Will new Skype owners deal differently with open source?

Will new Skype owners deal differently with open source?

Summary: What is the future of VOIP, and what part will open source play in it?


There is growing speculation, especially given its deal with Digium, that the new owners of Skype may take a different attitude toward open source.

That would be a good thing.

Skype has long been the most popular Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) client, but it is also closed. It was proprietary, not just in terms of its coding but in terms of eBay's attitude toward doing business.

Its proprietary nature gave Skype the marketing budget it needed to win in the marketplace. But it also hampered VOIP efforts to go beyond voice.

While VOIP gained popularity as a telephony replacement its importance goes well beyond that. Once voice is integrated as a normal Internet service, it can be combined with other services in any number of ways.

The difference between a VOIP program and a Web conferencing system is not that large. You can not only mimic all the common voice services using VOIP, but add more as you need them or imagine them.

This has not happened up to now, partly because much of our voice traffic has moved to cellular networks which digitize it as a matter of course and monitor their networks to gain the most revenue they can out of every bit. For cellular, VOIP is just a way of squeezing more calls into limited bandwidth.

So the question becomes, what can Skype offer, alongside the open source movement, that will make it part of a compelling suite of services rather than just a way to get around telco gatekeepers? How, if Skype is to become part of the open source movement, will we get the word out to the mass market?

Vonage has shown a way to reach the mass market with a service based on open source, but investors are turning away from it due to coming competition from Skype and Google. So can Google deliver an open source VOIP service worth advertising, and what might it add to one?

What is the future of VOIP, and what part will open source play in it?

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, Networking, Open Source, Telcos, Unified Comms

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  • Don?t forget Skype for SIP ;)

    Skype for SIP also offers interoperability with other communications
    systems - there's more about how it works on our website:

    Peter Parkes (Skype)
    • Skype for SIP - Requires G.729?

      I was reading on the Skype for SIP page that it requires a PBX that supports G.729... may I ask why? I thought the whole point of Skype was that it was VoIP [i]and[/i] a wideband codec (SILK). Will Skype for SIP support anything other than G.729? The only reason VoIP gets away with low-quality codecs like G.729 is because the cellular network is even worse. (By low-quality I mean the low quality of the sound being transmitted, not the quality of the technology that went into producing G.729/A. CELP technologies are technologically/mathematically impressive indeed.)

      Thanks for discussing this subject. I am a huge fan of HD VoIP because I use it all day every day. I hope others will come to appreciate high quality audio connections. No doubt the hundreds of millions of Skype users like it. :)

  • RE: Will new Skype owners deal differently with open source?

    An equally important question is, will Skype deal differently with their users? Will they stop treating them like dirt, ignoring their support requests, hiding behind their ridiculous "no phone support for a VoIP product" policy, blaming the customers when their accounts get hacked and money drained, and refusing to make any serious efforts to stop the flood of spam and smut that is washing over Skype-space?

    Personally, I doubt it.
    • "Blaming the customers"

      I use Skype occasionally. I've never ran into these problems you're mentioning, but that could just be because I don't do much on there. But I think you ought to clarify one thing.

      When the customers get their accounts "hacked and money drained," is that because of a security flaw in Skype itself, or is it because some customer was stupid enough to fall for a phishing scam and gave someone their password?

      If it's the former, then yes, Skype absolutely needs to take responsibility and fix their product. But if it's the latter, they're quite right to blame the customer, since it was the customer's fault, not Skype's.
      • Check the Skype User Forums

        The Skype User Forums are full of posts from people who say that they have NOT fallen for any phishing scam, they have NOT given their password to anyone else, and they have NOT done anything else that would compromise their accounts. Yet they log in one day to find that their credit balance is zero, and a few who tied their Skype account directly to a credit card or PayPal account (probably foolishly, although Skype encouraged this), had additional charges and drains.

        I was skeptical about this at first, as you are, but there have been just too many of them, and eventually it even happened to a couple of people whom I know and trust. (The good news is that it made it a lot easier for me to convince them to put Skype in the trash, where it belongs.)

        As with any and all customer problems and complaints, Skype has either ignored these reports, never even acknowledging or responding to them, or they have simply said that the customer was at fault and needed to be "more careful". At least I agree with them on that last point, people should be a lot "more careful", and not give Skype any money under any circumstances.

  • RE: Will new Skype owners deal differently with open source?

    I think Skype will loose market share to MagicJack, if they are not careful. MagicJack is as good as Skype, cheaper than Skype, gives free phone number, and you can send faxes via MajicJack. You can't do that on Skype. I just left Skype for MagicJack.
    • Please clarify

      [i]"...loose market share..."[/i]

      That would be the opposite of [i]tight[/i] market share, I presume?
  • How will they monetise Skype

    I am more concerned that they will be anxious to monetise Skype better than eBay managed to do, and will try to increase charges. There are many voip competitors, but Skype has built up the biggest user base. It is one thing to say that you are going to change to another, but it is more complex to get a large number of contacts to do so.

    While Google is always a threat, I sense that increasingly people are staying away from Google services because of privacy issues. I would rather see Yahoo provide a good competitor as they already have a large user base and that would be easier to convert.
  • SKYPE not secure?

    Why are governments sowing Trojans to intercept communications? Because they are able to crack a 256 bit key?

    And how many users are online at any one time across the world? 20 million, more? What percentage use stupid, easily remembered passwords? How hard is it to create a database of "Stupid, easily cracked" common passwords of 8 or less characters? .1% of SKYPE "password cracked" users online at any time would easily flood a users forum with complaints and make for BIG numbers!

    Are these people "Stupid"? NO! In todays Net-world, passwords are the heart and soul of account and online access security. We are HUMAN, we're not good at remembering dozens of complicated long (25+ character)passwords, period.

    I use a popular "....form type" password management application that has worked exceptionally well for me. My SKYPE password is at the maximum length allowed and mixed. All my online passwords are like this and none are the same. This password management "xxxxform" program has never been hacked, cracked or broken. I use a USB drive version for other PC or travel related access. In 5 years of use, I've never been breached and I have a heavy Internet footprint.

    Today's Internet requires password management tools because of the password complexity required today. Those who don't will continue to fill user forums with hacked account complaints.