Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Daiwa EuroTelcoblog No. 69: Tuesday 17th August, 2004 - Skype's psychological effect on the market

This time last year Skype was just about to go live, and remained pretty much off the mainstream industry map for several months thereafter. In my experience it is still not at all uncommon to meet people involved in the industry, in one way or another, who still have not heard of it. While it may not exactly be a household name, we have long believed that its psychological impact on the industry would be far greater than its user base might indicate. Today we get some empirical data from the excellent industry info portal and print magazine Total Telecom (www.totaltele.com), which is holding a poll for Most Influential Person in Telecoms 2004.

Last year's winner was John Chambers of Cisco, but in a sign of the rapid change washing over the sector, both VoIP champion Jeff Pulver and Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom are on the nominee list. What is perhaps more indicative of Skype's impact to date is the fact that, at this writing, Niklas Zennstrom is in ninth place, well ahead of Arun Sarin of Vodafone and Jorma Ollila of Nokia. It is our understanding that Mr. Zennstrom has so far received around half as many votes as Bill Gates (current number 2) and is just behind Eric Schmidt of Google, while Jeff Pulver is ahead of FCC Chairman Michael Powell, tied with Rene Obermann of T-Mobile, within easy striking distance of Ben Verwaayen of BT Group, and miles ahead of Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon, John Malone of Liberty Media, and Brian Roberts of Comcast. This is hardly scientific, but from a sentiment standpoint, it is interesting to see the guys who own monstrous global networks and hardware businesses being soundly thrashed by a couple of people working on voice as an internet application.

A full list of nominees can be viewed at http://wca.totaltele.com/poll/

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