eBay Live! 2006 — first-time Skypers
I was doing boothwork at eBay Live! 2006 on several days — just standing by at the Skype booth, observing folks going by and helping those who wanted to learn more about Skype. And boy, were there many. Our team had very few “off” moments. We were constantly engaged in helping people learn more about Skype and try it out. We got a lot of people just trying SkypeOut calls on the demo computers. We got many new Skypers signed up right there. Absolutely everyone who tried a call found it great, and at times brilliant. “The quality is great.” “It just worked.” “And it’s free.”
]]>I liked the vibe we got. The absolute majority of people were “I have never heard of Skype / I just heard briefly in last night’s keynote. Tell me more, I want to learn.” So we did. Here’s the pitch I used hundreds of times until I was a walking tape recorder. It deviates slightly from what we had learned previously but I believe everyone in the team made their own adaptations to suit the context of the user and setting and perhaps involving also the demo machine to show the actual software and use.
**Skype is a little program you put on your computer, and then you can talk to everyone else who has Skype all over the world for free. And the program is free too. So all is free. You can also call landlines and cellphones all over the world for a few cents a minute, but we got a promotion until the end of this year where we have these calls also free all over the USA and Canada. So you got free phone calls on your computer. There is a Skype starter pack in your conference bag that contains the software on the CD plus earphone and microphone, so you’re all set to try when you go home. Just plug it in, install the software and off you go.**
By the end of the talk or demo, everyone was happy and enthusiastic to try it out. For me, it all felt absolutely right because it’s exactly the kind of thing we’re trying to do at Skype, and it goes right back to our roots. Skype is a little piece of software that lets you make free calls to your friends all over the world. Everyone understood and appreciated this. Everything else is secondary and comes after and below this.
Once, a deaf man came by and wanted to “talk” about Skype. I was a bit discouraged since I don’t have much experience in dealing with people with such disabilities. But there were two demo computers available so we just switched to Skype text chat and video and could talk fine. He was interested in if there were video interpretation services available for Skype. Now there’s a great service idea. I don’t know of any specific video interpreter services, but I do know that we have great platforms like [Jyve](http://www.jyve.com) to facilitate developing and selling these. Also more broadly, disabilities are a big theme for Skype — we have worked with special interest groups of disabled people, such as screen reader users to make Skype compatible with the software they use, and certainly continue to do so. Many operations for disabled people are just so much easier using a computer and its various rich media capabilities than would be ever possible with a phone-like device.
Another experience I had was with a couple who was in a bit of communications trouble because they had come all the way from New York but had forgot their cell phones home so they couldn’t really call anyone. That is, until they ended up in the Skype booth and could call people just fine for free using SkypeOut. We really made their day and are happy to have been able to help.