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Most new mobile messenger apps are tied to age old oligopolies

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Name one popular messenger app that has launched in last 2 years that does not ask you for your mobile phone number when signing up. You will be hard pressed to do so. Ok, I might be exaggerating a wee bit but I think you get the point.

If we think about this for a minute it starts to sound a bit odd. New messaging apps mandate that you have a mobile number where you can receive a SMS message so you can join their OTT (Over The Top) community? That’s a bit weird isn’t it? Why not ask them to sign in with identities not tied to a cell phone? Email is certainly more prolific than connected cell phones, right?

So, why is this?

Onboarding is the process used to describe bringing a new user from the discovery process to an active user inside the app/service.

Our smartphone OSs (android, iOS) have made it very easy for devs to take the user’s mobile number and entire address book and upload that to their cloud, which most apps do today. Once in the cloud that data can be used to connect you with others that have done the same thing. Depending on your level of paranoia this can get a bit creepy or you have simply accepted it as the new normal.

To replicate the simplicity of this onboarding process in other forms is not so easy and not near as effective, it would seem.

Other developers defer to the largest social networks as a method for authenticating users, we have done this for our reference apps. Although, there have been plenty of reasons why users may not be interested in signing into your app using their social identity; privacy issues, hijacked accounts to name a couple. Also, why would you as a developer hand over your entire user base to a social network?

Virality is how easily the app spreads through the network.  If the virality of your app hits a point where users are simply adding the app to keep up with their buddies, network effect kicks in, but that generally does not happen for the majority of the apps produced.

SMS messages have a much higher open rate than email and other forms of messaging, for various reasons, which makes SMS a great way to send app invites. It’s also dead easy for the app vendor to enable. If you are on a mobile phone, the dev need not come up with a 3rd party system to send invites, they just use your phone’s own capabilities to send the invites. Less expense for them, open rates increase due to the fact that it looks like its coming from you.

Social messaging has abysmal open rates. Much of the time Social Messages relies on notifications and push messages that are usually ignored or turned off by the user, current company included.

So what options do devs have when creating a messenger app or messenger feature in a app (text messaging, real-time voice or video) where we do not want to rely on phone companies for that initial base of users?

Why not a combination of all the above?

The future lies within federated identity models that allow your users to sign in with whatever ID they prefer and communicate without being pigeon holed into handing over their phone number if they do not feel comfortable doing so.

Developers have their reasons for choosing one ID model versus another, some reasons I have captured in this article. Thankfully, there is no reason to force users into making choices they are not comfortable making. Supporting multiple IDs in a federated model that will allow your LinkedIn authenticated user to communicate with the Phone number authenticated users, exists today.

Imagine a world  where devs can tie custom IDs (your own 3rd party ID model) to social and traditional IDs like phone numbers to electrify a mobile communications paradise. A world where we need not hand the keys of the entire user base over to a social network.

Yep, its real, if you want more information, send us a note we’ll be happy to fill you in.

 

PS. If you feel compelled to weigh in on Net Neutrality and safeguarding the Open Internet, its not too late. Do so here: Email Chairman Tom Wheeler at the FCC, some of the recent comments of the more than 650,000 comments already received.

Hookflash Advances Enterprise Real-time Communications for Web and Mobile with ORTC

Vancouver BC, Canada (PRWEB) November 01, 2013

Hookflash joins over 20 technology companies and thought leaders from around the globe this Sunday, November 3, 2013, to review “ORTC” the new Object RTC API (Object Real-Time Communications Application Programming Interface). Hookflash Chief Architect Robin Raymond will provide an introduction and overview of the new ORTC API, as well as demos and sample application reviews. This event will be streamed live: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ortc-live.

“The work that Hookflash is doing on the Object Real-time Communications API (ORTC) positions them at the forefront of WebRTC,” comments Microsoft executive Albert Kooiman, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Lync. “ORTC is a very appealing approach for developers looking to produce interoperable WebRTC applications quickly, by presenting a simpler and more familiar Javascript Object model that leverages the skills of mainstream web developers, instead of the more complex Offer/Answer approach. To see open source code that enables this is real progress. We believe that ORTC (and the establishment of the W3C ORCA Community Group to evolve it) is a major step forward and we support Hookflash in their efforts.”

The W3C Object RTC (ORCA) Community Grouphttp://www.w3.org/community/orca/ was formed in July 2013 to develop an alternative JavaScript API for real-time communications by a group of people looking for alternatives to SDP Offer/Answer in WebRTC. The Community Group published its first draft specification on October 11, 2013.

Hookflash Co-founder, Erik Lagerway explains “Microsoft has expressed concerns regarding the current WebRTC specification. If the current WebRTC specification isn’t included in Internet Explorer, it creates a massive gap in the Enterprise and global marketplace. Hookflash is providing both ORTC, WebRTC and mobile compatibility in Hookflash toolkits to deliver Voice, Video and Messaging without plugins to Internet Explorer (assuming integration of ORTC), Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, iOS and android. This makes Hookflash the first company to fill that gap for Enterprise, developers and consumers. But it doesn’t end there,” says Lagerway, “The optimal solution for web developers and customers will be to have all the browser vendors integrate support for ORTC directly. Since ORTC supports both Object and SDP Offer/Answer models, everyone wins.”

Hookflash will be making another announcement on Sunday during the ORTC Walkthroughhttp://blog.webrtc.is/2013/10/28/ortc-walk-through-ietf-88/, regarding the availability of source code for ORTC/WebRTC implementations. This event will be streamed live: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ortc-live.

Hookflash enables real-time social, mobile, and web communications with “Open Peer” for integration of voice, video, messaging with federated identity into world leading software, enterprise, applications, networks, mobile and computing devices. Hookflash and Open Peer are trademarks of Hookflash Inc.

Developers can register at (http://fly.hookflash.me) to start using the Open Peer SDKs today.

For more information and an Open Peer/WebRTC White Paper please visit Hookflash http://hookflash.com.

Press Contact: Trent Johnsen
Hookflash
Press(at)hookflash(dot)com
855-HOOKFLASH (466-5352) ext 1

How Telco’s fit into the WebRTC, OTT Communications equation

In recent discussions about Open Peer with analysts and at WebRTC Conferences I have been asked the question; How Telco’s fit into the WebRTC, OTT (over-the-top) Communications equation?

My views on this issue are grounded in economics and history. First, the history. In 2001 I joined a startup defined as a BLEC, (Building Local Exchange Carrier) doing very early work with VoDSL (Voice over DSL over ATM). The business case was that voice services could be delivered more efficiently over broadband connections resulting in enhanced services for customers and profits for the business.

By 2003 our focus on VoDSL was transitioning to a “new” protocol, VoIP (Voice over IP). I have distinct memories of countless meetings with Telco engineers and executives along with analyst and industry articles basically singing the same tune – VoIP is a geek’s technology, it will never be ready for prime time, will never be successfully commercialized. This is blood in the water to an entrepreneur’s shark instinct and we, along with other early players such as Vonage and Skype, and many of today’s most successful telecom equipment providers, went all in on VoIP. Today, VoIP and SIP are key Telco technology standards, now that they’ve been validated by early stage, risk takers. That leads me to the economics part of the response.

VoIP has been successfully adopted over the past decade simply because it has proven a better, less expensive way of delivering voice services. The early validation of VoIP by players like Skype, Vonage and a host of others doesn’t necessarily mean those guys were smarter than the Telco’s. It means they were operating under different management responsibilities and risk/reward paradigms. The executive management and boards of Telcos are hired and paid NOT to take risks. They run utilities owned by pension funds and are tasked to provide reasonable, conservative returns with as little risk as possible. They are not paid to innovate. That’s the domain of the other end of the risk/reward spectrum, startups and entrepreneurs.

So, How will Telco’s fit into the WebRTC, OTT Communications equation? History and economics indicate that they will ultimately embrace WebRTC and OTT completely.  How do we know? Skype, the king of OTT communications today was once a geek’s technology and WebRTC obviously is today, but, WebRTC and OTT clearly provide enhanced services at reduced costs, quite simply, a better, easier, less expensive way of doing things. Economic history clearly indicates technology with these attributes succeeds and is widely adopted. The Open Peer software we build at our small, young technology company, Hookflash,  provides higher quality HD video, and wideband audio sessions over reasonable quality broadband connections (wireline or wireless) than PSTN/equipment based solutions, at a tiny fraction of the cost. It also takes a unique new approach to web identity and connecting on IP networks, see Identity Federation.

Open Peer software also directly integrates with other software and applications including enterprise directories, social media, ERP and CRM which will add untold value in productivity, and eliminate the ongoing need and costs associated with PSTN connections and telecom equipment infrastructure. (And yes, it’s shortsighted to ask, what about features like voice mail or ACD?) Messaging is the new ringtone and exciting new features will emerge in Real-Time Communications via WebRTC and mobile to replace other traditional telephony features as computers in their various forms, smartphones, tablets and desktops (and even televisions) continue to replace telephones.

Progressive Telco’s are already launching OTT services such as Telefonica’s O2 Tu Go and British Telecoms’ SmartTalk. UK Analysts Vision Mobile produced an excellent White Paper (sponsored by Ericsson) on Telco strategy for OTT: The Telco Innovation Toolbox.

How Telco’s ultimately fit remains to be seen but here’s my take:

– the majority of communications will migrate to OTT, (essentially meaning all IP) due to superior economics and manageability – telcos will be swept along

– Many Telco’s may wind up positioned one layer back from most customer/subscribers finding their optimal opportunities in providing critical broadband capacity and quality for the growth of OTT and WebRTC services in an all IP era.

–  adoption of OTT and WebRTC will happen more rapidly than VoIP did as customer adoption cycles continue to shorten replacing today’s hybrid IP/PSTN connectivity with all IP solutions. Microsoft Lync is a good example of this kind of temporary hybrid solution. I’d suggest Oracle’s recent $2 billion investment in Acme Packet is a leading indicator of the integration that will occur in an all IP communications marketplace.

– Telco’s will ultimately focus on their competitive advantage as infrastructure providers and benefit as growth in over-the-top services drives bandwidth demand

Telco topline revenue may decline as they transition from traditional subscriber revenues but margins and business stability will improve as Telcos provide enhanced broadband services including speed, capacity, Quality of Service, and security. Telco’s will thrive providing the foundational backbone for OTT services and WebRTC in the new growth era of integrated real-time communications on the web.

 


by Trent Johnsen

Enterprise Identity Federation

We have been receiving quite a few inbound calls/emails/tweets/msgs recently around using Open Peer for identity federation in the Enterprise.

Open Peer identity federation & lookup service (part of Hookflash Cloud Services) really shines when dropped into an enterprise application. Open Peer was built to be neutral in the world of Identities. This BYOID (Bring Your Own ID) approach is somewhat unique and allows us to match IDs across social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook etc.) and enterprise technologies such as LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) which is leveraged heavily in Microsoft deployments. Open Peer also bridges more generic ID types like email & phone numbers so Enterprise users can use other Open Peer services (Voice, Video, Text) to communicate more freely, in almost any Enterprise application. We actually do not create directories of our own per se, in this respect we are a service that finds and connects peers using common ID points.

If you want to know more about how Hookflash can help your Enterprise (or your Enterprise customers) enjoy hassle-free Identity Federation and OTT (Over-The-Top) – Voice, Video and Text, drop us a line.