The Skype that I Wanted

by Colin Berkshire

Colin here. Five years ago everybody used Skype. I used it many times a day to call my contacts across the world. I was starting to use Skype for local phone calls, too. Skype was destined to be my device-independent phone service…with a special Skype phone number I could be called on my phone, my iPad, my desktop, or in my home using an adapter. Really, Skype was on top of the world.

Now, I cannot recall the last time I made or received a Skype call. It was probably a year ago. I just don’t know.

Skype could have evolved into the new IP based phone system. It had good quality voice calling, texting, video calling, and video conference calling. It really had a head start on it all.

I think where they missed the boat was in not opening up an API to the industry. With a full API it would have been possible to build automated attendants and switchboards and tools for regulatory compliance. Skype was almost about to become the complete replacement for the switched public network.

Companies could have listed a Skype address. This would go to an automated attendant-like service that would visually display menu options, let you search for employees in a company, or get to the right department. Instead of pecking on a touch-tone dial you could enter account numbers and instantly see the menu options. (Most can read much faster than they can listen to menus.)

A switchboard operator could transfer callers to the right person or department. A Call Transfer feature would allow your call to be switched on to the next person who could help you. It would be great!

Even better, when you call a company and talk via Skype they could have displayed on your screen your order, or your account information. They could show you pictures of the items you were calling about. They could in real-time send you a manual or sales brochure.

Skype had the potential to take voice calling to the next level. It could integrate:

  • Visual menus on automated attendant.
  • Transfer of calls to associates.
  • Call recording for regulatory compliance.
  • File Transfer you manuals and documents.
  • Show you an order or your account as you talked with an agent. (Call for an airline reservation and see it on the screen as it is being booked!)

Oh, Skype, you could have saved the PSTN telephony industry! I would have loved to have built some of those apps.

Will this opportunity ever present itself again? I doubt it. I’m sad.