When I met Skype’s Vice President for Consumer Products, Neil Stevens, at CES 2011, one of his points was that he wanted to see more frequent Skype client upgrades, reducing the time between new upgrades from 12 to 18 months down to 2 to 3 months. Skype certainly demonstrated that last week when, two months after the launch of Skype 5.1 for Windows, Skype released Skype for Windows 5.2 with a set of subtle improvements that largely relate to the user experience when initiating calls.
The most obvious change is to the Call Bar. Whereas previously one would see:
the Call Bar has become:
The most obvious change is the switching of the order of the “Video Call” and (voice) “Call” buttons and the elimination of a separate line for “Skype”, “Mobile”, “Office”, etc. numbers. No doubt the former is a result of two factors:
- the popularity of video calling where Skype claims that over 40% of all calls are now video calls and
- the recent introduction of Group Video calling as a revenue generating premium service
Access to any type of voice call is now done via the Call Button, which has acquired an associated drop down menu. In turn this drop down menu provides the access to the contact’s various voice calling options. If the Contact’s presence is Online(), a Skype-to-Skype call would be the default. Should be user not be available (Offline, Invisible or set for Call Forwarding ) but has entered a mobile or landline number into their Skype profile, there are three changes:
- the Call button has changed to read “Call Mobile” (or Office or Home)
- the Mobile, Home or Office number would be checked off as the default destination for placing a call.
- you have a “heads up” that a Skype-to-Skype call selection will result in reaching the contact’s voice mail
While the drop down menu shows a default based on presence, you can still select one of the other options to initiate a voice call but you are now forewarned that a Skype-to-Skype call to someone with one of the three “not present” statuses mentioned above could result in reaching their voicemail.
Note that the drop down menu also allows the addition of a phone number. Very handy when you know the contact’s phone number but they have not entered it into their Skype profile.
Bottom line: while these changes can reduce the number of clicks to make a call or share information, they also provide, in a subtle way, readier access to Skype’s revenue generating Group Video Calling and SkypeOut services. With only 8% of Skype users actually using SkypeOut it would be interesting to see if these changes actually provide any more than slightly incremental revenues.
Watch for a post on the changes to the “Call Phones” menu.
Download Skype 5.2 for Windows here or go to Help | Check for Updates in your Skype for Windows client.
And should you even be making a voice call? Check out this New York TImes article: Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You. (Warning NYT may have initiated their pay wall.)
- Skype for Mac 5.0 Goes Gold: Incorporating Beta Feedback and More (voiceontheweb.biz)
- Skype At CES 2011: It’s All About Video and Mobile (voiceontheweb.biz)
- Skype’s “Easy Conference Call” – A Hidden Gem (voiceontheweb.biz)