ITExpo Photo Highlights

Never a dull moment at the ITExpo last week, and as per my earlier post today, here are some highlights of goings-on I caught outside the Smart Grid Summit. I'll preface this by tipping my hat to Rich Tehrani and his 24-7 team for putting on another successful ITExpo. More importantly - and as noted more extensively in a previous post - TMC continues to be open to new ideas for making the Expo a richer experience as well as reaching new audiences.

I'm very appreciative of the support they've shown for our Smart Grid Summit, and no doubt my cohorts feel the same for the other co-located events run under their tent, namely 4GWE, M2M, the Cloud Summit and Startup Camp. From what I can tell, all were successful, and I'm sure all of these will be back bigger and better this October for the LA ITExpo. With that said, here are a few photos to give you a flavor for what I mean.

Rich Tehrani kicking off the ITExpo keynotes

Rich hosting the lunch time panel exploring the implications of the Avaya/Nortel deal

Perhaps the sleeper event of the week - Larry Lisser's Telecom Startup Bootcamp. A bit like American Idol - here are the judges who gave their feedback after each startup pitch. The room was packed, which says a lot considering the event took place Thursday night after a full day of ITExpo activity.

Shai Berger of Fonolo during his pitch. I had mixed feelings about the pitches I saw, but they all had interesting ideas for sure. Shai shares his thoughts on his blog, which in turn takes you to Andy Abramson's blog, both of which are good reads. Like Andy, I have a vested interest in Fonolo, so I'll leave it at that for now.

Next stop - the show floor. Not as big as in the past, but healthy traffic. I didn't get to spend enough time with exhibitors to gauge the quality of attendees, but the energy level was high every time I got out to the floor. First, a couple of shots from the Smart Grid Pavilion - small today, but should be much bigger for the next summit. Below is the Redline booth and then Livecage, who did a series of video segments for us.

Here's the Ontario/Canada pavilion - busy as always

Keeping on the Canadian theme, here's the reception they hosted Wednesday night. An open bar and a motorcycle giveaway will always draw a crowd, but I'd like to think people were at least a little bit interested in what our companies are doing up here...

In what's becoming a tradition, no Expo is complete without an invite to Andy Abramson's wine dinner - good to the last drop. Big thanks to Andy for sharing his wine with us as well as Andrew Hanson and Freetalk for sponsoring. If you haven't seen how Skype is approaching the small business market with a Jazinga-based IP PBX system, then you need to do some homework. Or just call me.

Smart Grid Summit - Fly to Miami, Drive Home in a Honda Element

Well, I wouldn't say this if it wasn't true. Crappy economy be damned, Rich Tehrani and his never-stop-working team at TMC continue with the big prize draw hook to get you to Miami next week. Although it's been insanely cold there lately, the weather is usually reason enough to go in January.

The other day, I posted about 5 reasons to be at the ITExpo next week. Nothing has changed there, so I won't say anything more. Well, the Honda giveaway is a great reason #6, and if you want a 6B, they're also giving away a Honda motorcycle on Thursday. Maybe that's reason enough for you to go - if you're not sure, check it out for yourself here.

Our Smart Grid Summit is much smaller than the ITExpo, and we can't compete with that. I could offer something like one pick from my vinyl record collection, or an online guitar lesson by my shredder wiz son, Dean. He's only 13, but I've been taking him out with me to play to play at a local blues jam, and he's got the goods. I've been playing for decades, but he passed me by a long time ago. Remember his name - someday he'll do something cool....

Back to Smart Grid. With just a few days to go, we're tapping all channels to get the word out and hope you can join us in Miami. I just started writing a series of preview articles about the program, and you'll see those starting today on our portal. I've also been busy with shout-outs on my Linked In and Facebook pages and groups, and gained some good exposure on CircleID with my recent article about Google Energy.

By the way, if you haven't subscribed to our eNewsletter, you should do that now.

Finally, you may already be receiving eblasts from TMC with the latest news about the summit. Here's the latest one, and I think this will give you even more reasons to come. If you'd like to receive these eblasts, let me know and I can get you added to their database.

Amazon Kindle - Can Blogs and Money Mix? Should They Mix?

Rich Tehrani had a thought-provoking post yesterday that I have good reason to weigh in on.

As I learned from Rich's post, Amazon has opened up its blog beta to the world, and now anyone with a blog can register with Kindle, where blogs are offered on a subscription basis. Wow. So many things to think about here.

Rich covers important ground, likening Amazon's move here to Microsoft's early days when it basically cornered the market and could dictate the terms of doing business. Amazon definitely has amazin' market power, and what blogger wouldn't want to be on a platform like this with the potential to actually make money off their blogging. Like moths to a flame, I'm sure they will come in droves and droves, dreaming of easy money. Is this really a good thing?

Amazon, of course, is getting what it wants - tons of essentially free content to make the Kindle a sexier product. There isn't a blogger on the planet who doesn't want to make some money, so of course, they'll be all over this. Anyone who follows me knows the issues I have with bloggers versus journalists, and I really have no idea how Amazon is going to manage all this. How will they keep out the fairweather bloggers and wackos and self-motivated people with agendas - both good and bad. How will the blogs be evaluated, categorized, vetted, ranked, etc.??? So many questions here.

Anyhow, Rich rightly points out that nobody pays for content like blogs, so what makes Amazon think they have a winning business model? There's definitely a challenge here, but I certainly applaud Amazon for trying. Sooner or later somebody will come up with a viable business model for online content that isn't advertising driven.

Actually, I think Amazon just might have it right here, as the latest version of Kindle is another step along the way for the online reader concept, which I believe will be an important product category as mobile broadband becomes ubiquitous. It's early days, but things are changing, especially in the publishing world - just ask anyone in the newspaper business. We're spoiled in North America, but in countries like Korea, mobile readers are widely used for newspapers, and the green angle for saving our forests will eventually become as hot a topic as the need to find new/cleaner sources of energy.

It's not a big stretch in my mind for Kindle becoming a must-have gadget, especially for commuters, and I have no doubt there will be a segment of that market who will be willing to subscribe to their favorites, whether it be blogs, newspapers, serialized novels, etc. Of course this only works so long as the Kindle does not evolve into a larger version of an iPhone. Once you're on the Web, there is zero reason to pay for something you can get for free online.

That's just one area where things get complicated. Another is the fact that bloggers who join the Kindle stable are not exclusive, so they're not obligated to create new content that makes it worthwhile to subscribe to them on Kindle. That would sure change the equation, right. And then there are newspapers. I'm sure it's just a matter of time until someone like the NYT makes a deal with Amazon. It's one thing to monetize content with bloggers who are not beholden to any editorial guidelines, but it's a whole new ball game with the news. That's a huge topic alone, but I'm sure you get the idea.

And finally, as Rich notes, there's the revenue sharing issue. Is a 30% cut fair for bloggers? That depends on a lot of things, and to side with Rich, Amazon does hold all the cards, so they can justify keeping 70%. They know that 30% for bloggers is way more than the nothing most are getting now, so what's the problem? Maybe not so much now, but as this thing matures, there will be a few really popular blogs and tons that nobody ever reads. The vast majority will probably never earn anything, but among the winners, sooner or later those who are drawing big numbers will want a bigger cut, and then the balance of power will shift. Naturally.

Having said all this, I'm also speaking from a very small position of having a vested interest. Followers of my blog may know that my blog has been available for subscription on Kindle for a couple of months now, so I'm a bit ahead the curve on this story. However, unlike this public beta, I was invited to participate through a syndication service I've been with for several years. For me, the 30% revenue share is fine, since I'm not doing any of the marketing, and Amazon Kindle has far more marketing reach than my brand will ever have. Fair ball. Of course, when I went in, this was a pretty controlled group, so the universe of bloggers is pretty small. I have no idea what happens when/if thousands of blogs are added to Kindle, but that sure would dilute things for everybody, and I have no idea how anyone will know the good blogs from the bad blogs. It's not a problem I'd want to be managing. I should also say that it's too early to determine how well I'm doing, but I don't expect to get rich.

Just one more thing to note from Rich's post. I agree with him that whether you love/hate what Amazon is doing here, it's an important story to follow. If they somehow prove there's an appetite for paid content that will have huge and exciting implications for publishing. He's not betting on it, and I also agree that as mobile broadband becomes the norm and Netbooks really take off, the number and variety of free sources of content will proliferate and possibly overwhelm anything that Kindle can offer. Part of me likes this scenario - we all like free - but another part of me dreads it, not because I'll make less money, but newspapers could face extinction, and I don't think anyone really wants that. Enough. Kindle isn't going to save the world, but there's a lot to think about here.

TMC IT Expo Momentum Building

I'll be plenty busy at TMC's IT Expo in about 10 days time, and have been posting fairly regularly about what I'll be up to. This is a short post to update on some recent coverage on TMCnet, some of which will tell you more about what you can expect to see from me at the Expo.

- Yesterday, Rich Tehrani ran a spotlight feature about my views on the IP comms space as well as some predictions for 2009. Thanks Rich!

- Yesterday, Rich also published a list of thought leaders for his readers to come meet at the Expo, and it was nice see him include me there. I'm really glad he's doing this, as there will be lots of smart people at the conference from all ends of the market - analysts, vendors, service providers, PR, etc. - and we all know that the best part of these events is the time we spend talking to each other and learning from each other. I know I'll be seeking out a few of those people on his list.

- Also yesterday, TMC's Erik Linask wrote a piece about 4G. It was nice to see him cite my latest TMCnet column there, but more importantly, he's drawing attention - as I am doing here - to the 4G Wireless Evolution conference, which is co-located at the IT Expo. This event warrants its own attention, and not just because 4G is a big deal for the entire mobile sector. It also marks the debut of Carl Ford and Scott Kargman in the conference space following the demise of VON. I'm not alone in being very happy to see this happen, and am looking forward to dropping in on their sessions as time allows.

- To round this post out, last week, TMC's Greg Galitzine ran a Q&A piece with me about the SIP Trunking sessions that take place during the Expo. That will be one of my main involvements there, and if you're interested in SIP Trunking, this should be high up on your list at the show.

TMC IT Expo Updates

TMC's ITExpo East 2009 event is quickly approaching, and I wanted to provide some updates.

First, I wanted to mention a nice gesture TMC is doing to help out those who been recently impacted by our weak economy. Rich Tehrani posted about this last week, and it's worth repeating here. TMC is offering free conference passes to industry people who are recently out of work. If this speaks to you or someone you know, please have a look at Rich's post for the details. Nicely done, TMC!

On my front, I'll be quite busy at the Expo. First off, I'll be moderating two sessions:

- Service Provider IP Telephony: Considerations

- Driving Benefits Through Analytics

I'm also going to be wearing my TMC hat as part of TMC Editor Week. I've been invited to join their Editorial team to participate in briefings with IT Expo participants. It's a great idea - sort of a "meet the press" thing, where TMC avails its roster of Editors and contributors like me to participants looking for our views on the market, their company, etc. These briefings are being organized by TMC, so it's not an open invitation. However, if you come by the Press Room, and see me at a table in the area dedicated to TMC Editor Week, at least you'll know why.

Switching hats now, I'll also be presenting two segments during Ingate's "back by popular demand" SIP Trunking Sessions:

- Technology Survival Roadmap - SIP Trunking and Beyond

- Just for Carriers: SIP Trunk Intensive Workshop

The sesssions are free, and you can register to attend here. Ingate and TMC have worked hard to build this up into a very popular draw at the IT Expo, and I'm really looking forward to being part of it. You can also read more about it in the press release that just went out this morning.

Finally, on Tuesday morning, I'll be hosting a business breakfast sponsored by the Canada/Ontario delegation that is showcasing Ontario tech companies at the IT Expo. Attendees will get to meet representatives from the following companies: SVKSoftware, Pronexus, Industry Dynamics, Macadamian, Ingenius, OmniWare, ObjectWorld, Jazinga, Phybridge, Callture, Vision Max and Sigma Systems.

Attendance is limited and is on an RSVP basis. The breakfast is primarily targeted at South Florida companies looking to do business with Ontario tech companies, especially those in the delegation. For more information, drop me a line, and I can send you an invitation. You can reach me at: