Accelerating Innovation

Unbound Spiral: What Will You Pay for Skype?

September 30, 2003 10:45 AM

I've been talking to bloggers and reading blogs on Skype. There's a lot of chatter from David,Dina, Lilia, Ton, Phil, Mitch, Russell, , Roland and many more.  The demands for certain features are growing. This posting attempts to define how to differentiate Skype's product options.  It focuses on Individual Skype Accounts; rather than business which is not addressed here.  I've not set any prices --- I would appreciate your feedback and comments.  

Skype Individual Accounts

This outlines a possible consumer structure that will lead to a charging model. 

Single Skype Line Options

Free

Basic

Dial-Up

Premium

Compare Current IM clients

Concurrent session profiles available to user

One

As current

Two

Eg Personal / Business or His / Hers one profile

Two

Eg Personal / Business or His / Hers one profile

Five

Personal, Family, Business, Professional, Suppliers, Dating etc.

One at Time

Photos / profile

Single Picture

Single Picture per profile

Single Picture per profile

Refreshable Url or Folder Linked?

MSN 6.0

Customizable ring tones

 

One Fixed

Download Set by profile

Set by profile

Unlimited ringers by profile or friend, link to music files

No

Synch Friends when using Account on multiple devices

No

Yes (when base station is on)

Yes (when base station is on)

Yes (when base station is on)

Yes available now

Call Log Updates

No

Yes (when base station is on)

No

Yes (when base station is on)

NA

Chat Mail Notifications

No

Yes (persistent sending)

Yes & via e-mail

Yes (persistent sending) & via e-mail

Yes Yahoo

Call-Waiting / Call on Hold

No

Call-Waiting Beep

Call-Waiting Beep

Call-Waiting Beep

NA

Voice Mail Answering

No

No

No

Yes (at base station)

NA

Message Forwarding

 

 

No

No

No

Yes (from base station)

NA

The Skype Home PABX

Free

Basic

Dial-Up

Premium

Compare Current IM clients

Multiple Accounts on one PC

No

No

No

Yes

Up to 6

No

Additional Directory Listing Control

None

Folders by Profile only

Folders by Profile only

Flexible and Shareable Folders Contacts can be shared across accounts. Alphabetical Search buttons

No

Auto Call Connection  when party is back online or off the phone

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Account Security log-in / quick answer

No

No

No

Yes

NA

SMS

No

No

No

Yes

 

Kid capabilities

 

no

no

Yes – Parental Supervision

 

Broadcast calls? 

No

No

No

?

 

Conference Calls

No

No

No

Multiple Lines Sharing dependent on PC power?

 

VoIP Radio?

No

No

No

Yes

 

Some assumptions:

  • I’m assuming that there will be no Skype to phone (landline
    - POTS) in version 1.0. 


  • Video will be part of a value added product – maybe 2.0


  • That basic chat functions of “hotlinks” and “send file” will
    be included in 1.0


  • That future “browse together” will be enabled in a later
    product.


    Note: I’ve got no affiliation with Skype in anyway (other
    than using their beta product. 





    Comments (11)

    Hey:

    You linked to my MetaWeblogAPI test blog! I need to make that blog private :-) !

    Thanks for the ongoing excellent Skype coverage!

    Ciao!

    ....Roland

    Posted by: Roland Tanglao at September 30, 2003 12:09 PM

    What's different of Skype?

    Actually, everything in Skype were already there in some IMs and IP Phones software many years ago! There is nothing fresh inside!

    I am wondering if why people here regard skype so high?

    Posted by: Robert at September 30, 2003 12:19 PM

    I would rather think of paying per feature rather than being bound to one of your models. For example, I may want only conference calls without any other Premiun things...

    Just curious - have you got any comments/feedback from Skype people on any of your Skype writings?

    Posted by: Lilia at September 30, 2003 12:40 PM

    Robert, I appreciate the comment. I'd agree in principle. Yet as in many things it is the combination that seems to have grabbed people. Particularly, the UI and voice quality. Click - Ring. I presume Microsoft could make this an orientation option in MSN 7.0. -- eg ring / voice centric vs chat / text centric. Plus they need to improve their connection reliability and voice quality if my experiences are anything to go by. Have you actually tried Skype? Concurrently, there is increasing awareness by consumers and companies re VoIP, these things just seem to be coming together. See the post Walkie Talkie Skype... Lots happening.

    Posted by: Stuart at September 30, 2003 2:05 PM

    Roland, Fixed. It's amazing what a newsaggregator picks up via Feedreader. Cheers

    Posted by: Stuart at September 30, 2003 2:07 PM

    Lilia, Think the desire for a "conferencing" capability is TOM for bloggers. Be easy to move to some global conference calls. Weekly, perhaps with suggestion from the Technorati list.

    I framed it as free basic and premium as bundled offers (eg Office) tend to make more money than selling the individual components. Was also trying to keep it realtively simple. Would need a lot more work on language.

    Yes I have heard from the Skype Team. I also know I'm not the only blogger. That's real encouraging for the brand.

    I'm still curious.... How much is it worth to you? How much would you pay?

    Posted by: Stuart at September 30, 2003 2:22 PM

    Stuart, your are right, Skype didn't bring anything fresh in features, but it do bring something fresh in UI and usablities!

    I did tried Skype very carefully. It's have a very neat design, and the firewall travalsal is good, sound quality is also good.

    The reason why Skype's sound quality is better, I think it's only because the codec it using. In most voip software, PC-Phone conversation is a basic feature, G.723( or G.729) is used since most voip gateway require that. Skype only worked in PC-PC mode, it can choose some new, but non standard codec to improve sound quality.

    I am impressed that a well designed of UI with nothing fresh in features could be so impressive for peoples ! That's what I learned from here. ;) Thanks you guys.

    Your comments on Skype are great! However, I guess it takes a long time for them to implement all.

    BTW: I am also a software designer on VoIP and wireless products, don't you mind if I use some of the fresh ideas from here?

    It's interesting that one of the software I am working on is very alike Skype! It will be released in Oct. If anybody interested, I will post it here when its beta version avalible. My software is a IM+VoIP communicator, but it more focused on IP Telephony intergration.

    One of my other software is a wifi IM with voice and video feature, call AirCQ(www.aircq.com). I hope anybody can review it and give me some suggestions.

    Thanks! It's a plesure to read your blogs, like listening to a wise guru!

    Sorry for my Englsih since I am not a native english speaker! :)

    Posted by: Robert at September 30, 2003 8:43 PM

    Hmmm - what will i pay - let me give it a shot. A few considerations in calculating how much i'm willing to pay for skype basic or premium (hope my USD conversions are accurate:):).

    1. Local calls here cost about 2 cents per min - and my average landline tel bill is about USD 40 per month.
    2. My cell phone bill is approx. another 30 USD a month. My husband's is almost the same - an additional 30 USD per month or so.
    3. International calls, say to the US, cost anywhere between 15 cents per min to 70 cents per minute. With family and friends abroad, we earlier paid about 40 USD per month. This has come down considerably with IM - to about 20 USD a month now.

    So a total of about 140 USD on telephone bills (incl. rental) per month. Add to that my DSL link server charges of almost 20 USD per month.

    Skype, in its current form - seems to take care of some international call bills - currently where i pay about 20 USD a month - even a premium offering (with facilities like call waiting/hold,voice mail and answering) at 8-10 USD a month would be super. I find most of my folk abroad are connected to a PC at some point in the day or the other - so shouldn't be a problem.

    Yet when i think of the millions of Indian parents here with children abroad - not all are computer-friendly nor do they have dsl or broadband connections. So for them, an offer of phone-to-skype or skype-to-phone would be wonderful - (not sure how the tech works and may be difficult to standardise billings here) - if available at a cost cheaper than 15 cents a minute (indicative costs from India to the US).

    End of the day - i wouldn't mind an annual cost of about USD 30 for basic services and USD 50 for premium services. Either by way of special international call rates or a total package that includes free skype-to-skype calls and a small fee for phone-skype international calls.

    Makes sense ? Apologies for the long ramble - i might just blog this :):)

    Posted by: Dina Mehta at October 1, 2003 5:22 AM

    Thanks Dina. Definitely worth a blog! I'm generally with you on dollars, having had $25 -30 for a basic product and under $50 for a Premium product. Given a Windows operating system upgrade is $100 every 3-4 years, both these numbers are sort of comparable. There would also be some launch promotions. Still think about it as your "desktop communications exchange" for your participation in the Stupid Network. A small price to pay for free world calling.

    Posted by: Stuart at October 2, 2003 12:08 AM

    What happens when......

    The next version of Skype includes a "personal PSTN gateway". I have a home computer that is always on... in my kitchen (utility machine, weather, news, music, Skype "elderhome") it has a Telex USB to Rj-11 connector. When I want to make a call using my MCI *all-you-can-eat* PSTN plan, my son assisted me with this, he answers the incoming "Skype" call puts me on hold on a multiline phone connected to the RJ-11, dials the PSTN call and *bridges* them together.

    Now understanding that this is a very manual process. I think most of us will see it can be automated VERY easily.

    Therefore, how about a network of 60K plus people all over the world creating the largest distributed VoIP to PSTN gateway network ever devised?

    Here is the thing..... IF IT IS A SERVICE, the states will attempt to TAX it. If it is a PRODUCT there is no ongoing taxation issues.

    Skype or a system like it, where it is a fully P2P distributed system with no central autority connected to a "product" which allows me to "share" my POTS line with myself while on the road and my trusted friends will make the incumbant carriers very nervous. It is not illegal to share my phone, they would have to pass laws on both the use issues and taxation issues.

    Posted by: Rod Elder at October 2, 2003 4:53 PM

    Rod,

    What you said is what "Free World Dialup" plan 1.0 did.

    Is skype pure P2P? I am afriad not, at least not like to be pure P2P at this time. There seemed a centralized presence server and call managing server exsits.

    Posted by: Robert at October 4, 2003 8:43 AM