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Skype Activists on the Horizon

If you take on the global telecom companies then you are social activists. Activism is probably in the Skype teams DNA. However activism requires a grass root movement and leverage to topple what was. Skype now has a lever in SkypeOut and millions and millions of minutes so now it has to empower the army. There can be no conscription, membership is voluntary. Skype must now understand that the tech alone won't change the world but its users can by participating. It is time for Skype to take a bold step forward and embrace users with a new compact. This little scenario below may scare the VC's. It would be a great step towards changing telecom forever.

So, create a Skype Members program, add in an understanding of social marketing and activism and a new threat emerges to telecoms. Members programs are not new ideas (eg American Express, mileage programs etc.) although membership participation in this program may swing collective real benefits for the community rather than just the individual. For an example consider how the eBay community works and interacts.

Create leverage by using Skype's potential for talking billions of minutes served. The paid minutes are a number that Niklas won't be ready to share yet and the PC to PC minutes are unknown. From the markets perspective Skype is either smaller than expected or much larger. It is a no win. However, if they go "open" combining reporting of paid minutes and PC to PC minutes then the data becomes more interesting.

When "paid" minutes becomes public knowledge as they certainly will given time then they will represent only a small portion of Skype's "connectivity" value. Skype would be understating it's case. As incumbents play their games "paid minutes" can't determine economic arguments or fuel protection into the future.

Thus Skype should create an open rates dialogue with members as part of an open and transparent policy. This completely changes the playing field. What we have learned is Skype now has the minutes to start wielding power. (The interconnects may still be shakey.) So now they have to rapidly build the number of minutes used.

When Skype goes public with contract numbers then we as a skype community also reap benefits when together we achieve these targets... get these rates etc. Thus as each new mega million minute threshold is reached Skypers get lower rates. By adding statistic and time we engage users in the conversion. This is part of the daily tracking and monthly community reporting. This is smart business move with additional side benefits. Currently no other VoIP network can match Skype for minutes connected. Thus an important "market" statistic is created. Concurrently traditional telecoms are threatened by "open" VoIP statistics. Should Skype talk minutes then the regulators may have to look at minute costs and values. In Skype's case money spent this month divided by the total of free minutes plus paid minutes is the average cost per minute. No current telecom on earth can match this figure further highlighting inefficiency and the need for change.

The statistics and numbers game here is Skype’s to be won. The telecoms cannot afford to publish the same data. If they do their share prices will tank. Right now Skype remains a minnow. Soon Skype will be larger than some countries and then one day maybe with enough consumer participation it can present numbers to the FCC and say game over.

Comments (2)

You keep having a lot of hope for Skype and I do to. But lately I've been very concerned when looking at the skype forum. Not a lot of good comments are posted there. I always find your posts on skype very interesting but the last few could appear very unrealistic to a skypeout user. I understand you don't have to be totally objective in this blog, but you've been far from it, to the extent that one could think you are a Skype employee (not me though.

Roch Vaillancourt


It's been an interesting week. As you may have gathered I've not blogged anything much on Skype for a few months. As I've returned to it and broader VOIP topics I'm been trying to explore and create some new angles.

I've tended to keep my comments out of forums. It's too hard to find them later, they are a record in a forum as opposed to a little bit of thinking at a point in time. I prefer to retain the history.

I'm certainly not a Skype employee, somehow I not sure they would give me the free reign I would want. I am concerned that you think I've been far from objective recently. I'm generally pro Skype. As you note I do use my blog to push the boundaries from time to time. Supposed to push boundaries and cause some discomfort perhaps. However would hate to be unhinged!

Some questions. Are the Skype forums really representative? Are there any statistics on SkypeOut and performance? BTW I saw that Vonage was down yesterday too for three hours. I note the Skype numbers have jumped since 1.0. Communication from Skype as always is minimal.

Let's talk. SkypeMe! I'd like to get your perspective.



PS: I'd like to see them pushed forward in terms of consumer activism.

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