Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Is Skype all that?

Lest my recent focus on Skype be misconstrued as being blinkered to reality, here are some tidbits which highlight the challenges of keeping such a large and rapidly growing user base happy, while fending off challenges.

First from a platinum value reader in Norway, a response he received to a problem with SkypeIn:


We are emailing you in regards to the Norwegian SkypeIn number that you recently purchased. As we explained yesterday due to technical reasons these numbers are currently out of service and will not work for incoming calls. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee when the numbers might become available again and therefore we have to reverse the purchase that you placed and cancel the number. We have refunded the entire purchase price to your credit card or Paypal/Moneybookers account.We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and as compensation for this we are adding 10EUR SkypeOut credit and 3 months of Voicemail to your account. We will also notify you via email as soon as we have Norwegian SkypeIn numbers available again so that you can place a new purchase.


Skype Support"

Another reader notes:

"A friend of mine had his SkypeOut account cleared out recently."

I don't know if this is a case of some sort of outright hack, or merely an example of what Steve Kennedy has highlighted about SkypeOut dormancy policy. I suspect it's the latter, but I am trying to find out more background.

UPDATE: My source reports that his friend's account was indeed compromised, and that calls were made to Australia.

Lastly, another platinum value reader from Norway claims to have some insight into MSN Messenger numbers for the country, which he reckons are in the vicinity of 600k on any given day. This is roughly equivalent to 100% of broadband accounts in Norway, though obviously many users will be on narrowband as well. We can read this in one of two ways - either there is a massive opportunity for Skype migration from legacy IM (as a young reader told me recently - "all my friends went directly from ICQ to Skype"), or there is a massive inert legacy IM base out there waiting for a Skype-like experience to be delivered by MSN, Yahoo! or AIM. My money (well, 50p or so - we are in a deflationary industry afterall) is on scenario 1, but we can't rule anyone out.

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