Page Impressions Ltd Blogcetera: April 2006

Monday, April 24, 2006

Babble - Creating a new future for VOIP

On Monday, Babble plc ( is launched on to the Ofex (, the UK's independent market focussed on small and medium enterprises from around the world. Babble is a UK based VOIP company with over 100,000 registered users. It joins companies such as Skype and Vonage in taking aim at the traditional POTs (Plain old telephone services) like BT, France Telecom and their like.

Why is the launch of Babble important? You may have thought that Skype had already captured this market. However, you would be quite wrong. Although Skype is probably the largest voice service on the Internet, it has been created on a proprietory basis which means its technology is unable to simply link with the standards based systems around the world run by the traditional telephone companies and mobile operators or connect with any other standards based service.

Babble is SIP based and offers true VoIP services and take the idea of phone calls over the Internet forward another step. Because Babble use an Internet standard protocol, SIP, to make the call, the system is a lot more flexible. You can use Babble's client software available for PCs and Macs which pulls together a computers microphone, soundcard and internet connection to simulate a telephone. It isn't only based on your PC either. Babble allows you to add a telephone adaptor that will let you connect an ordinary telephone directly to your network, or an IP phone. Babble's service allows you to call people for free on the net, on a land line and on also to mobiles. There calling plans allow you to take control and to cut the cost of calls dramatically. It doesn't end there. Babble can also enable you to send SMS messages to any mobile worldwide as well set-up a "real" telephone number which can be set to reach you where ever you are and call answering service to ensure you never moss another call.

VOIP is undoubtedly coming of age and mobile VOIP is now very near which will lead massive changes for the mobile operators who have operated on a super profitable basis at our expense.
So join the revolution and log-on to Babble and become part of the future.

For further detail go to

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Disruptive Technologies - A funding opportunity or a waste of money?

I was recently asked to look at what are the next investment opportunities in the Internet space and consider whether there were are obvious disruptive technological aspects which could provide superior returns.
Well in my experience investment in technology and more specifically that related to the Internet is a gamble at the best of times and almost certainly depends on luck as much as the naturew of the invention.
A disruptive technology is a new technological innovation, product, or service that eventually overturns the existing dominant technology in the market, despite the fact that the disruptive technology is both radically different from the leading technology and that it often initially performs worse than the leading technology according to existing measures of performance. A disruptive technology comes to dominate an existing market by either filling a role in a new market that the older technology could not fill such as more expensive, lower capacity but smaller-sized hard disks did for newly developed notebook computers in the 1980s or by successively moving up-market through performance improvements until finally displacing the market incumbents as in the case of digital photography which has begun to replace film photography.

Some examples of disruptive technologies include:-
  • Music downloads and file sharing vs. compact discs
  • eBooks vs. paper books
  • e-commerce vs. physical shops
  • Open-source software vs. proprietary software (for example Linux versus Microsoft Windows, although Linux has already largely displaced proprietary Unix)
  • Internet Video on Demand and IPTV vs. Advertising supported broadcast and cable television
  • VoIP over vs. traditional telephone and mobile phone service.
  • portable mp3-players vs. the portable cassette players
  • DVD vs VHS tape (VHS has already undergone a great decline, particularly in the market for pre-recorded tapes, although the price of DVD recorders remains high enough for VHS home-recording to hang on for the present)

The Internet is considered by many to be the ultimate disruptive technology, changing the ways businesses operate, creating new channels, destroying bastions of value, and establishing entirely new revenue sources. The Internet may be regarded as a super group of a whole range of disrupting process including impact on Banking, Telecoms, Media, Manufacturing and Design. Frequently areas combine to yield the most unexpected results and more importantly extraordinary profitability.The key to the identification of disruptive opportunities is in the selection and potential more critically the timing.

Recently, I have identified three opportunities which represent investment opportunities in areas which will critically impact the development of the Internet in key sectors.

Web Repurposing for the Mobile Market

This business provides a means for client browsers on mobiles to access web sites that directly are too complex for them. The company uses proxy technology to takes away site complexity before delivering simple pages rendered 'fit for purpose'. This enables standard web sites to be viewed on any mobile device and more importantly allows all the ecommerce interactivity to also be completed. The technology can be used on a wide range of mobile devices as well as VOIP display phones. The company has already run successful trials with a number of major mobile operators and provides a service to a specialist device operator.

Development of frictionless financial transaction services.

This company is the only one that allows top-up services accessed directly from bank accounts for mobile pre-paid, Internet web-cash, pre-paid transport, WIFI and e-money stored value providers; roaming recharge services; transactional marketing services including pre-paid loyalty and bonus management, and business process outsourcing for the customer not present, prepaid, low-value and mobile initiated payment market. This form of money transfer is going to change the way we move money around the world and will disrupt the banking system by bypassing the traditional transfer costs between currencies. The company is an experienced business process outsourcer in the rapidly growing 'direct' mobile prepaid top-up channel, e-money stored value, transport and WIFI markets and it is already working internationally with mobile operators and e-money providers and is delivering on its promises in groundbreaking market sectors.

Monetisation of Internet Errors

This company has developed patented technology, which can monetise the errors resulting user mis-types, broken web links, crashed sites etc. The technology identifies the error and then analysis the web error data to establish where the user was attempting to access. This technology and its exploitation through PPC and CPA partners provides ISPs and users alike a method for both improving the surfing experience and also enabling ISPs to take back control of their users traffic and generating significant additional revenues.

All of these examples are disruptive technologies in the various field of activity in the mobile, banking and Internet fields. In all cases, the businesses have successful grown beyond the “new born” stage to the point where major businesses are beginning to trial their solutions. They are at the “realisation” or second stage of development and will need funding to realise a significant future.

Could they succeed without help? Almost certainly yes, but they will not have the opportunity to achieve their real potential. Are they a waste of money? Absolutely not! Having been involved in a number of ventures, some of which have had stellar growth funded by VC money and which in some cases made spectacular money and in others disappeared as quickly as they had appeared, the investments have grown the "body of knowledge" which has frequently led to further developments. Investment in the "bleeding edge" is seldom comfortable, but it is always rewarding for those lucky enough to have been involved.

Interactive, Networked and err….404 File not found!

It was reported recently that Britain had overtaken France as the largest user of broadband lines in Europe, according to the internet consultancy Point Topic. Today it is estimated that the UK has 9.8m broadband lines, France has 9.7m and Germany is in third place. During the same period we have seen massive growth in the online advertising market with the UK accounted for the largest share of European online ad-spend, at 39% of the total (€3.101 billion).

Typically broadband is 40 times faster than ordinary dial-up and the speed of broadband tends to be addictive, so it is doubly frustrating when you come to a screeching halt due to a browsing error. If you're running any of the popular internet browsers such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Mozilla’s Firefox, you are most likely to get "The page cannot be displayed" followed by largely worthless advice that's incomprehensible to the average surfer, which concludes with "Cannot find server or DNS Error." or reference to some numbered code such “error 404” . Network Solutions Inc (NSI), the domain name registry for .com, .net and .org estimate that up to 15% of all network traffic is this sort of error traffic. Also a recent study by Google recently indicated that 404 HTTP errors alone account for 6.96% of published pages on average of the 11.5 billion web pages currently published on the web or some 800 million error pages! These huge volumes of errors and the demand for more advertising inventory has stimulated significant interest in monetising this massive untapped market characterised by one senior Ad Executive as “the last white space”.

In the past the main beneficiary of much of this traffic has been Microsoft and their MSN Search Engine. The error codes are identified by the Internet Explorer browser and the user is delivered to an MSN Search result. Consequently this error traffic has managed to boost MSN Search into second place behind Google in the Global Search Engine stakes.

Search Engines have long been aware of the value of this traffic and it will come as little surprise that the behemoth Google has had a product called “AdSense for Errors”. Google extracted contextually related keywords and advertisements from the DNS error pages by using Google's semantic technology to "understand" the meaning of each error. It tended to focus on a class of error known as an NXD or Non eXistent Domain, the error generated when a mis-spelt or unregistered domain name is typed into the browser address bar. This has evolved into Adsense for Domains focusing on the domain name business. However, Google hasn’t left the error space entirely to Microsoft, in recent years it has rolled out the Google Toolbar to “hi-jack” error traffic such as search from the browser address bar directly to Google search results in the guise of did you mean. In case you thought couldn’t possibly be any money in errors, Google has reportedly paid Mozilla millions of dollars to ensure that address bar search defaults to Google results rather than go to a DNS error page!

Verisign, the owner of NSI, got into a spat with ICANN (, the Internet’s Governing body, when it started responding to these NXD mis-spellings with a so-called “wild card response”, offering users the opportunity to buy the mis-spelt domain. Unfortunately, the service known as “SiteFinder” was poorly configured and resulted in opening many ISP and Enterprise email servers to spam attacks.

Now a British company called Barefruit ( has emerged to become the Global leader in this developing error space. Barefruit resolves all the most commonly occurring errors, handling 98% of the error traffic including NXDomains, 400 Website errors including the aforementioned 404 File not found error and 500 Server errors. The company has successfully patented a technique of caching the user’s desired link and if an error occurs, analysing both the domain name information and any associated description and directing the user to either an exact match for a mis-typed brand or trade mark or providing a contextual search result to allow the user to make an informed choice. Through relationships with a broad range of databases and search partners, Barefruit delivers both organic and sponsored listings and claims to offer a near 100% relevancy of the user’s desired destination.

The Barefruit solution is available in a variety of formats which are simple to install either at the user level, via a plug-in, or in partnership with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) through modified DNS software or through the installation of a proxy server. The service also works with every browser type. The benefit of the Barefruit service is not only limited to the resolution of the error, but also provides the user the ability to navigate the Internet by the use of Keywords enabling every ISP with a “direct navigation” capability similar to AOL Keywords or Google’s “Browse by Name”.

With Barefruit, there is also a financial benefit to the ISP as they share the revenue generated by their users clicking on sponsored links. So what had been considered to be rubbish in the past and an annoyance in Internet navigation may now be turned to the benefit of users and ISPs alike. This has led to an increasing number of Tier 1 ISPs, in the UK, Europe and in the US market to adopt Barefruit’s solution. to enhance the Internet surfing experience of millions of users, monetise hitherto error traffic. This new source of traffic is also keenly wanted by advertisers since with Barefruit’s ability to extract the desired requirements of the user is helping brands to grow traffic and continue to build advertising revenues for online advertised through the delivery of qualified traffic.

2007 has seen massive growth in the development of the error correction market and it is set to become the most significant area of development of the so-called Web 2.0. A number of new players have tried to enter the market to monetise this traffic, but only Barefruit has such a broad range of patented error solutions. Barefruit’s growing reputation for extracting relevance and literally “bearing fruit” in millions of pounds of additional revenue to ISPs and online advertisers alike whilst improving the Internet users surfing experience.