Friday, November 17, 2006


Skype, you just don’t understand how business users think

  • Friday, November 17, 2006
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  • Skype Journal's Jim Courtney offers a profound, constructive criticism of Skype's failure to strategically and specifically articulate the newly released Skype 3.0's feature set and advantages.

    I'll second my emotion to what Jim is saying here. Distilled, he points out that although an embargoed press release was available before launch, neither the press release nor the Skype Web site copy accompanying the 3.0 beta was very clear about the new features 3.0 offers.

    It has also been pointed out that a Skype 3.0 business version was also released this week with little specific articulation.

    That's my main beef here. I've complained about this before, when Skype 2.5 was released.

    I'm not the first to point out that this lack of specifics wouldn't have happened had Skype's marketers and internal or agency p.r. types had been on the ball. A better-oriented campaign for the new 3.0 as well as its business iteration would have rattled off the specific improvements in each rev, and then articulated the advantages of each.

    The lack of this articulation is nothing new. Skype has never excelled at communicating what it exactly is about each upgrade that is supposed to compel us to want to upgrade.

    The problem is especially acute on the Skype 3.0 Windows Version for Business download page.

    In the grab at the top of this post, I've pointed to some very general mentions of "business-friendly features." But if I'm a business, should I upgrade? This page doesn't lead to more information that would enable me to decide.

    Each of these "Business friendly features" bullet points should be clickable to a further explanation of how each works, how this is an improvement in what was available in Skype 2.5 for Business, or the consumer version of Skype 3.0 or earlier.

    If I am going to seriously think about Skype 3.0 for Business, I will want to know darn well why I should take the time and the chance to upgrade- and download this product. What does it offer me?

    Just one example from the bulleted points up top. "More control for IT administrators." If I am one of those IT administrators," I pick my upgrades carefully. Shouldn't I be able to find out exactly what "more control" means beforehand? Skype apparently thinks I should just click Download and just, trust. Any IT who is that footloose and fancy-free shouldn't be entrusted with ordering paper clips- never mind entrusted with instituting software upgrades.

    Businesses don't work that way, Skype.

    Instead, each of these superficial, dead-end marcom-speak bullet points assumes I am going to blindly download and install 3.0 without knowing any more about what these new features offer. Then, when I install it, I will have to hunt around for all the cool stuff.

    Skype, you ought to realize that if you are going to play in the business world, you have to know that your SMB and enterprise users are going to need more than superficial bullet points before they do something as critical as install or update a key communications platform.

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