So what do you get when someone like Skype steps into the mobile telephony fray with a phone of their own, coupled with something like municipal WiFi and a deal with MySpace? No prizes for guessing — you get cheap talk and free calls…
So it’s maybe appropriate that Skype and MySpace have buddied up to offer US teenage girls the chance to send mainly unintelligible messages to each other from their Skype client:
“In a deal that will connect two of the largest Internet services, MySpace, the social network owned by the News Corporation, will announce on Wednesday that it is teaming up with Skype,…”
Quite why eBay bought (and paid so much for) Skype is anyone’s guess. Maybe they thought they could leverage internet telephony within eBay. Who knows? But that doesn’t really concern me. However, what must have been a tidy sum of money for Skype as-was, maybe doesn’t exactly rock the coffers at eBay HQ as-is:
“The two companies say they will split the revenue when MySpace members use Skype’s pay features, like voice mail boxes and calling to and from Skype accounts and regular landlines and mobile phones.”
So that’s the recent history stuff done with, what’s the bigger picture?
When I look at Skype, I see a bunch of people thinking much like myself; having the big idea is great, but now you need to surround it with lots of littler yet no-less great ideas. In this case, it’s the paid-for services, such as SkypeIn (personal number), SkypeOut (calls to fixed and mobile phones), call forwarding et cetera.
So while free is good, it’s merely an enabler, acting as an up-sell to the aforementioned monetizing products & services.
“MySpace has 110 million active users around the world, but its members are mostly concentrated in the United States. Skype has 220 million users, most of them outside of this country.”
Now those are big numbers. Numbers that I’m sure will have piqued the interest of parent company eBay. And finding the overlap will be the first part of the puzzle. But then adding in a possible mobile phone into the mix! Well, that’s just crazy stuff.
Of fashion, fads, teenage foibles and handsets
“But its most prominent feature is a big button right above the regular keypad to activate Skype’s popular service for long-distance and international calls.”
So says a Business Week article discussing the Skype mobile phone. Sounds intriguing. Certainly not your fathers phone. But then it’s not your younger brothers either. Our your nephew, niece, younger cousin…
There’s a duality here that needs to be handled with care. If indeed Skype is pitching this phone at both the MySpace crowd (which hasn’t been mentioned) and businesses, one handset will not serve both parties.
Without going into the gory details, suffice it to say, the kids want one thing and the suits want t’other. It’s certainly a bold move by Skype, and given that Skype has a deal with 3, there’s clearly some traction already:
“Skype is working with British cell phone service operator 3 to produce a handset that will allow users in Britain to make free calls on the Internet,…”
But I still can’t shrug off the fashion factor playing a part in things. There’s plenty of brand loyalty out there, too. And I know enough people who want the whole convergence device thing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to be said for back-to-basics functionality, but is it the right time, the right device and the right company?