Wednesday, May 25, 2005

How big will Skype become?

In today’s comments at the VON ‘05 conference in Stockholm, Niklas Zennstrom gave some interesting clues as to his ambitions for Skype. I’ve long suspected Skype of wanting to essentially take over and replace the public telephone network, but now it’s coming from the horse’s mouth (from the Inquirer):
Zennstrom revealed that he was particularly keen on an embedded Linux version of his product. The goal appears to bring out devices which contain a dedicated Sykpe client. He almost certainly appears to be thinking of Wi-Fi handsets.
Embedded Skype means third-party devices can gain interoperability with (and possibly dependence upon) the Skype peer-to-peer network. Like the Skype API, only not restricted to Windows PCs. Imagine that. Licensed embedded endpoints accessing a proprietary network. Kind of sounds like the Microsoft of the early 1990s, doesn’t it?

But that’s not even the most revealing tidbit. Niklas also said that an open standard should be developed to solve the E911 call-routing problem, since, at least at this point, it doesn’t look like Skype is going to be able to avoid regulation (they’re a PSTN-connected carrier, after all). Skype, of course, does not use an open standard such as SIP or Dundi for its own call-signaling, so it’s somewhat ironic that Mr. Zennstrom is calling upon the community to solve his E911 dilemma with open standards.

For the record, I agree with Zennstrom on that point—an open standard for emergency dispatch calling should be created. But not merely for Skype’s sake. Of course, if Skype were to embrace an open 911 standard, but not play nice with all the other truly open interop standards out there, it would be a shame. Since Skype clearly has its focus set on rebuilding the international telecom system as we know it, I sure hope Skype doesn’t become the “Windows of telephony”.

Ted Wallingford

I always thought that if you want to build something new to "rebuild something old" you should propose something new and "better"

Undoubtedly something cheaper can be seen as something better, but the ratio price/quality shouldn't be lower.
And in quality, besides the voice quality I would include also availability, security, easy to use.

While out there, there are a lot of Wi-Fi Linux devices in which you can embed your Skype, the majority of the Mass (and I include myself in it) is not willing to buy a portable device with Linux, just to embed Skype.

I personally find it difficult and not worth to have to configure my portable device to a Hot Spot just to be able to make a telephone call for free (but if you use Skype out it is not even free).
And if you calculate the cost of the device, the hassle to find a hotspot, to configure it, well you certainly prefer to limit your call to a few minutes, use your cell phone and call from wherever you like.

That is: Wi-Fi for the moment and for the Mass is not a substitute of a cell phone.
And I do not think it would be so easy to become the new Telecom.
The desert is full of bones of the ones who wanted to build an Empire.
Latins included...

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