|From: ms.smartest.person||8/19/2007 8:42:14 PM|
|Calling made easy, dial JAJAH|
JAJAH believes that phones are the best way to make calls and integrates them with the Internet to provide a unique telephony solution. By Neeraj Gandhi
Imagine talking to your relatives in the USA or UK and not paying for the conversation. Sounds pretty good does it not. The best part is that you can do this sitting at home. All you need is a phone connection. Err? No. That’s right, only a phone connection. No computer, no broadband, and you can speak to anybody, anywhere, anytime, courtesy JAJAH.
JAJAH provides free or low cost global calling from mobile phones or landlines without actually having to sit in front of the computer, downloading complex software or even having a broadband connection. The Internet is required only to initiate the call.
“The Internet has touched us all. It has changed the way we do everyday things. It has changed the way we stay informed, the way we shop for the products that we want, even the way that we find and listen to music. In the same way, JAJAH will change the way that we all use the telephone,” says Roman Scharf, CEO and co-founder, JAJAH.
Laying the foundation
Headquartered in Mountain View, California, JAJAH was founded by Daniel Mattes and Roman Scharf with the vision of bringing to smarter and cheaper telephony solutions to the masses. It is unique in the sense that unlike other VoIP providers, JAJAH requires no headsets and offers cheap international calls.
It started its operations in March 2006. In just one year it boasts of a huge base of more than two million customers in 55 countries. At present the company has users in USA, UK, Canada, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Argentina, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Venezuela and many more. Europe, the United States and Asia are its biggest markets.
Ranked among the Red Herring top 100, placed above Microsoft and Yahoo, the company has offices in Munich (Germany), Vienna (Austria) and Luxembourg to manage its European operations, and a Research & Development center in Ra’anana, Israel. With just over 70 employees, JAJAH works to bring vastly improved telephony solutions to the world.
“JAJAH is a different type of phone company dedicated to providing customers with phone calls at a better price. It offers an innovative way of making cheap calls without headphones, microphones or software downloads or a broadband connection,” says Scharf.
What is it that makes the company different from other VoIP service providers? “Unlike other companies that are trying to replace the phone with the computer, we at JAJAH believe that phones are great just way they are. Phones work. People are not interested in headsets, downloads or hotspots. They simply want to make a call and we completely agree,” Scharf adds.
How it works
JAJAH uses the Internet in order to connect two standard phones (landline or mobile), thus implementing both the advantage of the Internet as a low-cost or free service and the comfort of using a regular telephone device. In the process two local regular PSTN calls, anywhere in the world, (last mile) are bridged by a high bandwidth Internet connection.
The user has to visit www.jajah.com where he can simply enter his number and the number that he wishes to call. JAJAH will then call back both parties, over the phone line. No headsets, no phone plans, or calling cards are required. All this is available at a minimal rate.
Throughout the call, it is not required of the caller to stay connected to the Internet. Once the number is entered on the Web site and the call button is clicked, the call is transferred by the Jajah VoIP controller onto the mobile or land line number from where the caller desires to make the call.
JAJAH has a plethora of telephony services on its platter. Here’s a look at what the company has to offer to its users in India.
* Conference Calls: JAJAH conference calling allows the user to schedule and initiate cheap conference calls with friends and colleagues in an easy-to-use online set up. This conference call service is unique in the sense that no costs at all will arise for the other conference call participants.
* Scheduled Calls: The scheduled call service allows the user to plan the JAJAH calls ahead. With this service, the user can decide at what time and date the service will connect your call. The scheduled call system also allows callers who use the same phone line for an Internet connection and telephone calls to use JAJAH. There is no cost whatsoever for scheduling a call.
* SMS Service: Through this service the user can send SMS to mobile phones around the world. These messages can be sent at a specific date and time (scheduled message) and sent to multiple recipients with one click. A message can be sent to ten recipients in a single go.
JAJAH BETA: Dynamic Buttons
JAJAH buttons is a tool to organize calls, schedule them and also to maintain the privacy of the user.
This service allows the user to select whether to receive calls, transfer them to voice mail, SMS or e-mail as per his convenience. A user can also schedule his calls through these buttons. For instance, incoming calls between 9 and 12 am can be directed to the office phone, between 5 and 8 pm can be routed to the mobile phone or even e-mail or SMS, as the user desires. These buttons can also be pasted as the e-mail signature.
Partners in progress
When JAJAH embarked upon its journey last year, the founders had no idea that it would be successful. In a year’s time, the user base has gone from zero to over two million. “Vodafone has a presence in 20 countries, German Telecom provides services in 16 countries, and JAJAH has a presence in 55 countries across the world. This, in itself, speaks of the popularity of the services that we offer,” says Scharf.
Today the company has some top companies as its partners. The list includes; Microsoft, Intel, AOL, IBM, Apple, Google, eMobile, Mozilla, and Logitech among others.
After making its presence felt in 200 different destinations, in 55 countries across the world, JAJAH is ready to take on the Indian market. Here in India, the company aims at reducing the call rates to and from India. As an introductory offer, from now until August 15, 2007, Indians calling their relatives or friends in the USA or UK will be charged Rs 3.10 per minute, if they route their calls through JAJAH. This is below the standard international calling rates.
“With approximately 200 million telephony subscribers, India presents a huge opportunity for us. And we take great pleasure in providing cheap and better calling services to them. In the future we see India as one of our top five most favored destinations,” says Scharf.
The company has planned a two-phased strategy for India. In the first phase, that begins now, users will be charged a minimal amount when they call abroad or even other JAJAH users back in India. Here’s how it’s going to work. The user will have to visit www.jajah.com where he can simply enter his number and the number he wishes to call. JAJAH will then call back both parties, over the phone line. No headsets, no phone plans, or calling cards are required. This can also be done using a smartphone.
During the second phase that begins in October and by that time the company presumes that it will have a substantial number of users, calling will no longer require the caller to log onto the company’s Web site to enter the numbers. By then the company plans to introduce a system where both domestic and international calls will be connected directly from a landline or a mobile phone. The caller will have to simply dial a number and the call will be routed through the JAJAH VoIP controllers installed in different countries.
That’s not all. It is not only cheaper call rates that the company has in store for India. “Our long term commitment is to make voice free. Once we have generated the desired user base, we will make calls free. A JAJAH user in India would then be able to make calls to other JAJAH users in India and even abroad for free,” says Scharf. In fact the company has offered similar services to users in China, US, UK, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Spain and Australia etc.
JAJAH will also bring to India what it calls the Community Benefits Service. The Indian community members will have the opportunity to earn free talking minutes by referring others to the network.
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|To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (5051)||9/16/2007 1:38:04 PM|
|:•) i, Cringely - July 27, 2007 Pulpit - Is Google on Crack?: |
Eric Schmidt bets the ranch on wireless spectrum
By Robert X. Cringely
This week I was supposed to explain why U.S. broadband prices are so much higher and U.S. broadband speeds are so much lower than in most other developed countries, but then Google made an unexpected reckless move in the wireless bandwidth market and here I am trying to explain it. We'll get back to broadband prices shortly, but for now let's turn to Google, whose stock may very well have already peaked.
What has me all worked up is Google's announcement this week that it intends to bid at least $4.6 billion in the Federal Communication Commission's auction of bandwidth in the 700-MHz band being reclaimed in 2009 from analog television. The auction price can and probably will go a lot higher than that, but $4.6 billion is the reserve price, so Google is saying it will unilaterally make sure the auction is successful and the spectrum is reallocated... IF certain conditions are met.
Google "requested that the Commission should extend to all CMRS-type spectrum licensees clearly delineated, explicitly enforceable, and unwavering obligations to provide (1) open applications, (2) open devices, (3) open wholesale services, and (4) open network access." For those of us who don't regularly hang with the FCC these proposed conditions mean: 1) users should be able to download software from anywhere and use it on their communication devices without restriction; 2) users should be able to use any communication device that meets the technical requirements for connecting to the network no matter who made the device; 3) third-party resellers should be able to buy wholesale bandwidth from auction winners, and; 4) other networks should be able to connect to the 700-MHz network.
These are Internet rules Schmidt is asking for, Internet Engineering Task Force-like rules, that Google wants to apply to this fresh patch of wireless connectivity, turning what would have been yet another mobile phone system into a mobile Internet. The ideas aren't unique to Google and have been pushed for some time by folks including former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale and former FCC commissioner Reed Hundt. They represent a bold idea that would change forever the way phones are used in the U.S., especially with landline connections in decline.
But this isn't the only proposal for auction rules that will supposedly "open up" the new spectrum. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has proposed his own rules -- leaked to USA Today and the Wall Street Journal -- rules that would mandate opening up the network to a certain extent to third-party devices, though with limits on which frequencies could be accessed and without most of the other requests made by Google and others. AT&T at first opposed Martin's proposed rules then came around to supporting them, and Verizon appears to have done the same.
This is all the highest of theater. Chairman Martin's proposed auction rules won't actually go very far toward opening up the network. And the opposition then grudging acceptance of first AT&T and then Verizon to Martin's proposal is playacting that has more to do with Google than with the FCC chairman. The major wireless carriers have no desire at all to open up this network or any other. The bogeyman here is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which is currently restricted from most U.S. mobile networks because, well, nobody can really figure out why. Since most mobile users aren't paying separately for long-distance anyway and most U.S. mobile users can't even make international calls because of high toll fraud, VoIP just burns up minutes and would seem to threaten nobody. Still, the carriers hate and fear VoIP, so they put together this drama of supposed openness in order to make sure that true openness can't happen.
By this time it should be clear that I generally support what Google has proposed and think it is a very good idea for us all. So why, then, does the headline on this column suggest that Google is on crack to have even made such a proposal?
Because they don't know who they are messing with, that's why.
I am 100 percent behind Google's four conditions, but I see very little likelihood that they will be accepted by the full commission. I also see that they have slightly moved the wireless incumbents, who are mean and spiteful companies and WILL HAVE THEIR REVENGE.
I don't think it is clear to a lot of observers just how much Google has at stake in this issue. It goes far beyond the $4.6 billion. Remember that's just the reserve price, and by pledging that amount Google is making sure the auction goes forward at a price that will probably be north of $10 billion. IT IS VERY DOUBTFUL THAT GOOGLE WILL BE THE WINNER OF THAT $10 BILLION AUCTION. The wireless carriers will spend whatever it takes to win, not just because of the prime spectral real estate involved (700 MHz goes through concrete walls like butter), but because they don't want to change operational rules that have been very profitable for them over the years.
You see if Google actually bid and won the 700-MHz auction, they could operate the band exactly as they have proposed the FCC require. They could open the spectrum to devices and networks and services with impunity because winning the auction and paying those big bucks would entitle them to do so. It is only because Google doesn't expect to win, or possibly even to bid, that they are trying to force rules on the eventual winners, the mobile telcos.
I'm all for tilting at windmills -- heck I do it enough myself -- but Google has a lot at risk here and I think they are being foolish, even stupid.
Look who Google is up against -- all the largest Internet service providers in the U.S. Google will not win this even if they win the auction, because the telcos and cable companies are far more skilled and cunning when it comes to lobbying and controlling politicians than Google can ever hope to be. The telcos have spent more than a century at this game and Google hasn't even been in it for a decade. And Google's pockets are no deeper than those of the other potential bidders.
Frankly, I see Google heading for a big loss on this one.
And what they have to lose is more than you might guess. Google is risking its cash crop, leadership in web search.
Bill Gates likes to talk about how fragile is Microsoft's supposed monopoly and how it could disappear in a very short period of time. Well Microsoft is a Pyramid of Giza compared to Google, whose success is dependent on us not changing our favorite search engine.
But what if it is changed for us? What if Verizon, and AT&T, and Comcast, and half a dozen other huge broadband ISPs suddenly cut deals with some search company other than Google and your ISP-supplied browser and homepage no longer give such prominence to Google? The G-folk have rabid competitors who would very much like to take over that top spot. Would we even notice? How different are the search results these days from one engine to another? Not very different.
Yahoo, a company in crisis, fully supports Google's bold move, but you notice they didn't make it. Microsoft has been totally silent. Certainly Microsoft smells blood in the water and will be approaching all the outfits Google may have offended, trying to do exclusive search and ad deals with them.
So what Google has done is a bold and foolish act in which it is hard to find an upside for the company. If they intended to actually win the auction, which I wish they would, then they wouldn't have tried setting these conditions. They would just bid a truckload of money and walk away with the spectrum. But this thing they did do, what is it? It makes no sense at all, and one could argue, in fact, that is fiduciary suicide.
I have thought long and hard and I can see only two ways this could have come about. The first possibility is that Google has begun believing its own press releases, which is not a good idea for any company. Google is an arrogant and geeky company with leaders who have isolated themselves to the extent that they may no longer be in touch with reality. So much success so quick may have convinced them they are smarter than they actually are. It happens a lot. It could be happening here.
That's the most likely and saddest possibility, but it also means that if Google blows it, well then Google deserved to blow it. There is, however, an alternative motivation here beyond simple megalomania and corporate self-delusion: Google may actually be playing a game of poker.
This could be a fake, a head feint on Google's part. By attempting to set these conditions on any eventual auction winner, Google is tacitly telling the mobile carriers that it really doesn't intend to bid or doesn't intend to bid above the $4.6 billion threshold. Emboldened by this the telcos, who are also arrogant and have a kind of reptilian craftiness, may decide to save their resources and only bid, say, $10 billion. But what if Google bids $20 billion? Well then it's a whole new ballgame.
I hope that is Google's plan, but I fear that it isn't.
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|To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (5135)||9/16/2007 1:39:59 PM|
|:•) i, Cringely - September 14, 2007 Pulpit - The Power of Six: Google's plan for world domination. Also why the iPod Classic sucks.|
By Robert X. Cringely
I wrote a few weeks ago about Google’s attempt to influence the rules for redeployment of the 700-MHz radio band in the U.S. for voice and data applications. Google said it would agree to pony up the $4.6 billion auction reserve price if only the FCC would first guarantee to force any eventual winner to keep the frequencies open in a variety of Google-defined ways — ways that were decidedly unpopular with incumbent U.S. mobile operators. It seemed to me to be lunacy for Google to deliberately po the mobile carriers if it wasn’t going to spend the big bucks to actually WIN the auction. But what if Google DOES plan to spend the big bucks and win the 700-MHz auction? What would they do with it? I now think I know.
Google didn’t get what it asked for from the FCC, which opted for a different definition of “open,” promoted by the FCC commissioner. The commissioner’s definition of “open” was also opposed by the incumbent carriers and, in fact, Verizon is apparently taking the issue to court, but I think they doth protest too much. The carriers can probably live with the existing auction rules. Fighting them in court is intended as much to signal Verizon’s determination to win the auction as it is to actually overturn the auction rules. The last thing Verizon wants is for Google to enter the auction AT ALL, because doing so can have only two consequences, neither of them good from the perspective of the telcos: 1) Google might actually win the auction and impose the very rules it tried earlier to get with the FCC, and; 2) the mobile carriers might still win the auction but Google’s involvement would cause them to bid much more for the spectrum than they otherwise might.
Google could make it VERY expensive to hold together the existing U.S. mobile phone oligarchy.
Remember that none of the existing U.S. mobile phone companies is currently lacking in bandwidth. They would love to own the 700-MHz band if they can do so cheaply, but they don’t apparently have any real intention to USE it, which would mean building out a whole new infrastructure at the cost of several billion dollars. They just want to bank the spectrum and keep it away from Google.
It seemed to me that the greatest impediment to Google actually spending the big bucks to win the auction (they could clearly afford it) is that the mobile phone and data businesses aren’t as profitable as Google’s own search and advertising businesses, which means making such a move would hurt Google’s earnings and be a drag on the price of its shares. This seemed to be the difference between Google posturing and Google actually doing something.
But then this week Apple began to bluster about entering the 700-MHz auction, which makes even less sense. Could this have something to do with Google? Like a lot of other pundits, I keep facing the fact that Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on the Apple board and expecting that association to manifest itself eventually in some form of product or service alliance, but that has yet to happen. Could this finally be the time? Apple AND Google have together more money than anyone except God, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Could the two companies be intending a joint bid of such grand proportions as to guarantee a win? And if they did, what way could they find to use the spectrum that wouldn’t be a drag on Google’s earnings after all?
So I thought and I thought and I came up with what you are about to read. As usual this is just guessing on my part, but I’m a pretty good guesser.
To start, I don’t think Apple will actually bid with Google or even against Google in the 700-MHz auction. It would overcomplicate the five-year iPhone deal between Apple and AT&T - a deal that is already strained by the rise in third-party iPhone unlocking tools. (What was the chance Apple didn’t see those coming? Zero.) While it is possible that Apple would deliberately go against AT&T because Apple is, well, Apple and likes to stir things up, I think there are limitsto how much Hell Steve Jobs is willing to raise in the wireless space given the string of global iPhone deals he is still putting together. And Steve is cheap, too, meaning that he might not see this as a good use for Apple’s free cash.
Besides, Apple has enough trouble on its hands with the new iPod classic, which doesn’t work very well at all and is going to shortly create some PR problems for Apple. Rather than actually being a legacy device as the name implies, the iPod classic uses new innards and the software is creating headaches for early users.
The complaints I am hearing about the new iPods classics are (in no particular order):
* VERY Slow menu switching response
* Display of clock rather than song info when “Now Playing”
* Inability to use existing AUTHORIZED 3rd party dock products (including Apple-advertised)
* Audio skipping during operation
* Slow connection to Macs and PCs
* Inability to disable “split-screen” menus
* Lagging and unresponsive Click Wheel
* Camera connector not working
* Inability to use EQ settings without skipping and distortion
This product was clearly shipped before it was ready, so we can expect a significant firmware upgrade Real Soon Now, especially since the iPod classic is now Apple’s ONLY solution for users who want to store more than 16 gigabytes worth of songs, pictures, TV shows, and movies.
So Apple will have its corporate hands full between now and Christmas, which is yet another reason why I seriously doubt the company will be involved in 700-MHz auction action. Apple’s current rumblings about the 700-MHz band are more likely Jobs helping Schmidt. If the mobile carriers interested in the 700-MHz band think that it might cost them $16 billion rather than $6 billion to win the auction, they might not bid at all, allowing Google to get the property for less than it might have had to pay in a contested auction. At some price the deal becomes uneconomic for the mobile carriers and, given their small minds and squinty eyes, they’ll see it as uneconomic for Google, too. “Let Google take the fall,” they’ll think.
But Google won’t be falling.
The huge expense of buying the 700-MHz band and building out the infrastructure could be made a lot less huge if Google didn’t have to build out the infrastructure. No traditional mobile company could get away with this, but I think Google could.
I have written about nearly all the individual parts of this before and even wrote a column putting it all together, though as my idea, not Google’s. Maybe they have been reading me after all.
First let’s start by looking at the infrastructure Google has already built or committed to building — the largest fiber backbone in the world and the largest and most widely distributed data center build-out in the world. Both are FAR in excess of Google’s current or even future requirements UNLESS they are also intended to work with a massive 700-MHz wireless network.
Imagine a hybrid wireless broadband mesh network using 700-MHz connections for backhaul and some truly mobile links and WiFi for local service. Google has enough experience with WiFi in Mountain View to know that it isn’t, by itself, a good solution for wide area networks. The key failing of metro WiFi networks is backhaul to the Internet backbone. But if Google used its 700 MHz band for that AND implemented it as a true mesh network, there would easily be enough capacity to serve almost any size network given a suitable number of backbone connections.
You can find my old column about just such a network in this week’s links.
Google has experience, too, with hybrid wireless networks. Every Google employee has the chance to take a company bus to work and every Google bus has an EVDO-to-WiFi bridge so Googlers can surf the net on their way to work.
It would be really cool if this Google hybrid network was truly flat and could be maintained entirely within a single address space like, for example, the 76 billion billion billion IPv6 addresses Google already owns. The sudden existence of a massive IPv6 network would throw other ISPs into a tizzy and quickly drag the rest of the net into the 21st century, something else I could see as a Google ambition.
Finally, what links all of this together is something else I wrote about long ago — the Google Cube. This is an access device that contains 700-MHz and WiFi radios, a tiny Linux or Linux-likeserver, and a few gigs of flash RAM memory cache. It’s these Google Cubes that will mesh together, acting as both WiFi access points and 700 MHz mesh backhaul devices. Throw in some local caching, video preloading, and truly local DNS service and suddenly you have a pretty substantial network infrastructure that is not only massive and self-healing, IT IS ENTIRELY PAID FOR BY CUSTOMERS. All Google needs to provide are several thousand points-of-presence (cell towers) to connect the local mesh to the Internet backbone.
Google couldn’t do this with WiFi alone, but with 700-MHz meshing and backhaul they could make it work fairly easily and the entire network could be deployed in a couple months.
For those who can’t think past search, imagine this also as Google’s key to dominating local- and location-based search.
Forget about net neutrality and forget about making nice-nice with broadband ISPs OR phone companies. Google would overnight become the largest U.S. ISP with direct and very high-performance access to its customers, including those using the new Google Phone or any other phone that supports WiFi connections, like the iPhone and many others. Google becomes the biggest and lowest-cost ISP and potentially the biggest and lowest-cost mobile phone company in the bargain.
Heck of a deal.
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|To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (5136)||10/8/2007 9:04:27 AM|
|:•) I, Cringely - October 5, 2007 Pulpit - You Can't Get There From Here: The myth of bandwidth scarcity and can Team Cringely really make it to the Moon? |
By Robert X. Cringely
Several years ago I wrote a column describing a system I had thought up for sharing Internet hotspots that I called WhyFi. Among the readers of that column were some entrepreneurs in Spain who went on to start the hotspot sharing service called FON, which now has more than 190,000 participating hotspots. Those Spaniards have been quite generous in attributing some of their inspiration to my column. And now this week FON signed a deal with British Telecom that promises to bring tens of thousands more FON hotspots to the UK and beyond. This isn't FON's first deal with a big broadband ISP -- they already have contracts with Speakeasy and Time Warner Cable in the U.S. among others -- but it is one of the biggest and points to an important transformation taking place in the way people communicate.
These FON deals remind me of President Lincoln's original Emancipation Proclamation from 1863, which I'm sure you'll recall didn't free ALL the slaves, just those in the rebellious states of the Confederacy. BT is not the largest mobile phone company in the UK, though it IS the largest ISP, so offering the ability for customers to make free or very cheap VoIP calls using FON software running on their home routers or that of another participating BT Fusion customer works well to tie those customers to BT ISP service, where the future of telephony clearly lies. It's good for customers, sure, and I am happy for them, but the reason BT and others do these deals is because it is BAD for their larger mobile competitors.
This is exactly why T-Mobile -- a smaller U.S. mobile carrier -- sells combined GSM/VoIP phones in the U.S. and the other carriers don't. T-Mobile, with no landline customers and no consumer ISP service, can only improve its U.S. business one way, by attracting more mobile customers from other carriers. Adding VoIP capability, while it may hurt mobile revenue a little, also costs T-Mobile almost nothing to provide, so its customer-attracting capability is justified. For exactly the same reason T-Mobile is happy to accept iPhone users who prefer to not use AT&T: it costs T-Mobile nothing more in support (because the phones are effectively unsupported) and costs AT&T mobile customers.
These games are played over and over by communication service companies of all kinds, and at the heart of it all is a big lie -- that bandwidth is scarce.
Bandwidth is not scarce. America and the world are bound by more fiber that is dark than is lighted. If backbones needed to be 10 times larger than they currently are, they quickly could be. On a local basis, the cost of provisioning a 1.5-megabit, 6-megabit, or 24-megabit DSL connection is essentially the same to the ISP, meaning the "bigger" pipes are vastly more profitable and that's all.
Bandwidth scarcity isn't peculiar to the United States, it is just managed differently overseas. You can get a 100-megabit-per-second Internet connection for $12 per month in Korea, sure, but it won't access most non-Korean Internet services any faster than a U.S. DSL or cable Internet connection could. There are few data resources anywhere, in fact, that can be accessed at such line speeds because it isn't in the economic interest of the ISP to make that much bandwidth available. It could be done fairly cheaply, but then who would pay more for a faster line?
Profit is to be found not just in pleasing dissatisfied customers, but in dissatisfying them in the first place so they will then pay to be pleased.
This isn't just a retail phenomenon, either. This week IBM announced to its workers that it is selling its network services business to AT&T. Will this please customers? Probably not. Will it put them in a position where they will pay extra to be pleased? Probably.
To this point AT&T has been just one of IBM's telecommunication service providers, but it has the noteworthy distinction of being by far the most expensive. Handing over the business to AT&T will not save IBM customers any money. IBM intends to continue to provide the same communication services to its customers, though now through AT&T, and AT&T says it expects to gain $1 billion in sales. Those sales have to come from somewhere, and in this case they will come from taking business from lower-cost providers.
What the deal WILL do for IBM is get 2,200 workers off the books cheaply (that $80 million charge against earnings AT&T is taking for the deal will mainly go for picking up the underfunded pension obligations of the transferred IBM workers). It will be good for the workers, too, because they'll be going to a company with a real benefits package and a solid pension plan.
But it won't be good for customers, whose charges will only go up if an IBM sales commission will now be pasted atop overpriced services that were, in the past, often sold at a loss. AT&T is not in the business of selling at a loss. This will have the effect for IBM customers of firmly defying the trend toward lower communication service costs, which maybe was AT&T's whole intent in the first place.
Whatever the cockeyed logical basis of this transaction, it will do nothing to change the deliberate bandwidth scarcity problem that plagues businesses and consumers alike worldwide. The only way to solve THAT problem is by taking back ownership of our own last-mile connections and creating a true competitive marketplace for backbone services. It's a move that would pay for itself almost instantly, but I doubt that it will ever be allowed to happen.
And speaking of radical change, last week's column about my plan to vie for the Google Lunar X Prize produced a flurry of interest and more than 50 project volunteers, including a few true rocket scientists (though, alas, not a single woman). We'll have important announcements concerning Team Cringely two weeks from now after the Lunar X Prize committee issues its final contest guidelines and we've had a chance to map those rules against whatever cheating techniques we can think up.
I never said Team Cringely would win gracefully.
But I do think we have a chance to win and I'll use this space to address the considerable skepticism that greeted my announcement last week.
Here is a typical message from a real space expert:
"The way it looks now I'd be embarrassed out of my skull to even have my name mentioned in association with this project. I can't even begin to describe just how clueless this team looks to anyone with any real knowledge about these things. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but it really is THAT bad.
"You can barely build and launch a nanosatellite for the budget they're talking about. And they're talking of developing and building THEIR OWN F**ING LAUNCH VEHICLE as part of the project? May I remind you that no privately funded rocket has ever made it into orbit yet and the leading contender (SpaceX) has spent over $100M so far?
"The minimum budget that seems remotely realistic to achieve the prize goals is well over $15M, assuming you get experienced individuals (i.e. people who built things that actually flew in space) to work for free, somehow make it incredibly lightweight and manage to find a really sweet launch deal. But this is for an unconstrained schedule. Achieving the goal FIRST will be significantly more expensive than that. Remember that the suborbital Xprize was won by a very well funded team. Their budget was estimated to be over $35M - bigger than the prize. The next closest team was VERY far behind in their progress. Armadillo Aerospace probably could have done it for a budget lower than the prize but it would have taken them a few more years."
This is Bob again. The guy above may be right, but I look at this project as a chance to break some rules and do things a little differently, possibly at the risk of looking foolish, but also possibly making some significant progress.
If fear of embarrassment keeps this guy from thinking out of the box, Team Cringely doesn't want him, though we will still buy him a beer.
Our air launch system is well proven by both the U.S. and Russian military, both of which use it to shoot down satellites. Our rocket engine has been in development for nine years and fired over 300 times without a failure. Our f**king launch vehicle, as he puts it, is a carbon fiber tube. All the other parts come from Russia, where they have been used on similar-sized rockets for decades. We want to put 30kg on the Moon and, according to the same calculators NASA uses, it looks like we can. Rutan and Company spent a lot of money, yes, and because they did we don't have to spend as much. PLUS, there are a lot of good ideas about how to accomplish this mission that won't look anything like what this guy thinks we'll be doing.
I'm not saying it will be easy, I am saying it can be done, and is worth trying to do.
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|From: ms.smartest.person||3/4/2012 10:10:43 AM|
|DO NOT DONATE TO SCIENTOLOGY & JOIN US IN A WORLDWIDE BOYCOTT OF MI:3!|
JOIN US IN NOT DONATING TO THE CULT OF SCIENTOLOGY & BOYCOTT MI:III!
IT'S HAPPENING! Tom Cruise's recent repeated massively irresponsible and potentially life-endangering statements that those on prescribed psychiatric medication should cease using them and use "exercise and vitamins and stuff"... combined with his promotion of what most consider a cult of Scientology has horrified a huge percentage of the public. In fact, our survey results below show from almost 2,500 responses a MASSIVE 83% of you feel just like us and are prepared to Boycott Mission Impossible III.
Well some of the major anti-Scientology websites are pulling together to do just that. We feel it's time someone made a stance against "Dr. Cruise's" bullying tactics, and every dollar he earns he gives a % to Scientology. Which means every time we pay to see a Cruise movie we're funding his cult! Well not anymore. Head to www.boycottmi3.com and put your name down in a worldwide boycott of M:I:III. You'll have a clear conscience, and help send a very powerful message to Cruise that you won't be donating to his cult this year. Beside, MI:II sucked anyway!
Head to www.boycottmi3.com and BOYCOTT M:I:III!
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|From: ms.smartest.person||3/16/2012 10:30:50 AM|
|Amen to this woman!|
SHRINKING AARP IS LOSING Plenty OF SENIORS
AARP's Fall from Grace
It only takes a few days on the Internet and this will have reached 75% of the public in the USA.
This letter was sent to Mr. Rand who is the Executive Director of AARP.
THIS LADY NOT ONLY HAS A GRASP OF THE SITUATION BUT AN INCREDIBLE COMMAND OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!
Dear Mr. Rand,
Recently you sent us a letter encouraging us to renew our lapsed membership in AARP by the requested date. This isn't what you were looking for, but it's is the most honest response I can give you. Our coverage gap is a microscopic symptom of the real problem, a deepening lack of faith. While we have proudly maintained our membership for years and long admired the AARP goals and principles, regrettably, we can no longer endorse its abdication of our values. Your letter stated that we can count on AARP to speak up for our rights, yet the voice we hear is not ours.
Your offer of being kept up to date on important issues through DIVIDED WE FAIL presents neither an impartial view nor the one we have come to embrace. We do believe that when two parties agree all the time on everything presented to them, one is probably not necessary. But, when the opinions and long term goals are diametrically opposed, the divorce is imminent. This is the philosophy which spawned our 200 years of government.
Once upon a time, we looked forward to being part of the senior demographic. We also looked to AARP to provide certain benefits and give our voice a power we could not possibly hope to achieve on our own. AARP once gave us a sense of belonging which we no longer enjoy. The Socialist politics practiced by the Obama Regime and empowered by AARP serves only to raise the blood pressure my medical insurance strives to contain. Clearly a conflict of interest there! We do not understand the AARP posture, feel greatly betrayed by the guiding forces that we expected to map out our senior years and leave your ranks with a great sense of regret. We mitigate that disappointment with the relief of knowing that we are not contributing to the problem anymore by renewing our membership. There are numerous other organizations which offer discounts without threatening our way of life or offending our sensibilities and values.
This Obama Regime scares the living daylights out of us. Not just for ourselves, but for our proud and bloodstained heritage. But more importantly for our children and grandchildren. Washington has rendered Soylent Green a prophetic cautionary tale rather than a nonfiction scare tactic. I have never endorsed any militant or radical groups, yet now I find myself listening to them. I don't have to agree with them to appreciate the fear which birthed their existence. Their borderline insanity presents little more than a balance to the voice of the Socialist Mindset in power. Perhaps I became American by a great stroke of luck in some cosmic uterine lottery, but in my adulthood I CHOOSE to embrace it and nurture the freedoms it represents as well as the responsibilities.
Your website generously offers us the opportunity to receive all communication in Spanish. ARE YOU KIDDING??? The illegal perpetrators have broken into our 'house', invaded our home without invitation or consent. The President insists we keep these illegal perpetrators in comfort and learn the perpetrator's language so we can communicate our reluctant welcome to them. I DON'T choose to welcome them, to support them, to educate them, to medicate them, or to pay for their food or clothing. American home invaders get arrested. Please explain to me why foreign lawbreakers can enjoy privileges on American soil that Americans do not get? Why do some immigrants have to play the game to be welcomed and others only have to break and enter to be welcomed?
We travel for a living. Walt hauls horses all over this great country, averaging over 10,000 miles a month when he is out there. He meets more people than a politician on caffeine overdose. Of all the many good folks he enjoyed on this last 10,000 miles, this trip yielded only ONE supporter of the current Regime. One of us is out of touch with mainstream America. Since our poll is conducted without funding, I have more faith in it than ones that are driven by a need to yield AMNESTY (aka-make voters out of the foreign lawbreakers so they can vote to continue the government's free handouts). This addition of 10 to 20 million voters who then will vote to continue Socialism will OVERWHELM our votes to control the government's free handouts. It is a "slippery slope" we must not embark on!
As Margret Thatcher (former Prime Minister of Great Britain) once said "Socialism is GREAT - UNTIL you run out of other people's money".
We have decided to forward this to everyone on our mailing list, and will encourage them to do the same. With several hundred in my address book, I have every faith that the eventual exponential factor will make a credible statement to you. I am disappointed as all getout! I am more scared than I have ever been in my entire life! I am ANGRY! I am MAD as hell, and I'm NOT gonna take it anymore!
Walt & Cyndy Miller,
Miller Farms Equine Transport
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