Friday, April 22, 2005

Morgle yourself

A new reader points me towards Morgle, an online business directory service which looks to be attempting to harness the power of VoIP, and Skype in particular. I searched under the keyword "Skype" and found (note that the page may look different when you view it): Bill Campbell of Skype Journal, the Skype Answering Machine, a solar power specialist in Suzhou, the Online-Callcenter in Christchurch, and a hospital/nursing home bed maker in Swindon U.K. (which has quizzically used a callto:// which appears to trigger a SkypeOut call). I wonder how long we have to wait before Skype callto:// URIs start popping up on Google, or even in mainstream directory services. Eventually it's going to be big enough that the information aggregators will have to get to grips with it.

Back to hospital bed maker in Swindon for a disturbing thought. There are a lot of people out there who make a nice living from hornswoggling unsuspecting users into calling premium rate numbers. The virtue of Skype is that it is a global service and to great extent makes a nonsense of national market definitions. One exception, however, is when it touches national numbering plans. A consumer in the UK might recognize certain number ranges (0870, et al) as being premium rate, and be wary of them. However, users outside the UK would be easy prey if someone had the wrong intentions, or if they weren't thinking straight. I could easily make my callto:// on this website my UK mobile number, but any naive Skype user clicking on this would be very sorry they did. As Skype gets bigger and better, issues like these are no doubt going to raise some consumer protection and regulation issues at the national level.

UPDATE: I now understand that the company in Swindon accidently included their FAX number, and shouldn't have been classified as a Skype contact. Nevertheless, it illustrates my point - a simple mistake could cost the SkypeOut user some money, not to mention the conscious trickery of an unscrupulous person.

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