Last year I posted about Microsoft's global launch of Unified Communication. And today, I read Mary Jo's post on Echoes. Echoes is evidently Microsoft's attempt at Unified Communications for the consumer. What is strange, is that just this morning I was installing a VOiP handset I received from my broadband operator (an upgrade of my broadband package). The handset was working in a few seconds but when it came to personalising it, I gave up after entering the first 3 names in the address book. When my wife commented "Why does'nt our broadband subscription come with a networked address book?". Ah ha!
Well, let me start with my user-context. I have all my contacts stored in Outlook, I can synchronize them with my phone via my PC or via the corporate email server (Exchange). I use WiFi, GPRS, Infrared or Bluetooth as the available communication protocols/technology to do this. I use web-access to my email server to access my contacts should I be fortunate enough to leave my phone at home.
Now, here comes the hard part. I would like to share some of those contacts with my family - a few business contacts but mostly family and friends. I can do it today but it requires everyone to have a degree in computer science. I would have expected my Telco to provide me with tools to make this painless and in the process actually have gotten me as a sales agent. Get my social network closer to them (the Telco). But, the story is sad. The solutions offered are so difficult to use, they are hardly used (some are really fantastic). But then, Telcos are so caught up in thinking as network people they forget the value add that usable software brings.
So, I am happy that Microsoft is "pushing" Telcos to offer better services. As for privacy, I'm not all that concerned, my Telcos have long had access some of my very private content -- my conversations. Let them battle with Microsoft to ensure that privacy is not violated. And I'll be expecting my Data Protection Agency to put some pressure too.
As Microsoft (and Apple) are giving Telcos a hard time -- in my opinion, this is for their (Telcos) own good. Hopefully, Telcos can provide a platform that allows for creating value through better services (communication and entertainment) for a Digital Society.
PS! Plaxo users reading this must be wondering why I did not mention their solutions. I am waiting to watch as to how Comcast intends using Plaxo content after acquiring them. See this post. Actually, I am more concerned with privacy through Plaxo than through my Telco.