January 20, 2005

Is Skype Voice Messaging Worth the Price?

Stuart writes about his experiences in using Skype’s new add-on – Voice Messaging. Since my points are related to the service objectives and the business aspects, commenting on it is not premature even though the software is going through preliminary testing.

A quick summary of the application follows: Stuart takes effort to point out it is not the typical answering machine. One does not leave a message after failing to reach the intended party; the intention is to leave a short message. Stuart makes the distinction very clear. Skype currently restricts the message to be only one minute long. Skype is planning to charge a premium for this service. Indeed Stuart does a back of the envelop calculation and concludes Skype is sitting on half a billion dollars in the bank and concludes by challenging the competitors to come up with an answer. How to pass up a challenge like that?

I have already described how to implement answering machine in the IP Communications space. That idea is equally suitable for VM application as well. Indeed more so. The idea is to formulate the message as an attachment and send it to the recipient as an email attachment. iLBC codec uses about 2 kBps or 120 kB for a message that is 1 minute long. Most free email services allow messages that are much longer than that. So the proposal is feasible. Now let us look at the requirements that Stuart lists in his entry:

  • Unlike Skype VM, you know exactly where the message was uploaded
  • There is plenty of time to preview before sending the email
  • Email acknowledgement scheme can be used for receiving receipt of delivery of the message.
  • More importantly, the user community is still holding onto its half a million dollars in their pockets. I recall (unfortunately, I am not able to locate it) an interview where Skype CEO made a bravado statement, something to the effect that multi-billion dollar telecom industry is coming to an end. It could very well be true. The challenge is really in coming up with a meaningful and revenue generating service. VM is not it.

    Posted by aswath at January 20, 2005 08:36 AM
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