I seem to be a little behind with new tech lately. I haven’t jumped into podcasting and I don’t even have Skype installed on my PC. Just the same, there are some interesting developments in the world of Skype. Om Malik, guru of all things broadband and VOIP has reported on two developments recently.
First, Skype is entering the retail environment:
Skype just signed an agreement
with Brightpoint, to sell and promote Skype products via the retail
channel. Incase you did not know, Brightpoint is a cellular wholesaler.
This is a major move, which pits Skype against Vonage. (We said so!)
Secondly, I believe this is clear indication that the viral marketing
campaign is running out of gas, and the company realizes that it needs
to step-up the marketing if it needs to trump other VoIP rivals. It
should and must be worried about cellular companies’ voip plans. SIP is also trying hard to get a peer-to-peer makeover, and become a more potent competitor. More on this later. Meanwhile, Skype has also added voicemail services.
I actually saw a Skype handset (connects to your PC via USB) for sale at a local electronics store a little while ago. Looks like Skype is a little more serious than I thought it was. At first I thought Skype was a bit like QQ, a local IM and now VOIP client, that was relaunched recently and which has failed to sway me from Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger.
Malik also published a post about a new plugin called vSkype which enables video conferencing across the Skype platform. You can see the potential for this just from the image in Malik’s post. Given the prevalence of broadband in business, this could well be the beginning of an almost ubiquitous presence for Skype:
Video calls are coming to Skype, thanks to vSkype,
a plug-in developed by Santa Cruz Networks. The company has just
released a public beta, which for now works only on windows machines.
(Of course, most Mac users have lovely iChat/iSight combination to get
their video calling groove on!)
<p>Of course Mac OSX users have had <a href="http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/ichat/">iChat</a> to play with for some time now but this is still an awesome development, especially considering the explosive adoption of Skype for VOIP.
Tons of good news for Skype of late. Yet more: IPdrum
is rolling out a solution that will allow cellphone users to use Skype on their handsets. They’re calling this the
IPdrum Mobile Skype Cable, and since there are no pics, we’re a little bit puzzled by the “cable?? moniker because it
implies some sort of tethering from phone to PC, which is apparently not the case. IPdrum uses proprietary technology
to connect mobile phones to Skype, allowing the placing of free long distance calls worldwide. It’s not restricted to
any special phones or restricted to areas with WiFi access. It’ll forward incoming Skype calls to your handset as well
as allowing bi-directional synchronization of contacts. No word on pricing, but the Mobile Skype Cable is set to be
unleashed in August.
Very very cool stuff indeed!
Malik has published a post titled "Skype rules, but for how long?" – pretty self-explanatory. The introduction is as follows:
Conventional wisdom, even among telecom cognoscenti is that Skype
has become so big, that it can be declared a platform. Who can argue?
After a shinny pretty face, a Mac-like ease of use and millions of
users, when married to superb voice quality, it is hard not to like
Skype. Even I have fallen prey to the charms of the product, and have
found that I am shifting my VoIP minutes away from Vonage to Skype.
I think there are some issues, which need to be talked about and
addressed in our open forum. Last month, Popular Telephony, makers of
another p2p VoIP software Peerio, announced that they were adding Skype
support in their gateway. What it essentially means is that a small
company using PT’s PBX replacement system can now pure-Skype calls on
its gateway and then route them to different extensions, and Skype
callers can leave voice mails as well. The outgoing calls work the same
way – use the gateway and call someone on the Skype network.
<p><em>Check it out!</em>