Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blogospheric re-entry

Well, mega-uber value readers, I'm back for real now, and hunkered down for a busy autumn, during which I promise to endeavor to post more frequently and interestingly to both this bloglet and the somewhat neglected Chaotica. As I warned before I went away, I knew something major would happen while I was unwired, and indeed there was no shortage of interesting news, most of it predictably coming from outside EuroTelcoLand:

Google/eBay: I don't know how surprising this deal really was, given the click-to-call obsession of the past year and the efforts Google has been making towards achieving universal interoperability with other IM clients. I have for some time been of the suspicion that Skype would be forced at some point to pursue such an arrangement, though the official line has been that interoperability would be driven by user demand, which was reportedly not strong. Then again, what we have here is an agreement to "explore interoperability between Skype and Google Talk via open standards to enable text chat and online presence." Not the whole hog, but a step in an interesting direction. Andy makes an interesting observation about Skype becoming an alternative, communications-centric browser, which I thinks jibes well with some comments made by Niklas Zennstrom at VON Stockholm, to the effect that Skype has value as a conduit/enabler for other applications. This is going to run and run.

I reckon more than one telco music download product team hastily updated their CVs upon the revelation of Universal Music's deal with SpiralFrog. I am skeptical that the formula will work (DRM was made to be cracked, and there is no shortage of WMA conversion software available), but then again if we see another major label jumping on board maybe it will grow teeth.

I could go on and on about the fascinating developments around YouTube, Goople, etc., but the point is that telco newsflow continues to be pretty turgid by comparison:

  • While the global VoIM players engage in an ever-changing alliance exercise resembling a game of Twister, on the ropes, in the corner swinging wildly, BT counters with a me-too VoIM client notably not co-branded with Yahoo! (the fine print alone is enough to make the Skype or Gizmo user titter with contempt).
  • If you can imagine what the word "Duh" sounds like heard through a stifled yawn, then you can imagine my reaction to the Vodafone Belgian retreat. This is step one on my long-established roadmap to a slimmer, trimmer Vodafone, and I also expect a Swiss-shaped hole in the global domination map by Christmas. And, once again, despite all the "asset-lite" rhetoric, I fully expect some broadband acquisitions will follow.
  • VDSL T-Day came and went in Germany, with the European Commission using some strong language and also urging a fast-track to naked DSL. Read T-Regs' excellent overview.
  • Dick Notebaert of Qwest wants to protect the hapless consumer from the evils of net neutrality. If anyone can translate his comments into a language I can understand please send your version along.

So, compare and contrast: expansion, risk-taking, innovation versus regulation, retreat and paranoia. God am I glad to be back in EuroTelcoLand!!!!

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