Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Joys of Moving in the Internet Age/New Use For Skype

In terms of big stories in the IP world, I sure picked the wrong week to move. Boy, it sure has been busy...

- Vonage IPO story - but not 100% confirmed
- Google Talk
- Skype opening up APIs to the web community
- Skype working with Intel for better voice quality on PCs

We moved house on Monday, and it's been very chaotic all week, and I haven't been able to post at all. At this point, these stories have been well covered by the usual suspects - Jeff Pulver, Andy Abramson, Om Malik and Mark Evans.

As these stories unfold, I plan to comment where I can add something to the mix.

That said, I'd like to share my personal ruminations about how central the Internet has become to our daily lives, especially for people like me. Moving is never easy, and I found it very interesting that among all the hundreds of material possessions one has to sift through and organize when packing, that my notebook was the very last thing to go. When all the packing was done at 1:30 in the morning, my PC was still up and running, and the last thing I did before going to sleep in our old house for the last time was to shut it down.

Fast forward to the end of the move, and what's the first thing I'm looking for in the new house? An Internet connection. Not the phone line, not the TV, but email and VoIP. You may think I'm nuts, but I suspect this is pretty typical for Internet users when they move these days. It made me realize just how dependent I've become on the Internet for my livelihood. Not only that, but also how quickly my working routine resumed once I was online - even without my landline from Bell. In fact, until yesterday, I was living mainly off our mobile phones for all our calls - business and personal - and really didn't miss the Bell line all that much. I think that says a lot about how things are changing in the world of communications.

This also reinforced for me just how convenient Skype is. It was certainly much easier and faster to get up and running than my Bell line - which, not surprisingly required a visit from a technician to activate the service. No truck rolls with Skype, that's for sure.

So, where does this leave the wireline incumbents? For now, they're probably ok, but these experiences really brought home the benefits and advantages of IP versus TDM. I'm preaching to the converted here, but with giants like Microsoft and Google getting into the game, the landscape is really going to shift big time once the mass marketing machines take over. IP is simply a better product, and once the world gets this religion, I really wonder how the legacy telcos will hold their own. I think it truly will come down to "innovate or die".

Oh - what's the new use for Skype? Home intercom. Really simple. We have 3 levels in our house, and my office is in the basement - it's ground level, so it's got a great garden view actually. My 12 year old son spends a lot of time on his notebook, doing games, and lots of IM. Skype too. In our old house, we were on the same floor, and it was real easy to talk to each other. In the new house, the distance is just too great, as Max is two floors above me. I suppose we could use the phones in the house - that's old school. So, we just Skype when we need to communicate. Sure beats yelling real loud, or running up/down a whole bunch of stairs. I stopped thinking a long time ago about using Skype just for long distance. I probably use it just as much for local calling or in-house communicating - simply because it's where many of the people I'm in touch with are. To me, it's all about convenience - we all have a multitude of ways to communicate, but we almost always default to the path of least resistance - it's just human nature.

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