Most of us will have seen the recent wranglings with the former owners of Skype taking legal action about the ownership underlying technology used by Skype and how Skype were in talks to acquire VoIP startup Gizmo5 to replace the underlying codebase that they were being sued over? Well it seems that not only did Skype and its founders come to an agreement and save the underlying codebase, but Gizmo5 got acquired after all and not by Skype but by Google.
Talk about moving fast – Google pounced on the the peer to peer VoIP provider Gizmo5 just as its chances of being acquired by Skype had been dashed. Gizmo5 is an unscaled, but proven peer to peer VoIP provider. It has six million users for its SIP based P2P VoIP service. The service would add the a PSTN link to allow incoming or outbound calls to real phones which Google Voice currently lacks. According to various sources, Google has bought Gizmo5 for $30 million, but the official announcement has yet to be made.
It is going to be interesting to see how Google is going to integrate this technology into it’s portfolio of applications for sure it will form part of the Google Voice
Our industry is renowned for producing lots of acronyms – it makes sure no one else knows what we are talking about !
VoIM or Voice over Instant Messenger is the ability while instant messaging to then have a voice call using VoIP, the question here is are we talking an IM client with VoIP capability or a VoIP client with IM capability, by this we mean MSN Messenger which most users will use for Instant Messaging and probably not think about the VoIP capabilities or Skype where most people will use the VoIP capability and not think too much about Instant Messages.
I guess this technology will grow and grow as it seems logical to turn an IM conversation into voice if more clarification is needed (we can still talk faster than we can type – for now anyway !)
Currently this is very much a Peer to Peer type technology but more solutions are being implemented in the Enterprise space for group chat which will then lead to the ability for group calls, conferencing etc.
We see it has been announced by Skype that it is terminating its Extras Developer program, they stated that not enough people were using the tools to justify it. No new projects will be certified, and existing ones will be allowed to expire over the course of time. We are not sure that this is the right thing for Skype to do.
So the Extras program has failed, but why ? – We believe it was because developers did not have the capability to produce deep integrations. In reality third party developers have never been able to do much more than skim the surface of Skype functionality. What developers have been asking for is to be able to treat the Skype call function as a service, and build it directly into their applications. Today in the main to make a Skype call requires the Skype client to be opened.
Could this be because Skype are moving towards the Skype for SIP service that gives existing SIP based products easier access to the Skype base of users with little support or development from Skype.
Skype have new owners so lets see what direction they take in trying to make more products Skype enabled.
We have been testing some new products to add to our portfolio in the area of contact centres and it suddenly stuck us – what is a contact centre ?
In the good old days (you always sound like your father when you say this!) all contact to a contact centre was via the telephone that is why they used to be called call centres but now a company can receive regular telephone contact, VoIP Calls such as Skype services, On Line Chat, emails and voicemails and in reality these all need to be handled in the correct manner. All companies are chasing business hard and who are we to advise a potential customer of the best way to contact us so we need to handle all contacts in the same efficient manner.
For Contact centre developers this brings a new challenge of being able to handle all these contacts and order them and feed them to the correct or best agents and then be able to report on how they were dealt with. I am sure that soon contacts from Social Networking will become an important part of business.
We also see that new generation customers are much more comfortable to do business without using the telephone and relying on chat or email for contact so contact centres have to move with the times and work patterns adjusted accordingly as these contacts still need to be handled in the way a phone ringing is handled.
Our regular readers will know one of our pet interests is the way mobile carriers react to VoIP applications, sometimes they seem to be happy and on other occasions do what they can to stop their customers from using them.
T-Mobile in Germany have reacted to Skype for i-Phone and Blackberry by stating they will not allow their customers to use it. T-Mobile spokesperson Alexander von Schmettow stated:
“It is clearly stated in our customer contracts that such services may not be used. There are two reasons for this – because the high level of traffic would hinder our network performance, and because if the Skype programme didn’t work properly, customers would make us responsible for it.”
Tech-savvy users should apparently not even consider figuring out a work-around, because T-Mobile will immediately “cut users off”.
“Those who violate their contracts can expect to have them cancelled. It’s the same with any contract. If you rent a no-pets apartment and expect no one to notice your little dog, you can’t be surprised when your landlord comes knocking.”
Skype have reacted to the news in a post on the company’s blog:
“This is a real shame: many other operators around the world know very well that people want to use innovative Internet applications, like Skype, and that’s the reason they pay their ISP to access the Internet in the first place. On top of that, there is no technical justification for this arbitrary blocking of Skype, and it represents a barrier to online business put in place by a private company just because they can, because they control access to the Internet.”
We believe that T-Mobile can stop users accessing Skype via mobile data but not via WiFi access (although it can block Skype traffic on it’s own WiFi Hotspots.
Usually carriers are subtle about such services and will ask a manufacurer to block it in the handset or attempt to black it on the network but I guess we have to admire T-Mobile for making their position clear even though you may not agree with their stance
Skype is the ‘Marmite’ of the VoIP world as most people either love them or hate them and it seems they are trying to get the VoIP sceptics to love them more by launching a Skype for SIP service, this will allow SIP based PBX systems to access Skype users and visa versa.
The service will initially be available via a beta program so Skype can support the SIP PBX setup and ultimately provide ‘Skype Certification for the PBX, we believe initial numbers will be limited. We have a vast amount of experience of SIP interoperability or should we say lack of interoperability so we wish them luck with this phase of the project. Setup is simply a matter of having a business control panel login at Skype, configuring the PBX, and getting a SIP account linked to a Skype identifier.
We find this move interesting that Skype have added SIP support to broaden their appeal to the business market, this is probably a win-win situation for users as it means that having the option of Skype will put pressure on the SIP trunk providers to be competitive.
As usual we will watch the progress of this with interest
Visit Skype for SIP Website.
It seems that Nokia have caused a storm with some carriers over their plans to integrate Skype in all its new N series handsets. Some carriers are concerned about potential lost revenue from cheap calls made through Skype, as well as Nokia’s perceived attempt to own the customer.
According to Mobile Today, an ‘operator source’ said it was another example of Nokia trying to build an ecosystem that’s all about Nokia and reducing the operator to a ‘dumb pipe’.
Nokia’s Skype plans have split the operators – T-Mobile and 3 support it, while O2 and Orange have vented their anger at the plans in high-level group discussions. They’re pretty against it, basically
So much so that O2 and Orange may both refuse to carry the N97, due for a June launch
We always like to see how the carriers opinions change as T-Mobile was rumoured in the past to have blocked VoIP traffic on their network.
More information on the story here
This month seems to be developing in to a Google Android themed one – our regular readers will know we are fans of Open Source as this seems to promote developments and brings more people to the party for innovation on products.
Our previous post shows an Android based Desktop device, the NIMble from Touch Revolution, this time we are discussing a portable device that is not a mobile phone but can support Skype and VoIP. The GiiNii Mini Movit is being touted as a Mobile Internet device aimed at young people who want to access the internet on the go and a lot more besides.
WiFi for hotspot use anywhere
Built-in microphone/speaker to make Skype calls and more
Bluetooth 2.0 if you want to use a headset or pair with other Bluetooth device
Video & still camera can be used as webcam
Address book gives you easy access to desired phone numbers
Stream video and audio
Built-in lithium battery so you can take it anywhere
Easily connect to social networks like Facebook™, MySpace™, Twitter™, etc.
The specification looks good but I think they missed a trick by not adding mobile access such as 3G but it seems that Android is lending itself well to Touch Screen access so lets see what other innovative devices come out with Android.
GiiNii Mini Movit Mobile Internet Device
More information here
Skype have been trying to push hard to penetrate the business market and especially the medium to large enterprise type market, we see that Digium and Skype now plan to work together to Skype enable Asterisk.
The Skype for Asterisk connector will enable a presence on the Skype network while getting all the functionality of a PBX. A general Skype login name could be routed into an Asterisk system for call processing and delivery to the next available person in a queue, a single Skype ID could be used for sales, technical support or other types of customer service queues. So in essence a Skype connection will be treated in the same way as a regular trunk or CO line.
While the two companies have had various discussions over the years on how they could work together, a serious effort came to a head at a June meeting at Digium’s Headquarters in Huntsville USA, since then Digium’s software engineers have worked to produce the solution, making it more robust and suitable for a formal beta, but as yet there is no firm date for release. The software is slated to run with all versions of Asterisk including trixbox.
We will watch this one with interest to see if it elevates Skype to be a serious tool for many businesses.
We all hear about government agencies that listen into phone calls and how VoIP has presented some interesting challenges for them. In the past we have heared Skype say theat their calls cannot be listened into because of their proprietery encryption methods, well we have now seen a story to the contrary.
The Austrian interior ministry have said that it is possible to listen into Skype conversations, implying that there maybe a back door built into the program.
We saw the story at Heise online and they had talked to a number of parties present at a recent meeting between ISP representatives and the Austrian regulator on lawful intercept of IP services who confirm the report. Skype has declined comment on if the software has a back door or if there is a specific key for decrypting data streams.
Rumors have been floating around for a while that Skype is selling a special listening device to interested governments. As Skype’s code and protocols are both proprietary and closed, security experts have long wondered what Skype is capable of and what risks may arise in deploying the software in an enterprise environment.
Austrian officials have demanded that ISP allow the interior ministry to install network bridges and Linux servers in their network centers to copy and filter data traffic.
See the origional story here.