A SIP/Skype Gateway Is NOT In The Forecast

Guest Post: Hudson Barton is a communicatons consultant whose Borderless Communicator blog not only talks about Skype and related IP communications activity but also attempts to track Skype’s “real usage”. According to his analysis, Skype has just cracked the 30 million real or” currenlty active” user number (based on tracking Users Online vs time-of-day). What follows is his post earlier this week summarizing some issues that were raised and discussed on the Skype 3.x discussion Public Chat forum following Dan York’s recent guest post on SIP/Skype interconnectivity.

Skype’s competitors and critics continually point out that Skype’s VOIP architecture is closed and that its API is not adequate for creating a direct connection between the Skype “cloud” and the SIP “cloud”. This of course is true, but there are good reasons for it.

  1. The security and reliability of the Skype cloud would be seriously compromised if SIP hackers were given the tools to create direct VOIP connections between Skype and the outside world.
  2. A SIP gateway to Skype might work if it were handled like SkypeIn/Out. However, I don’t think there’s a large enough population of SIP users out there to justify the cost of SIPIn/Out. Skype is growing at a rate of 500k-1000k “real users” per month, which is probably 10x faster than the rest of the VOIP world combined. A third party could build these gateways with the presently available API, but nobody is trying it to my knowledge… presumably because there is no demand for it. In any case, the developer (even if it were Skype) would have to justify the cost of such a gateway.
  3. An IM (text-only) gateway is very possible and would not compromise Skype’s security or strategic position. Look for future interconnections with major players like AIM, gTalk, Yahoo, and MSN.
  4. The Skype cloud is far more complex and has far more features than the clouds of any of its competitors. It is not rational to expect any of them to create a feature-for-feature mirror of Skype even if this were something that would be good for Skype (which it is NOT). A partial list of these features: video, SMS, encryption, and file transfer.
  5. Relationships between Skype and social networks like MySpace are already possible if there is a partnership agreement. It does not require a change to the Skype API. Note that MySpace is a social network… not a VOIP carrier.
  6. Skype may double its revenues this year and it’s already profitable. No other VOIP carrier is profitable (unless you want to count a few of the hosted VOIP services from the Telecoms and cable companies). A gateway to Skype will help Skype’s competitors far more than it will help Skype, so from a strategic perspective it makes no sense to help the competitors survive. Without Skype’s help, they (SunRocket and Vonage for example) are failing at a rapid rate. Meanwhile, “successful” competitors like Packet8 are monetizing themselves by selling off intellectual property. Obviously they “see the writing on the wall.”

Tags: Skype, SIP Gateway, Hudson Barton, Borderless Communicator, Packet8, Dan York

About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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