Archive for the ‘IM’ Category

Zaptxt now sends alerts to Skype too

March 3, 2007

All feeds are not created equal. For the better ones you use Zaptxt and for the others you fall back to regular desktop or web readers. Zaptxt has been delivering posts and comments RSS in form of IM alerts to GTalk, MSN, Gizmo, LJ Talk, and Jabber supported clients for the past year. To add to this comprehensive delivery engine Zaptxt has also begun delivering RSS alerts to another very large community of users – Skype, a fast moving community who would just love this integration.

There are few other startups in this space but as compared to them Zaptxt’s strength lies in its ability to combine feeds and monitor the set of feeds for keywords or phrases. Also users who are just starting out in the RSS world and want to stick to their regular tools like IM and mobile phones, they can use the tag and search topic clouds for feed discovery and start getting alert for those feeds through instant messages and SMSes. Last year Zaptxt had also launched its publisher program that besides providing the ZapTXT widget for blog owners also provides analytics service. Publishers can get unique aggregated data searches performed on publisher content, delivery mechanisms used (denoting urgency), hit ratios that its users got against keywords, what posts had high comment monitoring. Another metric that you should analyze besides what FeedBurner is giving out.

Anothr(only Skype) and Feedcrier are couple of other services in the same space.



Mabber relaunches; How about interacting with users now?

February 28, 2007

Yesterday Mabber launched a new release of its mobile and web based instant messaging platform. New features include a widget that you can place on your blog and enable people to connect with you while you are on Mabber web or mobile. Nothing new about this feature since it is already offered by few other startups including Wambo, and Meebo. Besides this Mabber has added support for getting alerts for RSS feeds through instant messages and also upgraded its mobile client. I am not sure what new the mobile client upgrade really offers since there are very few details on the site. Even this area is not without major competition that now includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Fring, Nimbuzz, Jargong, and few more.

Earlier on I had tried creating an account at Mabber which failed ’cause of some dumb database reason. Emailed Mabber team, since I was not able to post that on their forum which in the first place requires a Mabber Id. Mabber team never cared to reply, but did get the signup part working. Checking now, besides other things I think RSS alerts feature needs some work as it totally lacks notification support of what it is doing when you try adding a new feed. Even otherwise Mabber site gives a feel of ghost town, with almost no real interaction between the product team and the users either on the blog or in the support forums. Would need much than a working product to get users to hop on.

Update: As it seems right now from Nico’s comment below that he did reply to my email, which I never got. Email charge dropped for now 🙂


Skype on mobile enabler iSkoot raises another $7 million

February 23, 2007


iSkoot has raised another $7 million dollars for its Skype calling from mobile venture. This was series B round of funding for the Cambridge, MA, based startup, which was led by Charles River Ventures and includes previous investors Khosla Ventures, ZG Ventures and Jesselson Capital. It was only near the end of last year that iSkoot had raised $6.2 million in its series A round of funding. As part of the investment Charles River Ventures general partner,  Izhar Armony, will join iSkoot’s board of directors.

iSkoot had made big news last year when it hooked up with UK mobile carrier 3 to provide Skype based calling plan for its X-Series handsets. As part of the subscription plan, X-Series customers will be able to make unlimited Skype calls(finer print: 5,000 minutes each month. Anything above- account gets suspended) from their Nokia N73. From technology perspective, iSkoot is not really doing the funky voice over data network stuff like Fring. Instead data network aids in browsing part, while calls still go through voice network. Also N73 is not a WiFi enabled device, which might make the plan not so favorable among consumers really looking for cheaper calling options.


FONbucks, CrossLoop local, vMix+NBC, Skype’s wireless plans

February 22, 2007

FON: The worldwide WiFi community enabler in on the move again. Today FON launched WiFi connection manager for Symbian based phones. This will enable FONeros to easily locate and connect to the FONspots from their Nokia E60, E61, E70, N80, N91, N92, N93 y N95. Another fun partnership that FON announced is with Starbucks. People living above or near a Starbucks can get a FON router for free to being streaming the signal to Starbucks patrons and start earning some real bucks. Even though universal WiFi is a dream located light years away, I like the energy and enthusiasm displayed by the FON team.

CrossLoop: Remember the free remote access client from CrossLoop I had written about last year and expressed my doubts about how long the service will remain free? After exchanging few messages with Mrinal Desai at CrossLoop, it seems they are really serious about maintaining the free version while adding premium plan with additional features pretty soon. In the meantime CrossLoop team is cranking out localized version of the client which will be available in 21 different languages from 27th Feb. Supported languages will now include Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, German, Dutch, Portuguese, and Hindi among others.

vMix + NBC = Friends ? At least that is what the vMix site says. Did vMix sign a deal with NBC off late? Will need to dig more into this. In case you have forgotten, vMix had raised undisclosed amount funds in its second round last month. Traffic graphs go allover Alexa/Quantcast/Compete show a bit of uptick for this month, but stagnant for the previous 6 months.

Skype: The IM voice calling king is petitioning FCC to take down the rule that enables wireless carriers to prohibit use of Skype type voice service on their networks, according to Ars Technica. Skype basically wants to get the 1968 Carterfone decision, which currently enables use of  non-carrier provided devices be hooked onto the cable TV and Internet networks at home, be extended over to the wireless world. Idea is good, but FCC loves Verizon, At&t, and all. Good luck with that. Anyway, why doesn’t Skype build a mobile client for real that doesn’t eat the network and phone, and than try spreading the word around in Europe before moving to US?


Jargong mobile IM will Twitter soon

February 21, 2007

Jargong is another Europe based startup launched late last year working on developing mobile IM app. Jargong lets you login and chat with GTalk, MSN, AIM, ICQ, and Jabber buddies from your mobile phone. Nothing new in that. Number of startups are already doing that among other things. However Jargong  is trying to go beyond the standard IM space by integrating photo search/upload/view/sharing and RSS feed support into the mobile client.

                                    Another smart part of the service that will be released in the next version, is the integration with Twitter and Jaiku. When the feature goes live, once you connect to your Twitter account with Jargong your status message from Twitter will become your IM status and any changes to the IM status will be reflected onto Twitter. Definitely does cut down on status update at least for 1 application when you need to leave in hurry. From the technology perspective this particular feature is not difficult to implement, but having more such integrations with other social networking platforms can make mobile startups like Jargong stand apart. 

As for device support, Jargong primarily supports Sony Ericssons right now with support for Symbian 60s coming up in the next release.



Random thoughts- Zlango, CPI, Google RSS plans

February 20, 2007

Zlango: Let me tell you a story that I read in high school in India. I think the title was “Table is a Table”. I might be wrong on the title and even the exact details since this was about 13 years back. Anyway the story- There used to be this old morose guy living all by himself, never talking to his neighbors, or friends, or anyone. Obviously he feels bored and wants to do something new. After quite bit of pondering he comes up with an interesting new plan in which he will call every object with another objects name. So he starts calling table as chair, chair as bed, bed as sofa, sofa as plate, plate as bowl, and the list continues. And you know what, soon enough he is trained in the language and really-really happy on his accomplishment of inventing a new language all by himself. Feeling that he should get the word out in the street he goes out to talk with people, and soon realizes that people don’t understand his new language. So he tells to himself – “never mind, lets get back to the old boring ways”. To his dismay he finds out that he has forgotten his old language itself and there is no way he can tell people about his situation.

The above story makes me think about Zlango. Icons are cool. Idea is great. But I think it is too much of hassle on either side to learn and interpret what is being said. Being one sided expert will make you feel like the man in the above story. Aside from that, one new and interesting calculation point that comes to my mind is – Cost per Icon. Zlango till date has received $18 million in funding for its 200 icons. This gives us a CPI of $90K, which is a very rough estimate, but this is what Zlango has in terms of IP. Picasso, Dali et al might be turning in their graves right now 😉

Google RSS: Google giving out feed subscription statistics for Google IG and Google Reader makes me think that the search giant has no immediate plans around building FeedBurner alternative. I wonder what the reasons are behind this move. Also the Google Adsense blocks for RSS feeds have been under private beta testing for around 1.5 years now. Do the internal Google forecasts indicate that blogs/RSS is not a big enough platform to go after?

GTalk2VoIP gets GTalk, Yahoo, and MSN talking

February 19, 2007

In a small sort of a victory in the IM and Voice world, GTalk2VoIP team has got GTalk, Yahoo IM, and MSN talking with each other. This is other words means that you can call your Yahoo buddies from GTalk, and all the other possible combinations. Off course the best integration is possible only with GTalk where you can add an individual ID for each of your Yahoo/MSN buddies and initiate the calls. In the Yahoo and MSN/Live messenger clients you get only one buddy from GTalk2VoIP to start talking, which gives rise to all kind of limitations. Consider cross chat with your buddies located on each of these clients. This is possible however is bit of a pain on Yahoo and MSN clients where you need to give commands like “IM Hello Billy!”. On the whole a good idea that would face difficulties in terms of broader user acceptance ’cause of lack of standards based implementation by Yahoo and MSN teams.

Update: Just wanted to add that presence has not been implemented in this release. So while calling your buddies on the other network, you are not really sure if they are there or not. Personally I think this is a must have feature.


Is eBuddy mobile really sticky?

February 13, 2007

Last year I had written about eBuddy securing first round of funding. At that time count for unique users hitting eBuddy mobile was 4 million. Approximately 3.5 months since that announcement, the number stands at 5 million. The number and growth rate look impressive for sure. But I am not sure how many of them are sticking back to use it on the regular basis. Personally I would like to take a peek at the number of chat sessions initiated every day by each of these users and duration of those chat sessions. And I pretty sure that number won’t be high ‘cause mobile chat application like eBuddy is a pain to use.

Unlike GoogleTalk on BB or Windows Live messenger on mobile, which provide very fine native integration with the mobile OS, eBuddy is a WAP based application. Basically you pull up a chat box, write a message, hit send, and wait for the screen to refresh. Another screen refresh gets the message from your buddy on the other end. And the cycle continues. A very tedious way to get your point across.

I know it is not easy develop native support given the huge number of devices out there, but if you don’t do it Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo will get it done themselves on a larger number of devices as compared to what they have done till now. Right now there is an opportunity to get this right on the mobile space instead of squabbling over web-IM, which can grow only so much in comparison. IM aside, working on any mobile application can easily connect you with the global audience that is experiencing very high growth numbers every month especially in India and China. Getting your product ready this year would place you at just the right time when 3G hits India, which is projected to have 500 million subscribers by 2010.

Coming back to eBuddy, they do claim to have a mobile J2ME client in works. Would for sure look forward to try it out.



Zlango: iconic talk gets $12 million

February 12, 2007

Zlango is an interesting idea. Reminds of stone-age engraving found in caves. Instead of writing regular messages over email or IM, you express yourself with icons. Great idea if you want to get your point across to someone who doesn’t understand your language. While the idea sounds cool, let’s look at a similar scenario we have in coding. You can come up with hundreds of one-line shell scripts that can do lot more than what a regular 1,000 line code would do. Unfortunately not everyone writes such one-liners in his/her daily life, ‘cause of the complexity of writing it the first place and than understanding it at later stage of code review (and thinking – Did I write this s___). Similarly, Zlango users learning to interpret words from icons is the key. How many really want to do it has to been seen.

Anyway, coming to the funding news, Accel Partners and Benchmark Capital participated in the $12 million funding round of the Israeli Company. Zlango had earlier raised $6 million from Brooks-Keret Private Investors Group and private investors, including Aviv Venture Capital managing partner Yoav Chelouche and Adv. Eran Ilan.




Wambo launches Chat-box widget for Blogs and more

February 6, 2007

I have been tracking Wambo for past couple of months and have been impressed with their confidence to carry on in the one of the toughest area to grow- client based Instant Messenger. In case you haven’t heard about Wambo, its IM client can connect you to GTalk, Yahoo, AIM, and MSN networks all in one place for free(unlike Trillian). Wambo has also built a group messaging feature with complete message history that enables to you to carry on discussions whenever you log back into your account. In addition to these features, Wambo claims that its speedbooster technology allows photo and video files transfers at a rate10-100x times faster than any other comparable client.

The new feature released by Wambo today would definitely spread the word around faster for them. Wambo’s new chat-box widget enables people to IM you without you having to add them to your contacts list. You can embed the code in your blog or MySpace or Facebook or use it in your email signature to get chatting anonymously. Since clicking on the widget or link brings up a Wambo chat widow, people on the other don’t have to install Wambo client. As for privacy, you can give out your actual username or use one of the anonymous URL generated by Wambo.

I think Wambo chatbox is a much better option compared to MeeboMe widget which also serves a similar purpose. All the messages at Wambo get delivered to you in the plain old IM message popup way, while at Meebo new messages sometimes go unnoticed or you might unexpectedly get logged off and miss messages.

Lets chat on Wambo!