Paul Lopez Unwired

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Results tagged “skype”

iPhone users still Gripe over Skype

skype3-1-266x400.jpg With a four-way price war going on between AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, we have seemed to lost track of VoIP over 3G. Software from companies such as Fring or Truphone allow you to make VoIP calls on your iPhone, but only over WiFi. There are hacks (crash-x) that allow you to trick the iPhone into thinking you're connected to WiFi and make VoIP calls over 3G (or downspeed to EDGE/GPRS). I'm still wondering ... why bother? If the idea was to save minutes or money, the carriers have already responded by driving cheap voice with price reductions. Besides, VoIP over 3G needs massive data compression and low latency to battle quality of service issues that make the user experience poor.  Skype claims they only need a small amount of bandwidth - between 6 kbps and 40 kbps, but I don't think they can overcome latency issues. Many users were disappointed Skype 1.3 did not include push notifications or support VoIP over 3G. They still have usability issues using Skype when "real" phone calls come in (it logs you off). Eventually data plans will race for the bottom too so Skype could become irrelevant on 3G/4G handsets.

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Peter Parkes, chief blogger for Skype reported there were over a million downloads of Skype for the iPhone in just two days. As reported here before, eBay failed to monetize their investment in Skype and realized a huge write-down. The surge in user interest is more a function of pre-release promotion, teasers & blog coverage, than anything else. The application does not work on 3G, only WiFi, therefore it automatically obsoletes those Skype WiFi phones. I like the application on a laptop and it's quite useful for international Skype-to-Skype calling. There are other alternatives; Truphone has an unlimited call package and other bloggers have tips to JailBreak your iPhone and install voipover3g to spoof the device in to thinking it's on WiFi. If you have a good connection, the voice quality is better than Fring or Truphone, but how many people will really use this application? If you already have Skype on your laptop at home and have a Skype contact list, all you'd be able to do is make calls from your handset unwired. We saw this pre-launch hype with the Palm Pre too and today they had some early looks at applications during CTIA 2009.

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Janus Friis acknowledges that they are happy with the settlement in their earn-out which would have been as much as $1.7 billion, now they only get 1/3 of that amount or $530 million. Not too bad for two years (eBay acquired Skype in September of 2005). Back then, Skype had 52 million users and only about $60 million in revenue. eBay should sell the rest of it, the reduced earn-out means eBay did not see the results they were looking for. Friis and Zennstrom are talking up Joost and want to move on from Kazza and now Skype. I don't blame them; they are entrepreneurs to the core. I didn't understand why eBay bought Skype in the first place; it seemed like a stretch valuation at the time. Skype has a loyal following and strong base of users, the only problem is attaining profitability in a venture designed to provide cheap computer-based phone service. Even with 220 million registered users, the add-on services eBay introduced have been unable to generate profits. Skype is more of a supplemental service rather than a replacement for fixed line telephony. According to Forrester, Internet phone usage only makes up 10% of the total retail phone market. Even though the usage is growing, the ARPU is declining rapidly. That makes for a flawed business model. I've said before, Zuckerman should take the money, Microsoft may mull over their $500 million investment in Facebook.

Skype and iTunes Not Impervious to Worms

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According to recent reports, pernicious code is being spread through an instant message syntax that sends a message to Skype users directing them to click on what appears to be a .jpg file. When the user takes the bait, it unleashes a worm (W32.Pykspa.D - a nasty bitmap file of soap bubbles contained in the Windows installation directory). Many IT professionals and analyst firms such as Gartner Group do not recommend enterprise users install or use Skype. However, surveys have indicated a high percentage of professional workers regularly download and install applications such as Skype onto their corporate laptops and PCs. With 200 million users, hackers cannot resist the installed base of Skype users. Even though these events set back the image of Skype, Skype still makes headway - note the recent announcement that Wal-Mart has agreed to sell Skype's service.

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Then there's Apple with a year-old QuickTime vulnerability that affects Firefox and iTunes. Petko Petkov (aka pdp) posted proof-of-concept code showing how QT formats can be used to hijack systems. Firefox recommends installing NoScript, a Firefox extension to protect. However, most users run software in default mode without knowledge of what to turn on or off that protects against malicious code. How often have you been browsing for WiFi access points only to find some SSID named 'linksys' with no security whatsoever? We have been accustomed to living with these sorts of threats, just look at how large the anti-virus and intrusion detection software has grown over the years.

About Paul Lopez

Paul Lopez Paul Lopez is a 20+ year technology veteran whose career has spanned multiple disciplines such as product management, software development, engineering, marketing, business development and operations... read more

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