Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

Summary: Why isn't Skype considered a social network? Take a look at its characteristics... It could turn out to be one of Microsoft's savviest investments.

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Should Microsoft's Skype be counted as a social network? It certainly fulfills many of the same functions that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

You can set a status 'mood' message, you can text message, use it as a group chat system, you can share files, photos, your computer screen. Plus, you can talk with people plus make video calls, and set up video conferences with several people. And do it all on very thin upload bandwidth. It's a very impressive service.

Skype has a huge and active user base, more than 30 million people are using it at any one time, and there's close to half-a-billion user accounts.

So why isn't Skype in the media and blogger conversations about social networks? Why aren't it's numbers of users counted by social media analysts? Is this a failure of Microsoft's PR people? Probably.

- It wouldn't take much for Microsoft to add a few bits and pieces to turn Skype into a full fledged social network with all the bells and whistles. And with many additional advantages.

- It's much more natural for me to share photos and videos with family and friends via a Skype relationship because I'm talking to them there anyway.

-Similarly, using Skype to share work with small groups of business colleagues feels natural, and there's no need to create 'circles' and special groups.

- The structure of Skype makes it easy to keep my activities separate from each other and from others. There's no need to set and reset privacy controls. Privacy is baked in.

- Skype isn't trying to publish every aspect of my online activity all the time, wherever I am.

- Google doesn't get to spider Skype content, and that means there's no need to fight SEO spammers who are looking to boost their search ranking.

- There's no advertising.

- Most people find Skype easy to use while lots find Facebook and Twitter confusing.

- Even though most are "users" and pay nothing, Skype isn't trying to monetize them, the revenues from the premium users are shared to cover everyone's use.

- I'd rather keep my mom engaged on Skype than have her on Facebook and that's also true for a lot of my family.

- And it's a good place to engage in business because Skype is a distraction-free environment, it's well suited for work. I'd love to see collaborative apps in this environment.

Skype has the potential to be the dark horse in the social network platform battles. And it's high time for it to be included in this conversation.

Topics: Collaboration, Microsoft, Networking, Social Enterprise

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15 comments
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  • They try it before in Messenger!

    And it was not a success at all....
    SuperBondio
    • RE: Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

      @SuperBondio
      Skype and messagenger are miles apart on everry level. As in not comparable!!
      eargasm
  • RE: Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

    "So why isn???t Skype in the media and blogger conversations about social networks? Why aren???t it???s numbers of users counted by social media analysts? Is this a failure of Microsoft???s PR people? Probably."
    I agree that Skype can be thought of as a social network but don't you think its is more valuable if people *don't* think of it as such? It seems to have done perfectly well trucking along, not claiming to be a social network, and charging a fee for some its services as they do it. If it becomes embroiled in becoming "social media" then it runs a danger of trying to be something that it is not - and I think that could be harmful.

    Thoughts?
    jamiet
    • Keep it focused and avoid the labels

      @jamiet
      +1
      Patanjali
    • Skype a Social Network? Marketing issue more than anything else

      Product perception is often linked to how you look at them. Skype is a telephone application, isn't it. That's how it started, that's what it is seen by most today. It's the number one competitor to AT&T, Verizon, Verifone and the others. The article is intriguing because it shows you can do much more with skype than telephone calls, and we all know that in oen way, form or shape, but because the lense through which we look, we limit our view inconsciously. Microsoft needs to do something to counter Apple, and Google. Why not expand Skype with some of the other good assets they have, such as Live and others. Or recreate a new brand using all those assets. Who knows what is best, but something ought to be done as the "privacy" destroyers from Apple, Google and Facebook need to be countered by something that is more people friendly. Why not Skype and Microsoft.
      christian.verstraete@...
  • RE: Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

    Of course Skype is "social networking" software and I love it, for exactly the reasons outlined in the article: calls takes up little bandwidth, there are no ads, nothing is shoved down your throat and the fact I can share files right there with the person I am talking to. Basically, its all I need -- and its secure. Me thinks that now that MS has control of it, its going to be a case of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
    tora201
    • RE: Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

      @tora201 <br>I'm not so sure?? Companies continue to bring new technology to skype. Have you tried the Freetalk device. With just a minor adjustment to the current method of doing, I can now use my landline handset to make landline and skype calls. I also do not have to keep a computer on, or use a computer at all. I'm getting closer each day to cutting my AT&T cords. If only I can find a way to get the alarm system on an alternative method of communication. Oh well!
      eargasm
  • RE: Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

    Skype is an instant messenger that is why its not a social network. Or you can redefine instant messengers and say they are all social networks since many of them had the same features. Or maybe social networks are instant messengers. Mind boggling.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • RE: Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

      @Loverock Davidson-
      LOL They're all merging, no doubt. Just a question of terminology.
      tora201
  • RE: Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

    I think they need to integrate it with Lync, Xbox, and SharePoint. Then add a Skype website that allows them to manage everything to do with their account (contacts, devices, etc.). From what I here most of this is already going on.
    rmark@...
    • RE: Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

      @rmark@...

      It's in the works....MS bought Skype to integrate it into all of their eco-systems. Can't wait to see it in action on Windows Phone 7.5...or maybe 8.
      Rob.sharp
  • RE: Is Skype a social network? Microsoft's dark horse has legs...

    Nop! And i like it that way....
    ruirego
  • Apparently the blogger is woefully unaware

    Facebook, that evil and foul smelling cesspit of "friends" allows Skype chats, so it's already part of the "social disease."

    Ah well, another day, another zdnet "special" blog.
    ego.sum.stig
  • "...there???s no need to fight SEO spammers ..."

    Though, I had met spammers, not only calls from annoying and unknown persons under such aliases like "ONLINE SERVICE", but just letters with suggestings cooperate to make money from anywhere, etc. I do not know if Skype has any spam-protection, probably has not? Disease are spreading. And "blocking them and report abuse" does not result in any visible reaction. May be Microsoft could help Skype itself and could harm us with spoiling Skype service.
    LolGatto
  • MS, pls ignore TF.

    It's easy to use 'cos it doesn't have all that syndication cr*p on the screen, if MS do listen to TF they'll probably let the ribbon UI geniuses loose on it, OMG.
    ianto39