On five years of Skype
From the supporters to the sceptics among you, we’ve been enjoying reading what people have been saying about Skype over the last week or so. As Skype turns five, many of you have taken the opportunity to speculate about the future, or to reiterate your criticisms and concerns – but to everyone out there who’s wished us a happy birthday, thank you
Dan York’s Disruptive Telephony blog has an incredibly comprehensive assessment of Skype – and I suggest you head over and read the full post yourself – but thought it was worth picking out some highlights:
For the first time, many people realized that VoIP could provide better audio quality than the PSTN. After you have used Skype for a while, you rapidly changed your perspective to where PSTN "toll quality", previously the high bar for voice telecommunications, would be viewed as low quality audio. To me this represented one of the most profound yet less visible shifts brought about by Skype.
Skype showed that you could have high-quality voice and have it fully encrypted end-to-end.
And on one of Skype’s (in my opinion) under-appreciated features:
The beauty of Skype group chats is that they are persistent and have a readily accessible history. With Skype, group chats can become an always-open-and-available place for discussion. The beautiful thing is that when you shutdown or disconnect from the network and then later reconnect, you automatically rejoin all the chats you were in, but more importantly, you automagically receive the history of what happened in the chat while you were away. This latter part is huge.
As well as a roundup of what’s happened in the world of Skype over the last year, Skype Journal is publishing a series on ‘What Skype Means To Me’ – again, it’s worth reading the whole set, but here are some of the best comments:
Skype is the communication application that is most likely to work. It is a star behind the types of firewalls that I encounter in schools and other semi-hostile environments on the road. Skype seems to be able to punch through and connect to the net where other chat apps are unable to. — Cyprien Lomas, University of British Columbia @
Finally, it used wideband audio! Skype connections were better than “toll quality.” Assuming adequate broadband, Skype audio beat anything else. I recall an early conversation with a friend in Tokyo. There was music playing in their apartment and it felt like I was in the room with them. — Brough Turner, NMS Communications @
The only stable force over the past dynamic years has been Skype. It keeps on humming in the background, while I subscribe to other social networks and related tools. And dump them again, of course. — Fons Tuinstra, China Herald @
So what Skype means to me? It means staying closer to my closest friends and family, it means saving cost while running my own consulting practice, it means getting things done and collaborating effectively. — Andrew Ng, internet technologist @
Neville Hobson, a long-time user of Skype for his podcast, For Immediate Release, says that he ‘can’t imagine there not being a service like Skype’:
Twice a week, with Shel in California (usually) and me here in the UK, we record our one-hour show over Skype. We’ve been doing that since January 2005 and we’ve now done 375 shows, plus a good 30 or more niche podcasts (interviews, reviews, etc). If Skype hadn’t been around when we started FIR, I very much doubt we would have started at all.
Skype's 5 years – Skype has brought people closer together by removing the psychological barrier of 'expensive' international calling.
Skype has helped make VoIP a household name and has carried more VoIP minutes than any other VoIP software application out there. Well done Skype.
The immense potential Skype has is almost impossible to fathom – at any given point, millions of Skype users are online. As the company looks to the next five years I wonder if we will see a slew of new 2.0 type services or as Andy surmises, will we see less?
To wrap up, Robin Wauters at The Next Web also wonders what the future will bring for Skype, and Frederic Lardinois at ReadWriteWeb offers a similarly balanced overview. Finally, thanks go to Luca Conti for his birthday wishes, and in recognition of his impressively long contact list…