I’ve had an interesting email exchange with Michael Robertson this morning as I asked a few questions about his new OpenSky product. This new Gizmo5 calling service “OpenSky” creates a gateway so anyone can call a Skype contact from any number. As always with Gizmo they have all the routing capabilities from mobile, from web, from a Gizmo5 client etc. It just proves again that everything can be connected.
OpenSky is a free service provided by Gizmo5 which allows any mobile phone, web browser or IP aware phone network (SIP, asterisk, etc) to communicate with Skype users. OpenSky supports sending text messages and voice calls.
So who’s going to use it? Micheal Robertson responds:
The calling world is much bigger than Skype and now they can connect with Skype.
- There are tens of millions of seats for Cisco Call Manager, Avaya and other high end PBX systems which cannot call Skype users and now they can.
- There are tens of millions of seats using low cost Asterisk, Yate, FreeSwitch, Trixbox which cannot call Skype users and now they can.
- There are more than 10 million Nokia Wifi phones which cannot call Skype users and now they can: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H49yZGdiqso&feature=channel
- There are millions of SIP ATA devices and wifi phones which cannot call Skype users and now they can.
- 90% of mobile phones do not have a data plan and cannot call a Skype user and now they can. see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXZs7N2pBN8&feature=channel
I’m a little less certain about this. While I’ve argued for years that Skype should offer a product that turns my Skype name into a SIP ID so I can use it and other can contact me that way it hasn’t happened. Similarly I can’t call a SIP ID from Skype and that too might be useful. In this illustration I’d pay Skype for the priviledge. I’m also using it to make myself more accessible. I do think some will use this to connect Grand Central or some other service to their Skype account. Why?Not really sure.
In contrast “OpenSky” enables other services to try and call SkypeID’s. It provides a gateway and will connect a SIP capable service with Skype. This is where OpenSky broke down for me. The primary issue of whether this service will be successful is based on Skype User behavior. I believe the majority are like me. They don’t accept calls from unknown users. They change their Skype preferences to block unknown callers (non buddies) and many women block the chat too.
On my first and second tests before changing my preference I got a chat message: opensky_03:”You are about to receive an OpenSky Voice call from 9257YYXXXX.” The call didn’t go through because of my preferences. OpenSky shared my mobile number too. Just surprised me. Changed preferences and my free call lasted approx 3 minutes. You have to buy a package starting at $20 per year to achieve unlimited calling.
To check my theory I tried to OpenSky 3 other friends. All had their preferences set to block such calls. The question I have is how many calls are likely to go through? I know Michael is already looking at this so they may well find a solution (make it easy for me to add a OpenSky contact) and their own call/connect logs may indeed prove my fear is unfounded.
The funny thing is Skype really started the lowcost free calling revolution. Now costs and other services have come down to such a point that Skype is fighting to stay relevant. The mobile handset has become the major device. While we still have expensive international calls there will be needs for different forms of interconnect. However my experience says the number of contacts a user has in this regard still tends to be a handful rather than a multitude. Calling a Skype user for the most part is calling a PC. Calling a PC is dying. Skype is trying to maintain some relevance with video. I hope their strategy is better than that.
From a consumer perspective Skype already offers “SkypeToGo” which solves my mobile to Skype or cheap international calls problems. From Michael’s comments he’s more interested in the business type opportunities. I can also see him selling a number of his packages to “call centers” who want to sell into Skype. The failure to go through doesn’t matter. They just need Skype names to make the calls. Still that’s a fine balance when every inbound call to the Skype has the ID “OpenSky_##” One sex line customer could sort of wreck the “prestige” for anyone else. That means to sell to larger customers they will have to offer a custom gateway service.
I’m pleased to see that someone is continuing to promote VoIP solutions. I think too much time is being wasted on interconnecting with Skype. Skype’s a low cost channel. Most of us have more than one channel. Still the real innovation to come is around directories, call signaling, presence, callerID, personal interconnect rules, and context.
Just read Om’s post His view seems similar.