Skype to Replace SMS Next?

February 2, 2005

in Skype Journal

This is pure speculation but hear me out. As a case it is beginning to make sense to me. Skype is going to take two swings at SMS and change that game too. How’d I come to this leap of radical judgement? I’ve been experimenting with two new programs. The first Skype VM (Voice Messaging) and the second Connectotel’s SMS to Skype which evolve I’m sure in time a Skype to SMS product. Then Skype also announce their 1.0 Mac and Linux versions today, so the Symbian challenge has to be next.

The Skype Symbian scenario:
It will work like VM… Skype will enable a text only program with VM capability… so you can receive and send VM and text… there is no need to yet go to voice on a Skype Symbian solution and most of the phones wouldn’t cope. In some countries SkypeOut to mobile will be a good deal, in others it isn’t. The presence indicator makes moving to SkypeMobile attractive while the application upgrades will enable you to broadcast presence as on mobile for text, for VM or invisible.

So Skype targets Nokia and begins selling this as an App which means the cell co’s ca even retail it too. They are happy because Skype isn’t eating their lunch tomorrow on 3G handsets while the Wi-Fi mobility app is already available for Windows PDA’s

So why does this just feel right?
I’ve been using VMs and sending them via my laptop when connected via bluetooth to GPRS on my mobile. There is no deterioration in quality it just takes a little longer. Some Symbian phones will need to upgrade their memory cards to hold the extra VM’s. Still it seems possible and the new phones with megapixel cameras have to be able to handle these VM files. In this format I played voice tag, which really is just like “push to talk”. This looks like building a core technology that can be applied in multiple formats. What’s need to complete it? Simply Skype need to add a broadcast function to VM, so you can send to up to five people at once. This will mimic the conference calls. You may even accept these Broadcast VM’s Live with a playback option. Eg mobile Skype user returning with pizza for lunch… hits five buddies and in one messages broadcasts Lunch in Five!. Of course could do this with text too.

So what’s the implications for SMS?
This hits SMS hard because if you use a mobile it is much easier to voice a cheap message for a minute than send an SMS text message. Given the high cost of SMS there will be an economic incentive too. It’s also more compatible with driving – to listen, and is likely to work with bluetooth headsets. Which brings us to the economic impact. The economics are web access the right phone, and having Skype installed. Others will know this better. Trading to web access and dropping SMS charges probably has a breakeven point. Then there is a twist in the equation. With Skype you have presence and that means your SMS replacement messages have more impact and relvance.

Need a little proof of concept. Take another look at Agile Messenger. Maybe they just need to dock Agile with Skype. So if sending SMS messages to Skype in beta via Connectotel wasn’t enough, then Then it doesn’t take a genius to realize that if one can go one way then there is a good chance that you will soon be able to go the other. Now I’m never going to be a telecom exec althought this give me real pause to think. How much money is made in SMS by cellular operators? Where does SMS to Skype and Skype to SMS make real sense?

In the end I believe SMS and Skype are symbiotic. It will just grow Skype. As for SkypeMobileVM it is just a scenario right now. It sure could be a winner.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Threadwatch February 2, 2005 at 2:25 pm

Personally i can’t think of anything more annoying than SMS and refuse to take part on general grumpy principle but Stuart Henshall has some interesting thought on current technologies Skype, Symbian and Voice Messaging technology.

IM telling U February 3, 2005 at 2:16 am

SMS/Skype symbiosis

Some interesting thoughts/speculation about Skype replacing SMS by Stuart Henshall on his blog. I’ll neeed to have a look at the SkypeVM beta now…

Having said this, I can’t imagine SMS being replaced by anything anytime soon, and Symbian phones …

Andy Abramson February 3, 2005 at 3:04 am

Actually Skype to SMS is wrong in nomenclature. It would actually be Skype to MMS.

Bjoern February 8, 2005 at 6:49 pm

I don’t think skype will replace SMS, although I definitely see the symbiotic possibilities as well. However, I think skype is in a good position to enable SMS and MMS functionality in a popular application.

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