Lots of interesting news at the end of last week:
- Jan Geirnaert reports in his Skype Watch blog that Skype has abruptly cut off fixed-price SkypeOut offers for Taiwan (originally reported by Digittimes). This reminds me a lot of the London SkypeIn number fiasco; Skype just does whatever they want, with no regard or consideration for their customers. It makes all of their rubbish about "We love our customers so much..." sound so hollow. They seem to be very slow in learning that you can treat your customers like dirt when you are the only game in town, but when there is real, viable competition, you really should stop doing that.
- The Boston Globe reported on the state of videoconferencing technology today, and said that "Sightspeed and ooVoo have the highest quality video and most features", while Skype "is the most cumbersome to install and use".They also had good things to say about ooVoo's audio/video synchronization, and TokBox requiring no software download or installation.
- If you are able to read French, there was a question-and-answer "interview" with Julien Decot, "Principal, Strategy at Skype". Practically the first thing in the "interview" he regurgitates the ridiculous "338 million users world-wide" claim, this time with the added "officially" claim - it would be interesting to know who made it "official"? The rest of the "interview" is a bunch of softball questions, and even those often don't get an answer. For example, "Who are Skype's principal rivals?"... He can't think of one - perhaps he should go back and see who got the Dell Video Chat deal? Or perhaps he could read the Boston Globe evaluation mentioned above? When asked "Why doesn't Skype open their source code", he avoids the question entirely with mumbling about APIs and CRMs. More importantly, when asked if there is a way a business could install Skype without risking that their systems would be chosen for use as Skype 'Supernodes", and thus compromise their network bandwidth, the answer he gives is totally irrelevant nonsense. That, combined with my personal experience a week ago, lead me to conclude that you can't protect yourself from this; if you're going to use Skype, you had better be willing and able to donate a significant amount of your network bandwidth and processing power to the rest of the Skype world. Of course, what is missing from the "interview" are any hard questions about whether there is a back door for monitoring Skype calls, why Skype "Customer Support" is non-existent, why Skype continually takes users money in advance, and then refuses to provide any service, with no explanation, or even why Skype still insists on limiting their "High Quality Video" to only three "anointed" Logitech webcams, when SightSpeed and ooVoo are now doing the same video quality with any webcam which is capable of the necessary resolution and frame rate?
Not a good week, but a typical one for Skype.
P.S. - A couple of late-breaking updates...
- It looks a lot like rats leaving a sinking ship to me. Not a week goes by that I don't read about someone leaving Skype, or some "former Skype xxxx" being involved in a new company... This weeks example, courtesy of the Skype Cheerleading Squad no less, is the "Creative Leader Leaves Skype".
- It is worth noting that some long-time loyal Skype customers and supporters are getting disgusted with Skype "Customer Service" (or the lack thereof) as well, and see the irony in an "Internet Telephone Company" that doesn't have a support phone number. Here for example.