5 Million Skype Softphones?

May 18, 2004

in Skype Journal

I was doing a little Skyping today trying to get a line on the impending roll-out of the PSTN interconnect which for all I know was announced at VON Canada today.

Whenever Skype launches their PSTN interconnect which I assume will use a prepaid card format and proprietary interconnect agreement (for they have no advantage going to SIP directly) somethings will happen…

Five Million Softphones will be launched. Has anyone else ever achieved that sort of number? They are claiming 5 million registered users now. If their interconnect deal is sweet they will provide some cents worth of free calling with each upgrade. Then Skype will infect many more households. I’m calling you on Skype on my dime…. cost us nothing if you start Skyping….

Five Million people get their first PC softphones (most of these have never seen one before, or completely given up on earlier examples). At least 10% will buy a $10 prepaid card (say 500 minutes anywhere on earth) even if just for goodwill and support for Skype. If the ratio is right and they can protect multiple identities through the creditcard number then a $.50 free offer will come with every PSTN softphone upgrade. Sweeter would be options to incent Skypers to sign up new connections. PayPal did this at launch.

The SkypeSoftphone will likely look nothing like the other softphones out there. It’s name driven. Simply key the number in and dial. Even if they add an addtional dialer tab, the message “click on the person” to dial will be clear…. never enter a number again.

“Skype isn’t about making cheaper phone calls it’s about communicating better. It’s much more convenient, has superior voice quality, instant messaging and conference calling.” Niklas Zennstrom Globetechnology

An that is potentially where this strategy has the biggest problem. Interconnects will result in lower sound quality. The question thus remains will Skype’s sound quality remain distinctive enough in an interconnected world?

Finally the guess is that you will be able to dial out or bridge a non Skyper into a conference call however this interconnect won’t allow inbound calling at this time. Neither will you have any presence information for these out of network callers. That will only come later if / when integrated with SIP.

Time will tell if I am right.

On the competitive front Italk2U was relaunched in beta — lousy sound quality does it get through all firewalls now. Don’t bother. Then today I saw Peerio which wasn’t downloadable when I visited. See Ted Sheldon’s comments re the open source aspects.

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