Skype has admitted that eBay put a cramp in its style. But it also wants you to know that those days are over. Today at eComm2008, a Silicon Valley geek gathering dedicated to "emerging communications," one geek made the point that Skype hasn't exactly set the world on fire since it was swallowed by eBay back in the fall of 2005 …
The problem is
that ATT and Verizon have so many other options available with only the best phone coverage around. It will be a very long time before Skype is able to compete with ATT or Verizon
"paradigm shift"? Wanker.
AT&T research bore
I guess if you're from AT&T research, a VoIP client is dangerously exciting. Skype was bought by eBay for flipping great wodges of cash, so hardly surprising that they got a bit distracted by all the moolah and for a while. Heck, Meg Whitman was on her way out after admitting she spent way too much to acquire Skype -- "Voice should be free" blah blah thanks for buying our company and making us all rich, blah blah gawd knows why because we don't really believe in asking for money for all this software we provide that makes it easy to have a reasonably good quality call over the Internet.
Geez, I wish I'd been acquired by ebay to lose my competitiv edge. I'd be a whole lot richer.
What went wrong with Skype.
Skype was a nice, small, efficient VoIP phone that worked through firewalls. Then it became a HUGE "do everything" app. that's a burden on system resources.
This is what tends to happen to software towards the end of it's life cycle. Paint Shop Pro was a classic example, I bet there are more Version 7 users than all the later versions combined.
Not Skype nor SIP based VOIP are any use on Mobile networks till latency is down and speed is up. GPRS / GSM useless, EDGE, EVDO & basic 3G poor. HSDPA only if cell sector loading very low. You need WiMax, Flash-OFDM, small HSOPA sectors, LTE etc and flat rate.
HSDPA / HSOPA can drop as low as 70kbps and latency up to 1000ms+
The Current Mobile networks support VOIP worse than decent dialup.
Or you need a deal with a mobile operator.
The only way Skype can go mobile on the current mobile networks is to operate in partnership like H3G's skype phone does. This doesn't use VOIP, instead it uses a free phone telephone number provided by the operator to place a normal call from the handset into skype's server infrastructure and it is converted to VOIP at this point. Lots of people look on in horror when they discover this and say "but thats not VOIP!" I say; whats the point in VOIP when your network is already designed to carry digital voice signals?
The reason they have had to do this is for all the reasons Mage has stated. It is also the reason it will never compete with mobile, you cant compete with something your service is entirely dependant on, if you compete too well the people providing the basis for your service go bust and then you are stuffed too. It does, as far as the end user is concerned, provide many of the advantages of a real VOIP solution such as "free" international calls but it's just not somthing that can be done without backing from the likes of Vodafone, Verison etc.
Charging for something free...
Skype are trying to charge for something you can get for free - or rather you have already paid your ISP for!
Its called the internet!
I can use Skype to connect to my freind in NZ and suffer enourmouse delays or VOIP direct to his machine and get clean calling.
The worst E-bay has done ( apart from encouraging nutters to pay more for second hand items than they can be bought new) is replacing a lousy + expensive credit/debit card system with a lousy and expensive pay pal.
Give me £100M and I'll make you a global payment system that costs the user 0.1% of the transaction - assuming the banks dont have me killed while I'm putting it together!
I tried to use it once, placing some money into my skype account. I didn't really use it much and kept waiting for a decent linux version that supports SMS text msgs.
After not using the service for a few months, next time I logged in all my credit had gone!! Stolen by their greedy corp agenda.
Their locked down protocols and theft of my money has stopped me ever using them again. If they take over the world and all comms are via skype - I just wont talk to anyone again.
Limited market, it can't expand forever
Regardless of how nice Skype is, not everyone is going to install and keep the closed client.
I'm sure plenty of people are happy with their existing IM clients, even if they might not have much of a voice capability. I installed it, got a few friends, then uninstalled it because it wasn't worth the extra memory. My friends can always contact me on another network and get me to sign on to Skype if they really need to talk.
If they want to expand then they might need to learn how not to be so closed. Closed apps can do well, but unless they can get nearly everyone with a microphone on their PC to use Skype in other forms, they won't be able to extend their market share.
Too expensive? Really?
Skype is actually a decent (and free) IM, voice and video chat client.
Not sure what Tom & Paul & the Coward are talking about - you don't have to pay to use Skype between computers (only when you need to call PSTN phones)
inovation is good
but it plays 2nd fiddle to working - i need skype... or well a skype like thing... since my office and work place are 6,000 miles apart...
remember - features are good, working features are priceless
"The Current Mobile networks support VOIP worse than decent dialup"
Of course they're worse at VoIP than voice. They were designed for circuit switched voice, not packet switched data. The extra bandwidth needed for the packet switching data overhead doesn't come for free, and likely more than outweighs any cost "saving" made by switching to VoIP.
Much the same goes for landlines too. A traditional copper pair to the customer can support one plain old analogue (POTS) voice call. Make that very same line an ISDN line and it can support two simultaneous low-latency broadcast-quality voice calls (analogue or digital) over the same wires. Use that "phone line" for DSL instead and add all the ATM cells and PPP and IP packet switching and error correction overheads and the new improved VoIP technology is probably barely able to make one decent quality call, which won't be low latency and won't be broadcast quality. Plus the original voiceband analogue phone call. Not much progress there really is there?
VoIP is for carriers, corporates, and geeks. Not for real telephones in real homes. I pay 5p max for a landline call, without needing any VoIP geekery (but then I don't make calls via BT).
if you are(or if you know) a BT UK residential customer on Option 1, check BT's new improved "free weekend calls" deals:
Today's weekday evening calls to landlines: 5p, up to an hour.
From April: weekday evening calls to landlines: 6p setup plus 1.5p a minute - a half hour call goes from 5p to ~50p.
Work out for yourself how many "free" weekend calls you need to make to outweigh the increased cost of your weekday evening calls. It'll perhaps tell you how much *bigger* your new improved BT phone bill will be.
Skype are one of the dearer VoIP providers for when you need to call landlines or mobiles, they even charge for options that are free with most other providers.
There are many of the various Betamax VoIP services you could use, Sipgate, OrbTalk and many many others, all cheaper than Skype.
With a BT line, you don't have to use BT for calls, you can have these automatically routed elsewhere or use indirect carriers with an access code. Only BT (and Kingston in their area are forced to allow cheap call access).
So you could pay BT the £10.50 line rental (paperless and DD) get caller display for free via BT Privacy (though a couple of calls going via BT required for this, if calls automatically going elsewhere dial 1280 to hop back onto BT).
For £0.00 (Yes - nothing) per month go with Primus on Primus Saver 2, and you get inclusive evening and weekend calls, each call up to 90 mins, after 90 mins either hang up and redial or pay 1p/min after the 90 mins. Daytime rate doesn't start until 08:00 so 2 more hours each weekday of inclusive calls.
You can add on for free Penny Mobile which gives you calls to UK mobiles for 20p for up to 20 mins.
Primus do offer line rental too, but never wise to move line rental away from BT as mentioned above only BT are forced to allow you to use low cost carriers, others can and do block access.
Then use Call 18185 for other calls, UK landline calls are 5p per call, international from 0.5p and low cost calls to UK mobiles.
VoIP is great when you can dump the landline - like I did for 2.5 years - cable broadband so no phone line required, spent £6 on VoIP + cost of SIP ATA in all that time and that was making numerous calls each day, got many months of free calls, then using completely free 'bonus' credit used that to top up my Betamax VoIP account which I have a local number with and also use Sipgate. Only now recently have a landline again as I was given free install, free line rental and free calls package for as long as I keep my heavily discounted TV and broadband package.
Using the right VoIP provider can save you plenty of money, being able to dump the landline and still use VoIP will save you a lot more.
If you are a light phone use then having a VoIP provider like Sipgate or OrbTalk where there is no monthly fee and you just pay for the calls made and being with cable for broadband is going to work out a lot cheaper than having to pay £10.50 per month to BT or whoever and call charges on top.
For Primus: www.planet-talk.co.uk/SaverProducts.aspx?source=saver
For Call 18185: www.18185.co.uk
I am mostly with "Anonymous Coward" here. I use a VOIP service in America, where I dial a local number, whose equipment recognizes the calling numbers (home phone, cell phones, etc.) (or I give it the key account information), and I can call my relatives and friends in Europe for between 2.5 & 5 c/min, or elsewhere in the US for <2c/min. I no longer have long distance service from AT&T, which is way more expensive. Only problem is when I go visit Europe (or elsewhere abroad), I am still paying exorbitant roaming charges on the cell phone, for a direct call, or to call back to my VOIP service in the US. If some company comes up with a way to do that better (JahJah?), I will use that. The olde telephone companies will go the way of the commercial sailing ship if they don't catch up!.