Rethinking Skype

Most of my readers know, I am not a huge fan of Skype. Stuart has taken me to task on this many times. Actually, rethinking Skype, I have realized that I am not a big fan of their lack of a clear cut business model, and their desire to build a Skype Network which is closed. Still, I find a lot of new things I like about Skype, the software, if not the company. (For a long elaborate and dispassionate review, click here!) For instance, Aswath reminded me this morning that Skype technology is a good for finding best routes to communicate. “If this is true then the value in Skype is not in voice communication, but in its ability to supplant IP routers as well,” he says. Skype has added new features like big files transfer that make a lot of sense for cross-platform communication.

The company just announced a beta program for its chat software and voicemail. In other words, even as it has mimicked the telephone, the company has started to add more features to the software. However, what really rocks my world is the third party apps for Skype. Qzoxy which is one of the “presence” apps that leverages Skype as a communication channel. However, it is Jyve which has impressed me the most.

A Jyve Tag is a snippet of HTML code that you can copy-paste into any web page. This snippet of code produces a live Skype Button which shows your current Skype status. This enables you to show your presence on any web page. If this button is clicked, it launches your Q-Card. Q-Card is a Internet Call centre. It allows you to collect call back info from people visiting your site.

I think you should try it out, and very soon I am going to be implementing it on my site as well. I think if we see more of these applications, then I think Skype would become really more useful than just a replacement for the telephone as we have known it. Here is an idea: with all the services like Grouper and Mercora releasing products that allow streaming music from your desktop to your friends and a community, a developer or two needs to step-up and develop a Skype plugin that allows me to do that right from my desktop, regardless of OS and the music stream can be heard using any standard streaming audio format, like Windows Media. (That doesn’t mean that standalone Grouper is not a valid application – in fact it stands on its own merit, but Skype-2-stream music does a little more than just help make voice calls. Actually, Grouper folks should try to tie in their app-with-Skype.) I think that kind of functionality could add more to the “always-on” value of Skype. Oh, just as a reminder, I am still not a big fan of the company, and their business model, but am warming up to their software.