This is the first of three posts discussing Skype’s PR management with the aim of improving the PR relationships associated with the launch of new Skype software and associated services. In this post I want to outline the problem; in the second to propose a proven solution.
If you follow the VoIP blogosphere at all, you may notice that certain products and services, when introduced, get a lot of coverage such that readers can quickly assess if there could be followup interest. SightSpeed and TalkPlus, whose beta program launches today, are two examples; this did not happen by accident. In both cases, while bloggers are open to make their own observations there is an underlying consistency of message as to what the service provides and what are the key features. SightSpeed focuses on high quality realtime and asynchronous video communications while TalkPlus focuses on delivering a means to manage your phone number infrastructure in a manner that protects individual privacy while providing helpful business and social networking tools.
On the other hand I have done a review of various blogger posts on the Skype 3.0 Beta launch; here is the original press release and a sampling of the initial “first impressions” posts (Ed: with my bolds):
The big new feature is browser extensions for IE and Firefox that let you embed SkypeOut links into web pages. … The re-designed toolbar, contacts and call tabs look much easier to use. And Skype also added moderated public chat features, which makes me all wistful for IRC.
Nov. 9: Skype 3.0 beta released. And indeed, the differences between the previous version 184.108.40.206 and the 220.127.116.11 are (from my point of view) quite small, see the change log.
Nov. 11: Mea Culpa: My mistake (see my post below), Skype 3.0 has indeed quite some new features, as explained on the Skype website and in Skype Journal.
Tech Crunch UK
This week saw the launch of Skype 3.0 (beta) and on the surface there is very little new to get excited about other than a new plug-in manager. The real changes in this new version seem to have taken place under the hood ….
In many ways, with this 3.0 release, I feel Skype is announcing its formal entry into the “communication platform wars”.
Smith on VoIP
The comments made by Zennstrom, the moves eBay has made (with ProStores), the ability to use PayPal as small business booking software, and the emergence of the Internet as a marketplace for any business, is signs that eBay is almost ready to launch the ultimate e-commerce solution. …. That folks, is the real story here.
VoIP Watch (Andy Abramson)
The big thing with 3.0 appears to be the plug ins. This is something Yahoo has been doing with Yahoo Communicator now for some time and even Microsoft has had around with Outlook. Skype 3.0 will also sport a newer updated look some say. But most of all, it’s just supposed to be better.
:Signal to Noise (Ted Wallingford)
The big feature? Voice chat rooms, a la the Yahoo chat of old.
Nov. 8 First Look at Skype 3.0 Beta: The first thing we noticed after downloading Skype’s 3.0 beta version for Windows (onto our single dusty GigaTeam PC) is that the company did some serious UI feng shui, or “spring cleaning” as this Skype designer describes it.
Nov. 12 More Skypers hit ESC Button. After reporting on an executive departure and quoting an analyst statement in an IHT article on Skype “They have made only incremental changes to Skype, and I just haven’t seen any of the synergies they promised to justify the purchase price.”, Om gets back to Skype 3.0: “It is pretty darn good. We liked it at first blush, and liked it more after we dug deeper.”
Digital Common Sense (Ken Camp – who wrote an excellent perspective on TalkPlus when it was first announced two weeks ago)
Looks like a nice, incremental improvement. All I see warranting the version upgrade to 3.0 is the Live tab. Everything else looks like minor incremental enhancements to me.
SaundersLog: Alec highlights a few first impressions but this one helps demonstrate my point:
- Call transfer? It might be there, but so far I haven’t seen the UI, or had an incoming call that I can try this feature with, nor is there any documentation of new API’s on the DevZone blog.
eBiz-IQ.com Everything Internet:
Included fantastic new feature ** call transfers **, and more!!!
Skype recently launched version 3.0 beta and i have to say its a pretty fantastic piece of kit compared with 2.0, looking through the change log they have ramped up the video quality and improved the audio quality in voice calls, one of the new major features of skype is the ability to host a SkypeCast, its basically a flexible podcast with people listening in real time.
So the questions raised are:
- What is Skype’s primary message in announcing a new Beta version?
- What really are the key new features? Where is the focus?
- What is the potential use case impact of the new features? How will they change our real time communications activities?
- Where is there any underlying consistency of reporting? (other than to say Skype 3.0 Beta has been released)
- Why are some bloggers initially dismissive of the changes and then changing their minds?
In fairness to Skype personnel I would note the following:
- When I heard rumors last Tuesday of a new launch the following day I contacted Skype’s PR agency; they were able to provide a draft press release under embargo. However, it was so late that no Skype management was available for an interview prior to the release.
- Post-launch Skype put up several posts on various Skype blogs discussing details of the new features; some are referenced here. But news reporters and bloggers want to get the story out and expand on it as soon as it is released.
- Several Skype management and developer personnel have participated in a couple of Public Chats where they have obtained feedback. (Has anyone notice that Skype Credits are now appearing consistently in the appropriate tab on the new UI?) Several other issues have been identified via the Public Chat for a follow on beta release.
A solution? It’s quite simple really — and low cost — see the follow up post in this series.
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