Von Europe is almost here!

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Von Europe starts on June 11th in Stockholm. I am looking forward to meeting with fellow voipers, bloggers and friends. I am sure it will be interesting and fruitful.

Hopefully I will also be blogging live from the conference, so keep tuned. If you plan to be there, please drop me a note.

No more Free Calls

Luca has published a request to VoIP providers – Stop offering Free Calls! I am willing to pay for my phone calls as long as you offer me more services.

I can’t agree more. This whole free calls business has only done damage to the industry. It leads the consumer to believe that you can really make calls to the PSTN for  free.  Sure you can, if your VC wants to foot the bill. But what do you do when you run out of money? Someone has to pay for the calls. By then I will have figured out a business model, how to make money from advertising etc… Maybe. Meanwhile you have got consumers used to free calls.

Instead maybe you can offer more for less!  A flat rate but with much more services than their existing provider. That is innovation, free VC funded calls ain’t!

A BlackBerry Watchdog

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Seems that iotum’s Talk Now isn’t the only application to expand presence capibilities to the Blackberry Pearl. Your Kid’s Mobile Watchdog from eAgency.com lets you track via the web how your kid uses their mobile phone.

Big Brother? eAgency CEO Bob Lotter says “Are we ‘Big Brother’? Actually, we call ourselves Big Mother. My personal belief system is children don’t have the same rights adults do. Children have those rights via the supervision of their parents,” says Lotter.

Thomas Howe’s New Office

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Thomas Howe has just announced the formation of his new company located in Osterville, MA. From the picture, it looks to me more like a country club than office space, so it is probably a great place to work!

According to his blog, the company mission is to “help our customers integrate real time communications with the business process. Why? Because it makes businesses faster, makes businesses more efficient and makes customers happier. How are we doing this? We take our own assets, including a yet-to-be-announced service and software components, along with our partner’s assets and provide professional services to integrate them into our customer’s infrastructures. ”

From speaking with Thomas in the past, I know he has a great vision and the ability to fulfill this mission. I wish him and his partners much success!

Nokia 3109 – A Classic?

nokia-3109-classic.jpgNokia has announced that they will be introducing a mobile phone, aimed at “consumers and companies who appreciate simplicity and value for money.”

Like Gary Kim, I wonder what is classic about the phone which includes email with attachments and synchronizes calendars and to-do lists with personal computers through its USB connection. The memory is expandable to 2 Gigabytes with a microSD memory card…

In my mind a classic phone is just that – a phone. Something that my mother can use, without taking a few hours course. Type in a number, hit the send button. Hello, Goodbye. No email, SD card, Outlook needed. Why doesn’t anybody cater for the market of people, who just want to make a call. Period. They don’t need to surf on the move or check their email. Who is stopping such phones from reaching the market, the carriers or the manufacturers? I am surprised that their isn’t some Chinese company coming out with a $49 phone, or is there??

A couple of months ago, my mother requested me to exchange her 6 year old Samsung, which was giving her some troubles, with a newer phone. I went over to the local Orange store and the salesman showed me a few phones that we can upgrade to, for free. All smaller than the other. I asked him, do you have something with bigger buttons?? “To tell you the truth he answered, you should stay with the old one, they don’t make them anymore…”

So, heres a call to Chinese manufacturers, make a simple phone with big buttons – you already have one customer!

UPDATE – After reading this, I saw comments on GigaOm that mention the Nokia 1100 as a low cost $49 phone. After that I also remembered that a friend of mine who rents out cellphones in the USA for visiting tourists, told me that actually gives them away for free, they are so cheap! A good deal since you don’t need to get a new phone or SIM, each time you travel to the states. And he charges only 30 cents per minute for calls to the USA, Europe and Israel and a few other countries. (you can reach him at info@unlimitednetphone.com tell Eli that Moshe sent you!) But, as I wrote above it seems the manufacturers and carriers aren’t too hot about. Not enough profit there…

Go Ahead – Take Advantage of Us!

fppc.pngLooking back at the few months since we launched the beta service for resellers at the Flat Planet Phone Company, it is interesting to see how resellers are using the service.

Our mission is to supply a platform for resellers to easily provision and manage advanced telephony services. Resellers from all over the planet have taken advantage of our offer and are using the service for a wide range of applications. If you are wondering what can be done with our platform and what is hot – here is a short list.

  • Hosted Virtual IVR – Pick a USA or International phone number from our list, upload a greeting, define traditional PSTN numbers (or voicemail to email) as destinations 1, 2, 3 etc and your small business sounds like a biggie. We have one reseller who is pointing 4 destinations on the menu (Sales, Support, HR and Management) all to one PSTN number, but it sure sounds professional! No software or hardware required
  • Flat Planet Numbers – Pick a virtual phone number from about 50 countries and add it to an existing mobile, landline, IP phone etc. FP numbers. Possible applications are endless. Great for Roaming solutions, international offices, dating, classified ads etc. TWO minutes and you are set!
  • Hosted IP PBX – Connect up remote offices citywide, countrywide or worldwide all into one seamless virtual office. Provides all the functions of an advanced PBX. A few hours of work and you are good to go.
  • Hosted Recording Services – Great for people who need to record calls in the office or on the road. from time to time. Record calls from any phone to any phone! Even record a memo to yourself.

Some of the more exotic services that reseller are looking to try out on our platform are even more interesting, though with maybe less appeal.

  • Tourism Audio Services – dial a phone number at a tourist site and listen to an explanation of the site
  • Micropayments – see an item in a catalog that you like, dial a number listed under the item and the system handles the billing from your account

Interested in trying out the system for your application? Take advantage of us! All you need to do is to send an email to beta @ flatplanetphone.com and apply for a beta account.

How Intel received a patent for Softphones…

As I mentioned already a couple of times, it beats me how Intel was awarded in 2006 a patent for a softphone. After all softphones have been in development for many years prior to Intel’s application in 2000.

Well Luca brings the real story as originally published by Ian Plain

Intel : Hi we would like to patent this softphone thingy.

Patent Office : Whats that then ?

Intel : Its a software phone that runs on a computer

Patent Office : Computer ?

Intel : Yes computer, Its that thing over there covered in dust with the kekboard and Screen.

Patent Office : OH that typewriter, Doesnt work you know! Cant find where to put the paper in. And the TV on top doesnt work either…

Intel : Oh well, Back to this patent, It new and revolutionary, Never been done before.

Patent Office : Oh well then, Im sure if these computers do catch on, then maybe the softyfone may as well.

Intel : Softphone sir. And yes we hope so ;-)

Patent Office : Well I’ve never heard of one, so I will grant it.

Intel : Thanks…

Patent Office : BTW , Do you want a patent on this typewriter thingy, what do you call it, “Computer” , Personally I dont think it will catch on, but it may be worth a punt..

Intel : Oh go on then, Bye

Tell me it ain’t so!

The Fast Lane to to IP PBX and VoIP Services

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VoIP Supply is announcing today a new initiative, which will expedite the introduction of IP communication services to the SMB market. This is a good idea, since many companies do not have the expertise to assess their needs and decide on the appropriate solution.

With their new program, VoIP Supply will do this for us and the price is reasonable. A win-win proposition for both VoIP Supply and the customer.

This is another validation of the coming of age of the IP PBX for the SMB market. Here at The Flat Planet Phone Company we offer an unique hosted solution for that market, so I am not surprised at the direction VoIP Supply is taking – I applaud it! If you are in the market for a IP PBX give them a call. You will probably find the move easier than you thought.

How To Be Your Own VoIP Provider

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Voip Now has a very good post on how to be your own VoIP Provider.

If you offer ISP, email and/or hosting services, VoIP should be the next addition to your business’ roster of features. Don’t be intimidated by this new technology, either. You no longer need an IT degree or a small fortune to become a VoIP provider.

I definitely agree with the observation there, that the best way to do that is to offer VoIP as an enhanced service to your existing customer base. While I am not surprised that they did not cover the Flat Planet Phone Company since we are still in beta and keeping a low profile, we do have a unique offering compared to the other companies profiled there. VoIP Now, divides the providers in to two categories, resellers and affiliates.

Resellers need to invest more in order to make a larger profit. While affiliates can make a small percentage with almost zero investment. The Flat Planet advantage is that you can become a reseller with an affiliate size investment. Right now we are offering a free beta program. For more info contact us at beta @ flatplanetphone.com . To read more of the interesting VoIP Now story go here