Skype’s Big Shoes

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Has anyone else noticed the recent shift in conversation about Skype? For the past several years, Skype was the darling of the technorati. Disruptive, visionary, cool. But recently, and not just because of Microsoft, the conversation shifted from ‘Skype is great’ to ‘what’s next?’

Skype, what have you done for me lately? ok, besides the iPad app.

I use Skype daily, but I’m also seeing lots of activity in the space. If something is going to be next, where will it come from? I don’t know the answer, but the list of contenders is growing. It isn’t just about look ma, I can IM too. The conversation (or attempted conversation) is going to be around the technology. Skype is very proprietary. I’m not convinced Skype can continue its wild growth with such a proprietary approach. The problem is SIP doesn’t offer the simplicity or capabilities that Skype does. That means a compromise, ask any politician how easy that is. Interesting times ahead:

Microsoft?
Microsoft’s Quarter Defined by Office 365, Skype, Cloud Plans
Google?

Calling from Gmail now in 38 languages, with lower rates to over 150 destinations

Perhaps someone will create the future Skype Killer on borrowed technology from a cloud Platform provider?

Twilio:

Twilio Client: Developers have wanted the ability to create rich communication experiences for years, often inspired by the experience of making and receiving calls with Skype. But developers have needed a fully supported developer platform on which to build.

Voxeo:

The Phono Mobile toolkit leverages Javascript and HTML5 to enable high-quality voice and instant messaging features on millions of mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and any Android 2.1+ phones and tablets.

Perhaps an existing player that changes its model?

Counterpath: The plan is to create a freemium model with core services at no charge, and premium services such as group video and SMS available for purchase.LifeSize Connections: a cloud-based HD video conferencing platform that delivers immersive, multiparty communication at enterprise-level quality PLUS LifeSize Passport Connect: optimized for cloud environments with name-based dialing and integrated search functionality.

Maybe an upstart category buster?
Vidtel Beats Skype for Best Communications Product/ServiceI don’t have the answer, but I have some additional thoughts on the matter posted at NoJitter.

There is nothing quite like a valuation of $8.5 billion to make one look at Skype in a new, more respectful way. I am unaware of any other firm operating at a loss and generating about $1 billion in revenue that is worth more.
Did Microsoft overpay? Irrelevant; the best definition of market value is what the market will pay. The bigger questions are: Who’s on deck? Is there room for another? And if so, is the best strategy to duplicate or improve?Yes, there will be another–there always is. There is a ton to learn from Skype. Communications are shifting away from just voice to richer and more versatile solutions. Signs above payphones used to convey the concept of communications by showing an icon of a handset. Today’s communications are more visual, living on four screens: desktop, smartphone, tablet, and TV. Skype got it.

Dave Michels