Skype talk

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Skype this week have announced another new feature to go with Skype Prime. Skype Find allows users to add details and reviews of local businesses. It’s not world-changing, it’s not even especially unique – but imagine it with mapping, maybe even with GPS built in, and it starts to look like something fairly powerful. Even in the real world, you can’t get away from eBay-generated feedback!

I’ve liked both Skype’s new offerings – at least in theory – this week, but it seems I’m one of the few who does. Times when I feel sorry for eBay are few and far between, but this is one of them. They get accused of spending far too much to acquire Skype, then they get accused of not being able to monetise their purchase. And now, when they announce new ways to expand and generate revenue from Skype, they get vilified for it.

Seeking Alpha has a rather snotty little piece, suggesting that Skype should be looking after its “core business” rather than expanding. I don’t think so. The core business, the free VOIP calls that bring people to Skype in the first place, seems to me to be doing very nicely – with the small drawback that it doesn’t make any money. Only the add-ons, the Skype In and Skype Out, and now Prime and Find, are going to take Skype out of its restrictive niche.

Frankly, I like The Street’s take on things even less. The idea that eBay/Skype should not enter the user reviews area just because Google, Yahoo, Ask and Yelp are already there is ridiculous: no one told Google not to bother with a search engine because Altavista already had one, or MySpace that they should forget it, Blogger was all anyone needed – or that Jeff Bezos was wasting his time with Amazon because Waterstones and W H Smith sold all the books anyone could ever need! It really is that silly.

Their argument against Skype Prime is that without any feedback system, anyone can offer any advice for anything, charge for it, and the buyer has no come back, isn’t much better. Millions of businesses operate, both on the net and off, with no feedback system at all. And while I think some kind of testamonial system for Prime is both desirable and ultimately inevitable, what on earth happened to “buyer beware”?

Skype’s own UK blog, on the other hand, brings us three reasons to love Skype this weekend: two rather sexy phones at reduced prices with ten hours’ free calling time, free UK delivery on orders over £60 *and* three entries in to the Grand Giveaway if you pay with Paypal.



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