlessly. Audio hits the highs and lows, and by choosing the best quality, it's delivering the audio as good as any mobile device can.
When I take it with me on the go, I can tether to either my OnePlus 6T or iPhone 7. It connects quickly to Wi-Fi, and when I need to, I can always latch on to a Boingo powered hotspot.
Amazon's private label program for hardware doesn't end with the HD Fire for me. I also needed a soundbar to connect to my TV. While it's not the best on the market, it sure is good enough to do what I need, and priced at under $75.00 it sure fills the living room, enhancing the audio enough to keep me happy.
Here's the bottom line. Amazon's line of gear is value priced. Yes, you have trade-offs, but for where we've gone tech wise we don't need to buy only Apple to have what we need.
The New York Times story about people not upgrading their iPhones as fast as in the past has more to do with consumer behavior than any other product ever made by Apple.
Let's face it, there comes a point where something other than Moore's Law drives technology. And that's where consumer needs outweigh the need for an improved device. As someone who upgraded every iPhone from day one to the iPhone 6, Plus and 6S and even carried an SE for a few years, I stopped with my iPhone 7 as it does all I need right now.
What would cause me to upgrade?
It's really time for Apple's razor blade strategy to come into play. Sell phones for less, offer more services that consumers, SMB and Enterprise workers are in need of vs. the want generation they have been serving.
There has been a lot of analysis going around surrounding Apple's Guidance announcement. For starters Apple did the right thing by making the announcement, something any Investor Relations counselor would agree. They also did a lot more and three articles really demonstrate just how Apple is using the media to message the market.
What Apple did was:
I would contend that Apple's strategy has been known internally all along. They have been hiring more and more for core service technologists for the past three or four years. This speaks to their direction, even if they have been slow to launch anything of any major notoriety. But why should they? After years of being first with everything they did, they grew and grew market cap and market size on the back of the iPhone, just as they built market share from miniscule to massive with the Macs. But even with the PC market share growth, Apple is largely a west coast dominator for Macs vs. Windows, and with the Google Chromebook coming online and growth in that sector plus the cloud early Mac adopters have moved on to the less expensive Pixlebooks which offer people like me all I did on the Mac Book Pro or Mac Book Air for less money.
The battle in China is not Apple's alone. Qualcomm went through this a few years ago and is now playing cozy with the Chinese. Apple's announcement skirted the licensing battle but reading between the lines, Apple was referring to it. You just need to read the Tim Cook dropped tea leaves.
The hardware sales decline in their third largest market is really fortelling. You can't beat the Chinese in China when they can produce look alike devices for 1/3rd the price and sell them on home turf. It's like trying to beat the team that has the home court advantage.
Wall Street is also reacting to the wrong metrics. Sure sales is one indicator, but hiring growth, investment in real estate, establishing new offices in more places is about Apple lowering the costs of rent and people, and those moves are all cloud and chip tech based.
Apple has a plan-you just have to look past the sales numbers and sales accounting to see it.
It's all about Services, something Google and Microsoft got a head start in, but Apple is Apple, and I would never count them out.