Skype Journal

Unbound Spiral: A Year Skyping and….

September 14, 2004 02:35 PM

I've been writing of and on about Skype for over ONE YEAR. That makes me a Skype Oldtimer. There have been some lessons and opportunities in it for me. At one time I was described as a consumer evangelist and others have questioned why I've blogged it so much. After a year and I don't know how many posts I'm still sure that it is a disruptive innovation. From my perspective Skype is also still missing some real marketing nous. And by that I don't mean spending dollars. Some cause marketing could be introduced, better incentives for sign-ups (eg PayPal initially) and a membership program, etc. I'm not paid to prioritize these things or paid at all….

First a year ago and then another mini-rant on the latest incarnation of the website.

One year ago:
Sometimes it is simply nice to know you have helped something forward. On my first day of using Skype I wanted an “Online” SkypeMe and put the request in the blog. Not long after it arrived. They also hopped on creating an online community pretty quickly. That has been a huge asset to them and created a community in itself. A more recent example is to play up statistics and be seen in the Millions n Millions served idea now on their webpages.

I also said then : If you are like me scanning for early indicators --- looking upstream from time to time to see what's coming then Skype and Big Champagne are two "signals" that the world may be moving in this direction. When I mentioned Skype to George Por today he kindly referred me to an article by Michel Bauwens, "Peer to Peer -from technology to politics to a new civilization". It was the first time I'd heard the meme "P2P Civilization". I rather liked it.

I've also had the odd blog rant at Skype and the founders. Usually from a marketing perspective. On the numbers after a year they have done very well when compared to other VoIP networks, many which have been going much longer. Lucky for them the PC to PC version really works. Similarly just by tracking Feedster for “Skype” will show anyone that Skype remains a very positive first experience. The challenge for Skype remains one of communicating that Skype is part of a people's telephony and communications led revolution.

After a year and a recent revamp to their site they seem to be more corporate, less fun, much cleaner, and frankly more off message. The P2P Telephony that just works claim is less obvious, with news story updates off the front page. New platform releases are newsy but the story here should be what Skypers do. They spend hours connected….. They connect when it is convenient, they make calls to far away landlines for just cents. And much more… all that is today!

The branding issue here is being lost to technology. Skype is part of a new communications lifestyle. It began with people in far away places and it's created all sorts of new connections. The joy and ability to connect and join the Skype generation isn't on the page. The quotes, not quite visible enough. There are still no instructions on getting to be a Skyper. There is nothing to overcome the early buddylist blankness and encourage people through it. Some more sharing by users about their experiences could be added in.

This would all be made a lot easier if Skype had a blog and the community forums had RSS feeds. And no these are not just geeky wishes. I know the majority won't even recognize it. However Skype is in the real-time communications business, it's an always-on company made possible by Skypers. Many Skypers would enable a Skype news feed as a tab in Skype. What may start of as a blog could become a very different community asset overtime.

Thus part of this branding and marketing role is education, and product strategy that enables easy transition to new applications when empowered or enabled by Skype. The example above just confirms to me that art of Skype is in broadening the conversation. The next iteration of both the website and the product must engender to do that.