Skype at CES 2009: Initial Steps Towards Liquid Communication

skype_logoAt a Skype’s CES 2009 press conference today recently appointed COO Scott Durchslag provided the first hints of a vision statement for Skype under its new executive team along with some initial software offerings that hint at the direction Skype is taking towards “liquid communications” or “Skype Whenever, Wherever”.

skypepressconf2009-01-08In leading up to the new software announcements, Scott made a few points about Skype’s recent accomplishments and focus going forward:

  • Skype now delivers 8% of the world’s telecom minutes through clients that now support 28 languages
  • New software will drive a liquid experience on the desktop, web, TV and mobile devices
  • A key goal is to liberate the Skype experience from a captive device (desktop) to more user aware devices (mobile, TV as well as embedded into appliances)
  • 41% of Skype calls on Christmas day involved video, only to be surpassed at 47% on New Years day.
  • New software offerings have to pass a bar of four basic criteria:
    • high call quality
    • super simple user interface
    • sensitivity to power management issues
    • security

He then went on to talk about new software offerings:

  • New desktop clients: Skype for Mac 2.8 (launched as beta at Mac World Monday), Skype for Windows 4.0 (with a February release date)
  • androidslide2009-01-08Release of Skype Lite, a thin client  for Java-enabled mobile phones with Skype for Android to be available within a few days on Android Market on T-Mobile’s G1TM and Skype Lite general availability in the U.S. (in addition to several countries previously announced) resulting in Skype availability on over 100 mobile smartphones.
  • Internally developed new Skype “SILK” audio codec which is twice as efficient with respect to bandwidth requirements for the audio and video experience.
  • Skype for Mobile Internet Devices with a demonstration on a couple of MID platforms.
  • Skype for Mac 3.0 to be available by year end with the feature set of Skype 4.0 for Windows.

This afternoon Phil and I spent an hour with Scott discussing the restructuring, support issues, the TOM Skype Breach and how Skype will work with its developer partners to provide a win-win direction for the development and marketing of partner applications. These topics will be the subject of future posts over the next week.

First impression: it’s the first event where a senior Skype executive has provided in a public forum an outline of its vision, guidelines for achieving that vision and how it wants to work in the real time communication and IP-based conversation space. The real challenge now lies in the execution.

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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