Jonathan Christensen: Leadoff Keynote Speaker at eComm 2008

Rising like a Phoenix out of the ashes of eTel, Lee Dryburgh has taken the leadership in establishing a new conference that covers the bleeding edge of emerging communications. To be held at the Computer Museum in Mountain View, CA March 12-14, 2008, eComm2008, the Emerging Communications Conference, features sessions led by industry gurus with visions into the evolving transformation of the telecommunications industry into an IP-based world.

eComm brings out the visionaries, emergent technologies, real-world startups, cutting-edge academic projects, views from the incumbent telecom players; garage based hacks and stirs required policy debates to create the ultimate three-day conversation.

The story of the decentralization of communications innovation has passed the second chapter which was VoIP. It is now regarded as a building block only. As a standalone service it is both uninspiring and unlikely to be highly profitable.

The excitement and profits will be derived from combining voice with other vectors we’re tracking … more here.

Recently Lee interviewed Jonathan Christensen, Skype’s General Manager for Video and Audio, as one of a series of interviews with several of the eComm2008 speakers, and covered several issues:

  • Why eComm is so important?

I think it [Skype] really represents the first major innovation in this [telecom] space since the introduction of the telephone system. And right now, we are just at the beginning of where the possibilities are. And so, I think I see eComm is focused exactly on the right spot where there is going to be an explosion of new rich communication services on the Internet platform..

  • What is the subject area of Jonathan’s keynote?
  • What initiatives for analyzing and improving voice quality are you helping to lead at Skype?

Suddenly with the Internet, you have the possibility to do so much more but you also loose that deterministic quality. There are so many things that we have to do to get the whole thing right and it’s like a daisy chain. On the send side, you have to think about the microphone and then the sound card and the sampling and the coding. Then you have to send it correctly and you have to know something about the network when you’re sending it: is there packet loss on the network? is there jitter? is there delay? What is the bit rate that is supported on the network? All those things that you have to optimize for – all of those situations. Is there jitter in the system that you’re using because other applications are taking too much CPU? All those things.

  • Can you comment of the evolution of Skype’s wideband codecs going forward?
  • Do you see something less incremental (and more revolutionary than evolutionary) coming along out of Skype?
  • Can you comment on the future of voice processing technologies? Where do you see them going?

We want to continue to make the whole experience as seamless as possible, as natural and as life-like as possible. And I think, as I mentioned before, there’ll be a trend towards the higher fidelity, better performance in the devices as well. So we need the help of the device manufacturers at this stage to realize that voice is not just about this old fashion PSTN-style voice. It’s really about, high quality stuff. Video is a major initiative for us and making life-like video available in the mass market is a big goal for us as well.

And, we think – we hope anyway – that we’re at the front of the pack. We’re certainly investing very, very heavily in these areas. And we’re hoping to make this stuff as good as it can be.

  • When can we expect the average person to have Skype running on their mobile phone (aside from the 3 Skypephone)?
  • Where do you see the future of communications going?

I just have to reiterate, I think that anybody who has not figured out that the Internet is the platform and that there isn’t any such thing as walled gardens that will survive, or sub-networks [such as AOL tried] that are going to survive, those people are doomed. The intersection of these worlds is going to be chaotic. It’s going to be violent. It’s going to be messy for a while but it is going to happen, and the Internet will survive as the one open platform.

  • Can you elaborate on why you are so excited about open spectrum?
  • (re SIP) Do you see fragmentation when it comes to signaling going forward? Do you see things becoming fragmented into different signaling systems according to the application?

Read the entire interview here. It provides more insight into how Skype operates and background for where they are probably going than we have seen from any Skype executive in some time. And the last question brings out a most interesting answer re Skype’s position on, and use of, SIP.

With all the recent interviews and participation in various public forums, is Jonathan becoming the successor to Niklas as Skype’s visionary and public spokesperson for future technology innovations? A very good reason to attend eComm2008 and learn more!

Additional references:

  • Skype On The Go: A perspective on Skype’s current state on mobile devices.
  • Skype say “No” to VoIP Interoperability – *because customers aren’t asking for it!* – Well I am! Dan York comments
  • A SIP/Skype Gateway Is NOT In The Forecast Hudson Barton responds
  • HD Voice: “Priceless”

Tags: Skype, eComm 2008, Emerging Communications Conference, Jonathan Christensen, SIP, Lee Dryburgh, HC Voice

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About Jim Courtney

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

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