Russell Shaw says the mainstream media and blogosphere are missing the point about the end of Skype’s free calling in the US. He says it is a:
full-frontal assault on the ATA-based VoIP service providers like Vonage, as well as the telcos.
In what univserse? It may be such an attempt, but come on. First, it doesn’t look like Skype’s totally free calling made that much of an impact. The hype faded fast. Growth of US Skype users has not been dramatically affected. Vonage and standard telco offers moved along. Nobody really cared all that much. So why would anyone care about $29.00 (or whatever)? the fact is, US calling is not all that important a component of Skype, or iow, US callers aren’t moved.
What world does one have to live in to that think Aunt Jane, Cousin Jeff, and your local high-school prinicpal, are going to use Skype as A REPLACEMENT FOR a primary home phone? Step out to the grocery store and get to know your neighbors.
Here’s an idea. Over this holiday, at the next holiday party, (one in real life “meat space”, not a “blog party”, Myspace, WOW, or “chatroom” party), look around at your friends and family and tell me how many of them, especially those 30+ with a house and kids, are going to use Skype and their PC as their only phone, or as their primary home phone?
Only the most advanced techie users would even consider Skype in the same category as a Vonage-like service, or other home phone options. Who are those segments? Young, techies, espeically with no kids and those that travel a lot and so kind of are never home anyway. So would their wife back at home be okay with having Skype as her only ‘phone’ the way she might consider Vonage or Cable phone service? I’d wagger it wouldn’t even come up as an option.
How many people, really, have already, or will, replace all their telephony with Skype? How many US users would consider doing so? Are you going to tell me it’s a significant number? I don’t buy it for a minute.
Again, I ask you to take the holiday survey I suggested above and get grounded in the real world again. I will do it myself and report the numbers here.
In contrast to Russell, I think what people have wrong about Skype is that it mimicks or replaces standard telco. I have been saying for years that it is an entirely new use of communications, that happens to include voice, but otherwise is mostly separate from traditional telephony usage patterns. And the research bears this out. Even for heavy users of Skype, there is very little impact to their use of plain phones. They use a phone the same amount or more. They do different things on Skype, talking mostly to different people in different kinds of ways – ways for which the phone doesn’t make sense or doesn’t fit. Likewise, for their “phone” use, Skype doesn’t make sense or doesn’t fit. Positioning Skype as a replacement for ordinary phone use is putting a square peg in a round hole. The exact reasons why Skype has been so successful are exactly why it is NOT a replacement for ordinary phones and why it WILL NEVER appeal to certain segments of users.