back to article Dear Google and Facebook: You don't want Skype

The word is out that Facebook and Google are now considering partnerships with or acquisition of Skype. The big question, however, is what they'd do with it. As eBay discovered to its hurt, Skype isn't a product that necessarily plays well with others. Skype-plus-eBay never made sense to me. Then eBay chief executive Meg …


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  1. NoneSuch

    Google already has video chat

    It is called Google Voice and Video chat and is integrated with GMAIL.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's you?

      I was wondering who the other person using Google voice was :-)

  2. Eugene Crosser

    Google have already killed one VoIP company

    maybe they got taste for it?

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Tin cans and string?

    We don't use it for business - we've customers who do and it's easy to tell when they call because they sound line they've calling over one of those old short wave radios during a sunspot storm.

    It's basically a cheap phone service and sounds like it ... why would I want my customers to see me using a cheap lousy quality phone service? It might make sense if I was selling cheap tacky products - but I'm not.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Shortwave Defamation League on Line 1...

      I'd dare say that'd be an insult to shortwave users everywhere. I've not used shortwave myself, but I'd hazard a guess that shortwave voice transmissions during sunspot activity still sound better than voice transmissions over Skype -- which sound like heavily-compressed 28k mp3 files.

      As I recall, most voice phone traffic -- at least here in the States -- is now already digitized at some point on the way; I can always tell when a friend is calling my land line from a mobile phone because it sounds so "crunchy" and compressed that I almost can't recognize their voice.

    2. ZweiBlumen

      @Version 1.0

      Utter Rubbish.

      Skype is high quality nowadays. Perhaps you have a crap internet connection or something. I use Skype on a daily basis for work with clients all over Europe and the US. Occasionally (1 in 20 calls or so) the quality is poor. Just hang up and dial again. Otherwise, the quality of the call is as good as using the phone. Which is not suprising since a lot of the underlying technology is the same whether you're on the phone or on Skype. In fact Skype is far better than many of the cheap international dialing companies I've used in the passed.

      It's also good enough for Video conferencing with the grandparents and screen sharing with colleagues. And all this for free. I do wonder how they make any money!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I rarely have any issues with Skype

        I use it all the time for both work and personal use. For work it's primarily for the all too frequent conference calls. I have my bluetooth headset hooked up to my PC so I can roam freely around the house while on a call. The personal use is usually video calls which normally work very well, even across 10's of thousands of km.

        The only time it gives me problems is when I'm traveling and I have crap hotel internet service.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Likewise, it's perfect for conference calls.

          Unlike the other 'out-of-office' conference systems, it's not a really, really expensive phone call when outside Europe/US and it works pretty much everywhere, with a text-only fallback if your hotel internet is rubbish.

          On top of that, you can bounce a file to everyone so they can look at the thing you're talking about.

          We have MS Communicator, but it's utterly rubbish and barely used, mostly because it only works inside the corporate network. I don't know why that is, and it's not worth anybody's time to work out if that's for a good reason or not.

          1. Thoguht Silver badge

            MS Communicator?

            It only works inside the corporate network because that's how it's designed to work (for security reasons). Plus it integrates with Exchange Server to automatically manage your presence information. How is it utterly rubbish? I type something, you see it and vice-versa. What more are you expecting from it? Sending files? IT Security will have apoplexies if they catch you doing that.

            1. Jim Morrow

              you will be assimilated

              > Plus it integrates with Exchange Server to automatically manage your presence information. How is it utterly rubbish?

              The previous sentence answers your question. It might come as a shock for you to be told that not everyone uses Exchange. Thank you Jesus. It may also be a surprise to learn there is a world outside the Redmond Borg despite what that goon Ballmer says.

    3. jonathanb Silver badge

      Very useful in business

      We do use it in business. A lot of overseas customers like to call us on Skype because it is free, whereas international call charges cost a lot of money.

    4. Joe Montana

      Business use?

      I wouldn't even consider using skype for business, that's a very short sighted approach...

      Not only are there the quality issues pointed out by someone else (you can usually tell skype calls because the sound quality is so bad), but the system is entirely proprietary...

      On the other hand, there are a huge number of standard SIP and IAX providers out there, some of which are considerably cheaper than skype while offering far better call quality.

      Because there are multiple providers, they actually have to compete.. your not locked in to a single provider like skype...

      And because its an open standard, there are lots of providers, lots of equipment vendors and lots of features that skype simply offers no support for.

  4. CynicalOne
    Thumb Up

    You miss the point ...

    ... for every Skype user that I know, it simply replaces expensive 'phone calls with free video calls.

    It's the cheapest (if not always 100% available) way to speak to friends and family far away.

    I think we should all be suitably grateful.

  5. yeahyeahno

    Skype IM

    Indeed, Skype as IM client is huge amongst certain gaming communities because it gives the ability to have user created managed chat rooms.

    The only other place I've used Skype is in business, and frankly, we used the IM abilities again when chatting to people in the UK, only using the voice abilities to call abroad.

    I've often thought that Skype misses at least 50% of its purpose.

  6. ArmanX

    I would argue that Google could make something of it

    eBay + Skype makes no sense at all.

    FaceBook + Skype makes a marginal amount of sense, but only if it happened about 15 years before FaceBook was invented.

    Google + Skype, however, might work. Google already has Google Voice and Google Talk, both of which would benefit. If Skype and Google Voice were rolled together, that would be a fairly awesome product. Add in a cheap Android phone (sold by Google) that works on WiFi, and you'd have a sure winner; replace your land line for the cost of a phone (and calling for non-Google/Skype numbers). And better yet, if you already have an Android phone, you can get it for free.

    I dunno about you, but I'd buy that.

    1. Chad H.


      Given that Google seems to be the only company that can make the "Underpants Gnome" strategy work: (1: Invent a cool site thats free to access, 2: ?????? 3: Profit) I think they're the only company that could possibly make a company who's user base is only there for free phone calls work.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      What could Google make of it?

      I have an Android Phone. I have the Skype app installed on it. If someone calls me on Skype, the phone rings, I answer it, and I talk to them, just like if I was talking to them over the GSM network. The only annoying thing is that it doesn't hand-over betweek wifi and 3g very well. Any time I select a contact and tap to call them, it asks if I want to dial out using Skype or GSM.

      Apart from allowing the two Google Voice users who commented above to call me on Skype, and they probably have Skype accounts anyway, what benefit can a Google takeover bring. Some people seem to forget that you are allowed to use the products of more than one company at the same time.

  7. ratfox Silver badge

    Google already has a similar service

    Why would they be interested?

    1. Turtle


      "Google already has a similar service Why would they be interested?"

      To absorb, assimilate, and kill off competition, perhaps?

    2. Chad H.


      For the same reason they bought You Tube when they had Google Video.

      Anyone else remember Google Video? No? Its still around I think.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "voice is more of a business requirement than a consumer requirement"

    That's the truth right there. On an average day I'm on the phone for 4+ hours for work and am have to keep this damn thing strapped to my ass 24x7. Outside of work, I'd much rather sit down and have a beer/coffee/whatever with my friends than talk on the phone.

  9. hacker dot

    I agree with CynicalOne - The author has missed the point

    Social media + VoIP is a winner and Facebook needs to beat out Google on this one

    1. Chad H.

      Social media

      Social Media will die as soon as all you drones realise that 90% of you are boring.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Only 90%?

        I thought it closer to 120% (some so boring they count twice) ;-)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AT&T would never buy Skype...

    it is there competition. If they did, it would be to shut it down. Dare I say it, with Skype quality since the eBay sale, perhaps it would be best for all. Also, both the Skype owners and the institution of AT&T seem to be control freaks, so it would be an interesting deal ;-)

  11. Eddy Ito Silver badge


    If Google gets Skype they will record all your conversations and create a searchable database so the NSA can keep track of everything you say and they will sell companies data on your inner most pseudo-private desires in the hopes you won't be too pissed when they call during dinner hours.

    Facebook controlling Skype would be much different. Your friends would video/voice spam you with every "must have" for the game of the week they play. Simultaneously everyone will be able to keep track of every bloody sound you make and of course, they will sell companies data on your inner most pseudo-private desires in the hopes you won't be too pissed when they call during dinner hours.

    Either way within about two years there will be inet-nannies demanding that the gubbermint "do something", probably "for the children" and the good old congress critters, in the interest of being reelected, will certainly "do something" stupid and ineffective like make a "Do Not Skype" database that will require you to sign up and inform the folks in East Buttfuck what handle to send the majority of their skype spam to. Of course, the usual suspects will be exempt from the don't bugger list based on how much political influence they have or can afford. Typically they are, in order, political parties looking for donations/ support, religiosity groups looking for donations/ support, police and fire groups who want you to enjoy their balls as much as they do and any odd sales fucker you made the mistake of saying hello to in your travels.

    1. rob miller

      point of order

      "in the hopes you won't be too pissed when they call during dinner hours."

      is that the English pissed = American 'drunk' or the American pissed = English 'pissed off'?

      either way works of course....

    2. Kay Burley ate my hamster
      Thumb Up

      AT&T = Bye bye Skype

      I agree completely, AT&T would love to shut down Skype.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Interesting point about the massive rise in text messaging: a couple of years ago I derided 'da yoof' for always txtn thr m8s! Then I got a moby tariff with unlimited texts bundled, and now I rarely actually speak to anyone on it any more, apart from as mentioned for work. The beauty of a text - and email - is that you can fire it off and then get on with whatever you're doing. In this way I've had 3 different conversations going on sometimes, in addition to whatever I'm doing at the time.

    1. Andy Barker


      Not driving I hope?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I *knew* someone would ask that!

        Noooooope! ;-)

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Skype's utility

    I use Skype when the need is to talk. I need to talk when I'm carrying out a task that doesn't leave time to type or where the conversation is the priority task.

    I use Skype for IM when I have time to type and the conversation is not the primary task.

    Do I ring people on my Skype list by phone? only if Skype isn't available. Skype is cheaper and I can use my own choice of comfortable headset.

    Skype + Cisco == too expensive.

    Skype + AT&T == end of rest of world usage

    Skype + Facebook == yuck

    Skype + Google == advertising based on conversations == conversations even less secure as Google will be listening.

    You know what? I really should stop reading the open and shut column, it is generally trash.

    Mine's the one with the N70 in it. I'll upgrade when something genuinely interesting and affordable comes along.

  14. Peter Clarke 1

    @ Eddy Ito - Obviously

    You forgot the small print in the contract- you're not allowed to hang-up if you get pissed of with those dinnertime phone calls :)

  15. Your Retarded

    Skype is not only for phone calls

    I use skype often, but have never used it to make a phone call... It does instant messaging too, you know. I have found it is very useful for group collaboration with several parties in disparate locations.

  16. P. Lee Silver badge

    voice provides less information

    Unless you are listening in with some voice to text and then text analysis software (which is probably illegal) there isn't much of a way to determine ad relevancy from voice.

    Text interfaces are better for ad-punters.

    Calls to pstn are interesting of course. If you know when someone called an insurance agent (by the number they dial), you can punt adverts from the competition the next year, etc.

  17. jonathanb Silver badge

    Another thing

    If you want to skype someone on facebook, you already can. Just exchange Skype IDs by personal message. Facebook doesn't need to own Skype to do that. Facebook users won't want it any more integrated than that, because the list of people you want calling you on Skype is not the same as the list of people you want as Facebook friends.

  18. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Tin cans and string

    Because most businesses don't use it to call customers - they use it to talk to other bits of the business.

    Your programmers in London wanting to talk to your programmers in Seattle - could request a PO to buy a video conference system and then book the room and the call in advance and get a budget to bill it to. Or they could just have regular SKYPE meetings without even bothering to tell you.

    We mostly use it for checking if someone else is in the office before calling them - but we have a global VOIP system that is also free and has worse call quality than skype.

  19. henchan

    caveat emptor

    What exactly might a purchaser of Skype be acquiring? Tick as many as applicable or write in your own:

    - installed software base

    - development team

    - protocol

    - secret encryption

    - peer-to-peer network

    - web site and software distribution

    - brand

    Bonus point: for which of your selected options does Skype management have another potential opportunity to sell the golden goose, yet keep its eggs ?

  20. Equitas
    Paris Hilton


    is the weakest point in Skype. Totally insecure. I've had mine hacked countless time and on the last occasion my account was simply blocked by Skype and I lost my Skype identity entirely. Mercifully I'd long since given up using it and there were only a few pence of credit left on it.

    A bunch of incompetents with whom it's virtually impossible to maintain a sensible conversation.

    Paris, because even Paris could manage things better.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The obvious question is...

    ... what would Google do with Skype. They could kill it as some have suggested. For now I do use Skype. I'm looking into how I can get my Asterisk box to play nice and allow me to be contactable externally the way I am on Skype, and if I get that going, people may see me using Skype less, and recommending it to fewer people.

    Years ago I was contactable on ICQ, AIM, Yahoo and MSN Messenger. Then XMPP came along (yes; that protocol that Google Talk is based upon). It took a bit for me to get my head around it, but now I love it. I can be logged in on at multiple sites, and keep in contact. I can run my own server, but still be contactable by anyone who has a XMPP account on any other publicly accessible server. I still have the other accounts kicking about, but they're idle, mainly used for testing the IM client.

    Google bought up On Technologies, and gave us WebM*. What's to say they may not be planning the same thing with Skype? I for one, would welcome that move. We need to be opening the world up, not closing it down.

    (* Okay; there's some doubt as to the patent status in the eyes of some.)

  22. Colin Critch


    It would be more compeling if linkedin and skype accounts were merged and made secure under a big company.

    Also take all that add rubbish out of Skype client at start up, keep the other OS clients up to date (Linux please) and make sure that the video automation is not restricted like it is at the moment (full screen video on start up).

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Business and Microsoft

    The last 2 places I've worked have used it as the de-facto IM / video / cross-atlantic caller.

    This is despite the first place having an 'IT specialist' (in an IT company) who was rabid about Microsoft products (because he did an MS certification in his last post) who insisted we used Microsoft Communicator. While most installed it, it was rarely used except by him.

    Then, after a takeover by a large 'blue' chip corporation, who this time pushed Lotus Sametime. Everybody was still using Skype.

    The second place just used it as *the* tool with an official company skype list.

    Why so popular?

    Well we've used it for IMs, file transfers, voice calls. Even video calls on a conference call, with the skype window in the corner. Nice to see peoples faces when both sides of the atlantic are around their respective tables.

    Multi-platform, so it'll install on the corporate XP/7 machines, the Linux box I set up to annoy the previously mentioned IT MS fanboy, even on smartphones.

    The only problem we found was that at some point it was using the corporate network as a p2p hub for passing external traffic through. Some tweaking of the router (not performed by the MS IT guy...) reduced this somewhat.

    As for ownership, I agree that ebay was an off the wall choice. I want to buy something off a seller and send them instructions, not chat with them in real-time. Most buy-sell transactions aren't real-time anyway. I can buy something at 8pm and the seller can confirm and post at 9am the next day. This is the way ebay works. Even for disputes, I would rather converse over carefully worded form submissions / emails rather than skype conversations where an immediate outburst of annoyance with a purchase/sale can be saved and sent to ebay/paypal support.

    Someone like Citrix would make a great keeper, as they could place it alongside their business offerings like gotomeeting.

    Or perhaps linkedin, because my skype list currently looks like a mix of professional networking from previous and current colleagues.

    Facebook would be seen as too "teenybopper" and skype would be taken less seriously.

    Google would place ads all over the shop.

    BBC News reported that Microsoft were interested in it. This would placate MS brainwashed IT guys. However, it would probably kill the cross-platform capabilities as it would become an exclusively Windows / WindowsPhone product. Also, the builds would get more bloated and the user interface would lose any form of familiarity with previous versions (see office 2007 ribbons for details).

    AC for various reasons.

  24. Scarborough Dave

    By Eck!

    The Bio at the end reads like a CV!

    Coat - Beacuse I probably better get mione as it is already 1330 in the afternoon.

  25. envmod

    fucking lol

    ms confirmed as buying skype for £8.5 BILLION. lol.

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