Monday, July 20, 2009 : How to get the best toll free numbers

Businesses require a very easy way to communicate with their customers. Toll free phone numbers are an essential tool that are used to get new business as well as provide service to existing customers in an effective manner. I would like to highlight here about the options available for setting up a toll-free number for your businesses and merits of these options.

The first option is to get your toll free number from a toll-free number provider with instant signup and activation. Some of the toll-free providers do have a nice bouquet of services including vanity numbers and a wide choice of numbers to choose from. Combined with hassle-free billing, pay as you go packages and minimal contracts, it has become very easy for even small businesses to provide their service using toll-free numbers. The toll-free numbers provided by these providers are universal in the 1-800-nnn format. I will elaborate what this means when I explain the second option. Very often we find that these toll-free providers also provide virtual PBX services which can also be availed to drive better efficiencies in backoffice work.
The second option is available in some countries like India, where you can sign up for a toll-free number with telephony providers. The hitch in this plan is that you can call the toll-free number from a phone on the same network. You will have to provide alternate numbers for other networks which is not what you want. The numbers available might also not be in the universal 1-800 format. Since your customers are universal, it will be a better option to provide 800 toll free numbers which have greater acceptance. There is a trend to adopt the services provided by specialized PBX operators, as companies endeavour to provide a unified cost-effective interface to their customers. : Submit your ideas to change the face of broadband

Have an idea for how to expand high-speed Internet access across the United States? Here's your chance to have your voice heard.

Under the terms of the recent
economic stimulus package, the Federal Communications Commission must deliver to Congress a National Broadband Plan by February 2010. Several weeks ago, we laid out Google's vision for how to make broadband Internet available and affordable for every American — and hundreds of others have already submitted comments of their own.

The FCC has
called for "maximum civic engagement" in developing a broadband strategy, and we're hoping to help them to achieve just that.

We've teamed up with the
New America Foundation to launch a Google Moderator page where you can submit and vote on ideas for what you think the Commission should include in its National Broadband Plan. Two weeks from now we'll take the most popular and most innovative ideas and submit them to the official record at the FCC on your behalf.

Google and the New America Foundation agree that public participation in this process is critical. Expanding access to broadband has the potential to transform communities across the country, spark economic growth, and
restore American competitiveness. Now that the Commission has officially opened this proceeding, and with a new Chairman at the helm, we think it's time to give people the opportunity to learn about the issue and to weigh in with their thoughts. And as the process continues to unfold at the FCC, we'll keep you informed of additional ways to share your views and voice your ideas to the agency.

So do you have any good ideas? Submit them today on
Google Moderator — and you just might help change the face of broadband in the United States.

Official Google Blog: Submit your ideas to change the face of broadband

Saturday, July 18, 2009 : Is Nokia losing way or holding sway?

They say that all good things have an ending sometime. Its in the collective corporate deja vu of seeing the big behemoths slowly give way to different powerful pretenders who change the market dynamics in their favor and changing once iconic brands with absolute recall to just one other struggling brand. Any number of instances can be given from Kodak to Sony, Yahoo, Motorola and now may be Nokia.
From the indication of things, Nokia is slowly losing the status as the top phone maker to strong contenders like Apple and Samsung. Nokia's business model of simple phones and high-end consumer phones which was successful for a long time got challenged with smart phones from Blackberry first and then the iconic iPhone from Apple. Nokia was for long not doing well in the North American market and that they could not break into eventually let Apple to sweep the market with iPhone. With iPhone's success, other non-traditional powerful players like Google got into the picture now making it even more tougher for Nokia to make a mark. 
Nokia is being increasingly driven to consolidate its China and India markets, which will be very crucial for the Finnish giant in the coming quarters. The major threat for Nokia in these markets is that 3G will soon be available and high ARPU customers would be going in for new handsets with more innovative features like social apps and games. Nokia has to mainstream a lot of good things that it is known for like its beta lab apps in its phones and build a nice revenue model which shares attractively with content providers. Apple has done it more than once before and the results were only good. In the emerging markets it is still Nokia's sway and it will take a lot of effort to build distribution channels for the Apples and Blackberrys. Once they start trying ( Blackberry has started earnestly for the consumer pocket ), it will be even tougher for Nokia to maintain its hold. Nokia has to rediscover its nimbleness of old, and not get weighed down by its bigness.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 : Surge from Nokia a social tool

Nokia has announced its new phone for the U.S. market with the launch of Surge. Surge is built for users who stay online longer and do a lot of texting in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The phone has got flash support built in as most modern phones do enabling watching of embedded YouTube videos.

You can take pictures using its 2.0 MP camera with 4x digital zoom and share it easily in Facebook, Twitter and a lot of social networking sites with the JuiceCaster application coming along with the Surge.

The form factor which is boxy with smooth rounded corners is in line with those of the IPhone and G1.

The Surge will be available through the AT&T network and has the first ever video share facility using which users can share a live video while inside a call. Nokia expects to cash in on the summer season for its Surge. 

Traditionally weak in the U.S. market, this is Nokia's strong statement to address the gap.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Browse the world with Layar : Augmented reality through your phone

Layar has introduced an application in Europe which provides a unique service called augmented reality. When you see through the camera, you can see the image of whatever objects like houses, restaurants and shops are there and on top of these images useful information like the distance, availability and price information is overlaid

Layar lets you browse through different layers of information and filters can be set to drill down to your specific requirements.

Layar is a free download for users and the businesses have to pay Layar to get their information on the application. Currently Layar is available on the phones running Android.

Thursday, July 9, 2009 : Pretty useful everywhere

It could be the first experience of internet in Uganda. SMS search is a very useful tool in everyday situations, everywhere. In India, I have been using Google's SMS search which was launched sometime back, for such things as train availability, ticket (PNR) status and the like and found it to be so handy.
I have tested it even with finding a physician and it was spot on.

Having a simple app and great content makes a great solution. Where I am using it, the Google SMS service needs us to send a text message with the query to a non-premium phone number ( without the shortcodes used to commercial services which charge more per SMS sent ) . Long search results are split into multiple messages that can be requested one after the other by sending a simple message as reply ("Next") .

Very handy as it is in the limited medium of SMS, the speed and ubiquity are what makes the Google SMS service a Swiss Army knife in most situations. Taking it to Uganda is a challenge in terms of getting quality content and this story (link below) is worth a read for it.

Official Google Blog: Designing useful mobile services for Africa

Wednesday, July 8, 2009's take : Android vs. Chrome OS

Official Google Blog: Introducing the Google Chrome OS
This is a bit of surprise to see Android overlooked as a netbook OS. There was very little time to speculate with Android what with some netbook vendors already readying it as a netbook platform and here comes Chrome OS from Google directly and I'm just left thinking if Chrome was so big to be greater than a browser. Well, the two letters OS might make it an entirely different thing from the browser.

Chrome "OS" is a pun on open source which is what its going to be with Google's announcement to that effect. Android too is open source with some nice touches to the licensing like the device makers not mandated to share their tweaks of the OS. It suits the device vendors to enable easy adoption of the OS which has been a success with the rapidly increasing use of Android on phones. How will Chrome OS be in terms of its licensing? It does not make a difference however, but imagine a scenario where a lot of vendors make a lot of different flavors of Chrome OS to give themselves the edge. It would give a respite from having to choose one interface and one set of "apps". We know its the way it works on phones and cradle our Nokias, Samsungs. Motorolas and SonyEricssons. There are a lot of things going against this way of things in case of PCs. In case of phones there is a lot of difference in the hardware that goes in and the phone vendors do break a sweat in configuring the best hardware set for a given cost. On PCs we expect the same set of features from the netbook to the workstation that gives less chances of innovation than a phone. By design a PC is a lot less personal than a phone, but still we don't how the netbook story is gonna go from now. In the meanwhile somebody think of better ways to enter text and point in netbooks -for my big fingers!