Now, as Skype brings more users back online after yesterday's sign-in malfunction, is a time to look at the harm from these events.
Let's go over a couple of my colleague's views on this mess. Then I will offer my views, and then solicit yours.
Colleague Larry Dignan feels this outage will not be forgotten easily, and may bring harm down on peer to peer technology's reliability and reputation.
Another colleague, Michael Krigsman, strongly believes this experience will cost Skype in its efforts to be adopted by numerous business users.
Large-scale business adoption of Enterprise 2.0 infrastructure applications, such as Skype, will only occur when these new technologies can survive comparison with established utilities. Society has demanded that basic services — water, phone, electricity, roads, and so on — must adhere to certain levels of reliability and availability. Likewise, business users expect their software infrastructure to provide high reliability, especially in mission-critical domains.
While Michael and Larry both have salient points, I believe they are overestimating the long-term consequences for Skype. Let me explain.
First of all, I'd hold there is an inverse relationship between the size of the enterprise and the degree of dependence on Skype. The landscape of usage seems to be bundled, Cisco (or similar) VoIP solutions for larger and mid-size companies, and then Asterisk based solutions primarily in the widely divergent SMB segment.
The smaller the business, the more likely that less capital expenditures have been devoted to a full-fledged VoIP solution with packet monitoring, QoS, etc. It's a matter not only of less resources, but a less complicated telecommunications usage scenario.
In these cases, Skype may have been installed primarily as a cost-saver, rather than as a voice solution with a multi-purpose feature set.
The same is true on the consumer side, where Skype's proposition is still as an inexpensive calling solution more than a multi-purpose calling package. And as to Larry's point, I'd wager you that most Skype-using consumers don't even know what P2P is.
I guess what I am saying here is that for many if not most users, Skype is still pretty much a low-cost play.
One thing about consumers across various sectors. Low-cost often equals lower expectations. There's a reason why bargain airlines such as Southwest customarily garner fewer regulatory agency complaints per 1,000 passengers than pricier airlines with more features.
Once again, that's lower expectations.
In most cases, I expect lower expectations factors to enable consumers and very small businesses (accounting and legal offices, for instance) to quickly forget about this blip. And don't forget, we are in prime vacation season. Some Skype users who may have been annoyed are in the surf or on the golf course, and thus are non-annoyable.
And as to the larger Avaya, Cisco or even Asterisk-using businesses, they could care less about Skype in the first place. They are not likely to use Skype- not just because of sign-in service disruptions, but because they demand, and are pleased with, full IP voice feature and management packages Skype is highly likely never to offer.
But what do you think?