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Innovation

A Few Comments on Skype

I have for the most part kept my mouth shut about Skype for some time now. There have recently been a couple of developments that I would like to comment on, though, so here we go.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor on

I have for the most part kept my mouth shut about Skype for some time now. There have recently been a couple of developments that I would like to comment on, though, so here we go.

Skype has recently started testing 5-way video. Finally. Something like three years late, but at least they are doing it. Of course, that is only for the Windows version, so all you Linux and Mac users are left out in the cold, as usual. But something is better than nothing, I suppose.

Skype also announced new pricing packages for quite a few countries. For the most part, the prices look good, but you have to be careful - read the fine print. All of it, and carefully. When you think you understand it, go back and read it one more time. In the past, Skype has found more ways to write exceptions, exclusions, limitations, and special conditions than you could probably ever imagine. One example: "Unlimited Calling Plans" with very specific limits. Another: low priced calls to land line phones coupled with extremely high priced calls to mobile/cellular numbers.

The Skype CEO recently hinted that they are considering adding mid-call advertisements. See previous paragraph re "pricing packages". Does this mean there will be adverts running in calls you are paying for?

Ok, I saved the best for last. Are you sitting down? Skype wants to add a "service" which will allow you to store passwords for other online services and accounts in your Skype account, and then Skype will take care of logging you in when necessary. Yes, you read that correctly. Skype, the company that is (in)famous for having user accounts hacked (and then blaming their users for being "careless"), the company that is (in)famous for having "customer support" that responds in a minimum of four days, if you are lucky, four weeks if you aren't lucky, four months if you're unlucky, and never in many cases, now wants you to give them all of your passwords. Right. Great idea. Everyone who wants to do this, please contact me right away, I have this bridge in New York I would like to sell you.

So, I have to modify my advice to family, friends and acquaintances slightly. Skype is, in some cases, a necessary evil. If you feel that you have to use it, please stay exclusively with the free services, DO NOT under any circumstances trust them with any of your money OR ANY OF YOUR PASSWORDS.

jw 13/5/2010

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