Monday, February 04, 2008

SightSpeed Innovates -- Others Again Follow -- This Time With One-Click Web-Based Video Chat & Conferencing

Just the other day, J.A. Watson of ZDNet UK, an expert in the VoIP space (including IP video communications), blogged about a great "new" SightSpeed feature -- "My SightSpeed" -- which enables one-click web-based video chat and conferencing (i.e., absolutely no software download required).

J.A. underscored how incredibly useful this feature can be -- and, in particular, how "My SightSpeed" greatly simplifies the video chat/conferencing process by making it drop dead easy for others to participate. SightSpeeders simply email their personalized "My SightSpeed" web address to anyone with whom they would like to have a video chat/conference -- or they can embed this personalized URL to their social network profile or blog -- and empower others to "one-click" call them directly through their browser with no software download needed. And, importantly, "My SightSpeed" calls give users the full high quality SightSpeed experience -- it is not flash-based (like Tokbox and others).

The problem is that "My SightSpeed" is not new at all ... instead, as J.A. Watson points out, it is a grossly under-promoted, yet extremely powerful, SightSpeed feature. And, we here at SightSpeed are to blame for not calling more attention to it. You can bet that will change.

Uber-blogger Andy Abramson picked up on J.A.'s blog post (and my comments to it) and expanded upon that dialog to make a different, yet significant, point that uses "My SightSpeed" as an example -- his point being that "Me Too" companies frequently employ what he calls a "Me Copy" strategy to gain visibility and obtain financing for their companies. According to Andy, "Me Copy is the concept of taking an under exposed feature of a successful product and exploiting it as 'New' ..."

Our underexposed "My SightSpeed" one-click web-based video calling feature is a great example of what Andy talks about.

We at SightSpeed developed and introduced the world to one-click web-based video calling literally years ago via our "My SightSpeed" feature -- yet, virtually no one out there knows that because we failed to market it properly. It is virtually invisible -- buried in the FAQs in the Support section of our website. And, that is entirely our fault (and I accept full responsibility for that).

And, though it is SightSpeed that yet again innovated years ago with one-click web-based video calling via "My SightSpeed," others spotted the power of this feature -- and the invisibility of our marketing of it -- and essentially claimed it for themselves. In fact, that is the primary claim for some of these companies.

I have no "beef" with this of course (though I must confess that it "irks" me at times) -- this is simply good old-fashioned competition. New entrants in our market simply call more attention to the fact that the time has come for Internet video communications on a mass scale. And, ease of use is absolutely essential to capitalize on this fact -- something on which we are significantly focused in 2008 and beyond. One-click web-based video calling is so powerful because it is so incredibly easy -- and so incredibly easy to get others -- to use (especially now that virtually all new PCs and Macs contain embedded webcams).

But, lost amid the chatter of others is the fact that high quality and compelling features also matter -- and they matter a lot. And, while Tokbox and others are limited to flash (and the limited video quality thereof), the "My SightSpeed" feature instead is "fully loaded" -- with SightSpeed's superior award-winning 30 frame per second video quality (and perfect sync of video with voice, as well as no annoying delay). And, our new flash-based "SightSpeed Light" widget will offer significantly more utility as well by serving as an entry point to SightSpeed's industry-leading video quality and compelling feature set -- this is where our product portfolio approach really shines.

So, J.A. and Andy -- your points are well taken. We fully intend to raise the visibility of "My SightSpeed" significantly in the weeks ahead. J.A. points out the feature's great potential visibility -- and we agree wholeheartedly.

And, while this example of "My SightSpeed" demonstrates that we historically have not been the best marketeers (others can claim that mantle up to this point), we certainly have long been the innovators in our Internet video communications space. That is why our services win virtually all significant awards time and time again. And, we are committed to out-innovating others and bringing consumers and businesses the most compelling -- and easy to use -- video communications experiences going forward.

We also now have a world-class marketing team for the first time. So, I like our chances there as well ... :)

Last Gasps of Musicmatch to be Squelched by Yahoo! as It Looks to Shut Down Its "Music Unlimited" Service

Yahoo! plans to exit the online subscription music game soon by shutting down its "Music Unlimited" online subscription service. The service charged $8.99 per month to give users unlimited music from its vast library of licensed tracks. Yahoo! will migrate its subscribers (we don't know how many) to rival subscription service Rhapsody which is jointly owned by RealNetworks and Viacom's MTV.

This is personally a bit "sad" for me for a couple of reasons. First, I have long been a subscriber to the "Music Unlimited" service (and its precursor Musicmatch). And, second, Yahoo!'s shuttering of Music Unlimited will mark the last vestiges of Musicmatch, since Music Unlimited had incorporated many of the elements of Musicmatch (the pioneering music service it acquired in 2004). I served as President of Musicmatch from 2002-2004 and oversaw the licensing of all such tracks from the major labels.

I also am a believer in the power of the music subscription model -- and have become dependent on it. Subscriptions are a great way to discover music -- both old and new.

Farewell Musicmatch -- was great to know you!

Philanthropic Google CEO Schmidt Offers Yahoo! "Help" to Thwart Microsoft Bid -- a Rival Google Bid?

Google, always the philanthropic organization, offered "help" to Yahoo! to thwart Microsoft's recent $44.6 acquisition bid, according to today's The Wall Street Journal. The WSJ writes that Google's CEO Eric Schmidt called Yahoo!'s CEO Jerry Yang to offer any assistance he could to fight Microsoft' "hostile" takeover bid (Google's description of the deal; not Yahoo!'s description of the deal). That help may be quite helpful indeed -- sources say that Yahoo! is considering an alternative rival alliance with Google.

It is refreshing to see that Google only has Yahoo!'s best interests in mind ...

The game for Yahoo! is on!

Deal Near in Hollywood Writers' Strike?

According to The Wall Street Journal and several other sources, Hollywood writers and producers are near a deal that would end the writers' 3 month old strike that has crippled Hollywood. The primary issue, as I have long reported, is the writers' share of online revenues generated by their works.x