Recently Alec Saunders wrote a post that caused me to attempt to send him an SMS message; however, when I right clicked on his name, the “Send SMS Message” line was grayed/greyed out. (This is a bilingual post; being a Canadian we try to satisfy all audiences).
During my interview this morning with Peter Kalmström, a Skype Developer Program Manager, I pointed this out. I knew that Alec had entered his mobile phone number and, after checking with him, that he had activated SMS messaging in his User Profile. Upon further investigation Peter identified that the problem was due to the failure to enter a country code (“+1”) in the Mobile Phone entry in the User Profile (File | My Profile). Seems that, when making a user’s native country code more transparent in Skype 2.5 beta, this is one item that was overlooked.
While it sounds trivial, the ability to make phone calls within North America without using a country code is very important to Skype adoption in North America. Most North Americans do not realize they live in the “+1” country code and do not realize that the international standard is to add a “+” prior to the country code to initiate a call. The “1” dialed to identify a long distance call within North America has always been associated with identifying that a long distance toll will apply to the call, not a country code. (I have to admit that when I first went to a European country with my GSM phone a couple of years ago, I kept wondering why 011-46-xxxxxx would not work at my destination airport in Sweden; finally someone pointed out the “+46” protocol.)
Skype 2.5 beta has incorporated several instances where the native country code (in our case, “+1”) is automatically added when making a SkypeOut call to a location with the same country code. For instance, on the Dial Tab one just selects U.S. or Canada as the country being called and the “+1” is automatically added.
This is also being taken up by the more astute third party hardware vendors. For instance, the VoIPvoice phones and adapters all simply require that one dial the ten digit North American phone number; the “+1” is automatically added by their software prior to dialing.
Until Skype addresses this issue (hopefully in the released version of Skype 2.5), remember to include the “+1” in your Mobile Phone Profile entry if you wish to allow your contacts to send SMS messages via Skype.