Q&A: SIP pioneer/Cisco Fellow jumps ship to Skype

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On the business side, its several things. Skype for SIP is a paid product. You pay both a capacity -- like, you can have a certain number of simultaneous calls -- in addition to the per minute termination rates that are pretty much the same for making a Skype Out call. Skype Manager is in free trial but will become a paid product, although we haven't announced any pricing. So in general we have this philosophy that there is a bunch of communication services that are free and when you want to go beyond those and use more, than those become paid products.

Any new stuff coming down the pike you'd like to outline?

Well I think we've probably touched on a bunch of them. As I said, we just announced group video calling and this is one of our most highly anticipated features. In general we think video is absolutely taking off. It is going to happen. Another area that is starting to grow is communication services on other devices. TV and mobile devices in particular are very exciting. We've had several announcements recently about Skype on your TV. This obviously has great value for the consumer -- it is the classic Grandma sees the Grandkids in the living room kind of experience, but it's much easier to use. It doesn't require a computer and everyone knows how to use a TV. But it is also a clear business applications. You can just put TVs in a couple of branch offices and all of a sudden you have with Skype a really low cost, pretty high-quality teleconferencing solution and we think is really exciting.

Who have you partnered with to put Skype in TVs?

We announced partnerships with LG, Panasonic and Samsung to embed a little Skype widget in the TV itself. You plug a little video camera and an array microphone into the TV and then you have a button on your remote for Internet widgets and one of them there is Skype. You press that and you put in your Skype user name and password and get your contact list and pick someone and then you can sit on your couch and get a full-screen high-definition video calling experience. The Panasonic TVs started shipping in the middle of May, as did the Samsung TVs. The LG displays, I believe, are shipping in some countries but not all of them yet. But Panasonic has just started advertising those on television with the Skype feature.

So TV is one area and the other is mobiles. I don't have to explain to you the growth of mobile. So we are doing more and more on there. We've had an incredibly successful iPhone application. Fifteen percent of all iPhone's have the Skype application. We are one of the more popular applications for the iPhone, and we recently launched 3G calling on the iPhone so you can make much better quality calls then a regular cell phone when you are in reach of Wi-Fi or on the 3G network. That service is on the free trial right now, the 3G calling one and will be paid in the future. We have not announced details.

The version of the iPhone app that supports 3G calling just went live on Friday night and it has been downloaded 5 million times.

Wow.

So that shows interest on that piece, but that is not where it ends. We've also been extremely successful in partnering with mobile operators. We recently announced a strong partnership with Verizon Wireless where Skype mobile is being preloaded and shipped with a large number of Verizon phones -- BlackBerry phones and Android phones with more coming in the future. When you use the Skype application on your mobile phone you get this always on experience and calls to all your Skype users are free. So it doesn't come out of your minutes plan. You can call any Skype contact and it's a free call and they've even launched a national advertising platform around this.

Cool. I also forgot to ask you, how many business customers do you have? Do you list them?

I don't think we publish how many business customers we have. In fact, it is hard to know the one -- we have done some studies to find out how many people are using Skype in a business context and I think that number is something like 37%.

You sound pretty excited. I take it you like working at Skype?

Absolutely. This is why I came. I've been working in IP communications before there really was an IP communications field and it was always about seeing innovation and disruption and seeing how the power of the Internet could transform and improve the way people communicate. That is what my career has been about and, without a doubt, Skype is the place to be to achieve that goal and that is why I came here.

Learn more about this topic

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Skype's new iPhone app makes calls over 3G

Skype to focus on iPad, iPhone, Android, not Windows Phone 7

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