My trip to CES in Las Vegas started last night in a most interesting way. At the gate, I noticed a fellow with a Dell, and a headset. I asked him if he was talking over Skype, and what I got was several stories about how wonderful Skype as a tool for family communication over long distances.
Not all that many hours later, I am sitting in an eBay-Skype press conference where several vendors including NETGEAR (not shouting, just passing along), Philips, IPEVO and ASUS talked about their new Skype phones and accessories.
But sitting there an overarching thought occurred to me. It seems to me these phones are being flailed out into the marketplace and are not explained well by Skype to their customers.
Skype grew up in the headset world. Skype grew big in the headset world. And maybe I am on a curmudgeon streak, but I wonder how many prospective custoers- even current Skype users- would pull out of their two-year cell contracts to mobil-ize their Skype.
Skype, for their part, sees this gear as a way to obtain extra minutes and extra income from non-Skype users who ain't down with the headset thing but would embrace a user experience through a handset.
There may be some incremental value in this, but how many non-Skype users don't have a cell, and are in the middle of a plan at that?
Some of these devices are quite cool. And yes, headsets are ugly. But Skype, the headset got you where you are- as a very pricey eBay acquisition .So I guess what I am saying is, expand your device portfolio, but don't expect substantial uplift in minutes or subscribers. Why?