Outing Skype Communications

August 21, 2007

in Brand Futures, Skype Journal

I just read Jim Courtney’s post update on the Skype Outage. I’ve read many other reports too. For me the disappointment has nothing to do with not being able to call for two days. It’s deeper than that. It traces to Skype’s external communications and how their Brand has evolved from being community led around sharing to something corporate and out of tune with those that once loved Skype but now just use it.

The outage just confirms once again that “Skype’s” crisis management and handling of communications is poor; as it has been since eBay took control. In the end Skype has damaged its reputation because they failed to act in a transparent manner and continue to act a wee bit too secretly. We will continue to use the service yes. Does it make me feel warmer about Skype no… SKYPE has a communications problem and it traces to how they manage their message and brand.

Skype exists because “supernodes” are okay with some users, however the “sharing is good” message is long gone. The difference today is “we” use Skype. That is true whether you are at home or a company trying to build an app for it. There are no real Skype evangelists left. The big ideas that originally fueled Skype and the interest have frankly been reduced to a “service” – can I make a call today? It’s useful and a commodity. BTW I quickly connected via Gtalk and Gizmo with those I needed too during the outage. Free calls just remain a little easier and still better on Skype. Eg my iChat – Video was significantly poorer quality.

I’m convinced (and needed no real convincing) that Skype’s network works. Whether or not we are on SKype 3.5 or 2.6 (mac) or another version we are at Skype 1.0 still in principle. The P2P underpinnings that built Skype can build more than just Joost and can be leveraged in many new ways. The real disappointment is there just isn’t a Skype 2.0 in the making and from a communications point of view Skype remains very 1.0. Social media? Unfortunately, they have never really embraced it. It continues to show in the use of their home page, their forums and blogs.

What we really should be clamouring for is a revolution in how Skype engages and communicates with customers. As for the need to ask them to communicate with partners…. If that was truly built on P2P and augmented by the individual then we could say they really have something. — BTW… rather than a PR note on the home page today with Niklas signature… a YOUTUBE video would have been more compelling.

Skype has become a faceless corporation and we’re just “users” where once we were advocates, storytellers, testers and happy Skypers. Today we are “Everyone” and Users. I’m  sorry, I’m still a Skyper and I Skype. Next time please talk to us for we still do care. In fact we hold Skype’s future in our hands.


“Hello everyone,

It’s been a very hectic few days around Skype but I am really pleased to say that since the early hours of Saturday morning Skype has been back to normal. I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big, heart-felt thank you to all our users who contacted us with messages of support. It’s the little things that make all the difference in a crisis. We’re very sorry that Skype was unavailable because we know how much people enjoy using it. But we’re back now and we’re stronger. For more information about what happened, please take a look at our Heartbeat blog. In the meantime, thank you to everyone again – you make the Skype community what it is today.”

Niklas Zennström
CEO, Skype

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