Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Earth to Digium....

It was interesting to read today that Digium is partnering up with to "improve and commercialize the embedded Java softphone created by Digium engineers."

I confess that as a writer I'm fascinated with this press release, which is one of the finest examples of obfuscation that has come my way in a long time. It will surely find a well-deserved place in a writing class as a 'how not to do it' example.

OK, back to business. Here's the explanation of what precisely "improve and commercialize" means here:

" gives Web users the opportunity to leverage person-to-person (or person-to-group) speech within the context of a Website" – commonly known as a conversation -- "increasing its traffic and stickiness by delivering worry-free, live voice chat opportunities."

But wait, there's more: "What makes different is that Web users are not required to download any software, surrender personal information, or even use a phone."

Duh? Exactly how do you make a phone call without a phone? Oh, with your headset! When was the last time your 85 year-old grandmother made a phone call with a headset? I thought so.

Clearly the PhoneFromHere team, UK-based Westhawk Ltd., is made up of visitors from the planet Remulak. If you think I'm being facetious, consider this from the corporate website: "Our research has shown that the web is evolving into a social environment. People like to talk." Really? Let's consume vast quantities…

However, we must take note when the company that gave birth to Asterisk decides that something is important – regardless of how badly they write. And the message here is that integrating the phone call into the website – or any other -- interaction is where the action is now.

But there are many players in this space, with a better command of earthling-speak than BoldCall, eStara, IfByPhone, LivePerson, Mexuar, RingCentral…And that's just for starters.

The important point is: What's your business objective?

Letting online gamers chat with each other (although, as the parent of one, I can tell you that if 17 year-old gamers wanted to actually talk to each other they would call each other up on their cell phones) is a different goal than making it a no-brainer for people who need an electrician now to schedule a service call.

In other words, it’s the goal, not the journey.

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