09/26/2004 Broadband & VoIP Daily

AOL VoIP is almost live now

aol_dl_icon3AOL is finally getting its VoIP act together, and is about to start beta testing its VoIP services, powered by Level 3. A poster on DSLReports forum posted this introductory email: “Thanks and congratulations! You have been successfully registered as an AOL VoIP Trial Enabled by Level 3 beta tester. 0 Please allow 5-7 business days for your VoIP trial service to be provisioned and to receive your welcome kit. Your welcome kit will arrive via Federal Express.” I have been saying this for the longest time. AOL, MSN and others can basically ride their IM fame to VoIP domination. However, these guys have been slow starters, and even now they are playing with traditional VoIP model. I think if America Online Voice Enables all users of AOL IM and offers free phone service ala Skype for its AOL for Broadband users, the company could really have a megahit on its hands, and actually be able to overcome its current “subscriber loss” problems. Of course any such move would mean, well my options could be worth something. (See I work for Business 2.0 which is owned by Time Warner, which also owns AOL!)

What TechBiz has learned from Steve Jobs

Silicon Valley has to construct a monument in honor of Steve Jobs, the Apple hero. The influence of this man is enormous – he has taught the industry about elements of style, has given them pointers about how to make the consumers happy, and if that is not enough, he has taught them the truism any cult leader knows: you can fleece the faithful for as long as you want. Remember Guru “Rolls Royce” Rajneesh anyone? In fact, Bill Gates should pay for this monument, after all had it not been for Jobs’ style and flair, he would still be peddling us DOS.

And in case you were missing the whole sarcasm bit, let me just get to the point. Steve Jobs, the king of SV cool has taught silicon valley a trick he does not get much credit for: how to hype your products. Take the recent MacWorld Expo as an example: he announced IPOD Mini (referred to by rumor mongers as MiniPOD… potato, patato, whatever!) with much fan fare. Excellent Device, but only $50 dollars cheaper than a beefier big brother. Still no website or publication called him on it. (But that’s not the point!) The damn “must have one device” is not going to be available for another two months. Now there will be a lot of talk about it, lots of buzz, and of course lots of sales.

This is a formula, which was exclusive to Apple for the longest time. But now everyone has caught one. Netgear announces digital media adapters and super fast wireless routers …. but don’t rush to your nearest Circuit City, for they don’t have one. Microsoft announces products all the time, and today they talked about Office 2004. No you cannot get your dirty paws on it for another six months. Even tiny pissants like Extreme Mac, and Griffin have caught on to this – pre-announcing products that are not on the store shelves. (They could not even wait for the Macworld to start… how about that?)

See this interpretation of buzz is Jobs’ vital contribution. What I really feel about this? Well how about reading my previous post, Hype and Reality Blurred.