At his eComm America 2010 keynote presentation Monday morning, Skype’s recently appointed Chief Technology Strategist Jonathan Rosenberg provided his perspective on where Skype can introduce real time communications into “social sharing” activities.
Positioning the current state of social networking as personal broadcasting where a Twitter or Facebook message “broadcasts” your information out to a selected set of Followers or Friends, he went on to outline how these “broadcasts” were missing two key elements: emotion and interaction. And these broadcasts have a “random” aspect in terms of who receives them:
- Followers and Friends could cover a random mix of interest groups: family, work colleagues, special interest groups
- It’s a bit of a gamble as to who sees your ‘broadcast” message; some may follow every Tweet while others may be selective in what they see and take a few days to see a Tweet; others, for whatever reason, may never see it.
Bottom line is that current social networking is missing the emotion and interactivity associated with “social”.
Jonathan sees three “i’s” that need to be added for social networking to become totally social:
And sees real time communications, integrated into a web property, as the infrastructure required to bring these to the table.
Jonathan then proceeded to give an example of each of the three “i’s”:
Real time and involvement: The quality of the real time call experience matters, as supported by statistics that Skype has mined out from their call detail records. It turns out that Skype’s SILK superwideband codec not only provides a higher quality, more readily understood voice conversation but also has been demonstrated to result, on average, in ~45% longer conversations, based on real Skype call detail records data. Phil Wolfe over at Skype Journal has more to say about this.
Real time and investment: here the example involved multiple people planning a trip together by sharing a desktop browsing travel web sites while carrying on a voice or video conversation.
Real time and interactivity – the virtual couch potato. While Jonathan gave an example, my own experience occurred a few years ago during the Opening Ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy when I was on a Skype call with a person in Sweden. We were both watching the ceremonies on our local television networks while discussing them in Skype voice and chat conversations.
This also brings to mind the couple who used Skype a few years ago for a remote courtship a few years ago; not only did a marriage result after a year of courtship via Skype but also a family with a couple of young ones.
According to Jonathan the bottom line is about turning a “me” experience into a “we” experience by escalating an asynchronous conversation (an initiating email or chat message) into a synchronous experience that can involve voice, chat, video and desktop sharing. And it involves bringing emotional and interactive elements into social sharing activities.
So what are the implications for Skype:
- These experiences need to be easy to invoke. What does it take to make users realize they can easily have these experiences?
- According to Jonathan, creating these experiences would involve invoking a web-based infrastructure into the Skype software offerings. Sounds like something we can expect to see later this year.
- What role would multi-party video play in these experiences? Can we expect to see multi-party video later this year?
Bottom Line: Is this all a precursor to some new Skype experiences or features that will be launched over the next few months?
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