Skype 5.0 – Misses another mobile opportunity by focusing on Windows

October 14, 2010

in Skype + VoIP

Did Skype just miss yet another opportunity? Today they launched Skype 5.0 for Windows. They’d like you to think it is a big step forward. Multi-party video, integration with Facebook and Facebook news feed and more. You can find the details here at Skype Journal and on the Skype Blog or on YouTube.

So why should I be unhappy? Yet again there’s no Mac version. There’s still no video for mobiles (iPhone Android, Symbian, etc). So here’s the real guts of the matter. And it was proven to me  again by another recent VoIP/Video launch  “Tango” which I’ve just been trying out and apparently had quite a number (1m+) of downloads.

The problem is – kids don’t care about Skype. Maybe they never did.  Skype is old and aging – like Blackberry, chasing business, and retaining a telecom paradigm. No wonder – that’s where its bread is buttered. If Skype hopes to get their mojo back by embracing Facebook they are wrong. Facebooks been aging too – for years. I just fail to understand why Skype’s Mobile strategy doesn’t lead? In all this Skype says they are being social. Really?

For the last few months I’ve also been writing about FaceTime. Apple’s entrant. Even there I believe Apple is moving too slowly. Example. FaceTime is limited to WiFi. It doesn’t yet reach the desktop. The standards for integration aren’t yet published. I’ve written that FaceTime is a potential Skype killer. I’ll write about Tango later. It’s effectively a FaceTime copy that goes across platforms and over 3G today.

Some reasons kids may not care much for Skype.

  • It’s not mobile. Or for the most part mobile enough. That’s certainly true for the super smartphone toting, unlimited texting crowd. Their key contacts are all text / SMS based. Plus this group isn’t that worried about sharing their mobile phone number.
  • They’ve been learning about video through YouTube, perhaps even Justin.TV and others. Many have streamed or uploaded Video. FaceTime is sort of interesting – just requires friends to have it.But the WiFi is a limitation.
  • Their experimentation with new forms continues on mobile first. Via App stores. So today perhaps it is Tango and Yahoo – both which have launched video. (Tango is better).
  • They have the number of people they need to call / connect with. They don’t need to boot up another client. It’s mobile and SMS based. See the WSJ today re texting.
  • Even in less developed countries – the mobile leads (at least in terms of numbers) and access to 3G or WiFi may be limited. These markets will get mass friends and family video calling first on mobile – not on PC’s.

When kids care about Skype:

  • When their girlfriend is far away and they want video time.
  • Probably not when it is integrated into Facebook. In fact their status may start going to places they don’t want it to go.

Look the above notes aren’t in any form a detailed sample. It’s just a gut feel. Yet even with my usage I’m often connecting Skype calls using Skype for iPhone rather than the desktop. It’s part of our conversational mode. Each announcement that – we (Skype) made progress – get the new Skype for Windows – takes  Skype further and further away from simply connecting people that really matter – those that are close to you and often far away. That’s what Skype did well. Yet today there are an increasing number of clients that do away with Skype’s complex sign-up procedure, separate directory (from my mobile contacts) and add in Video. They complement my mobile life. Nothing Skype launched today did.

Dan York was also disappointed.

  • Peter Yang

    Nail it. The only reason I have Skype is precisely because my girlfriend lives in another country. I bought an android phone so I can used skype, and is extremely disappointed by buggy software, lack of video chat, and inability to route calls over 3G. I am limited to calling via WIFI.

    This is so LAME. When I’m at home, I can use my Computer to SKYPE. The entire purpose of buying a smartphone is that I can VOIP when I”m on the go. I”m very disappointed by the slowness of SKYPE. The entire company still doesn’t get it.

    Hopefully TANGO will released a PC Client as well. When that happens, I will dump Skype completely

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