Is now a good time for trade shows?

Our company is exhibiting next week at ITEXPO in Miami (Booth 924). Before making this commitment we had some internal discussions. One of my partners suggested that we should not go ahead with the exhibition, since now is not a time to spend money on a trade show.

I thought otherwise. The main reason is that ITEXPO is a show where people come to do business. Unlike other conferences which may be very interesting, ITEXPO fits our customer profile, resellers to the SMB market. If you supply IP communication services to the SMB market or are planning to, ITEXPO is the place to go.

Actually, there has never been a better time to travel to such a conference. First, airfare costs have gone down tremendously in the last month. More important though, is the economic situation. Companies are searching for methods to cut their expenses. IP communications is a great way to do so. Hosted VoIP services such as those that our company offer are the answer for all those sharp knife bearing budget cutters.

If, unfortunately you are out of a job, now is the time to look into new opportunities to sell hosted services, such as the Flat Planet Phone system. Rich Tehrani also has a special offer for you, a free conference pass.

See you in Miami!

Thanks Ken!

My friend Ken Camp picked up my last post and added his comments. At the same time Ken was nice enough to write about our friendship and how he views what we are doing at the Flat Planet Phone Company.

Ken is going over a bump in his professional life and I hope he will get to the next stage quickly. Ken is a sharp analyst, talented author, blogger and energetic speaker. There are many companies out there who would benefit from his skills. Good Luck, Ken.

The Last Frontier?

Looking back, one of catalysts that pushed me into the telephony business was an article that Harry Newton wrote in 1995. Harry for those of who are not familiar with him was in his previous life the outspoken publisher and editor of the Computer Telephony magazine. As I recall, Harry wrote about the uniqueness of the telephone business, where you can sell the same product for 2 cents or $5 dollars. Newton’s law of telephony pricing (my naming) stated that the exact same “minute” can be packaged and marketed in endless ways with umpteen price points.
Harry Newton
Reading that made me realize that there is plenty of room in telephony for creative marketing. The small guy can play on the same level as the big guys. Took me about 10 years and eventually I did find my niche in the business. Meanwhile VoIP replaced Computer Telephony, the costs of minutes went down and while there is still some flexibility, the game is on fractions of pennies and the Minuteman is no longer king. Today as we all know the money is in features, functionality and ease of business processes.

So is Newton’s law dead? In the landline market probably, but it is live and kicking in the mobile market. A call on a mobile from NY to London can cost 2 cents or $5 depending on carriers, roaming fees and other miscellaneous tariffs. Savvy subscribers know how to play the game and some, like our friend Andy Abramson have multiple phones, sim cards and phone applications to squeeze the most out of his telecom dollar.

However most subscribers are victims of price gouging. I have more than once met travelers who have come back from a trip with phone bills of 4-5 THOUSAND Dollars! Either they are not aware of the price saving options or more likely they do not have the time and patience to use them. For the last 2 years I have been looking for a mobile solution that is low cost but more important – invisible to the user! Most people hate to dial codes, install software, change SIMs etc. They just want to dial from their contact list and talk!

Well that is going to change :-). The Flat Planet Phone Company will be introducing a unique LCR (low cost routing) engine for the mobile market at the upcoming ITEXPO show in Miami. Developed by an Israeli startup , this solution together with our successful hosted VoIP platform for resellers (set up your own phone company in an hour) will be a great solution to sell to businesses.

How does it work? Pretty straightforward. It works on all cellphones even those that are not smartphones. The account manager defines on the LCR server his costs when dialing direct and when using cost saving options such as callthru, callback, SIP over wifi/3G etc. Then all his users receive a SMS text message and synchronize their contact list with the server. The server automatically configures each contact on the contact list to dial in the most cost effective way. The process is invisible to the user. The dialing method is the same. Pick out a contact and dial.

No more big bills. No more excuses. Come to Booth 924 in Miami and check us out!
If you can’t make it – drop me a line at

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My Obama Moment!

Well, the show is over and it is time to get back to work. President Obama made plenty of promises and now it is time for him to show what he can do.

Interesting to note his last stop on the campaign trail was at one of a number of “phone banks”, that were set up in Indiana by the UAW for Obama supporters. Even more interesting is the fact that these “phone banks” used the Flat Planet Phone system and were installed by the National Communications Company a reseller of ours, based in Indiana. In the picture below you can see President Obama making a phone call…

Elections are a great time for Hosted VoIP communications. As a result of the Obama campaign we have been engaged by political parties in another country to set up similar systems. Nothing can compete with a Hosted PBX for ease of setup and flexibility.

Chairman Genachowski – I want my Fat Pipe!

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...Image via WikipediaI really wonder how the appointment of Julius Genachowski to head the FCC will effect the development of IP Communications….

What I do know is that the 2 countries I do business in, Israel and the USA are way behind in broadband connectivity and without goverment incentives as mentioned in OM Malik’s post today, we will stay there!

Give me my Fat Pipe!

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How many SEO experts can you fit into a square meter?

Black Magic SEO, SEO ComicImage by ByronShell via FlickrA few weeks ago, I participated for the second time in one of Jeff Pulver‘s breakfast events. This time at Cafe Joe in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, while being the biggest city in Israel still has a small town atmosphere and it seemed that most of the 100+ participants who crowded into the 2nd floor at Cafe Joe actually knew each other. What I found unusual was – the large amount of people who provide SEO (search engine optimization) services, maybe I am exaggerating but it looked like about half of the participants are in that field.

Why are there so many SEO consultants? Well I can think of a few reasons. One, it is easy to get into, the investment is small. Two, with all the layoffs going around many people are looking to get into consulting and that meshes well with companies who are cutting their marketing and advertising expenses. But, the most important reason is that search is today almost everything.

Think about it, in the past when someone wanted to send you to their site, they would give you a url. Today they say, google for “xyz”‘ and you will see me. I have even heard radio ads where instead of a phone number to call, the commercial says google for “brand x”.

Well for that to work, you must be up on top. Using a good SEO service is the solution and the cost is low, very low in fact! So, yes there may be work for all those SEO experts, demand may be growing faster than supply.

BTW – if you want to contact me google for “voip reseller”, we are on top!

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Can you teach a telecom guy – software based communications?

On the tails of Broadsoft buying Sylantro and the great analysis by Thomas Howe and Jon Arnold, I would like to add an additional perspective.

There is no question that Broadsoft is the leading provider in their market. The big question in my mind is what the carriers do after they buy the Broadsoft platform. If I look at the carriers that I am familiar with the answer is not much. It seems that all they are looking for is to deploy the same ho-hum services at a lower price than their legacy systems. Nothing exciting.

If they are going the IP route why not take advantage of the tremendous possibilities that an IP platform brings with it? Look at what startups such as Fonolo, Iotum, Voxbone, Mobivox, Jajah, Jazinga and others are doing. What is the stopping the big guys doing the same on their IP platforms?

The answer may be in a conversation I had almost 2 years ago with Ken Camp the IP Communications analyst. I was invited to present The Flat Planet Phone Company at the Etel Launchpad. In my presentation I took the example of a small home business starting a web store on Yahoo! on Yahoo! the wizard takes you thru all the steps of building a store. There is only one thing missing – a 800 number. Every online store needs one, Yahoo! setups a store including inventory management, credit card billing, all the tools you need – except a 800 number!

So in the presentation I showed how Yahoo! could immediately provision a 80 number and set up a professional greeting and IVR for the new store in a matter of minutes. During the Etel conference I had the opportunity to brief a number of bloggers and journalists. One of them was Ken, who described our vision as revolutionary. My reaction was “hey anybody can do this” to which Ken replied, “At At&t we tried for years to do immediate provisioning and we did not succeed…”

If you think about it, Ken’s remark sums it up. Telecom companies have their way of doing things, buying an IP platform is not enough, The whole culture has to change. The mindset has to change. I see it every day with customers who come from traditional telecom companies and are unable to grasp the new terminology and methodology. One customer who has a SIP trunk with us with incoming numbers from multiple countries, constantly talks to me about sending out calls on the Spanish line or on the German line. Although I have explained to him many times that with IP there is no line , all calls go over the same SIP trunk, he still comes back with the same questions every few months. So I ask – Can you teach a telecom guy – software based communications?? That is the question!

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Om Malik celebrates his first birthday

Om MalikImage by ptufts via FlickrA year ago one of my favorite journalists who happens also to be a great guy, Om Malik, suffered a heart attack which almost ended his life. As a result Om made major changes to his lifestyle. When I say major I mean major. Om did not do minor adjustments. Instead he took the following steps

1. After a 40-Dunhills-a-day-habit for nearly 20 years, I stopped smoking.
2. No more cigars, either.
3. No drinking.
4. No red meat.
5. Caffeine, sugar, salt and all unhealthy foods are now banished from my diet.
6. I go to the gym every single day.

As Om wrote

Making such drastic changes wasn’t easy, but they offered me the best chance of staying alive — and 50 pounds and 12 months later, have clearly worked.

I recommend that you read his full post, What Om wrote should inspire all of us. Change is possible!

Thank you Om for a great post and may you celebrate many more years in good health!

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