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Skype: Interop is a Waste of Time

by in Telecom

Ecomm is a fantastic conference (for telecom propeller heads). This year I was only able to do a fly-by. However, the organizers are starting to post videos.

Jonathan Christensen of Skype discusses the latest release of SkypeKit, an SDK for real time communications. SkypeKit is primarily targeted at consumer electronics manufacturers to embed Skype into a wide variety of products – car navigation systems, baby monitors, televisions, etc.  It allows manufacturers to leverage “all of Skype’s functionality” without building infrastructure. The kit contains binary run-times ported and optimized for multiple processors and operating systems.
The first part of this video Jonathan talks about the disruption of communications that the Internet heralded- any to any device and a whole new array of devices being connected. The old infrastructure was rigid: dumb devices with a narrow-band voice connection. The internet offers a “new infinitely variable web.” He rejects the notion of a migration or evolution, or a new role for the dumb terminal we call phones. Jonathan says: “It is not an evolution, it’s a disruption.”
He may be right, he stated that Skype transmits 6 months of video every minute. Wow!
After Jonathan finishes the presentation, he takes questions from the audience. Two in particular stood out.
At about 11:30, Steve Sokol from Digium asked about PBX integration options with SkypeKit. Allow me to paraphrase the Skype position on this: No, that’s not allowed. If you want to connect a stupid narrow-band PBX [Asterisk is not] to Skype, it has to be through a stupid narrow-band SIP connection known as Skype Connect. Don’t even think about bringing the future [SkypeKit] to the past [PBX]. Weren’t you listening? It’s not an evolution, geez… 
At 17:44 a question is posed around Skype interoperability. No need to paraphrase here, I will provide the direct quote.

What we are not excited about is people building interop. It is not because we don’t want them to build interop or have interop, it’s just that it is a waste of time.”

So much for the “infinitely variable web.”  I agree that Skype is amazing and it fairly earned the title of “mega huge disruptor,” but I am not convinced it will retain that title with such a closed approach.


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  • We are agreed. Their wholly closed approach will be their undoing.

    SkypeKit, for all the hype, hasn't really done much that I can see. Sure you can buy a high-end TV with a built-in Skype client. But that TV may not be able to interop with a Skype client on a PC or Mac.

    They will still have some ability to disrupt the old-guard telecom space, but the crazy innovative Skype of old has long passed.

  • Skype is considering that whole population from any place in the world is connected with a "last mile" wide-band IP Connection. They forgot that the today's Phone Service Providers gets a fabulous amount of money that cames from the 'dumb narrow-band' voice, and most of them owns the IP network connection (the last mile). Also, there is a sunrealistic signal variation for mobiles connection (EDGE, 3G, WiFi, WiMAX) and the roaming from one network to another is annoying, walking with my mobile phone, imagine in my car from one city to another; will SkypeKit keep a crystal clear sound in my car sound (driving at 55 mph constantly)? The reality in the world is totally different from the minds of this gentlemen. Try to connect a IP Mobile phone in the middle of the road at the desert in Nevada, or the middle of the Amazon, India or China.. In what world those guys lives?
    In the other hand, the statement: Interop is a waste of time… Will the new owners (Microsoft) agreed with this statement??? This gentleman is stating the there will be no interop between MS (Lync, Hotmail, Office365) and Skype?

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About this Post

Dave Michels By

Dave is an independent analyst focused on enterprise communications. he provides public content on TalkingPointz and other industry websites, and also works with clients directly.

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