IM

Skype

Last Thursday evening I was at the Saïd Business School to hear Saul Klein (blog), Vice-President of Marketing at Skype. An eye-opening talk.

When eBay bought Skype for $2.6bn last September, with an additional $1.5bn dependent upon performance targets, the deal surprised commentators:

… the high price for the transaction and the young nature of Skype's business prompted scepticism among some telecommunications industry executives and analysts, who questioned Ebay's ability to generate significant revenues from its new acquisition. FT

Since then the Skype user base has doubled in size. The company is young, only 2½ years old (launched in August, 2003), yet as of April this year it has more than 100 million users and a 67% CQGR: every 5 days, 1 million people join Skype. It has websites in 23 languages and accepts payment in 15 currencies. A year ago it employed just 100 people; today, 300.

From its inception, Skype has been intended to be a simple product — easy to use. A new user can be up and running within 2 to 3 minutes of downloading it. The software is under rapid development (changelog for Windows here; the latest beta version is 2.5). Currently, Skype allows up to 100 users to talk in a Skypecast and up to 5 people to conference call for free. (If you use an Intel Dual Core Processor machine then you can host 10 people conference calls for free.) Group chats can accommodate up to 50 contacts.

To understand more about the new Skypecast initiative, you can begin here. There's some background here:

Skypecasts enable people to discuss shared interests — anything from classic cars and cooking, to home design and computer support. Skypecasts are moderated by the ‘host’ who is able to mute, eject or pass the virtual microphone to participants when they wish to speak. Hosting or participating in a Skypecast is completely free.

There's more food for thought on Skype Journal. TypePad users are well set up:

Yesterday Skype launched their Skypecasts Directory, as well as a Widget that lets TypePad users promote upcoming Skypecasts (either their own or Skypecasts they're interested in) on their blog.

Ready to start talking with your readers?  Hosting a Skypecast is easy...

  1. Schedule your Skypecast. Got a topic for discussion? Got a time? Visit skypecasts.skype.com and schedule your Skypecast. It will be listed for anyone to discover and join.
  2. Promote it on your blog. Once you’re listed in the Skypecasts directory, promote your Skypecast on your blog. Link to your listing directly in your post, or use the Skypecast Widget for TypePad.
  3. Host your discussion. Connect using your Skype client to share your passion with your audience and have a bit of fun.

My school has just gone wireless in its boarding houses and some rapid work by two of my pupils has established that Google Talk and Skype work (both within the school's system and across the firewall). Very shortly, I'll be exploring the use of Skype conference calls with pupils.

Skype's program of development is both rapid and tightly focused around a well-defined product, with close attention paid to user-feedback (forums from day 1). Reviewing some of what Skype already offers (in addition to group chats, conference calls and Skypecasts) can't but impress: SkypeOut, SkypeIn, voicemail, Video (1 in 5 Skype users now video call), IM, SMS, data transfer/sharing (last month I noted Matt Webb's piece about Skype and there's no doubt we'll be making use of Skype for moving files around), cross-platform interoperability, integration with other apps, Skype Me, presence …  The appearance on the market of Skype-enabled mobiles is gathering pace. Also developing swiftly is Skype's engagement in eCommerce (Skype embedded in eBay auctions is already running as a trial in China — 25% of sellers use it) and the company expects its role in this market to be big.

Skype has so much going for it and the blogosphere is closely attentive. No wonder it was the third most recognised brand in 2005, and Saul used Blogpulse to demonstrate that, for the most part, Skype tracks above VoIP:

Skype_voip_trends

Skype is offering some powerful tools that will make a great impact on the way we work in education. I'm grateful to Saul for putting me in touch with their developer relations program team, and I hope we can begin to work with Skype both on the kinds of functionality that Skype already has (and we don't know about) and on new implementations that will be of value to schools.

And I want to put Skype in control of my home, too!

Technorati tag:


Yahoo! Go Mobile

Yahoo! Go Mobile is here:

With Yahoo! Go Mobile, emails, phone numbers and pictures synch with your account. So your stuff is always with you and easy to use.

  • Contacts — Stored phone numbers are automatically synched
  • Photos — Take a picture and it's stored online
  • Messenger — Record voice instant messages
  • Mail — Get notified when new email arrives

And …

Yahoo! Go - Get Started on Your Mobile

Yahoo! Go Mobile is available for download today on select Nokia Series 60 handsets. Prior to downloading the application, you should review the list of compatible handsets and read the installation instructions.

Technorati Tags: ,


MS Live

Microsoft's Web 2.0 strategy, Windows Live and Office Live, was covered as it was announced by Read/Write Web; pictures of the launch announcement event from Michael Arrington here, his real time notes here and his initial appreciation of it here; Russell Beattie's take here; a reflective piece by Richard MacManus at Read/Write Web. Michale Arrington has also posted here about Office Live:

Office Live is not an online version of Office. Office Live is a set of free, ad-supported productivity tools for businesses. … The core tools are a free non-microsoft domain name, website and up to 50 email accounts with 2 GB of storage each. … For a small company needing a informational website, it will be great. Given that the domain name, website building, hosting and email will all be free, this will be very attractive to a small business. For customers needing more, Microsoft will offer a suite of additional productivity applications - 22 in all were announced yesterday. They will also support third party applications - ADP’s payroll software was shown integrated into Office Live. A set of APIs will be available for third parties to add their application functionality into Office Live. Among the additional applications was an office document collaboration tool. You can share an office document real time with others, allowing them to view and edit it. Impressive.

Windows Live Ideas here:

Windows Live is based on one simple idea: that your online world gets better when everything works simply and effortlessly together. So all the things you care about online - your friends, the latest information, your e-mails, searching the Net - all come together in one place. Windows Live is a brand new Internet experience designed to put you in control. And this is just the beginning-you'll see many more new products in the coming months.


Google Talk


Here.

Inside Google's overview, here; Download Squad review, here ('Another big feature they're working on is "joint search," which would allow two or more Google Talk buddies using Google and surfing the web together'). John Battelle: 'Apparently all you need is a Jabber-compatible IM client (like iChat) and a gmail account. Now folks, tell me this is not a major community play. Just tell me'. Smash's World explains how to set it up for use with iChat, GAIM, and Trillian.


IM, Video Conferencing & Skype

Stuart Henshall, Skype Journal, citing EuroTelcoblog:

At c30m registered users, Skype would appear to have penetrated 20% of its addressable market, and with around 2m concurrent users, more than 1% of the world's broadband population is running Skype at any given time.

… Despite 30m+ MSN video users no one ever talked about giving up the phone for it. Thus the numbers I'd like to see is Skype share of IM voice minutes, share of voice initiated sessions, and lastly share of messaging occasions. While I'm sure Skype has only a small share amongst text / chat sessions its share amongst voice initiated sessions should have made the other IM clients wake up by now.

I am only now making much use of IM, and do so via Skype.

Bill Campbell, also posting at Skype Journal:

The MSN + LogiTech Partnership raised the bar for Skype Video with their public release of MSN Messenger 7.0. Full screen video without pixelation. Excellent audio-video lip sync, modest bandwidth (audio + video at 80 kilobits per second) a frame rate high enough to pick up blink of an eye, CPU Utilization of 10 to 12 percent (using a AMD XP 3000+ CPU) and resolution that allowed my Skype buddy in Romania to read a document with 10 point text. The audio still sucks comparpared to Skype, but is a vast improvement over previous versions. It was quite useable. It was simple to set up. No ports to forward. … Truly an amazing product.

With Apple's Tiger-iChat and now MSN 7.0 Skype will be feeling the heat. Will they push out a quick and dirty beta to show they have video or will they give users a video conferencing system that really contributes to the Skype user's experience?


The village global

Howard Rheingold makes some striking comments on the effects and implications of being 'always connected':

When millions of people carry Internet connections in their pockets, the focus of communications shifts from places to individuals – with significant implications for the way we think of ourselves and the shape of our social institutions.

I'm glad that places like NetLab are using the tools of social science research to probe provocative questions raised by technology-mediated communications: How do virtual communities affect physical communities? What kinds of social institutions are created or destroyed by new modes of communication?

Picture a mundane aspect of everyday life that most readers will recognize: you're in touch with a coworker on the other side of the planet via email or IM, and at the same time you get an SMS telling you to bring home a carton of milk: "Glocalization" is what sociologist Barry Wellman and his colleagues at the University of Toronto's NetLab research community call this "local involvement and global reach" enabled by email and mobile phones. NetLab, a network of social scientists with links to the Centre for Urban and Community Studies, the Department of Sociology, the Knowledge Media Design Institute and the Faculty of Information Studies, applies the decades-old methods of social network analysis (among other tools) to the social behaviors enabled by Internet-mediated communication.

… In another study of "The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism," Wellman, Quan-Haase, Boase, Chen, Hampton, Isla de Diaz and Miyata proposed that people are using five "social affordances" of networked, wireless, ubiquitous information and communication technology to change their lives and communities. Today:

We have broader bandwidth (which "facilitates the rapid exchange of large amounts of data, instant messaging, feedback, attached text, picture, voice, and telepresence.").

Are always connected ("This embeds the Internet heavily in everyday life, for as soon as a communication is thought about, it can be sent immediately and easily.").

Use media that are increasingly personalized ("with more control over the sources people want to get messages from, when, and about what. This form of communication and the ensuing interactions are more tailored to individual preferences and needs, furthering a more individualized way of interacting and a way of mobilizing as fluid networks of partial commitment.").

Take wireless portability for granted ("This facilitates personalized communication. The person becomes the target of communication. An individual and not a household is called. The person is the node to which communication is directed. Person-to-person communication is supplanting door-to-door and place-to-place communication. Personalization and portability are not the same. Personalization recognizes anywhere who people are. With portability, people take their devices with them. The combination facilitates the emphasis on individuals connecting and (mobilizing) to individuals, rather than individuals connecting to groups or groups connecting to groups.").

Are accustomed to global connectivity ("The digital divide – the socio-economic gap between those who use computer-mediated communication and those who do not – is shrinking in the Western world. This may mean an increase in the small world phenomenon, with potential connectivity over the Web to all, either directly or through short chains of indirect ties. … It also facilitates transnational connectivity, be they migrants staying in touch with their homeland or transnational networks mobilizing around issues").

Wellman et. al. conclude:

"Changes in the nature of computer-mediated communication both reflect and foster the development of networked individualism in networked societies. Internet and mobile phone connectivity is to persons and not to jacked-in telephones that ring in a fixed place for anyone in the room or house to pick up. The developing personalization, wireless portability and ubiquitous connectivity of the Internet all facilitate networked individualism as the basis of community. Because connections are to people and not to places, the technology affords shifting of work and community ties from linking people-in-places to linking people at any place. Computer-supported communication is everywhere, but it is situated nowhere. It is I-alone that is reachable wherever I am: at a home, hotel, office, highway or shopping center. The person has become the portal.

"This shift facilitates personal communities that supply the essentials of community separately to each individual: support, sociability, information, social identities and a sense of belonging. The person, rather than the household or group, is the primary unit of connectivity. Just as 24/7/365 Internet computing means the ready availability of people in specific places, the proliferation of mobile phones and wireless computing increasingly is coming to mean an even greater availability of people without regard to place. Supportive convoys travel ethereally with each person."

Like all good research, NetLab's findings raise further questions: What will it mean for minds and neighborhoods when "the person becomes the portal" and "supportive convoys travel ethereally with each person?" In some ways, these questions apply directly to the future of today's early adopter fifteen-year-olds around the world who spend their waking hours with with buddy lists, SMS, moblogs and cameraphones.

Link via purse lip square jaw


MySpace

Many former Friendster loyalists have since moved over to MySpace for its added features, such as instant messaging, blogs and classifieds.

One of the site’s most recently added features, MySpace Music, is using the networking space to spread the word about music artists. While musicians can create profiles on Friendster for friends of friends to see, MySpace Music takes the concept a step further by offering band Web pages and music downloads, thus turning the site into a potential marketing tool. Similar to the way Napster users can view other users’ music libraries, MySpace users can view the libraries of each other’s “friends,” providing MySpace Music artists with considerable exposure and access to their fans.

thesocialsoftwareweblog