Guest Shack – Chris Lewis from Skype

This week, we interview Chris Lewis, Marketing & Business Development, APAC, SKYPE. Learn more about Skype technology and its new developments in the marketplace. Click on the link below to read the interview.

Each week we bring you an interview with an interesting and relevant guest speaker on everything from brand new tech or gaming products being launched or a special topic.

Special guest for this week is Chris Lewis, Marketing & Business Development, APAC, SKYPE.

For the uninitiated, can you briefly explain what VOIP is?
VoIP stands for Voice over the Internet Protocol. In simple terms, this technology uses the Internet to send voice rather than a traditional telephone network.

How can Skype be used with VOIP?
Skype is a free software tool that digitises the speaker’s voice and transmits it as a digital signal through the user’s broadband connection, using the Internet to carry the call potentially from one side of the world to the other. You can use Skype to make free calls to other Skype users just about anywhere in the world. You can also call non-Skype users on their landline or mobile phone at inexpensive per minute rates, with costs depending on the receiver’s location.

Skype was first beta tested in late 2003…what are some of the key elements of the software that have improved since then, to the latest release?
We have added several important services such as SkypeOut, which allows users to make calls to other countries at local call costs. Because the call is carried across the internet, the caller only pays the local call cost for terminating that call in the foreign country, skipping the long distance charges.

SkypeIn allows businesses to buy phone numbers in their own country in order to have those calls routed across the internet to their regular phone. The caller then only pays for the local call cost.

We have also introduced SkypeFind. Designed as a community-generated guide, SkypeFind lets users rate, review and log their favourite businesses not matter where they live. It’s easy to use; if you’re travelling in France and want to find a great restaurant, just log onto Skype, click on SkypeFind and you have recommendations that you can trust, direct from the Skype community.

Globally, we are also working with independent third-party developers to write plug-ins – Skype Extras – that allow users to expand Skype functionality and enrich their Skype experience.

With access to Skype Extras, users can do more with Skype like playing games such as checkers or backgammon, personalising video avatars and collaborating with friends, family and business colleagues all over the world. The most popular Extra download for consumers is CrazyTalk™ for Skype, which allow users to use live avatars and emotions on Skype video calls.

One of the key differentiators between Skype and other VoIP providers is Skype’s high call quality and video capabilities. These features have consistently improved since the Skype’s beginning and we shall endeavour to maintain this momentum because this is what our users have come to expect.

Do you think VOIP has penetrated the mass market as yet?
The number of Skype users worldwide is currently around 196 million, and this is growing rapidly every day. Around 6 to 10 million users are on Skype at any given time. These numbers tell you that Skype today is truly a mass-market consumer brand.

What percentage of the market do you think would be business, in comparison to the end consumer?
Globally, approximately 30% of Skype users have adopted Skype for business purposes.

Most VOIP consumer products don’t support encryption… How does Skype stop people from listening in your conversation, or changing the content altogether?
Skype has always been focused on providing a secure environment for its community, so they can safely make calls, send instant messages and transfer files.

Skype was built from the ground up with security in mind, to ensure that Skype calls and chats remain safe and secure. Through end-to-end encryption technology, users are protected from a wide range of possible attacks, such as impersonation, eavesdropping and modification of data while in transit. Skype’s software developers and engineers are constantly working to make security an integral part of the product’s development.

There’s been news reports of Skype working with 3 mobile’s X series…can you talk a little about that?
Late last year, 3 in the UK launched the world’s first mobile broadband package with Skype on a mobile handset, allowing our users to make Skype calls on the move using a 3 mobile phone.

We’re really pleased to be working with 3 to make Skype available in this way to all of its customers in Australia. 3 is the first mobile operator in Australia to market a Skype-enabled mobile device.

Our mobile strategy is to extend Skype use beyond the computer allowing more people to use Skype anywhere they want to connect with family, friends, and colleagues. We see this as a great opportunity for both handset and mobile operators to combine the world’s most popular mobile communications device with the world’s largest Internet communications community

It’s all about richer communications including video calling, instant messaging and the ability to reflect your personality in things like avatars and mood messages. Now that Skype is no longer tied to the PC, it’s even more attractive to those people who didn’t like the idea of wearing a headset and sitting in front of their computers.

With X-Series, 3 provide the capability to make Skype to Skype calls over the 3 network. Our plan is to work with 3 to jointly develop the expansion of features to include services like Skype chat (the instant messaging function), and SkypeOut.

Do you see the market opening up more for VOIP services in the future?
The most successful new Internet technologies are the ones that are easy to use and are driven by what people really want to do online; communicating, accessing and sharing information with one another. Skype works because although it is a disruptive technology it improves the way people can communicate. It’s impossible to predict how we will use the Internet in five years’ time, but the only way the VoIP market will continue to open up is when the providers respond to what their customers want without getting sidetracked by focusing on the technology.

What future plans are there for Skype users? Can you give us an insight as to anything special in the works?
We are continually working enhance the Skype experience and have lots of exciting developments in the pipeline.

With the success of Skype Pro in Europe early last quarter we are now bringing this product to Australia in the coming months. This product really is a major step forward the internet communications industry since Skype Pro provides customers with access to everything they might need for their Skype experience, like: discounts on hardware, €0.00 per minute calling rate, discounts on SkypeIn, voicemail and call forwarding etc.

We are also really excited about SkypePrime. Skype Prime is a new marketplace which brings together those people who have expertise or knowledge to sell to others who are seeking advice and happy to pay for it. Currently in its beta test phase, Skype Prime is reliant on how people and small businesses sell and share their expertise and knowledge via Skype. This is a new direction for Skype, but based on our fundamental principal of making the world a smaller place. Skype Prime opens up a whole new market by letting you sell your knowledge to the Skype global community.

We are also developing Skype for Business in response to continuous demand from businesses all over the world; it has proved incredibly popular with business users now making up over 30% of Skype’s global community.