Voice on the Web » Skype Channels http://voiceontheweb.biz Facilitating Personal and Business Conversations Across a Voice 2.0 World Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:27:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Facilitating Personal and Business Conversations Across a Voice 2.0 World Voice on the Web no Facilitating Personal and Business Conversations Across a Voice 2.0 World Voice on the Web » Skype Channels http://voiceontheweb.biz/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://voiceontheweb.biz/category/skype-world/skype-llc/skype-channels/ Placing a Valuation on Skype Premium’s Video Conferencing http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-markets-skype-world/skype-for-business/placing-a-valuation-on-skype-premium/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-markets-skype-world/skype-for-business/placing-a-valuation-on-skype-premium/#comments Wed, 16 May 2012 14:18:13 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=7034 SkypePremiumHeader Placing a Valuation on Skype Premiums Video ConferencingWhen Skype announced that Group Video Calling would require a Skype Premium subscription, there was questioning as to why this service was not another free one. On the other hand I have encountered many Skype users who have recognized the value and taken up a subscription. A couple of recent posts that review the entire group video conferencing market space demonstrate that Skype Premium with Group Video Calling is actually a significant business disrupter for some of the major players in this market.

Vidtel.logo thumb Placing a Valuation on Skype Premiums Video ConferencingScott Wharten, CEO of Vidtel, has been developing video calling products for the past several years. Recently Vidtel launched its MeetMe service which allows video conferencing interoperability across several video calling platforms. In that post I provided an image of a MeetMe conference call as viewed in the Skype for Windows client. This is a service for small to medium businesses that opens up the potential for interoperable video conferencing at a cost ranging between $199 to $599 per month, depending on the number of seats and video resolution desired. Other than an appropriately supported platform at each user end point no additional participant or customer investment is required. MeetMe’s main feature is that participants can use Skype, CounterPath Bria, GTalk or several end user platforms from the “major players” on one call.

VidtelPartnerCloud.300px thumb Placing a Valuation on Skype Premiums Video ConferencingYesterday Scott put out a post, What’s wrong with the video conferencing industry, where he laments the failure of the larger players, Cisco, Polycom and Logitech’s Lifesize, to innovate with new platforms while maintaining significant hardware and service costs that can only appeal, at best,  to larger enterprises. He feels these companies are missing out on opportunities in the small-to-medium business market. His summary statement:

But increasingly, the numbers show a different story. The big guys all reported flat revenue year over year from 2011 to 2012. And it’s not that people are shying away from video conferencing. They are using a ton of it, growing by leaps and bounds. It’s just that increasingly, I believe most business people are looking hard at the difference between these very high quality but massively overpriced and complicated devices and saying that the alternatives on a PC or tablet are just good enough.

GroupVideoChat.15June11.250pxw thumb Placing a Valuation on Skype Premiums Video ConferencingWhich comes back to Skype Premium and its Group Video Chat service. Here is a video conferencing service that:

  • supports up to ten participants in a call
  • simply requires a standard Skype client on a Windows or Mac PC for each participant
  • only requires the host to have a Skype Premium subscription
  • supports screen sharing by one of the participants
  • includes a concurrent chat session
  • requires standard “off-the-shelf” Skype-certified webcams that support VGA (or High Quality Video) resolution
  • uses Skype’s SILK technology for crystal clear audio
  • includes Live Chat support, and
  • includes unlimited SkypeOut calling across the subscriber’s local country code

at a cost of $9.95 per month, reduced to $4.99 per month for a 12-month subscription.

It’s a long way from the $1,000 per hour cost of video conferencing services that were available a decade ago; access to video conferencing no longer requires that participants go to a specially equipped (often off-site) video conference “studio”. It’s just available at your desktop. Between MeetMe and Skype Group Video small to medium businesses now have an opportunity to use video conferencing to build their businesses worldwide at a very low cost, whether for internal meetings, small customer presentations or reviewing customer projects.

I participate in a weekly Skype Group Video call with participants on three continents where the conversation is almost as if we are sitting around a conference table together. It’s not just the video images but also the audio quality that makes these calls so realistic.

Bottom Line: I first encountered a Video Conferencing setup in March 2007 when I attended CeBit. Either Cisco or Polycom had a booth showing three very large flat panel displays combined into a demonstration of their “new” video conferencing offering for enterprises. I forget the actual cost of an installation but it was high six figures (>$500K). Scott’s blog post has put the evolution of video conferencing in perspective. Today small to medium businesses can meet most of their group video conferencing needs through services such as MeetMe and Skype Group Video calling at costs that are affordable to not only the small businesses but also “prosumer” professionals running their own consultancy.

Andy Abramson puts in his perspective: Taking Aim and Telling the Truth

 Placing a Valuation on Skype Premiums Video Conferencing
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Skype Goes to Facebook for User Engagement http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-llc/skype-news-skype-llc-skype-world-2/skype-goes-to-facebook-for-user-engagement/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-llc/skype-news-skype-llc-skype-world-2/skype-goes-to-facebook-for-user-engagement/#comments Tue, 06 Dec 2011 22:25:00 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=6367 Skype.Facebook.MenuBar2 thumb Skype Goes to Facebook for User EngagementRecently Skype has participated in several technology sharing activities with Facebook: Facebook Video Calls, Facebook Chat sessions through the Skype client, a Facebook news feed on the Skype client home page and most recently video calls from the Skype client to your Facebook Friends.

However, until now Skype has been somewhat weak on using Facebook for social networking’s real power – user engagement. Even so over 5,000,000 Facebook users had “Liked” Skype’s Facebook site.

Three weeks ago Skype launched its new Facebook Fan Pages site with a focus on building user engagement. According to Jennifer Caulkin, Skype’s Social Networking Manager,

“We revamped the Skype page on Facebook because its about engagement with our fans.  We want to give them compelling content, access to product information, the latest Skype download, exclusive deals, unique promotions and fun stuff.”

One of Skype’s marketing challenges is to make users more aware of Skype’s broad feature set beyond basic voice and video calling. Skype’s Facebook page is one step in this direction with its focus on allowing users to more readily learn about these activities, experience some Skype features and provide feedback.

Several new tabs have been added (click on”More” to see all tabs). For instance, Skype  and Facebook provides a promotional video about using Facebook from the most recent versions of the Skype for Windows/Mac clients. “Stellar Deals” describes a few “bundle” packages involving hardware and Skype calling plan subscriptions. (However, would be more useful to have these specials offered beyond the U.S.)

Say It With Skype provides a way to experience Skype Group Video calling by using Skype Group Video to send a birthday greeting. More on this in a post to follow.

Much of Skype’s Facebook site is promotional, encouraging use of services, purchases and having fun. However, here’s where the reality hits the fan: the Facebook Support tab is one channel for entering issues with using Skype. When an entry is made onto the Support tab it is immediately also copied over to Skype’s new Community Forum for a response. Replies posted to the item in the Community Forum are then also copied back to the Facebook Support page. Click on the tabs below to see how one entry is mirrored on the two support venues.

Skype Support Channels - An Example Entry

FBSupport.SkypeToGoEntry thumb Skype Goes to Facebook for User Engagement

SkypeCommunity.SkypeToGoEntry thumb Skype Goes to Facebook for User Engagement

Basically the Community Forum mirrors any entries on the Facebook Support page where Skype personnel and Community Forum members can respond to an issue.

Eventually it will also be possible to post Replies directly onto the Facebook Support page; however, due to a recent change in Facebook’s requirements for Fan Pages, Skype is working on the adjustment required to adhere to Facebook’s new policy re Fan Page security.

Bottom line: many businesses are feeling their way to determine how Facebook’s Fan Pages can be used for user engagement and as a marketing tool. While there is certainly going to be a lot of self-promotion, providing opportunities for customer participation or user feedback is critical to maintaining the integrity and credibility of Facebook Fan Pages and, most importantly, repeat visits. Only time will tell how successful Skype can be with their Facebook presence but at least there is now a concerted focus on engaging users through social networking activities.

 Skype Goes to Facebook for User Engagement
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SkypeKit in Action: Trillian 5.1 for Windows http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-ecosystem/skype-partner-solutions/skypekit-in-action-trillian-5-1-for-windows/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-ecosystem/skype-partner-solutions/skypekit-in-action-trillian-5-1-for-windows/#comments Thu, 03 Nov 2011 17:39:42 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=6261 Trillian.PluggedIntoSkype SkypeKit in Action: Trillian 5.1 for WindowsLast week Skype announced some changes to their developer program. In that post I mentioned that the only application to date where one could experience SkypeKit Desktop in action was a beta version of Trillian for Windows. Earlier this week Trillian released version 5.1 to the Skype Apps Directory.

Trillian aspires to become a single client for all your conversation, messaging and social networking activity, whether on Skype, Google, Facebook, Live Messenger, Four Square, several email services and many others. And there are versions for Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and the Web. Ideally it would replace several individual clients and be accessible across multiple platforms.

Having set up an account that has been active for about a week here are some observations:

  • While it allows you to track and converse with several applications and services, each one remains siloed with respect to exchanging communications. In other words, Facebook converses with Facebook on any device but not with, say, a Google application. Skype conversations are established with other Skype contacts only.
  • It is the first application that demonstrates the use of SkypeKit in a desktop application; as a result it not only supports chat conversations and voice calls but also provides support for Skype’s SILK codec providing crystal clear voice quality, file transfer and access to select audio devices.
  • At the moment it does not support video calling but that is simply because Skype only released the appropriate Skype video API’s last week; there is no technical reason that video calling should not appear in a future release of Trillian.
  • Voice call quality experience reflected the crispness and clarity expected of the SILK codec. On a Trillian to Skype for Windows call, the Call Technical Info confirmed use of the SILK codec.
  • Trillian offers a “Pro” service where all your activity is stored in the cloud on their servers; cost is almost a “nobrainer” at $12 per year.

Trillian is well along the path of providing a single client for multiple applications and services. It runs on not only PC’s but also iOS5 and Android devices. Its Pro service allows you to track all your conversations on any of these devices. However, Trillian for Mac does not yet have any Skype support (even in a beta version) yet the SkypeKit API’s are available. One cannot expect Skype support any time soon on iOS5 and Android devices as Skype has yet to release any API’s for working with these devices.

Some screen shots:

Trillian for Windows 5.1 Preferences | Accounts screen provides an overview of how it may be set up:

T4W1 5.Preferences.Accounts thumb SkypeKit in Action: Trillian 5.1 for Windows

The main Trillian menu showing all the applications and services to which I have logged in along with an example of my Twitter feed:

T4W1 5.MainMenu.Compressed thumb SkypeKit in Action: Trillian 5.1 for Windows

All the “Contacts” menus were compressed to demonstrate the various options available for messaging. Double clicking on any of the social networking accounts brings up the relevant feed in a separate window as shown.

T4W5 1.BosFilter thumb SkypeKit in Action: Trillian 5.1 for WindowsAs shown in the menu at the right Trillian is a good way to find a Contact’s “current” status on all their social networking and messaging applications. Simply filter down with a (partial) name and you get this. In this example Boston is online in Skype, GTalk and GMail and Facebook while Alex is offline in both.

Note that, while logged in, a Contact appears under the appropriate messaging application but once logged out the Contacts are all relegated to the Offline Contacts category. Also note the icon beside each Contact name to identify the relevant messaging application.

With Google applications, logging in and out can result is some strange identification such as “gmail.51AC27DE”. It simply indicates, in this case, that the contact can be accessed via GTalk or GMail simply when s/he is logged into either. In fact, this also happened with someone who contacted me through the new Google+ chat feature where the identification under Google Talk starts with “TalkGadetC85….”.

With Trillian open or running in background you also have the option to receive small notification windows at a designated corner of your desktop as a feed is updated or an IM message is received. This can be annoying and distracting; it requires some discipline to ignore it. There are options in the preferences for turning these notifications off.

During a Skype voice call the user interface contains all the features associated with Skype calls:

T4W1 5.SkypeCallMenuDescribed thumb SkypeKit in Action: Trillian 5.1 for Windows

One final observation: when you go to Task Manager | Processes you see this when SkypeKit is being used:

T4W5 1.TaskManagerProcesses thumb SkypeKit in Action: Trillian 5.1 for Windows

Small footprint relative to Skype (which was also open when this screen capture happened). As a matter of interest trillian.exe is using about 29,000K of memory. But this is without any video support; it will be interesting to see any change once Skype video can be accessed via Trillian.

Bottom line: Trillian is certainly well down the road to becoming a universal messaging and social networking client. And it gives an initial feel for how SkypeKit can be deployed in a desktop application. For those who use multiple applications it can become the default IM/social networking client; in fact, “Boston” in the example above has done so as he follows both Skype and Facebook for chat. Currently he still needs to open Skype for video calls.

Check out the Skype App Directory to download.

The Big Brother feel: And if you were wondering where Dan York is active as I write this (he had Google+ open in two browser windows):

T4W5 1.DanYork thumb SkypeKit in Action: Trillian 5.1 for Windows

 SkypeKit in Action: Trillian 5.1 for Windows
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Microsoft Acquires Skype: Deal Closed! http://voiceontheweb.biz/ip-based-communications/conversation-providers/microsoft-acquires-skype-deal-closed/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/ip-based-communications/conversation-providers/microsoft-acquires-skype-deal-closed/#comments Fri, 14 Oct 2011 14:03:03 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=6220 MSSkype.logos2 .200px2 Microsoft Acquires Skype: Deal Closed!Overnight Microsoft announced they had closed their acquisition of Skype, following the final EU Commission regulatory approval last week. Key points:

  • Skype will remain as an independent business unit within Microsoft under the leadership of former Skype CEO Tony Bates who becomes President of Microsoft’s Skype Division. It’s a new tact for a Microsoft acquisition.
  • Microsoft anticipates the integration of Skype into many of its current products – the most obvious being Skype for Windows Mobile and Outlook integration (as well as other Office products). But there are opportunities foreseen for Windows Live offerings as well as its Microsoft Lync enterprise offering.
  • Whereas Skype had little enterprise presence other than small businesses and employees who would use it at work, it will be an interesting challenge to see how Skype becomes integrated into Microsoft Lync. There are challenges on the Microsoft side not simply from a technology perspective but also from a business perspective, for example, the costs and burdensome licensing associated with their server-based products.

Tony Bates has put out his vision statement, including a video and an supporting infographic, for Skype’s direction within Microsoft:

Microsoft is committed to the ubiquity of the Skype experience – communication across every device and every platform will remain a primary focus. And we’ve only scratched the surface. We’re at the starting line of integrating world-class talent, innovative technologies and products. By bringing together the best of Microsoft and the best of Skype, we’ll deliver amazing new experiences for consumers and business around the world.

Leading up to the closing we have seen some subtle activity on the Skype side:

  • Most notably new releases of most Skype client software that incorporates advertising. Skype intends to place ads in a discrete manner during Skype-to-Skype calls made by users who are not generating revenue through Skype credit, a Skype Calling Plan subscription or a Skype Premium subscription. As mentioned by Skype CEO Tony Bates at a recent forum event, one of Skype’s goals is to generate major revenue through this advertising initiative.
  • Skype has continued to offer upgrades for all its supported platforms over the past two months, not only supporting the claim that Skype’s brand would be damaged should they stop supporting platforms other than Windows but also supporting Skype’s initiative to provide more incremental upgrades every two to three months.
  • A strong emphasis on Skype’s unique ability to drive video communications in a way that encourages easy adoption (more in a future post).
  • Last night Skype released hotfix upgrades to Skype 5.6 for Windows that removed a Google Product Bundle offering, comprising the Google Toolbar and the Chrome browser, during installation. (Will we be seeing a Bing product bundle soon?)
  • While Skype has made some top level management changes over the past few months, they appear, with a few minor exceptions, to have kept their operating staff, whether on the developer side or marketing side.This brings an experience base that is critical to meeting Tony’s goals in a timely manner.

And some questions:

  • Will we see a Skype for BlackBerry? Can Microsoft leverage its relationship with RIM to resolve this issue? (This has been a most requested feature on one LinkedIn forum discussing what users want to see on the Playbook.)
  • How will Skype now encourage third party application development? Will there be support for using web-based tools meeting the IETF’s RTCWeb initiative? What is the road map for SkypeKit?
  • Will we see Skype Online numbers for Canada?
  • And, in the longer term, will Skype pass the “AmberMac Test”?
  • Can Microsoft become as ubiquitously associated with leadership in real time communications as they have been in the evolution of desktop operating systems?

About thirty years ago I worked for a company that had developed Magnetic Resonance technology that was evolving from chemical analysis applications into the medical imaging field. This company initially attempted a partnership with GE who were the leading medical imaging company of the day, especially with CT scanners but were just dipping their toes into learning magnetic resonance technology. However, my employer of the day did not have the financial or other resources required to jump from a business selling $100K to $500K systems to a research market into a business selling $3 million systems into a medical market (with all its regulatory implications). In the end GE simply acquired the company’s magnetic resonance division and has now become a leader in the MRI market. I see a similar opportunity here for the combination of Skype’s technology resources with Microsoft’s financial and business resources along with their market reach.

One final comment: over the past five and a half years I personally have come to meet many Skype employees. Their common thread and over riding motivation was their participation in an initiative that was revolutionizing real time communications on a world class scale. It has been a pleasure to work with them across several projects. Let’s hope they can continue to thrive under the Microsoft umbrella; they are a key resource to the success Tony envisions. Congratulations are due to all the members of the Skype team that made this transaction possible.

It will be an interesting ride. Can they execute? What will happen with the user experience? Will it drive a significant return on a $8.5 billion investment?

What’s your take? What are the opportunities and what are additional questions beyond the list above? Look forward to your comments.

Just as I finished writing this post, Dan York put up his views over at Disruptive Telephony:

My interest was not only in the “across all devices”, which has been a large part of Skype’s goal for some time… but also in the use of “real-time communications”. For a while that was a phrase that only the more technical-minded folks used, but now increasingly “real-time communications” seems to be the phrase of choice for many. I, for one, applaud the usage.

Read Dan’s post for another perspective on the acquisition.

Update: Phil Wolff at Skype Journal: Skype: New owners, new customers, new channels.

Full disclosure: The author is an involuntary participant in the Canada Pension Plan – a beneficiary of this acquisition. Now CPPIB is looking at investing in a retail chain called “99 cents” stores.

 Microsoft Acquires Skype: Deal Closed!
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Skype and TELUS: Carrier-Supported Skype Now Available in Canada http://voiceontheweb.biz/mobile-root/wireless-carriers/skype-and-telus-carrier-supported-skype-now-available-in-canada/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/mobile-root/wireless-carriers/skype-and-telus-carrier-supported-skype-now-available-in-canada/#comments Mon, 26 Sep 2011 13:09:24 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=6105 LGOptimusSkypeEdn.logos .150px Skype and TELUS: Carrier Supported Skype Now Available in CanadaThree months ago Skype and TELUS announced an agreement whereby TELUS Mobility, a Canadian carrier, would become proactive in supporting Skype through several initiatives:

  • Providing full platform and customer support for the use of Skype on iPhones and Android phones
  • Offering a Skype edition LG Optimus Black phone powered by Android with a pre-installed Skype client, support for Bluetooth connectivity and 60 minutes of SkypeOut calling
  • Purchase of Skype credit in $5, $10 and $20 amounts charged to the customer’s TELUS account
  • Offering Skype with TELUS’ Data Flex Plan whereby data charges are automatically incremented with increased usage. For instance, using <500MB in one month will cost $35 but using 1MB to 2MB in the subsequent month would cost $55.

Skype.Telus .Launch.email .22Sep11 thumb Skype and TELUS: Carrier Supported Skype Now Available in CanadaLate last week I received promotional emails from Skype (in fact, one email for every Skype account registered in my name) that would appear to be going to Skype’s Canadian users. This is the first indication that TELUS is now executing on their agreement with Skype.

On scanning the TELUS Mobility website:

  • Skype is proactively being promoted on any iPhone with iOS 4.0 and any Android phone with at least Android 2.1
  • Skype credit can be purchased either from a telusmobility.com web page or via a text message that delivers the link for purchase.
  • Skype effectively becomes the recommended international long distance service for any of the supported phones
  • TELUS is deploying Skype on their 4G network with 21Mbps speeds, being upgraded in many locations to 42Mbps and LTE over the next few months. However, they expect users to see download speeds of 4-6 Mbps in practice.
  • Skype is also being heavily promoted on their recently released Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate 4G running under Android 2.3. A $29.99 purchase price requires a minimum $50/month voice and data plan.

The one cautionary note is battery life. As mentioned in a previous post covering Skype for Android,  when running Skype, battery life can be shortened to as little as 3 to 4 hours. This is reinforced on some otherwise very favourable TELUS user comments on the Samsung Galaxy S phone (click on the Reviews tab):

It does have a good battery life, as long as you are closing your apps and other programs properly. Leave stuff open, watch too much video, use the camera, and other battery-draining apps, and yes you will run your battery dry in 1/2 a day. Use it in moderation, along with your casual texting and communication tasks and you will be fine for a day’s worth.

The combination of a 4G Samsung Galaxy S Android phone with Android 2.3 should be sufficient for making Skype video calls on the Fascinate 4G. However, as TELUS is effectively pre-installing a Skype client on these phones, they need to complete some testing and Android software upgrades before confirming that video calling works. In the meantime, if you are able to have a video call experience with either of these phones, please enter a Comment below. TELUS did inform me that video calling will work with the forthcoming 4G Samsung Galaxy S II X .

Skype’s support by TELUS is different from its previous offerings with Verizon in that TELUS is supporting a full Skype for Android peer-to-peer Skype client delivering Instant Messaging, participation in Skype multi-party calls and mood message – and it works over an LTE network. Based on other Skype for Android features it should include native address book integration; as discussed above it certainly has the potential to work with Skype video calling.

The initial Verizon service is a voice and Instant messaging service over a 3G network with no potential for video calling due to its underlying calling architecture which also requires gateway server overhead. On the other hand Verizon did announce plans, at CES, for offering new Android phones that would run Skype, including video calling, on their forthcoming LTE network. (But Andy Abramson seems to be having difficulty with video calling of any kind specifically on Verizon.)

Bottom line: TELUS is now offering full support of Skype on iOS devices and designated Android phones, where the latter is providing customers with a seamless path to both acquiring and sustaining Skype services. Provided they have an appropriate data plan users can make free voice (and video?) calls worldwide to their Skype contacts and low cost international calls to landlines and mobile phones worldwide.

For Skype it becomes another contribution to SkypeOut revenues; there is no mention of any royalty arrangements when it comes to revenues generated associated with the purchase of Skype-enabled Android phones. TELUS, as Canada’s third wireless carrier in subscriber base, demonstrates its aggressiveness once again through a unique offering in the Canadian market. While making it available to their existing customer base, time will tell if Skype support becomes a primary reason for adopting Skype; I have yet to see any TELUS advertising promoting  Skype.

 Skype and TELUS: Carrier Supported Skype Now Available in Canada
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Skype Performance Update: Interesting Statistics http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-ecosystem/video-calling/skype-performance-update-interesting-statistics/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-ecosystem/video-calling/skype-performance-update-interesting-statistics/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2011 12:21:42 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=5634 skype logo 100x44 Skype Performance Update: Interesting Statistics

Check out the statistics that arose out of last week’s panel discussion: Skype call information; Skype for TV – coming soon to a family room near you and the change in Skype’s employee per lawyer ratio over the past year.

My previous post, Skype: Evolution from “Wildly Popular and Deeply Troubled”, covered a recent panel discussion, held last week at the Fortune Brainstorm event, on the subject of the transition of Skype as it passed through three owners: eBay –> Silver Lake consortium –-> Microsoft. I highlighted several topics where three key players, including Skype CEO Tony Bates, gave their perspective on why various business decisions were made that resulted in these ownership changes.

But there were also some interesting statistics and other information re Skype’s ongoing operations that came out during the discussion:

  • Skype released five products over a six week period in June/July this year, more than had been released in the previous two years.
  • TonyBates.FortuneEvent.20Jul11 thumb Skype Performance Update: Interesting Statistics It appears that, while Tony Bates was announced as CEO in early October 2010, he actually started becoming involved with Skype operations in August (an advantage of being a private company – you don’t have to announce key executive changes when they actually occur). This information came out during the discussion about the release date for the Skype for iPhone video calling upgrade .
  • Skype had over 7 million downloads of Skype for iPhone 3.0 with video calling on its December 30, 2010 release date.
  • When Tony joined Skype he found as his favorite statistic: “Five people who actually touched product and wrote code for every lawyer in the company.” Today that ratio is now 25:1 and rising, according to Tony’s comment. This explains why several issues have persisted over the years including:
    • the lack of Skype Online numbers for Canada (which could easily be resolved to address a Canadian regulatory issue),
    • the delay in releasing Skype for iPhone to Canadians due to an intellectual property issue
    • the tight credit policies such as the fact that a credit card can only be used with one Skype account. If I want to use a credit card with my wife’s Skype account, I need to use a different credit card.
    • the constant concern over U.S. regulatory issues as Skype rolls out a Skype for Business program in the U.S.
  • Skype expects to see “Monthly Active Users” (“MAU’s”) rise to over 200 million by year end from its current 170 million MAU’s in the last quarter.
  • Skype active users average over 100 minutes of engagement (in a Skype voice or video conversation) per month.
  • The average video call lasts 27 minutes and is rising; an interesting statistic that helps to confirm what Skype Chief Technology Strategist Jonathan Rosenberg pointed out in his “The Rise of Real Time Social Sharing” presentation at eComm America 2010.
  • Will Skype be in your family room soon? Skype for TV has already been embedded into over 50 million TV Skype-enabled TV sets (and BluRay players) worldwide, including high end models from Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, Sharp and Vizio.
  • In spite of the occasional service interruption, over 35% of Skype’s user base is small business that uses Skype as their primary communications service “with the fall-back that the cost piece is so compelling”.

Bottom Line: It’s a bit of a hodge-podge of information but it all contributes to a better understanding of not only how Skype is ending up as an autonomous business division of Microsoft but also what developments are happening on the business side that have contributed to the variety of new products and releases that have appeared over the past six weeks.

 Skype Performance Update: Interesting Statistics
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SkypeKit: Emerging into Public Beta http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-ecosystem/video-calling/skypekit-emerging-into-public-beta/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-ecosystem/video-calling/skypekit-emerging-into-public-beta/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2011 23:28:51 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=5508 Just over a year after Skype’s first announcement of SkypeKit as a closed beta program for third party developers, Jonathan Christensen, Skype’s Vice President, Emerging Opportunities, announced the opening up of the SkypeKit developer program to a public beta at eComm 2011 this afternoon.

skplusyourproduct thumb SkypeKit: Emerging into Public Beta

Yesterday I had the opportunity to discuss the program with Chris Andrews, Sr. Business Development Manager at Skype. The primary function of SkypeKit is to provide access to a “headless” version of Skype from which developers can provide their Skype functionality through their own product’s user interface. Otherwise SkypeKit provides access to the same functionality as standard desktop clients; however, it does not support screen sharing or multi-party video (Group Video).

SkypeKit.Services thumb SkypeKit: Emerging into Public BetaTo join the SkypeKit developer program developers create a developer account and pay a one-time fee of $10 to download the SDK and participate in the developer community forum. With its ability to support embedded Skype in hardware, hardware partners will also need to obtain Skype certification at the standard costs for that program. Software application developers have no additional cost. At this point there is no revenue sharing expected by Skype; that’s the one issue that will have to be addressed at some point if Skype is to demonstrate ROI to Microsoft.

Chris confirmed access to the video stream is available via Skype’s proprietary RTP interface which has been designed to address the various screen formats developers will encounter with either their own hardware or, in the case of a software application, the various PC and other intelligent device displays. Documentation is available at the Skype Developer site.

While SkypeKit provides support for both hardware and software, most of the development to date has centred around hardware devices. At CES Skype announced that SkypeKit was being used for a baby monitor based on the Panda chip and is being tested for incorporation into GM’s OnStar service. One new player he mentioned is Tely Labs, a startup with no website, who are developing a “living room experience” for their own branded TV accessory; we’ll have to wait to see what this means beyond the various Skype for TV/BluRay offerings.

imvox logo thumb SkypeKit: Emerging into Public BetaAn initial software platform incorporating SkyepKit is Imvox, a social voice communications platform for gamers. From their website:

The biggest benefit of Imvox’s participation in the SkypeKit developer program is it allows us to offer the gaming community crystal clear voice quality, which is used by hundreds of millions of people across the world every day. The Skype partnership also enables Imvox to work cross-platform, so Windows and Mac users enjoy the same high-quality audio. It’s about time a solution works for everybody in the gaming market.

I had an opportunity to experience Skype’s SILK codec in a gaming platform a year ago November with the launch of the Blabbelon “click-to-talk” voice service for gamers. It’s a different market space from the traditional consumer and business voice conferencing.

GorupMix.logo .200px thumb SkypeKit: Emerging into Public BetaLong time Skype partner InnerPass has been awaiting the launch of SkypeKit’s open beta to incorporate Skype into their newly launched Group Mix team collaboration service – an evolution of their previous InnerPass Meeting and Sharing service that was offered as a Skype Extra.

SkypeKitTopics thumb SkypeKit: Emerging into Public BetaThe SkypeKit Developer Site provides documentation and samples to assist with the development process covering topics such as TV, audio and video and various development tools. However, Chris did mention that, while all the tools are there to support software development, they still need some work to make a software developer totally comfortable with using SkypeKit.

Bottom line: With Skype’s pending acquisition by Microsoft it will be interesting to see what uptake there is from developers and how this developer program works in conjunction with other Microsoft developer programs. Certainly Microsoft brings the financial heft and experience required to establish and attract a large developer community for SkypeKit as it evolves.

According to Stacey Higginbotham’s GigaOm discussion with Jonathan Christensen there are 2,000 developers who have been part of the closed program but there are over 10,000 developers who have applied and can now participate. As with the iPad and smartphone market spaces the evolution of the real time communications space will really depend on how readily users will adopt the resulting applications. Until other services can offer a combination of high quality voice, the ability to call a wide range of devices and platforms, HD video and over 170 million active users, Skype certainly starts out with an initial performance lead over pending competitors.

Skype Journal: Skype for iPad; SkypeKit launching at eComm next week?

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Whither Skype Extras II? – Skype for Windows 5.3 Hotfix and The Survivors http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-ecosystem/skype-partner-solutions/whither-skype-extras-ii-skype-for-windows-5-3-hotfix-and-the-survivors/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-ecosystem/skype-partner-solutions/whither-skype-extras-ii-skype-for-windows-5-3-hotfix-and-the-survivors/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:21:33 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=5303 AboutSkype.5 3 0 120.vsn .200px thumb Whither Skype Extras II?   Skype for Windows 5.3 Hotfix and The SurvivorsTwo weeks ago in the post, Whither Skype Extras Today? Withered?, I asked for a clarification about the status of Skype Extras.

S4W.5 3 120.ToolsMenu Whither Skype Extras II?   Skype for Windows 5.3 Hotfix and The SurvivorsToday Skype announced a HotFix that effectively removes access to Skype Extras although it shows up, greyed out, in the Tools Menu. Go to Help | Check for Upgrades. In Windows Task Manager you’ll find that SkypePM.exe is no longer seen in the Processes tab.

Skype.TaskManager.PMexe .redlined thumb Whither Skype Extras II?   Skype for Windows 5.3 Hotfix and The SurvivorsAs PamConsult’s Dick Schiferli points out in the comments below the Skype Extras do remain available in the Skype Store and are also available from the various publishers’ websites. However, the good news is that several publishers of Skype Extras have not withered away but rather have upgraded their products to remove their dependence on the Skype Extras program while introducing new features.

The Skype Extras Survivors

PamFax3.Logo 1 Whither Skype Extras II?   Skype for Windows 5.3 Hotfix and The SurvivorsPamFaxwinner of the 2007 Skype mashup competition, continues to grow; their recent infrastructure upgrade means that faxes are delivered within a minute of clicking on the Send Fax button. No ongoing obligations yet there are subscription programs that include a fax number in 27 countries. Send and received faxes to/from PC’s, iPhone/iPad/iPodTouch and Android. Fax Dropbox documents; receive faxes in DropBox. Click here for a complete update on PamFax,

GorupMix.logo .200px Whither Skype Extras II?   Skype for Windows 5.3 Hotfix and The SurvivorsInnerPass is releasing a new team collaboration product, Group Mix, that aggregates all their document management, persistent “rooms” and desktop sharing expertise into a web-based product with a great user interface that is easily accessed in any browser from, say, a bookmark. The first release includes voice connections in several countries via the PSTN; they will bring Skype back in shortly. More details will be forthcoming in a post early next week.

Pamela continues to upgrade and add more features to the longest running Skype Extra. Call recording, conversation archiving and many other nifty features that enhance the Skype user experience.

Netralia continues to offer its Skylook Outlook plugin that has done very well in the customer relationship management space. More recently they launched and have upgraded VodBurner, capable not only of recording Skype Video calls but also performing editing of the recording and direct upload to YouTube.

Evoca has been building their online audio recording and hosting business where you can call in from any phone, Skype or PC mic, record interviews and conference calls. From their website:

Dial any of our U.S. and international phone numbers or use the Evoca Skype Call Recorder — available for registered subscribers. Our 100% web service securely saves and stores your audio file in digital MP3 format in your online Evoca account. You can keep it private, share it with colleagues, or publish it online for the world to listen.

OnState continues to provide and grow its web-based, pay-as-you-go call center/PBX offering. In fact, in addition to its Skype integration, it now supports Google Talk and Salesforce.com amongst other features.

There may be others; I’ll be glad to add them. But these are the publishers who have managed to build on their user feedback and market acceptance. They have continued development to enhance their products which incorporate Skype integration but can operate independently of the Skype Extras infrastructure.

 Whither Skype Extras II?   Skype for Windows 5.3 Hotfix and The Survivors
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Skype mobile on Verizon Launch: It’s About the User Experience http://voiceontheweb.biz/mobile-root/wireless-carriers/skype-mobile-on-verizon-launch-its-about-the-user-experience/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/mobile-root/wireless-carriers/skype-mobile-on-verizon-launch-its-about-the-user-experience/#comments Tue, 23 Mar 2010 22:17:19 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=3696 Skypemobile.logo thumb Skype mobile on Verizon Launch: It’s About the User Experience A month ago at Mobile World Congress, Skype and Verizon stole the spotlight by announcing Verizon’s forthcoming Skype mobile service. This afternoon at CTIA in Las Vegas, Verizon and Skype announced that the service will launch in two days on Thursday, March 25 (think Christmas in March).

If there was one overriding theme that came out of the press conference today, it was “it’s about the user experience”. Skype’s Russ Shaw emphasized this during our CES interview in January; Josh Silverman, Skype CEO and John Stratton, Verizon Wireless Chief Marketing Officer, reinforced this during the Mobile World Congress press conference.

Skypemobile.3Phones thumb Skype mobile on Verizon Launch: It’s About the User Experience So what is this “user experience” that “it’s all about”?

  • Make it as easy to make a Skype call as to make a circuit switched wireless call.
    • Find a name in the address book and press a “Call” button.
  • Provide free Skype-to-Skype voice and IM conversations to any Skype contact worldwide
    • Without any charge against voice minutes or data usage
  • Provide an “always on” experience by allowing the application to run in background
    • Receive IM chat messages and Skype voice calls while running other applications
    • Provide ongoing “presence” status via Skype IM
  • Merge the device address book with your Skype contacts to ensure ready availability for both making and receiving a call
    • whether a normal voice call, a Skype-to-Skype call or an international call via SkypeOut
  • Run the voice conversation over a proven, scalable, reliable voice network
    • that also has maximum geographical coverage
    • receive calls anywhere, anytime – not tethered to a PC for Skype conversations
  • Optimize for longer battery life
  • Make the download and installation a default with minimal, if any, user intervention
  • Make it available to all your existing customers who have bought either BlackBerry or Android smartphones in the past
    • going back to the original 8830 BlackBerry World Edition and the Curve 8330
    • also available on the BlackBerry Storm, Storm 2, Curve 8530, Tour 9630 and three Android models
  • Two other points made: the service is CALEA-compliant and E911 access remains available via the Verizon voice channel.

Customers will be able to access and install Skype mobile in one of four ways:

  • For existing BlackBerry customers the application will be pushed to their BlackBerry’s home screen over the next few days after launch
    • New BlackBerry customers will find the application on their home screen
  • Android users will be able to install the application from the Google App store
  • The application can also be downloaded by going to www.skype.com/go/mobile
  • Text “SKYPE” to 2255 to receive a download link

While there is no universal Skype for BlackBerry yet, the Verizon offering demonstrates how Skype can take advantage of the BlackBerry’s feature set:

  • optimize for battery usage
  • “always on” Skype connection by running the Skype mobile client in background
  • using BlackBerry’s “push” technology to push the Skype application to all (existing) Verizon customers on BlackBerry

There are some limitations:

  • No WiFi; must be in a location where Verizon signal is available
    • not deep in an underground location
  • No roaming with Skype;
    • Skype calls can only be made while on the “Home” Verizon network in the U.S.
  • Limited audio bandwidth using the inherent Verizon voice network
    • No SILK codecs involved; probably G.729

One final note: When asked about exclusivity, Skype’s Russ Shaw, GM for Mobile replied to the effect that “the Skype mobile experience is exclusive to Verizon” and that “features and functionality won’t be elsewhere”. Leaves a lot open to interpreation; we’ll see as Skype for Symbian and Skype for iPhone evolve.

Bottom line: While it will be a great service for Verizon’s customers wherever they are in the U.S., there are limitations such that the service is not available for international travel. It’s a service that is not only available to new customers but to their entire legacy base of BlackBerry and Android users.

The service, however, provides an initial step for getting Skype onto a mobile service with revenue generation for both Verizon and Skype. The big question is “Will it drive new users for Verizon?”

Yes, this post only covers the basics; more commentary to follow.

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Skype over Verizon: Skype Becomes a Marketing Weapon in the Wireless Carrier Arsenal – The Prelude http://voiceontheweb.biz/mobile-root/wireless-carriers/skype-over-verizon-skype-becomes-a-marketing-weapon-in-the-wireless-carrier-arsenal-the-prelude/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/mobile-root/wireless-carriers/skype-over-verizon-skype-becomes-a-marketing-weapon-in-the-wireless-carrier-arsenal-the-prelude/#comments Tue, 16 Feb 2010 17:34:53 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=3488 skype logo111 thumb Skype over Verizon: Skype Becomes a Marketing Weapon in the Wireless Carrier Arsenal – The Prelude Full disclosure: This post was prepared prior to today’s press conference using information that was publicly available prior to the conference. In the second post I’ll discuss the service as announced at CES today.

When you can advertise “Free phone calling internationally”, they will come! In the CES interview with Skype CEO Josh Silverman, Josh makes the point about how Skype draws in customers by offering a free service that is easily adopted by consumers and then offering “premium” services, such as SkypeOut calling, to generate revenues. This model has led to:

As mentioned in the recent CES interview with Russ Shaw, Skype’s VP & GM for Mobile and EMEA, Skype’s partnership with Hutcheson Whampoa’s 3 service in nine countries has delivered interesting carrier-friendly results from 3’s customers who take advantage of its free Skype-to-Skype calling:

Results that should get all wireless carriers’ attention! And Russ did emphasize these results to reinforce where some of Skype for Mobile’s current activities and resources are being directed.

Setting the stage in the U.S. market for today’s Skype-Verizon announcement:

  • Verizon has a reputation as offering the best high speed (3G and faster) wireless data services within the U.S. and nobody’s complaining about their voice quality.
  • AT&T’s major strength appears to be its iPhone arrangements
  • AT&T’s network performance issues, especially with their data service, are well documented (even their voice channel failed me on my last two trips to the U.S.)
  • The major failing of the iPhone that impacts Skype for iPhone is its lack of multi-tasking capability
  • Skype has announced they will be making available Skype for iPhone running over 3G – a service that will only be available on AT&T for the duration of the current Apple-AT&T agreement
  • Verizon needs an offering and drawing card that will compete with AT&T’s forthcoming ability to offer a Skype-based service on the iPhone.

So it should come as no surprise that Verizon is announcing an agreement to offer Skype on several devices including the BlackBerry line and the Android phones they support.

The Service Architecture

Based on information that has come out over the weekend and content archived on this weblog, this service is modeled on an architecture similar to the iSkoot architecture used for 3’s service whereby data (Skype chat messages, presence and call signaling information) go over Verizon’s data channel but the actual voice calls are connected to the phone via Verizon’s (robust and readily scalable) voice channel. As a result:

  • Call quality is limited by the (3.7KHz) audio bandwidth of the voice channel (in particular, no SILK superwideband quality calls)
  • Verizon has no termination charges for calls to Skype contacts (or what amounts to being a Skype-to-Skype call – a key factor in making this service cost effective from the Verizon perspective)
  • There is no loading of Verizon’s wireless data network (and the associated backhaul demands) with the heavy demand that would be placed on it via a true VoIP client.
  • The resulting “Skype for Verizon” Skype Lite client on the BlackBerry and Android devices  has no support of calls via WiFi access points.

So the Verizon-Skype announcement certainly builds on previous Skype technology and business model experience; it will take advantage of proven and demonstrably reliable carrier voice and data services. I’ll have more in the follow-up post covering the actual announcement.

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Business Long Distance: Death By a Million PBX’s, Part II http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-markets-skype-world/skype-for-business/business-long-distance-death-by-a-million-pbxs-part-ii/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-markets-skype-world/skype-for-business/business-long-distance-death-by-a-million-pbxs-part-ii/#comments Thu, 03 Dec 2009 06:02:21 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=3238 Skype4SIP.logo thumb1 thumb Business Long Distance: Death By a Million PBXs, Part II Skype launches an Open Beta phase for its Skype for SIP service. Over 10,000 businesses worldwide have lined up to join the program.

Over the past eight months, Skype has been running a closed Skype for SIP beta program. A couple of PBX vendor agreements have been signed while Skype personnel have been having discussions with potential Skype for Business customers about their use of business communications processes.

Yetersday Skype has announced the launch of the Skype for SIP Open Beta program. According to Skype’s press release nearly ten thousand businesses around the world have applied to participate in this open beta phase. However, this phase is also open to any new applicants, whether PBX manufacturers, SIP gateway vendors or individual enterprises, who want to learn how they can take advantage of Skype for SIP in their business communications.

SkypeForSIP.Cloud thumb Business Long Distance: Death By a Million PBXs, Part II And why the interest? Skype for SIP:

  • allows a business to provide inbound calling from a Skype client (whether on a PC or embedded in devices such as the RTX 3088 Dualphone), web-based click-to-call buttons or a Skype Online number through a SIP-enabled PBX or Unified Communications system.
  • provisions outbound calling to landlines and mobile phones worldwide at SkypeOut rates
  • has a monthly fee of $6.95/€4.95 per month per concurrent voice channel (which can handle either inbound or outbound calls)
  • is managed from the Skype Business Control Panel:
    • to create and manage employees’ or outsourced resources’ Skype accounts
    • to subscribe to Skype Online numbers
    • to allocate SkypeOut credits to employees’ Skype accounts
  • allows management of Skype calls via the existing PBX or UC features, such as call routing, conferencing, phone menus and voice mail
  • can bring significant communication cost savings to enterprises, whether large, medium or small, especially if they are addressing continental or worldwide markets

From the Skype press release:

A company’s IT administrator just creates and registers a Skype Business Control Panel (BCP) for the organization and then follows the instructions to configure Skype for SIP to work with its existing SIP-enabled communications system. This Web-based tool allows a company to control its Skype usage from a single point and enables centralized billing, easy allocation of Skype Credit, subscriptions and online numbers to users, as well as reporting about both usage and spending. Furthermore, it gives companies the ability to manage internal employee accounts, including who uses Skype and who doesn’t and what features they can use.

As an example of the cost savings, Enterprise Business Development Manager Matthew Jordan described a company who would replace a T1 line with 23 lines at a cost of, say, $400 per month plus per minute toll charges, at up to,say, $0.03/minute, for both inbound and outbound calls. With Skype for SIP, the company would be looking at a cost of $161 per month for the 23 voice channels plus low SkypeOut rates for outbound calls to landlines and mobile phones anywhere worldwide and no charges for inbound calls.

From Skype’s perspective, a primary goal of this beta phase is to monitor usage to determine experience-based usage patterns. To facilitate this goal,  during this open beta Skype for SIP will have a 20% burstage allowances such that a company with 10 channels can actually use up to 12 channels as a means to optimize bursting levels required  based on real calling patterns. With over 10,000 Skype for SIP customers, they hope to gain statistically significant data as well as learn more about scalability and robustness issues.

The entire systems is designed to be global and scalable as numbers build. The required SIP gateways (at sip.skype.com) will be independent of SIP gateways used for legacy consumer SkypeOut calling.

Skype for SIP is a classic case of a transitional offering. Enterprises continue to use their legacy SIP-enabled PBX and then add Skype for SIP such that they can continue making calls but run them over Skype for SIP to reduce costs as they feel more and more comfortable with the advantages of the Skype for SIP exerience. It provides a low cost means of adding voice channels; it also allows a company to expand their calling into new countries at low SkypeOut rates with the only provisioning being the initial setup of Skype for SIP via the business control panel.

More information, including an introductory video, can be obtained and Business Control Panel accounts set up at the Skype for SIP beta website at sip.skype.com.

 Business Long Distance: Death By a Million PBXs, Part II

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RTX 3088 Dualphone: An Ideal Home or Small Office Solution for Easy Worldwide Calling http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-llc/skype-channels/rtx-3088-dualphone-an-ideal-home-or-small-office-solution-for-easy-worldwide-calling/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-llc/skype-channels/rtx-3088-dualphone-an-ideal-home-or-small-office-solution-for-easy-worldwide-calling/#comments Mon, 30 Nov 2009 08:00:00 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=3234 RTX3088Dualphone.Logo .200px RTX 3088 Dualphone: An Ideal Home or Small Office Solution for Easy Worldwide Calling The DECT 6.0-compliant RTX 3088 Dualphone allows North American consumers to continue to use their legacy PSTN phone service while seamlessly incorporating Skype into their routine “home phone” activities. And it’s one reason why you will see those Skype Mood Messages that say “Using Skype without my computer”.

Over the years we have become used to grabbing a phone, “dialling” a number and start talking. It’s a simple algorithm – every phone user is familiar with it. Over the past couple of decades supplementary services such as voice mail, call forwarding and call waiting have become all too common. More recently, if you walk down the phone aisle of North American retailers selling cordless phones, you’ll see the term DECT 6.0 prominent on the phone packaging and promotional collateral.

So how can one “just add Skype” calling to this most familiar consumer calling experience?

With a few years of using Skype and evaluating a range of VoIP phones, the criteria I have come up with include:

  • Just pick up the phone handset and initiate a call using a habitual calling process
  • Use the familiar 12-key touchtone dial pad
  • Continue availability of all the legacy PSTN service provider services such as voice mail, call forwarding and call display
  • Employ cordless phones’ crystal clear, interference-free DECT 6.0 protocol
  • Add Skype without using a PC
  • Add an option to select either a PSTN (landline or mobile) call or a Skype call when you hit the “Call” button
  • Use Skype for both free Skype-to-Skype calls and SkypeOut calls at low Skype calling plan rates
  • Provide access to a directory that includes both Skype contacts and PSTN contacts
  • Provide access to Skype services such as Skype voice mail and contact status

Over the past three years several Skype partners offered cordless phone hardware that met this criteria. One of the veteran vendors has been RTX with their various USB phones and cordless Dualphone offerings. Recently RTX approached In Store Solutions as a recommended distribution channel; they concluded an agreement for worldwide distribution of their 3088 Dualphone via the In Store Shop on the Skype Store.

However, expanding sales into North America required adaption of the DualPhone to not only a North American approved power plug but also the North American rf channels available for DECT, known by the term DECT 6.0, which provides the audio connection between the base station and handsets on the majority of cordless phone packages sold today.

250Dualphone 3088 thumb1 RTX 3088 Dualphone: An Ideal Home or Small Office Solution for Easy Worldwide Calling The RTX 3088 Dualphone includes many standard phone features such as handset speakerphone, 2.5 mm headset jack along with a standard 12-key dial pad. The starter package includes:

  • Base station for connection to both a PSTN line (RJ-11 jack) and an Ethernet connection (RJ-45 jack) back to the home cable or DSL router
  • A cordless handset, with a belt clip, connected to the base station using the crystal clear, interference-free DECT 6.0 standard for cordless home phones.
  • Ethernet cable and phone cable
  • Up to 50 meter indoor range, 300 m outdoor range
  • Charging cradle, along with AAA rechargeable batteries.

Additional features to support Skype include:

  • Color LCD screen
  • Embedded Skype firmware that takes advantage of several Skype features: free Skype-to-Skype calling, SkypeOut calling, voicemail, call history and, for Skype contacts, status
  • Contact list for both Skype and landline/mobile with automatic updates via a Skype account
  • Add up to three additional optional handsets that facilitate:
    • intercom connection between handsets
    • concurrent Skype call while another handset is on either a PSTN call or another Skype call

Over the past two years I have been using another brand of cordless PSTN/Skype phone that is no longer available due to supplier issues. However, because it has almost identical firmware, it gave me the user experience with such a phone with the following comments and recommendations:

  • Use a separate Skype account from any account you may be using for, say, business or personal privacy reasons. You don’t want the rest of your family or roommates answering your private business or personal calls.
  • When placing a call you have the option to select either Landline or Skype
  • SkypeOut availability takes advantage of Skype’s low cost rates or calling plan subscriptions to almost every country worldwide.
  • It’s also smart enough for dealing with the North American area codes where one may or may not need the “1”  to place a call within or across area codes (Toronto region’s four area codes with two overlays, yet varying local calling reach, is an ideal example of this).
  • DECT 6.0 certainly delivers on the interference-free, crystal clear voice quality
  • Having the Call History and Skype directory for both PSTN and Skype calls are perhaps the most useful features, aside from the free Skype-to-Skype calls
  • Have four handsets in various locations around the house without worrying about wall jacks to the wiring is definitely a benefit.
  • With its own embedded “computer”, its operation over Skype is totally independent of call disruption from other programs running on a PC, such as Outlook.
  • The base station’s portability has been a useful feature when diagnosing problems with my Rogers Home Phone cable modem (different from the Internet cable modem) and its one wired connection required to a central location in the house. Service can continue by placing the base station at the modem site while problems are diagnosed and the wiring is repaired.
  • It eliminated the need to repair the home phone wiring setup (beyond the base station connection) when lightning went through some devices in my home last summer.

iss logo alt.150px. thumb RTX 3088 Dualphone: An Ideal Home or Small Office Solution for Easy Worldwide Calling The RTX Dualphone for North America is available via the In Store Solutions Shop on the U.S. Skype store (with introductory promotional pricing of US$149.99 until December 14). It will be available soon on the Canadian Skype Store.

Bottom line: if you’re looking for a way to have you entire household on both your local PSTN service and Skype through a single handset, the RTX Dualphone provides a user friendly, easy-to-install solution. From up to four locations within your house or apartment, it supports both local PSTN and worldwide Skype calling at a very low overall cost.

Review: The Luxury Cordless DualPhone (Dualphone 3088) For Skype Voice Internet Calls!

Full disclosure: In Store Solutions has become a client of Denali InterConneXions, publisher of Voice On The Web, building on the author’s previous business development experience with establishing partnerships that can assist with the promotion of a primary vendor’s offerings. A more complete statement will follow shortly.

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Skype for SIP: Getting Legitimization, Endorsement and Traction http://voiceontheweb.biz/ip-based-communications/conversation-providers/skype-for-sip-getting-legitimization-endorsement-and-traction/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/ip-based-communications/conversation-providers/skype-for-sip-getting-legitimization-endorsement-and-traction/#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2009 15:37:48 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=3053 Skype4SIP.logo thumb Skype for SIP: Getting Legitimization, Endorsement and Traction Over the past two weeks we have started to see signs of a transition period for Skype’s developer support activities. Yes, Skype Extras is dead; however the current Skype API’s remain supported. Jonathan Christensen gave Michael Arrington at TechCrunch some hints of forthcoming developer support activitySkype for Asterisk was launched three weeks ago. All this builds on the “Skype Everywhere” theme announced last January at CES 2009.

And whither the Skype for SIP activity whose beta program was launched six months ago? Over the past two weeks we have seen a couple of Skype for SIP launch partner interoperability announcements incorporating Skype interoperability into their Unified Communications offerings:

But today’s announcement of Skype for SIP interoperability with Cisco’s Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business opens up significant new markets for Skype through Cisco’s extensive worldwide reseller channels. From the press release:

“Cisco is committed to delivering easy-to-use technology to small businesses to help them run their business better and gain a competitive advantage,” said Mark Monday, vice president and general manager, Small Business Solutions business unit, Cisco. “We are excited about Skype for SIP interoperability since it adds a very cost-effective choice to the many other options within the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series.”

Note that Cisco VARS will be required to register for a new Skype Service Partner certification program covering configuration of the Cisco solution to support Skype for SIP. And that the Skype for SIP interoperability with the Cisco 500 Series goes through third party certification at tekVizion Labs, an independent interoperability testing facility in Richardson, Texas.

In all three cases Skype for SIP increases the enterprise’s or organization’s worldwide communications choices while reducing costs through:

  • taking advantage of Skype’s interconnection to the PSTN that provides low cost (SkyepOut) calling to most countries worldwide
  • receiving inbound calls from Skype users via a global click-to-call button on the enterprise’s or organization’s website
  • receiving inbound calls via Skype Online numbers in 25 countries (previously SkypeIn)
  • interoperation of these features with all the other features of the PBX offerings of  Shoretel, sipFoundry and Cisco’s 500 Series, such as call transfer, call forwarding, voicemail, etc.

For organizations and enterprises, the availability of Skype for SIP, Skype for Asterisk and the Skype API’s used by Skype’s other business communications partners, such as OnState and Scendix (PamFax), brings about significant overhead benefits. This offering:

  • ensures that, with one service, the enterprise can achieve low cost calling to any country worldwide without the need to mange and use country- or region-specific calling plans offered by the legacy PSTN telcos.
  • eliminates a layer of communications cost overhead through the value-add of making all Skype’s global termination agreements available through one source via the various Skype for Business partners’ distribution and reseller channels.

Bottom Line: These announcements all build on Skype’s “Skype Everywhere” strategy. The key point here is that, going forward, Skype’s developer and partner activities will focus on transitioning business markets into Skype services by Skype-enabling legacy communications services and platforms, complementing its prior focus on applications that bring about communications enhanced business processes.

As predicted last spring these announcements execute on Business Long Distance: Death by 1,000,000 PBX’s.

Dan York says “Congrats to Skype and Cisco on this announcement”.

 Skype for SIP: Getting Legitimization, Endorsement and Traction

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Stealthing Skype into Larger Businesses http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-markets-skype-world/skype-for-business/stealthing-skype-into-larger-businesses/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-markets-skype-world/skype-for-business/stealthing-skype-into-larger-businesses/#comments Thu, 07 May 2009 12:33:52 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=2482 skypeonstatelogos thumb Stealthing Skype into Larger Businesses Legion are the stories of small and medium businesses who are using Skype for their worldwide communications operations.

  • Skype is the cornerstone for keeping Toronto-based  b5media’s worldwide staff of bloggers, editors, developers and executives in touch via both informal and formal conversations.
  • SeeWorthy gets an assist from Skype when communicating with their Taiwanese supplier (via an Alberta-based translator), North American and Caribbean agents, and prospective European distributors as well as their customers.
  • A Canadian-headquartered resource company is using Skype voice and IM for communications with their operations in Asia; their biggest challenge involves time-zone issues. Skype chat’s inherent asynchronous nature helps to address that issue.

Skype itself claims that about 30% of all its user activity is business related. I often encounter small businesses who have a wealth of stories about how Skype contributes to their business success.

But during a recent conversation with OnState CEO Pat Kelly I learned about how Skype is stealthing its way into medium to large enterprises. Pat discussed two examples (who will remain generic until case studies are available):

  • OnState received an enquiry from a major North American parts distributor whose operations involve agents, resellers and business customers spread out across North America. While this company has an internal IT team, the CFO was focused on significant cost reductions for their call center operations. He has now contracted OnState to provide voice, chat and other customer relationship communications activities that do not simply save money but provide additional communications processes such as IM with its inherent presence and chat features. Once the contract was signed, the CFO mentioned he would guide his IT personnel with their role in the implementation.
  • A European country manager for a worldwide, US-headquartered business found that he was getting charge-backs for “corporate” communications services that did not meet his particular needs. He had enough autonomy that he investigated OnState’s services, went through not only the technical specifications but also the legal reviews and business process requirements. He is now meeting the communications needs of his business ecosystem using Skype and OnState’s other auxiliary services for call center and virtual PBX requirements. Subsequently other European subsidiaries of the same company are implementing OnState’s services. Yet this is a situation where the U.S. head office has yet to be contacted about what additional opportunities for Skype and OnState may exist within their business.

Pat’s key point is that, in today’s economically stressed environments, there’s a trend where CFO’s and business unit managers are making the key communications services decisions in larger enterprises in order to meet their financial goals. IT personnel are playing little or no role in the decision making although they may be involved to a limited degree in the implementation. What are Pat’s key observations?

  • The consumer experience with Skype is stealthing its way into business implementations, not only with prosumers and small businesses but also at the business unit level within larger enterprises.
  • Why? Skype just plain works. There are no firewall issues; OnState’s SaaS model eliminates capital investment for PBX’s and related infrastructure.
  • It’s relatively easy to implement.
  • Economic pressures are driving adoption.
  • Where a business partner or customer has Skype also, HD Voice, incorporating SILK, provide for more productive voice conversations.
  • It’s not simply about using a technical mashup across multiple services (Skype, Google, and Voxbone, for example) involved in OnState implementations; it’s a “business mashup” involving business processes and employee acceptance.

It’s a repeat of a trend that drove personal computers into larger enterprises twenty-five years ago. I recall one story where a Canadian bank Vice President found an employee with a PC that had a modem attached (with, at best, a 1200 kbps speed). The modem was ordered disconnected! Bank security was going to be upheld despite technology progress. Four years later that same bank ordered over 10,000 PC cards from my employer of the day for inclusion in their new, at the time, teller terminal system.

Bottom Line: Even if it’s not totally free it’s the raw cost savings that are driving Skype adoption, sometimes in co-operation with their business software partners. It’s about not only lower calling costs but also the elimination of capital asset costs. For some business markets Skype is stealthing its way into business communications infrastructure.

 Stealthing Skype into Larger Businesses
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Skype at eComm 2009: Royalty Free Licensing of SILK Codec http://voiceontheweb.biz/mobile-root/wireless-carriers/skype-ecomm-2009-royalty-free-licensing-of-silk-codec/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/mobile-root/wireless-carriers/skype-ecomm-2009-royalty-free-licensing-of-silk-codec/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2009 00:58:01 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=1962 silklogo180px Skype at eComm 2009: Royalty Free Licensing of SILK Codec With the launch of Skype for Windows 4.0, Skype delivered its first client incorporating Skype’s new superwideband SILK codec providing a new user experience in voice calling. For example, Alec Saunders in “Skype 4.0 audio: smooth as SILK”:

Perhaps the biggest improvement, though, is audio quality.  We all thought that Skype audio was great, right?  Skype’s internally developed SILK codec slipped into the final release, despite not having been in prior betas. A wideband codec that delivers the goods at half the bitrate of prior codecs, SILK makes talking on Skype a pure pleasure.

The SILK codec will be rolled out with the final release of Skype for Mac 2.8 (currently in beta but without the SILK codec) in April and in the next Linux release (no date given). The coding was designed to allow easy embedding into hardware devices, such as sound cards, headphones and Skype phones. But this still limits the SILK experience to Skype-to-Skype calls. So they looked at the question of how can Skype most readily advance the deployment of this high quality codec  and the resulting user experience at billions of additional voice conversation end points?

At eComm 2009 this afternoon Skype announced, during Jonathan Christensen’s keynote presentation, that the SILK codec will be licensable, royalty-free, to device manufacturers and others; it has been designed independent from Skype signaling protocols such that it can be used in voice streams incorporating the SIP protocol. Jonathan mentioned that there is no requirement to use the SILK codec in conjunction with a Skype implementation.

From an interview with Jonathan Christensen, Skype’s GM for Audio and Video, with Alec Saunders in Skype’s SILKen bear hug: “Further, SILK media streams pass unchanged across Skype’s own media gateways, meaning that SIP endpoints have suddenly become much more compelling in the Skype world”.  Alec goes on to discuss two reasons for Skype’s strategy: (i) to spread superwideband audio everywhere and (ii) to give existing carriers a bear hug. Read the post for details.

In his post on this announcement, Jonathan pointed out what the three year Skype SILK development process focused on:

    • improving audio bandwidth going from 8 kHz to 12 kHz, meaning that a SILK conversation sounds like you are in the same room as the person you are speaking with
    • providing real-time bandwidth scalability to deal with degraded network conditions
    • balancing codec optimization between voice, music and background noise, each of which can have an impact on the overall user experience
    • delivering a robust solution that delivers a more consistent audio experience, regardless of network conditions and an individual user’s voice signature

I have watched as a wireless carrier attempts at new video calling services are introduced and subsequently fail due to a lack of adoption – the primary reason being there are too few devices out there supporting video calling and thus, there’s nobody to whom one can make a wireless video call. Skype’s announcement today overcomes a major barrier to allowing a much broader user base to take advantage of superwideband audio. It’s a first, but key, step towards a broader goal than “Skype Everywhere”, namely, superwideband audio on all voice calling.

Finally, this afternoon I had a chance to meet many members of the SILK development team who attended Jonathan’s presentation. They deserve kudos and congratulations for all their ground breaking efforts and success in setting new standards in voice call quality.

Developers can find more information at Skype’s SILK website.

Phil Wolff, Skype Journal comments on the SILK performance slides shown at the presentation: SILK performs better

Update: The transcript of Jonathan Christensen’s Codec Evolution and Industry Proposal presentation.

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Skype 101 for Carriers: A “Voice On The Web Primer” http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-ecosystem/skype-partner-solutions/skype-101-for-carriers-a-%e2%80%9cvoice-on-the-web-primer%e2%80%9d/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-ecosystem/skype-partner-solutions/skype-101-for-carriers-a-%e2%80%9cvoice-on-the-web-primer%e2%80%9d/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2009 21:59:40 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=1910 nokiaskypelogos thumb Skype 101 for Carriers: A “Voice On The Web Primer” Apparently the Skype-Nokia partnership announcement has irked some legacy European carriers such as Vodafone, O2 and Orange according to Mobile Today:

A rift has emerged between Nokia and operators over its plans to incorporate Skype onto its Nseries handsets, Mobile has learned.

O2 and Orange responded furiously to Nokia’s declaration that it will equip its upcoming flagship Nseries device, the N97, with Skype.

If the row is not resolved the two operators may refuse to stock the N97 – or any future Nseries handsets containing Skype – unless Nokia strips out the Skype client. The two operators are understood to have vented their anger in high-level discussions, which involved group level executives from Nokia.

However, Hutcheson’s 3 has seen great success in providing access to Skype for calling Skype contacts, making SkypeOut calls, exchanging presence information and holding text chat conversations. For the past year I have been making calls to Skype contacts from my BlackBerry 8820 and Bold via iSkoot and IM+ for Skype over my Rogers subscription. And I have been beta testing Truphone for BlackBerry.

Unfortunately for these carriers they did not attend last year’s eComm conference where iSkoot CEO Mark Jacobstein made a presentation “Operator Friendly VoIP: No Longer an Oxymoron”.

So what’s the background and where can having Skype access as a carrier offering be of a win, not only for Skype and its partners such as iSkoot, but also for the carriers:

The background:

  • A scalable, robust channel for handling voice over wireless already exists. The data channel can transmit text plus information related to setting up a voice call.
  • Device resource issues, especially battery life but also processor speed, memory resources and display issues, challenge the ability of current smartphones to handle calls using a VoIP client at a sustainably satisfactory level of reliability.

iskootarchitecture1240px Skype 101 for Carriers: A “Voice On The Web Primer”Recall the basics of the architecture and voice call process:

  1. Use the data channel for handling text messages and the information required to set up a Skype voice call session
  2. Use the existing voice channel for making the voice connection from the mobile device to an iSkoot/Skype/etc. server via a “local” point of presence.
  3. The client on the device is designed to handle Skype IM over the data channel; however, when a voice call to a Skype contact is initiated, data for setting up the voice call is sent to the server. The server then triggers a wireless call from the server back to the mobile device while also calling the party on Skype from the Skype session on the server. (Effectively the Skype session on the server uses a variant on Skype’s inherent multi-party calling feature.)

Why is this architecture carrier friendly?

  • Carriers continue to obtain revenues for local minutes
  • Data plans are required to handle text and the call setup information
  • There are NO termination charges for calls to Skype contacts
  • Carriers can share in the revenue for SkypeOut calls
  • The ability to advertise “free calling worldwide” is a very attractive marketing message for customer acquisition.
  • At least in the case of the Skypephone, actual hardware costs eliminate the need to subsidize the handset. This advantage will obviously vary by device vendor.

AT&T eventually recognized that the iPhone presented a significant market share grab opportunity for recruiting customers away from its competitors. 3 accelerated its rollout of Skypephone once it saw the market response in the UK. New carriers launching in Canada and the U.S. will be looking for programs to attract customers from the incumbent wireless carriers. Thinking outside the traditional business model is necessary for carrier survival; cost effective innovation, for both the customer and carrier, will always win out in the long term.

Vodafone, Orange, O2 and others will have to succumb to the market reality that the Skype offering is a win-win for those carriers that adopt phones incorporating this implementation of Skype mobile software and architecture, whether Nokia, Android, BlackBerry, Palm Pre or any other smartphone with an inherent multi-tasking capability.

 Skype 101 for Carriers: A “Voice On The Web Primer”
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Skype COO Scott Durchslag Outlines Skype’s Mobile Strategy http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-llc/skype-news-skype-llc-skype-world-2/skype-coo-scott-durchslag-outlines-skype%e2%80%99s-mobile-strategy/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-llc/skype-news-skype-llc-skype-world-2/skype-coo-scott-durchslag-outlines-skype%e2%80%99s-mobile-strategy/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2009 04:20:15 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=1787 skypeonmobilesuccesjan09ces thumb Skype COO Scott Durchslag Outlines Skype’s Mobile Strategy At this year’s CES 2009 Skype press conference, COO Scott Durchslag provided an overview of Skype Everywhere (or Skype Wherever Whenever). Basically Skype is looking to become installed wherever there is a communications device with embedded intelligence (processor and memory) and an Internet connection capability. Along with the announcement yesterday of the new Skype – Nokia partnership, Scott put up a post on the Share Skype Blog that outlines the three components of Skype’s strategy for mobile devices:

  • Current users: Make Skype available for consumers to download onto their existing mobile handsets. Skype Lite is architected for incorporation into any of over 100 Java-enabled handsets, including any supporting Google Android. In discussing Skype for Windows Mobile, Scott mentions that SMS messaging and File Transfer are being integrated into the forthcoming Skype for Windows Mobile 3.0.
  • Smartphone manufacturers: Develop partnerships with smartphone manufacturers “tightly integrate and pre-install Skype on their devices”. Skypephone and INQ are two existing examples; the Skype – Nokia partnership announced earlier this week is the next step. These phones will be targeted to consumers who may never have attempted to use a computer to connect to the Internet. But it requires simplicity and a familiar algorithm in the user interface:
    • Find a number in the device’s native address book, click on the green “Call” button, the party is called transparently over Skype. If the call is to a Skype contact anywhere worldwide there is no additional cost; if to the PSTN, SkypeOut charges will apply at a minimum.
    • But these phones are also capable of supporting Skype IM’s presence information and chat conversations worldwide.
  • Carriers: The Skyephone relationship with Hutcheson 3, using embedded iSkoot firmware, has certainly been a success. Most importantly, its “free calling” marketing campaign has certainly helped 3 acquire new users who previously would never have thought of getting such a smartphone, even if it has a limited feature set (relative to, say, iPhone, BlackBerry or Android). From the Skype Lite announcement at CES it is apparent that Skype is developing relationships with carriers in at least ten other countries, including the U.S. But details of the specific carrier relationships have yet to be announced.

Many of these services involve using the data network for Skype IM and call setup while using the robust and readily scalable GSM voice channel for voice conversations. Other issues that will provide market differentiation include:

  • keyboard: QWERTY or T9? this makes a huge difference as to how much Skype IM will be used.
  • display size: how readily and effectively can the device display Internet-originated content?
  • battery life: will there still be enough battery life after a day of work to enjoy an evening of entertainment without a recharge?
  • overall user interface: bottom line for the user experience – how readily can I get access to the services I want, using a familiar calling algorithm?

And all this leads to “What is the business model for Skype”? That will be the subject of another post.

 Skype COO Scott Durchslag Outlines Skype’s Mobile Strategy
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The Skype Restructuring: Global Products, Regional Markets http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-llc/skype-news-skype-llc-skype-world-2/the-skype-restructuring-global-products-regional-markets/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-llc/skype-news-skype-llc-skype-world-2/the-skype-restructuring-global-products-regional-markets/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2009 15:10:03 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/2009/01/the-skype-restructuring-global-products-regional-markets/ skype logo The Skype Restructuring: Global Products, Regional MarketsJosh Silverman joined Skype as President early in the spring of 2008; since then he has been reviewing Skype’s opportunities and building a team of experienced executives who can bring to Skype the products, programs and team building expertise required to operate a business with a run rate of $600MM per year, 20% contribution margins to eBay and growing at 380,000 new account registrations per day (with “real user” growth also increasing significantly).

skypeorganizationalstructure320px The Skype Restructuring: Global Products, Regional MarketsSummarizing the past executive appointment announcements we can clearly start to see the evolution of a business structure, along with each unit’s responsibilities:

During our interview at CES 2009 with Skype COO Scott Durchslag, he outlined details of his restructuring of Skype’s Operations team along two axes: product and geography under the mantra of providing “Skype Everywhere”.

Global product offerings will encompass three divisions: consumer, business and mobile, each responsible for developing products. Each of these groups will be interacting with members of CTO Daniel Berg’s technology teams to convert their technology developments into marketable global product offerings and to adapt the technology to meet product marketing needs.

  • Consumer will involve the current Skype client desktop offerings along with hardware, such as Skype phones.
  • Business starts with the current Skype Business Control Panel but intends to expand well beyond this starting point into a range of offerings, such as Skype for Asterisk and the recently announced IBM LotusLive developments, addressing the small-to-medium business market.
  • Mobile involves current products such as Skype for Windows Mobile, Skypephone (in conjunction with iSkoot), the recently launched Skype Lite (including Skype for Android) as well as any upcoming offerings for the iPhone and BlackBerry

In addition each of these divisions will be responsible for developing appropriate customer care and support programs appropriate to market demands. For instance, the business unit will come up with ongoing support programs relevant to supporting sustainable business operations of its products’ users. Ideally these programs would follow the model of Red Hat for Linux or Digium for Asterisk and build up a network of resellers and VARS who would provide relevant and timely end user support. While Dan Berg’s technology team will be responsible for third party developer partner support, an additional challenge for the Business products group will be to assist with marketing of business applications offered by these developer partners.

While Skype veteran Stefan Oberg is heading up the Business unit, announcements re appointments to head up Consumer and Mobile are pending.

Along the geography axis is a recognition that, while the Products divisions have a global mandate, there are different market needs within different regions of the world. For instance, in many Asian market wireless carriers do not subsidize mobile phones as is the North American practice. This requires a differentiated approach to these markets with respect to how easily innovations, especially around reduced calling costs, can be introduced to these markets.

The geographical market responsibilities are:

  • Americas: Don Albert becomes General Manager, Americas. Don has had North America responsibility for a couple of years and will now be responsible for both North and South America. With respect to the latter he is looking forward to building on all the Skype activity in Brazil, for instance. (And, yes, once again at CES Don was made aware we are awaiting SkypeIn and a Skype Store for Canada)
  • Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA): appointment pending
  • Asia/Pacific: Yesterday we saw an announcement of the appointment of Dan Neary as General Manager, Skype Asia Pacific. One of Dan’s initial responsibilities will be to build and monitor closer relationships with partners such as TOMSkype to avoid embarrassments such as that created by the TOM Skype privacy breach we have reported on last fall.

Outstanding executive appointments are expected shortly; at this point it’s becoming all about execution. The next six months will tell the story.

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Skype Everywhere: Coming Soon to IBM Lotus Live Engage http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-markets-skype-world/skype-for-business/skype-everywhere-coming-soon-to-ibm-lotus-live-engage/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/skype-world/skype-markets-skype-world/skype-for-business/skype-everywhere-coming-soon-to-ibm-lotus-live-engage/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2009 20:39:14 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/2009/01/skype-everywhere-coming-soon-to-ibm-lotus-live-engage/ ibmlotuslivelogos Skype Everywhere: Coming Soon to IBM Lotus Live EngageA year ago August IBM‘s Lotus Sametime Division announced the acquisition of Skype Partner Webdialogs to obtain their widely respected Unyte Desktop Sharing collaboration technology. About four months later we learned, from Lou Guercia, Lotus SameTime’s Director of Operations and Strategy, more about Unyte’s integration into the Lotus SameTime offerings. In that post on Lou’s presentation I asked:

Question: with IBM pursuing excellence on a service that comprises voice, video, chat and file transfer in a secure, encrypted environment, and with the stated goals of “working with their partners”, would this not result in a situation where IBM would be licensing Skype technology to provide a comprehensive real time multi-media communications infrastructure?

With announcements this week, including some at IBM’s annual Lotusphere 2009 event in Orlando, FL, it seems like that question is starting to get some answers..

Yesterday IBM announced “A Strong Fourth Quarter, a rarity these days“. ZDNet’s Dennis Howlett, in Can IBM sustain its momentum, goes on the provide some background, pointing out that most of IBM’s growth is occuring in its software division. Certainly IBM sees its Lotus Sametime division as a key to sustaining their momentum. Except it appears that IBM has reorganized their SameTime collaborative services into “a cloud-based porfolio of social networking and collaboration services designed for business” under a new name: LotusLive.

In a press release this past Monday, in conjunction with the annual Lotusphere event, Skype announced:

…. it will integrate Skype™ functionality with LotusLive (www.lotuslive.com), IBM’s new cloud services which are designed to help individuals build communities to work smarter, more effectively and more efficiently across and beyond their own companies. Skype’s voice and video calling will add rich, real-time communications capabilities to LotusLive, making it even easier for enterprises to collaborate in the cloud.

lotussphere2009banner280px Skype Everywhere: Coming Soon to IBM Lotus Live EngageAt Lotusphere 2009, IBM demonstrated the new Skype integration into LotusLive Engage, “an integrated suite of tools that combines your network [of contacts] with Web conferencing and collaboration capabilities like file storing and sharing, instant messaging and chart creation.”

pkalmstrom2006 06 13100px Skype Everywhere: Coming Soon to IBM Lotus Live EngageToday we interviewed Peter Kalmstrom, Skype’s Program Manager for Toolbars, who had been attending Lotusphere to assist with the demonstrations. Peter made several points:

  • This announcement covers only the first step of what will be a series of Skype integrations into the LotusLive offerings.
  • The integration into LotusLive Engage is targeted at “businesses looking to collaborate inside and outside the organization to easily expand their networks…” In other words for businesses that need to include, say, sub-contractors, third party consultants, suppliers and buyers within their business operation processes.
  • Within a LotusLive Engage contact profile, “Skype” fields have been added such that when a user clicks on a a name to bring up a profile card, the user can launch a Skype conversation and transfer files with a single click.
  • The only additional requirement for engaging in a Skype conversation is that the initiating user must have a Skype client open.
  • In addition to Skype-to-Skype calls, SkypeOut calls can also be made.
  • Where several contact profile cards have been opened, a user can launch a Skype multi-party call
  • Due to the nature of LotusLive Engage’s web architecture, the resulting Skype access is cross-platform; it does NOT require that the user have a Skype web (FF or IE) toolbar installed.
  • A session can then also launch a Lotus Web Meeting (also known as a Lotus SameTime Unyte meeting).

Sounds like the Lotusphere demonstrations got the brainstorming going between Skype and IBM. In a concluding statement Peter said:

“We are enthusiastic about the partnership with IBM and we see a lot of areas where we can collaborate and help each other improve our services. We met with a series of executives at IBM during Lotusphere and the general feeling was highly positive.”

At the same time IBM announced Salesforce.com and LinkedIn integration into their LotusLive services. Andy at VoIP Watch comments on the competitive “collaboration and communications” space where IBM LotusLive, Microsoft Office Live and Google Apps are the key players.

With the IBM offering, we are seeing one more example of “Skype Everywhere”, in this case, being embedded into an offering that is key to IBM’s future success in delivering cloud-based outsourced business services.

Phil will have some comments on the technical aspects of this integration along with where he feels there are “deeper” integration opportunities.

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iSkoot Available Through Android Market on T-Mobile’s Newly Launched G-1 http://voiceontheweb.biz/mobile-root/wireless-carriers/iskoot-available-through-android-market-on-t-mobiles-newly-launched-g-1/ http://voiceontheweb.biz/mobile-root/wireless-carriers/iskoot-available-through-android-market-on-t-mobiles-newly-launched-g-1/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2008 11:00:19 +0000 http://voiceontheweb.biz/?p=760 iskoot logo iSkoot Available Through Android Market on T Mobiles Newly Launched G 1The new G-1 phone based on Google’s Android platform is slowing getting out to market this week through T-Mobile stores in U.S. locations where T-Mobile supports the 3G wireless protocol. At launch there appear to be about 50 third party applications available for download to the G-1 via Android Market.

One of those applications is iSkoot for Skype. From iSkoot’s description at Android Market:

iSkoot for Skype puts the features of Skype in your Android handset. Acess your Skype contacts, make & receive Skype calls, chat, and place SkypeOut calls to phone numbers all over the world. iSkoot delivers unsurpassed mobile Skype call quality and does not require a WiFi connection.

From the iSkoot press release:

iSkoot for Skype makes it easy and affordable for people to keep in touch with friends, family and contacts with an always-on-the-go lifestyle. iSkoot for Skype leverages the voice-optimized circuit-switched wireless networks of mobile carriers, allowing for full operation even without access to WiFi or 3G networks and ensuring the best possible call quality. Normal carrier voice and data charges always apply.

Make SkypeOut calls? Seems like T-Mobile is the first North America carrier to tolerate SkypeOut calling from a mobile handset over a 3G network. (3 recently added SkypeOut calling to the various Skype/iSkoot-enabled services they support, including Skypephone; Truphone for iPhone only works over a WiFi connection.) T-Mobile will make their revenue through the “local” minutes required to place a Skype call via iSkoot.

VoIP over 3G? Not really, recall that the iSkoot model is to use the data channel for chat messaging and call setup information. The voice call itself is handled over the much more robust and voice-friendly GSM voice channel.

And why iSkoot on the Android platform before on the iPhone? Seems that the Android platform fully supports the background multi-tasking requirement of any Skype-enabled product where you want to have Skype chat sessions running in background – while using any other Blackberry application – and only want to bring them forward when a new message appears. That’s my experience when using iSkoot on my Blackberry Bold.

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