Telephony Platforms & Swimming

October 2, 2008

Developing a telecommunications platform that is reliable under load & that is easily scalable is not something you can learn by simply reading a book, a manual, or by sitting in a class room. It is certainly not as easy as many VoIP switch manufacturers would like you to believe either.

Developing a truly remarkable telephony platform is an art form, much like swimming. No matter how strong you are, if you are unwilling to invest the time & energy to practice your breathing, you body position in the water, your arm stroke, your kick – the basic mechanics of swimming, you will never be able to move fast & efficiently through the water. To swim quickly & efficiently, you must take the time to break down your stroke to the individual components & perfect each component independent of the rest & meticulously build your stroke back up, forming an efficient machine that moves quickly through the water. It takes time, patience, & skill. 

The same is true for developing a truly remarkable telecommunications platform. You need the right mix of hardware (servers, switches, power, etc.), quality data networks, quality telephony carriers, monitoring tools, software that scales & that is easily extendable, & a talented team of individuals that understand the various intricacies of managing such a complex solution. At NetworkIP we’ve created this remarkable telephony platform & through simple APIs offered through Jaduka we’ve made this platform available to your business.

Let us handle the platform so that you can focus on what you do best – develop your product & provide quality services to your customers.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


Apple Shifts the Mobile Industry

September 23, 2008

I was reviewing my notes from last week’s Mobilize conference & I found myself asking where was Apple? This 1-day conference featured eight panel discussions with talent from the major mobile network providers, the mobile device manufactures, the mobile operating systems, & a variety of companies that specialized in mobile application development & marketing. The panel discussions consisted of topics ranging from the development of mobile applications with Location Based Services (LBS), to the hurdles associated with mobile carriers, to investment strategies in the mobile market space. Regardless of panel topic, I noted a recurring theme throughout. Not one panel discussion could avoid bringing up Apple & what they had done with the iPhone. It felt at times like the entire conference consisted of people asking how do we keep up with Apple, or is Apple’s approach the right approach to take, or what will Apple do next?

I scanned the list of conference attendees that was handed out at the beginning of the conference & there wasn’t a single person in attendance from Apple; nor was anyone from Apple participating in any of the panel discussions or keynote presentations given that day.

So here I sat in a room full of very talented people from some very reputable & large companies who could not help but analyze Apple & what Apple has done to the mobile market.

I find myself asking why Apple would have been there. Apple has set the standard. They’ve raised the bar with mobile devices & mobile application development & distribution. As a result, we find ourselves trying to catch up to Apple. While we sit here discussing how Apple approached the mobile market, they continue to innovate. I’m sure from time to time that they find themselves at conferences looking for answers to questions & to get a feel for a market. Of course they appear to do their own research in many other ways. Apple doesn’t wait for an industry to shift, they shift an industry.

Can other mobile device manufactures & mobile operating systems surpass Apple? Is today’s release of Google’s Android operating system on HTC’s G1 an example of this or will Apple continue to shape the mobile industry?

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


The Economics of Mobile Application Development

September 22, 2008

At last Thursday’s Mobilize conference the discussion started off with a round table focusing on “The Economics of (Mobile Application) Development.” At the end of this panel discussion which included talent from BlackBerry, the LiMo Foundation, Qualcomm, Adobe, & Windows Mobile the group concluded the following:

“That mobile applications will run primarily over the web versus being installed native to the device, applications will be available in a centralized area (like Apple’s App Store) versus a distributed model of distribution, most applications will be downloaded versus bundled with the device, mobile applications will be developed through businesses rather than through a consortium, & finally that applications will continue to be geared towards the consumer versus businesses.”

These predictions point to a couple of hurdles that in my opinion will continue to plague the mobile industry for many years to come.

The first hurdle is that there are far too many mobile operating systems & too few standards in this space. When a company or an application developer decides to develop a mobile application they are forced in most cases to pick a single operating system to use to develop their application because trying to keep up with the support & life-cycle of that application on 5+ mobile operating systems requires resources that many businesses & application developers simply don’t have to invest. As a result, businesses & application developers loose entire audiences because their application won’t be supported on a large majority of mobile devices running other mobile operating systems. Even with 5+ mobile operating systems; why can’t each mobile operating system adhere to some set of standards that would allow applications to seamlessly work across operating systems?

It is evident that device manufactures realize the control they’ll have when choosing a particular operating systems to run on their device. That is why there is such a race to gain market share now before the mobile market becomes even more saturated with additional mobile operating systems (note that Android from Google is being released this week). If these companies can’t work together on a set of standards for businesses & application developers to adhere to my hope is that we’ll see some device manufactures & mobile operating systems simply go away.

Secondly, mobile carriers still control too much of the equation. The mobile carriers have control of which devices they’ll allow on their network. They determine how the mobile applications will be distributed to the consumer; installed on the device prior to sale or forcing the consumer to download. The mobile carriers also control the costs associated with the network time (voice or data) that the application will require to use. All of these control factors make it very difficult for businesses & application developers to develop an application that is simple & affordable for the consumer to use.

While the mobile market is obviously exploding & “open” for growth, don’t be fooled to believe that there aren’t some significant hurdles for us to overcome in order to deliver a valuable solution to enterprises & consumers.

What is your opinion on these questions pertaining to the mobile market?

Applications will run: Native or Web?
Applications will be distributed: Centralized or Distributed?
Applications will be installed: Downloaded or Bundled?
Applications will be developed by: Businesses or Consortium?
Applications will be geared towards: Consumers or Businesses?

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


Telecom & Prepaid Regulatory Updates – #2

September 19, 2008

FCC CPNI Enforcements
September 19, 2008
by: Jennifer Begin

In the last several months the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) shocked many carriers with heavy fines related to noncompliance of their updated Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) regulations. CPNI is the information that telecommunications carriers acquire about their subscribers from call detail records (CDRs).  It includes not only what services they use, but their amount & type of usage. The FCC generally prohibits the use of that information without customer permission. CPNI includes such information as optional services subscribed to, current charges, directory assistance charges, usage data, & calling patterns.

The year 2008 has seen many changes to the privacy rules originally adopted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Commission strengthened its privacy rules, by adopting additional safeguards to protect CPNI against unauthorized access & disclosure. In previous years it was the carrier’s responsibility to have an officer annually sign an internally maintained compliance certificate stating that the officer had personal knowledge that the company has established operating procedures that are adequate to ensure compliance & also a statement explaining how its operating procedures ensure that it is or is not in compliance with the rules. However, this year the FCC required for the first time that the CPNI certificates & statements be filed with the FCC by March 1, 2008.

Those companies that did not follow this new requirement may receive letters from the FCC asking them to provide previous compliance certificates & may receive fines ranging from $4,000 to $100,000 if the FCC determines that there is indeed a noncompliance issue. For further information on CPNI requirements please see the FCC’s site: http://www.fcc.gov/eb/CPNI/Welcome.html.

NetworkIP encourages you to make sure you are in compliance with this filing requirement & consult an attorney should you receive a notice from the FCC concerning this issue.

* This article is strictly an overview & not to be construed as legal advice. You will need to apply this general information to your entity-specific situation & may need to seek legal advice to ensure you are in full compliance with the federal & state laws for telecommunications companies.


NetworkIP & Jaduka Attending Mobilize 2008

September 18, 2008

Early this morning Trevor Baca, VP of Software Engineering, Karthik Srinivasan, Director of Systems Engineering, & I jumped on planes headed for San Francisco to attend tomorrow’s Mobilize conference. This is the inaugural year for the Mobilize conference & with GigaOM behind this one it is sure to be a success & last for many years to come. This is an exciting time to be in the mobile space & we expect tomorrow’s conference will be just as stimulating & productive as it promotes to be.

The conference has pulled together thought leaders from Google, Nortel, Cisco, Motorolla, Sprint & many others involved in the mobile industry to cover topics that we’ve all been asking & that will enable us all to make informed decisions in this new market. The Mobilize conference also includes a launch pad session so companies like Cumulux, Fonemesh, Fonolo, Fusion Garage, Heysan, LuckyCal, MotionDSP, Pinch Media, placethings, Skyfire Labs, TuneWiki & Zecter can present their new mobile products.

Over the past few months we’ve been talking about how faster mobile data speeds (3G, 4G, & LTE) & open mobile operating systems (Apple, Symbian, & Google’s Android) are making this an exciting & opportunistic market for businesses & application engineers to develop new & innovative applications for the mobile space. As more companies & application engineers enter this space & find themselves supporting mobile consumers & mobile products they are realizing the need for faster, more robust, & more reliable transaction processing services. These companies & application engineers obviously understand the value of transaction processing services; however, they haven’t the time, the money, or the resources to develop them on their own. Their focus is where it should be; on their mobile products & services. So they rely on us & our proven experience in the transaction processing space to ensure their accounts & products are properly managed.

Our transaction processing services allow companies to manage all of their mobile consumer accounts & mobile products via simple API interfaces without having to invest any costs or resources to build a network, deploy hardware, ensure security standards, & manage complex databases. We do the heavy lifting so these companies & application engineers can focus on their existing mobile products, new mobile products, & most importantly their customers.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


Why Google Chrome?

September 10, 2008

Since Google released its new web browser, Chrome, last week there has been so much chatter on the web about its features, how it stacks up to Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox, & Safari, & maybe the most important question on everyone’s mind is why has Google developed its own web browser.

I immediately downloaded Chrome when I read about its release. I’m not an application download junkie; however, for a long time now I have been looking to replace Internet Explorer (IE) because too often I have a single browser tab that crashes & then I loose the five to ten active browser tabs I had open. Chrome promises to fix this problem by treating each browser tab as a separate application. When one browser tab crashes, the rest of your tabs should not be affected. After a few days of using Chrome, I was able to test this “functionality” for myself & it worked like a charm. I am forever a non-subscriber to IE & now a happy Chrome user. I’m also a big fan of Chrome’s one stop shop (a single text box) to type in known URLs & do my web searching. The auto completion feature when typing URLs & doing Internet searches is also a great bonus to me.

The BIG question though isn’t what feature do you like or don’t like; rather, why did Google release its own browser? My opinion points towards the mobile market space for web browsing. According to research conducted by Nielsen Mobile, in 2007 mobile Internet use generated over $5 billion in revenue for companies & in the first quarter of 2008 mobile Internet use accounted for a total of $1.7 billion in revenue. Nielsen’s research strongly suggests that we will see a rapid growth in consumer adoption & mobile marketing in the years ahead.

Chrome fits this mobile Internet niche well. Chrome is a very light weight application. The total size of the browser is just 7-megabytes, making it a good fit for the relatively small hard drives that exist in today’s mobile devices. Chrome’s small size makes it a quick & easy application to download to most mobile devices. Chrome also has a minimalist user interface & it nicely accommodates the display size of mobile devices with Internet access. Lastly, when Chrome is running it uses very little memory, making Chrome an ideal application for mobile devices that have limited memory size.

The market research firm ABI Research sees the mobile web browser segment of this market accounting for the vast majority of growth over the next five years. They predict that the number of highly functional mobile browsers shipping per year will grow from 76 million in 2007 to nearly 700 million in 2013. From where I sit Google is quickly putting all the pieces together to dominate this mobile market space. They have already released a number of API’s that will further enable the development of mobile applications & mobile mashups, they have now released the mobile browser (Chrome), & soon they will release the mobile operating system called Android.

The way I see it, Chrome was just one of the few remaining pieces that Google needed to position themselves as a leader in this new mobile market.


Mobile Payments Market Forecast for 2013

September 8, 2008

Last week Juniper Research released a new report forecasting the growth of the Mobile Payments Market through 2013. The study projects that purchases using Near Field Communications (NFC) enabled phones coupled with money transfers are likely to total $600 billion globally by 2013. Howard Wilcox, the author of this report, points to the continued growth in mobile subscriber penetration & the availability of exciting & easy to use services as the driving forces to this type of growth.

Wilcox concluded that today’s mobile market is mostly dominated by the purchase of digital good such as games, ringtones, & music. The new opportunities in this space will include the future of NFC, mobile money transfer (MMT), & the purchase of physical goods via the mobile device. The report suggested that the Far East & China, western Europe, & North America will represent more than 70% of global MMT gross transaction value by 2013.

In order for this market to mature at the rate suggested by Juniper we’ll need to see a number of things fall into place. The good news is that the mobile operators can now support the bandwidth & speeds that these mobile payment applications will require. Also, mobile operating systems such as Symbian, Apple, & Windows Mobile are now open for us to develop these new mobile payment applications.

So what pieces to this puzzle are we still missing?

The mobile device manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung, RIM, & Apple need to begin releasing new phones with NFC technologies built in. Without these devices in the market, retailers will not begin updating their existing Point of Sale (POS) infrastructure to accept contactless payments. Once released, the device manufacturers will need to make these new mobile NFC enabled devices affordable. Unless people are purchasing these new mobile devices, the retailers will still be reluctant to update their existing POS solutions.

Beyond the mobile devices & the POS infrastructure consumers need to be educated. Consumers must understand how these new mobile payment solutions will work, the value in using these solutions, & most importantly the consumer needs to be convinced that these solutions are safe & secure. There have been far too many reports of identity theft for consumers not to wonder how this solution is safer than what they are using today.

For those of us partaking in this new market the sky is the limit. Of course we still have some obstacles to navigate & it’s going to require platform providers like NetworkIP, mobile device manufacturers, mobile service providers, retailers, application developers, & the banking & credit card companies to all work together.